Le Morlanche Nouveau

October 13, 2016

Day one

Things have been pretty hectic around here recently and the news is stacking up, but it’s time to backtrack a little and tell you about the exciting new developments at Morlanche.

We are so thrilled to have Brice and Lisa as our neighbours.  Since Brice’s grandparents moved to sheltered accommodation eight years ago their house has been empty and things haven’t felt the same.  We bought our house from them and we have developed a close attachment to the family, so when, after the old couple had passed away, Brice decided to move to Morlanche and to revive the vineyard and traditional wine making activity we could not have been more delighted.

the vineyard

They have been here for just over a year and in that time so much has been achieved.  Brice has completed a course in winemaking and vineyard management and Lisa has done an incredible job renovating the house and getting an amazing vegetable garden going.  Together they have been systematically rejuvenating and encouraging the vineyard, using natural methods and a minimum of chemicals and their efforts were rewarded with a bumper crop of excellent quality Gamay when the time came round for the vendange.

The weather had been warm and sunny, the grapes were testing well for a projected alcohol content of 13% when Brice made a snap decision and called the vendange for Saturday 24th.  A small band of family, friends and neighbours spent a hot but very cheerful day harvesting what turned out to be just under 500 kg of grapes.

However, what made this vendange really special is that, for the first time in 40 years, the grapes weren’t sold on to a local wine maker, but taken to the vast cellars under the house to be trodden, before being poured into the vat to start their journey towards becoming the cuvée Morlanche 2016.

The pictures tell their own story:

the vendange arrives in the cellar

the vendange arrives in the cellar

and is carefully weighed

and is carefully weighed.

Treading the grapes

Treading is next – a messy business!

Into the vat

Into the vat . . .

and the adventure begins!

and the adventure begins!

There’s still a long way to go and constant monitoring, testing … and tasting are required.

Measuring the alcohol level

Measuring the alcohol level

checking the vat

checking the vat


tasting . . .

But the old cellars are once again filled with the wonderful aroma of fermenting grapes – Brice says that you can even smell it in the kitchen – and the centuries’ old tradition of wine making at Morlanche lives again!

la cave

It ain’t necessarily so – Jazz n’Cakes

September 19, 2016


The little dog is Philibert Froidevaux who we purchased (or was he a free gift?) about 25 years ago at the Arlebosc bakery together with a baguette.  As we did not know what to do with him, we stuck him into a small hole in the outside wall by the house steps.  A few days ago a guest asked me “Did you notice there is a dog in the wall?”


This gave me the idea to make him the star of my first Jazz video clip based on last weeks Jazz n’Cakes concert.  After a quarter of a century being rained on, he still looks the part!

So here is the link              It ain’t necessarily so – Jazz aux Sarziers

Kate is working on a Rhone Cruise so it is up to me to keep you informed about our last event at Les Sarziers.  Jazz n’Cakes was a great success, with over 70 people attending and no cake crumb left at the end of the evening.  Here are a few pictures …


Baking started three days before the concert and by Saturday afternoon the “n’cakes” part of the evening was ready.



The barn had to be cleared and the seating to be set up and an hour before the concert – between a bite to eat, getting the drinks ready (and washing the hair) we moved the piano from the sitting room to the barn (Thank you Brice).


… and then the show started

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The night was beautifully warm and many stayed until ’round Midnight.

PS.       Don’t forget to watch Philibert in his star role.


September 10th

September 6, 2016


We did promise that we’d get off the subject of food, so apologies for the cake element in this post!

This is going to be a great evening, with François and Linda Gallix and Markus playing a relaxed selection of numbers from the 20’s to the 50’s.

The concert will be in the barn and after the music people are invited to stay on and sample a selection of typically English cakes in the kitchen.  There should be something to please everyone!

Lemon Meringue Pie … suite et fin

August 31, 2016

Markus points out that all the last few posts have been to do with food, so a change of subject is coming soon!

But meanwhile some pictures of the very convivial Sunday morning event at Kaopa.

Contestants begin to arrive. Paloma the dog is on message

Contestants begin to arrive. Paloma the dog is on message


A very high standard of entries

A very high standard of entries

The judges are ready

The judges are ready

Serious concentration required

Serious concentration required

At times it was hard to keep up!

Yum! All delicious!

Yum! All delicious!

Winners of the Citron d'Or, Argent and Bronze

Christine, Sandie and Nathalie, Winners of the Citron d’Or, Argent and Bronze

Winners and Judges (with Suhail being silly in the background!)

Winners and Judges (with Suhail being silly in the background!)

Paloma's had enough!

Paloma’s had enough!

Markus in his monochrome finery

Markus in his monochrome finery

The judge’s decision is final

August 26, 2016

Concours Tarte au Citron meringuéeet Tenue Monochrome

The ever inventive Laurent from Kaopa is holding a lemon meringue pie competition on Sunday.

The idea arose at a party to which we had been asked to bring desserts.  He was singing the praises of his partner’s tarte au citron meringuée.  Discussion ensued – I find the French have peculiar notions about pastry and tend to mke things too sweet for my taste – and the result was the competition.  I am now rather taken aback to have been asked to be one of the judges.  Laurent says its OK for me to participate as well and that we will be blindfolded, relying solely on our taste buds and palate, but still I feel that this is a bit irregular.

My mother, amongst her many other accomplishments, was a judge for the WI – I still have her badges and certificates – and I remember spending mornings with her amid the cool grassy smells of a marquee set up in the grounds of some stately home, assessing faultless ranks of victoria sponges, cottage loaves, apple pies and jars of jam and preserves.

IMG_1528 (2)

They all had to be tasted and graded.   Tiny slices were cut out of the cakes, spoonfuls of jelly, lemon curd and chutney had to be sampled (too many entries in the pickles class was something she found extremely trying!) and the loaves were cut open to check for any backsliding in the kneading process.

It so happens that my friend Jane has recently been very successful with her redcurrant jelly at the local show and it brought it all back to me.

At such events there are strict rules about general appearance, presentation and colour as well as texture, fluffiness/crunchiness/density and so on, depending on the item.  Labels have to be attached at the approved height and imposed recipes scrupulously adhered to.

judge's comments

A Dorset friend who regularly enters items in the Briantspuddle Summer Show (I am not making this up) takes particular exception to the little notes that the judges leave with their comments, in what he calls their nasty cramped writing.  He usually carries all before him with his marmalade but there was an occasion when the jar (or was it the Gentleman’s Class Fruit Cake?) came off the back of his motorbike and arrived looking somewhat dinged in.

The Kaopa event is sure to altogether less stressful and formalised.  I think it’s largely going to be an occasion to eat lots of lemon meringue pie and drink delicious coffee.

dsc_0562a_slice_lmp_watermarked1 (800x531)

PS  Attentive readers will have noticed that we all are to wear une tenue monochrome.  Markus has dyed a whole outfit kingfisher blue, in which he will certainly cut a dash.  Photos to follow.

D’la salade trois fois par jour

August 14, 2016

salad 0 title 1

Ma Rosalie, titipanpan, elle est malade, Elle est malade, titipanpan, du mal d’amour.

Pour la guérir, titipanpan, faut d’la salade, De la salade, titipanpan, trois fois par jour.

This silly little children’s song, which continues merrily on, with several changes of rythm and theme, has been running through our heads as we contemplate our unusually successful vegetable garden.

After a wet May and June and a month of July with weekly thunderstorms,  the vegetables look promising these days.  But we are confronted with the usual gardener’s conundrum.  Why does everything grow at the same speed and is ready to be eaten the same day?  Even with successive sowing the cucumbers, courgettes and the green beans are all ready to be picked at the same time.

But by far the worst in the category of “We want to be picked – eat us  NOW otherwise we’ll sulk and bolt” are the salads.

First they behave nicely ...

First they behave nicely …

Then they look pretty ...

Then they look pretty …

Then they go wild ...

Then they go wild …

Then ther is no stopping them ...

Then there is no stopping them …

salad 7

Now for the serious part – the answers to last week’s quiz.  Thanks to those of you who took part!

  • Pissenlit (dandelion) salad
  • Pieds et paquets – a provençal speciality made with sheep’s feet and stuffed sheep’s tripe.
  • Sometimes euphemistically called roupettes de coq, these are exactly what they say on the tin – or more usually the jar.
  • Alouettes sans tête,  literally larks without their heads, are actually a provençal version of beef olives.
  • Tête de Moine or Monk’s Head is a cheese from the Swiss Jura but very much appreciated in France.
  • Paris Brest is a choux pastry ring, split and filled with confectioner’s custard.  It was created in 1910, in the shape of a wheel, to celebrate the Paris-Brest-Paris cycle race.  (Well done Hazwool!)

Not what they seem

August 5, 2016

It’s that time of year when many of us are sitting under sun umbrellas doing crosswords and word games so here’s a little quiz.

But first the context.  We have always been amused by the fact that a particular type of large saucisson from Lyon is blandly – and officially  – called un jésus.


It reminds me that in my family a boiled suet pudding was irreverently known as Boiled Baby or, if accompanied by golden syrup, Putty and Varnish.

So we put together an imaginary menu for a “holy dinner”.

After a few slices of the aforementioned jésus with a glass of Dom Pérignon, the meal would start with Coquilles St Jacques.  The main course would be Filets de St Pierre, Sauce Cardinale.  To follow, a selection of cheeses, including St Nectaire, Pont l’Evèque and of course our local St Félicien, and for dessert, a choice between a Religieuse, Sacristan or Jésuite.



To drink, a light St Amour Beaujolais could go well with the fish and a Châteauneuf du Pape with the cheese, then maybe a nip of Chartreuse or Bénédictine with coffee.

Now here’s another menu made up of of everyday French dishes and specialities.  Your task is to identify them.  Hint: they all have misleading or obscure names but one really is what it says on the tin!

Answers next time.

  • wet the bed salad
  • feet and parcels
  • cockerel testicles
  • headless birds
  • a man of god (with his head!)
  • a dessert which sounds like a train journey.


crossword in the garden



Photos:  http://www.chretiensaujourdhui.com


Canti Sognanti at les Sarziers

July 23, 2016

Giulia and Elida

The evening was an enchantment, as we knew it would be.

The weather was perfect; a delightful collection of people gathered and enjoyed an apéritif in the garden, a delicious ‘auberge espagnole’ dinner and dessert in the calabert after the concert.

For those of you who were not able to join us, and for those who did, Markus has put together a short video which gives a flavour of the magical voices of Canti Sognanti and their wonderful performance at les Sarziers.

Markus really does not have the right software for this kind of thing, so he’s not entirely pleased with the result, but he’s done a pretty good job all the same.  (Be sure to have the volume right up and headphones or speakers!)

Many thanks to Manu for the sound recording, and the photo.

And to Catherine, Elida and Giulia: Grazie mille!

Here’s the link


Concert at les Sarziers

July 9, 2016

We are getting geared up and excited about our summer concert which will happen next Saturday, July 16th.  We are thrilled to welcome the fantastic Canti Sognanti – a trio of a cappella singers from Italy with a repertoire of polyphonic songs from around the Mediterranean and much further afield.

It’s going to be a beautiful concert and if you are around you are very welcome to join us.

Canti Sognanti 2016 final

The War of the Bees

June 30, 2016

dangerous lavender

We were having lunch with E at the village café and I asked a simple question about lavender.  What followed was a delightful imbroglio which she authorised me to relate, but without mentioning any names . . .

I had asked why all the lavender plants on the bank above the cemetery had been uprooted and whether there was a plan to replace them.  Well, she replied, the problem was BEES, which were attracted to the lavender flowers and threatened to sting the elderly ladies of the village when they went to tidy their family graves.

Into the bargain, said the ladies, the bank is too steep and access to the cemetery is not only perilous on account of the bees, but hard to negotiate if you are in your eighties.  So a rope handrail has been erected.  However this has not met with their approval and there is a mega plan under discussion at the Mairie to reorganise the whole cemetery approach with a solid handrail and bee-repellent vegetation.  These things take time however.

letter box

Meanwhile, the entrance to the Mairie and Post Office was redesigned a year or so ago, complete with level access, handrail, post box and tasteful shrub border.  But, eh oui, the lavender in the  border attracted more bees and the ladies could no longer post their letters without endangering their lives.  So the post box was re-sited to the side of the Mairie, well away from the shrubs, and for a while all was well.

Then one day, it happened to be April 1st, the Inspector of Post Boxes put in an appearance.  There had been a complaint.  Apparently the position of the post box made it difficult to open it for clearance without scraping one’s knuckles on the wall.  An inspection was duly carried out and the officer was appalled to find the box “hidden away in a poky corner, where no one in their right mind would think of looking for it!”  E unfortunately took this for an April fool and was firmly corrected. Things were getting tense and she swiftly whistled up the village muscle power to move back the post box before the situation could escalate any further.  And once again the lavender had to go!

It goes without saying that the village planters do not feature lavender.  Mostly brick red geraniums and lurid petunias.  This year however there has been a move to put in some perennials such as gaura and some non-bee-attracting small shrubs.  The ladies at the far end of the village are not happy.

They want trailing geraniums as seen in the village centre and complain that the perennials are not bushy enough.

E is obliged to make a big detour on Friday mornings if she wants to get to the council meeting on time as they leap out of their houses and ambush her on the way.  There has even been talk of acquiring a supplementary supply of geraniums for that end of the village although no extraordinary budget has as yet been authorised.

Meanwhile the lime tree on the place du marché is in full flower and swarming with bees so maybe our indispensible friends have found a satisfactory compromise by keeping to the high ground, and life on earth is safe for the time being.

lime tree




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