Monday, 11 November 2013

French Photo Diary #7: Autumn In Brittany

A week off of university meant for me heading down to the French house for the last time this year. While I did have some lovely meals out (a few foodie snapshots in a minute) and did a lot of cooking at home, the week for me was really a chance to catch up and regroup. Or, write essays, curl up in front of the fire with all the the university reading I'll have to do before Christmas (the perks of an English Literature degree!) and for study breaks, going for long, crisp Autumn walks through the country lanes and the forest by the house. 
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Our home (which you can see more pictures of I took this Summer here) is fifty per cent an old stone barn with walls that are over a metre thick. Because of this, when the house as been shut up for a couple of weeks, the temperature has dropped and it is pouring down with rain, when you get there it is freezing cold. We've learnt to leave the house with the fires already made up ready to be lit, so making everything warm and cosy is the first order of the day as soon as we arrive. Wood fires are basically Autumn/ Winter for me. 
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The change in seasons also means, on the most part switching out white and rose wine for red. A big glass of it and this super snuggly jumper I picked up in Madewell in Los Angeles (they don't have the colourful ones in store this year, but this pretty grey version is pretty similar) are the perfect accompaniments for my class reading. I'm a big supporter of buying real books rather than reading digital editions, but I find loading class books onto my Kindle app for iPad is great as they are not books I actually chose myself, lots of them I would not be reading otherwise, and it makes it a bit cheaper. Fellow English Lit students in both the UK and USA will tell you the sheer amount of books we have to buy - the price adds up! As well as a couple of post 1945 British plays, I was reading Bend Sinister by Vladimir Nabokov, which I would describe as 1984 (which I would really recommend) after it has been put in a blender. It is odd, but enjoyable; it is for my week on totalitarianism. I also read (and need to finish before class this afternoon Main Street by Sinclair Lewis. I warn you, it is very long, but a very good and enjoyable read. I think it is just as important as The Great Gatsby (which if you haven't you ought to read!) as a novel that really captures America of that period. 
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When you walk down the country lanes surrounding our house there are pretty much only five things you can see for miles. Old stone houses. Trees. Fields. Fields full of corn. And, fields full of cows. These gentlemen enjoyed striking a pose for me as I passed. Seriously, they were actually working the camera like pros. 
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Do you know how mistletoe grows? Until I moved to Brittany part time, about five years ago now I had no idea where it actually came from. For those of you who are as in the dark as I used to be about the whole process, I can tell you it grows up in great balls in trees. I thought I'd capture a photo for all of you who were unsure. 
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So the food. Because this is really a food blog, right? Well.... I ate a lot of steak, crepes and I drunk a lot of red wine. Nothing I have not really pictured here on the blog before, and all of the recipes I was testing at home are incomplete, so I don't think I'm ready to share them all with you just quite yet. A traditional Breton galette is not really new for those of you who have read all my earlier instalments of my French Photo Diary, but I wanted to share it with you anyway because it was rather delicious; stuffed with creme fraiche and local slightly cured sausage, and then topped with seared scallops and local cider jelly. Bliss. 
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Autumn is the time for nuts. Outside the house we have a massive great walnut tree which we get such a bounty from every year. While I was inside battling Nabokov my Mother was out there with a rake and bucket gathering them up off the ground to dry out and crack. If I get a moment around everything else I've got to do (you should see my diary in the run up to Christmas, I'll be very surprised if I make it to December 25th in one piece!) I might have time to have a little experiment and share some walnut recipes with you all. As you can also see, as well as the walnuts we had chestnuts to gather up off of the forest floor. We only got a couple, but we've decided to experiment with making things like chestnut puree and liquor next year, after we had a little incident with one of the ones we collected exploding while we were roasting them in the oven! 
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Now, my Mother really ought to know better by now than to allow me to take a camera on a walk through the forest where she knows there will be loads of interesting mushrooms for me to spend ages taking in detail shots of. No, seriously, I think she had to put up with me spending about half an hour crouched down photographing the things. I want to do some research into different varieties, because all the women in the forest we see are always gathering baskets of them, but I'm pretty sure these here are not edible! 
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I know a fair number of my readers are also university students, so what did you guys get up to in their reading weeks? I got back from France on the Thursday, spent Friday working at Pilgrims Nook and Saturday out Christmas shopping and baking. As I said, I'm really busy in the lead up to Christmas and this week in no exception. I'm debating for the first time at my university tonight, tomorrow I'm going on all sorts of foodie adventures around London you should look out for the week after, and on Friday I'm hoping to shoot the second instalment of my 'Borough Market Challenge', so I'd love some suggestions for seasonal ingredients you might want to see me feature. Enjoy!  

138 comments:

  1. So jealous you get a reading week, that looks bliss! Especially the woodburning stove and the scenery. so nice to get away from busy life. At Oxford we don't, but if I did have one I'd go back to Kent for some crisp autumn walks followed by pub lunches, horse riding, baking and Canterbury shopping :)

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  2. You don't get reading week at Oxford? God I feel so sorry for you! Though, at least you do get Oxford; my university is a bit of a dump! Hope life has been treating you well since I saw you over the Summer xx

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  3. Oh, I miss France. And reading week.



    I definitely don't miss trying to fit in all the reading that an English Lit degree takes though! I've finally got my love of reading for pleasure back and I want it to stay that way!


    Gorgeous photos, as always! xx

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  4. In five years as a literature student, I've spent so much money on books...but I wouldn't have it any other way! Where are you studying, actually?

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  5. Oh I'm looking forward to that. I was thinking while I was doing all of that reading, in another couple of months I'll never have to read a book that I have not chosen for myself ever again, I just can't wait to get that total love for reading back; I think while I do like studying English, it does slightly kill a love for reading for a while.

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  6. University of London. And good luck with the rest of your MA! To be honest, I don't think I'd be able to make it past undergrad, so well done you for keeping going with your studies!

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  7. Thanks! The MA is tough, but I took three years off after undergrad, so I'm somewhat refreshed for it (though on the other hand it's been hard to get back into academic/literary mode). Good luck with your studies, too! I look forward to hearing what more you read.

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  8. Reading in front of the fire looks so cosy! I lvoe your mushroom photos haha, I'd be doing the same. And I've never thought of it that way but a Kindle would save English students loads of money.

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  9. You are so lucky to have a house like that! It looks so cozy.
    www.jedisbonjour.blogspot.com

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  10. Its the rocky road slab for me

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  11. pistachio praline crunch i bet are divine, but love rocky road

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  12. Salted caramel and praline, yum!

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  13. Pistachio Praline Crunches sound divine!

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  14. We had the new arrival box when our son was born and every single chocolate was divine!

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  15. A hard choice but the Salted Caramel Puddles are lovely

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  16. Praline crisp star is my favourite, but I agree with others very hard to choose!

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  17. I love anything praline but their florentine pralines were lovely and a bit different

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  18. the rocky road slab is irresistable!

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  19. the Mississippi Mud Pie slab tastes devine! :)

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  20. I can never resist the sleekster fruity selection yummy x

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  21. I love the chilli chocolate :)

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  22. Rocky road slab :) Tastes yummy! Never had chocolate like it before!

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  23. Cherry & Frangelico chocolates

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  24. Orange Milk Chocolate Puddles are totally dreamy - the key to my heart!

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  25. I'm a sucker for a Rocky Road GIANT slab. Yummee!

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  26. So many to choose from but the rocky road slab is sooo good!

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  27. The chilli penguins are so cute - I always buy them for my son who is dairy allergic.

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  28. Missisipi Mud Pie Giant Slab

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  29. I was lucky enough to win the Missisipi Mud Pie Slab, it was sooooo good I had to buy another, yum

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  30. Love the dipping platters, yum!

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  31. I'm another fan of the Rocky Road Slab

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  32. The Sleekster Praline Selection - not for sharing!! x

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  33. Rocky road is my favourite , but it was very close choosing as there as so many others i like!

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  34. I like the rather Large Xmas Cracker it looks like fun and yummy!!

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  35. The caramel giant slab has got my mouth watering!

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  36. the kirsch cherries are amazing and a must have at christmas

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  37. How about I just lie down under the end of a conveyer belt and you start adding them at the other end... I'm pretty sure one by one they instantly become my favourites as they fall into my open mouth.

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  38. oooh looks lovely. My favourite is the cookies and creme caramel slab. Yum.

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  39. Sleekster classic is amazing!

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  40. The Sleekster Fruity Selection. The first box I bought and keep returning to it.

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  41. My favourite is Hazelnut Praline!

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  42. The Sleekster White Selection

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  43. The Sleekster Milk Selection

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  44. rocky road slab is the way to go :)

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  45. truffles truffles truffles!!!!

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  46. The Sleekster Milk Selection

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  47. The Sleekster Praline Selection - yummy! :-)

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  48. really love all their hot chocolates, too hard to chose just one.

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  49. Their Eton Mess slab is amazing!

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  50. THE ETON MESS SLAB IS EXCELLENT

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  51. The Sleekster Winter Desserts Selection looks lovely!

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  52. The pistachio praline crunches sound amazing!

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  53. Im with your mum - the coffee buche looks wonderful ! I haven't tasted it though.

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  54. The caramel chocolate is to die for, in any form!

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  55. The Dark Pecan Brownie Selector..Everything about it is perfect; a blend of yumminess!

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  56. I love Tiddly Reindeers, we buy them every year as our little Christmas treat x

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  57. The Chocolatier's Humidor. Awesome!

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  58. my favourite product is the Salted Peanut and Caramel Selector :-)

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  59. well it's chocolate so all are my favourite

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  60. The cookie choc chip giant slab fab

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  61. Milky Drinking Chocolate - @WeeWillWilk

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  62. Salted Caramels!! They are amazing!! :-)

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  63. I love the orange dark chocolate batons :) yum

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  64. Ooh, pistachio praline crunches...yum

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  65. the rocky road slab is one of my favourite things ever!

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  66. Would love the beauty box, it's a real treat.

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  67. The Rocky Road slab sounds yummy!!!

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  68. Blueberry Cheesecake Chocolate Selector!

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  69. I love the Petit Desserts selection - delicious!

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  70. The Rocky Road slab sounds gorgeous!

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  71. Chambord Royale Champagne Truffles

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  72. Salted caramel selector, although I have to say the triple layered coffee buche looks amazing!!

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  73. salted caramel batons, every time

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  74. The Sleekster Dark Selection

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  75. Champagne truffles and I'm now dying to try the layered coffee buche!

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  76. The Sleekster Milk Selection

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  77. My favourite Hotel Chocolat product is the Raspberry Panacotta Selector; six in a packet, perfect for sharing with my partner (him = 1, me = 5 ha ha)

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  78. love the Sleekster dark selection

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  79. I love the chocolate slabs! currently eating a white chocolate mini one!

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  80. pistachio praline crunch *drool*

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  81. my favourite is christmas mess truffles, and i dont share

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  82. http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/shop/collections/products/new-selectors/mississippi-mud-pie yum yum x

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  83. Christmas Mess Truffles- yum!

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  84. Dipping Adventure! Fabulous for sharing, or eating alone! :D

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  85. i love their little chocolate lollies

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  86. Triple Layered Coffee BucheTrip Triple Layered Coffee Buche leayered Coffee B

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  87. This looks like the perfect escape, I want to curl up with a glass of wine and a good book now!


    Maria xxx

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  88. I have never tried any of their chocolates, but love the look of the Rocky Road Slab, and the Eton Mess Slab

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  89. ooo yum pistachio pralines i love anything nutty like me!

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  90. I too really find the rocky road slab yummylicious

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  91. Simply White Truffles are fantastically yummy

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  92. Pistachio Praline Crunches, I love pistachio nuts!

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  93. I love Brittany - I loved down by Benodet a few years ago and would love to go back

    Rachel

    www.easyenglisheating.blogspot.co.uk

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  94. Pistachio Praline Crunch - delicious!

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