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rhon Dec 28th, 2019 04:57 PM

I have seen black radish in markets here and always think of it as an Asian ingredient, so that is interesting.
We will be in France in spring and I am looking forward to cooking some white asparagus which is not something we see in our provincial city. I remember going to a market in Limoux a few years ago in Spring and the stall holder had a big pile of green asparagus on the table. He just kept putting some in a paper bag until I said stop. It is those differences we enjoy about our trips to France.
I cooked fennel for the first time in our very first week in France in 2006. Back then it was not common in shops here and I came across a recipe for Potato and Fennel Boulangere in a magazine in the gite. We had it with magret de canard which was also a first time for us. Fennel is now readily available at home, and it has become a favourite vegetable which I use in several different ways.
Good to hear your fridge problems are over. You will be turning into an accomplished cook, Cheska!!!
It sounds as though you have a busy time coming up with trips away.

cheska15 Dec 29th, 2019 08:31 AM

rhon I will try endives as well as I don’t think I have ever had them. I had white asparagus for the first time last year in Paris. It was in some sort of white sauce and it was yummy.

We have decided we will have a nice lunch on New Years Day. My husband makes a great veal scallopini, and it will be served with roasted potatoes and possibly endive if you think it would go with that. Or possibly carrots for colour. Dessert will be my attempt at a trifle.
I will have to be prepared with bread this time in case the Boulangerie is closed. My husband would not be happy if there was no bread to wipe his plate. Luckily it will be at home for no one else to see

kerouac Dec 29th, 2019 08:48 AM

Belgian endive can be cooked (look at 'endives au gratin' on the internet -- or 'chicons' which is the *Belgian name). Or they can just be chopped up into a somewhat bitter (but bitter in a nice way) salad with other ingredients. But there are numerous other ways to prepare endive -- which loses its bitterness when cooked.

cheska15 Dec 29th, 2019 02:07 PM

thanks kerouac

margo_oz Dec 29th, 2019 07:43 PM

Just popping in again to tell you how much I'm enjoying your Nimes yarns.

More heatwaves here but we beat NZ in the Boxing Day test :)

cheska15 Dec 29th, 2019 11:20 PM

Margo thanks. It seems to be so hot in Aus this summer, hope you aren’t near bushfires. Hopefully the Aus cricket team can restore some pride after the last 2 years.

cheska15 Jan 1st, 2020 11:18 AM

We decided that we would cook a nice lunch on New Years Day and needed to go to the market to purchase supplies. I checked the Marie website that had published the opening times of the markets. As the hours were from 7.00 am to 7.00 pm it didn’t matter that we had a late start.
As it was New Years Eve we decided to eat out for lunch at La Petite Mas. I had the fish and chips served with lovely fresh lettuce. My husband had the plat dejour of duck skewers served with vegetables. Desserts were Creme Brle and Citron in a jar. Both really delicious, and with a bottle of wine, the cost was €51.

By the time we had finished lunch it was 2.00 pm so we headed off to the market. Surprisingly they were all packed up and gone. Luckily Monoprix supermarket was open, and we were able to purchase our supplies. We did note that by 2.45pm a lot of restaurants and businesses were closed, and the city was very quiet. We should have remembered from previous trips to Europe that everything closes early New Years Eve.

The reason we had a late start was that our daughter was down at the South Coast of NSW. Every year our daughter goes to the coast with two other families for a week. It costs a fortune ($3,000) and as it is a big house it works out a cheaper way for the other two families who have children to have a holiday. They had rang the owner on the 26th, and the owner advised it was ok to come, and they would not get a refund if they cancelled. We had spoken to our son in law who was in Canberra as he had to work, and he was travelling between the two places. As all roads had been closed he was very worried, and so were we. It wasn’t until 11.30am France time that our daughter sent a text saying she was safe. The fire was a kilometre away, and they were very scared. Hopefully they will be able to return home tomorrow (Friday). It has been heartbreaking watching the news and seeing the utter devastation, lives lost, and communities wiped out. Seems worse conditions are expected on the weekend. Awful to watch.

The veal scallopini made by my husband was fabulous, and my trifle was pretty good too.

i would like to wish you all a safe and happy new year, and hope that 2020 is everything you want it to be.

rhon Jan 1st, 2020 01:02 PM

Cheska, it is just dreadful. We are in Canberra at the moment dog sitting our son's family dog. The smoke is awful. Apparently Canberra was the worst city in the world for pollution yesterday. We took the dog for a short walk this morning, but cannot be outside for long. Even with the house shut up the smell invades inside. I cannot imagine how bad it is in the actual fire zone. It is expected to get worse again on Saturday. There have now been 380+ homes lost and they expect that to increase. I feel so sorry for all those affected. They are telling tourists to leave as soon as roads open. Hope your daughter gets home safely.

I wish you all a happy and safe 2020. I woke up on New Year's day with the thought that we are going to France this year!!

cheska15 Jan 1st, 2020 01:46 PM

Originally Posted by rhon (Post 17038339)
I woke up on New Year's day with the thought that we are going to France this year!!

That is always a great feeling. Our neighbours have been sending up photos of our street, and the smoke haze is shocking. Canberra is normally a beautiful place to live. Hopefully our daughter will get out of the coast today. Heartbreaking news and it seems never ending.
Thanks for your good wishes

geetika Jan 1st, 2020 05:21 PM

cheska, hope your daughter and her family made it safely back home. We too have been reading and seeing images of the horrific fires and our hearts go out to all affected. Our prayers for things to settle down and come back to normal, though of course getting everything back on track will take time, effort and $$$!

On a different note I so enjoy hearing about your day-to-day activities, not just the sightseeing. Thanks for making us part of your journey, were waiting for the further installments as you move out of Nimes.

A very happy 2020 to all, with wishes for lots of travel and new horizons to explore in the coming decade...

willowjane Jan 1st, 2020 07:17 PM

Cheska, I just sat and read the entire report! How brave you are and what a great writer. I am really enjoying your trip report and all the comments from our French folks. We spent 2 weeks in St. Remy a couple of years ago and did several of the day trips that you have done. I am very interested in Southwest France (St. Cirq always intrigues me as far as travel and food!:)) and I am filing information away for a future trip. Happy New Year!

cheska15 Jan 3rd, 2020 10:15 AM

Today we were off to the markets before closing time. There were quite a few stalls closed. As schools go back on Monday shops will probably be back to normal.

We purchased lamb chops for €16 and what we would call butter lettuce, 3 small avocados(3 for 5€) and two bananas and a strand of dates. Total cost €5. Also purchased two slices of lovely jamboree for lunch€3. I have some nice English cheddar cheese that I eat occasionally as I’m not a big fan of cheese. It is available at Monoprix and is called Wilkes.

I only used one slice of the ham and one avocado for a total cost of around €4. I don’t know anywhere else where you could get a fabulous lunch like that for €2 pp.
I love how the French don’t put everything in salad like we do. The green salad was delicious with a dressing and with the lamb chops and roast potatoes was a good meal.

We have decided that on Jan 1 we should try and follow some sort of budget only to get an idea of what we are spending. I did have an alleged budget to begin with. We were doing really well as this week we have had three days of not spending any money whatsoever. We have eaten at home mostly. However I did hit a clothes shop today so there went the alleged budget. I think dieting and budgeting are related. You can always start again tomorrow.

For those of you in Australia keep safe over the next few days. Harrowing times ahead.

kerouac Jan 3rd, 2020 11:10 AM

You went to the clothes store just a bit early. The winter sales start in most of France on January 8th. (Already started in Lorraine due to competition from Luxembourg and Belgium.)

cheska15 Jan 3rd, 2020 11:37 AM

kerouac they have started in Nimes as I had been keeping an eye on the prices in this particular shop. We will be in Spain from Tuesday where there will be sales as well. I do have enough now though.

Adelaidean Jan 3rd, 2020 12:19 PM

Sales started early here too, cheska, with Black Friday sales before Christmas, rather than the usual Boxing Day sales.
I like useful souvenirs, so recent buys have been an apron, beautiful olive wood serving spoons, a €16 bag for my lunch bought about 4 years ago (a cheap bag here would have fallen apart years ago).
Quality clothing stores are really hurting here, so we are seeing more cheap end stock. What did you buy?

cheska15 Jan 4th, 2020 12:23 AM

Adelaidean I purchased three long sleeved tunics and a poncho. My winter wardrobe has consisted of jeans, long johns, three layers of Marino tops, a jumper and pinch. So glad they are fashionable as they keep me nice and warm, and I have three in different colours that I just throw on over the top. I don’t normally feel the cold, yet have found it quite cold here.

Adelaidean Jan 4th, 2020 12:59 AM

I just bought long underwear at the sales.
We keep talking about a winter holiday, but never actually do it.
I don’t know if I could tolerate that bone chilling cold in Europe, though, but might manage a mid autumn option.
Or 2 weeks in New Zealand just to see how we go.

kerouac Jan 4th, 2020 03:03 AM

If the sales have already started in Nimes, they are breaking the law. But even in Paris, some stores are already having "promotions", which are not at all the same thing.

Difference between promotions and sales: promotions concern merchandise specially brought in to be sold at a lower price; sales concern the regular merchandise that is being discounted. (It must be verifiable that the merchandise was already in the shop at a certain price for a significant period of time -- this is to prevent shops from artificially inflating prices just before the sales so that they can discount them later. Ha ha, no shopkeeper would ever do such a thing, would they? :devil: )

cheska15 Jan 4th, 2020 09:23 AM

kerouac obviously I purchased items from promotions rather than sales. A lot of the shops are advertising 50% promotions.
This happens a lot in Australia too. I am a keen gardener, and one garden centre in particular would mark the prices up, and then advertise 20% off. People eventually woke up and stopped going, and the business closed.

Adelaidean what I notice here is the damp. Takes ages for things to dry. The dehumidifier has helped, but when we go out and turn off the heating the place is cold. Doesn’t help that there are tiles on all the floors. The owner is renovating when we leave and he has a lot of work to do to make this place warmer. He is required to put in double glazed windows and that will help. Not sure how he is going to fix the damp issues. The French government is also subsidising insulation. Like all government funded schemes there are those businesses that take advantage of some people. It seems France has good consumer protection laws as well. We do miss our well insulated house.

I’m so glad we selected Nimes as it hasn’t been too cold, grey, or windy. Sure you have the odd grey day, with some rain, nothing we can’t handle. The days are starting to get a little longer with it being light until 5.45 and we have seen some really beautiful sunsets. The mornings are starting to get light at 7.45 am.
Thank you for the well wishes regarding our daughter. We have been speaking to her a couple of times a day since she arrived home.
We have been tuning in to the morning and evening news in Australia to keep up with the bushfires.
Every French person we have spoken to over the last week has shown concern and empathy for Australia. I think I could write several paragraphs on how wonderful the French people are.

Coquelicot Jan 4th, 2020 10:12 AM

cheska, your ongoing thread has been a real joy for me to read. Along with everybody else, I am interested in all your experiences, even the mundane ones since they definitely differ from our daily round. Also, there's been none of the negativity on this thread that often turns up on other Fodor's France threads.

Interesting idea to set up a budget, not necessarily to lower your spending but to see where your money goes. I track our travel expenses and noticed restaurant lunches represent a big chunk of our costs. I suggested that if we cut back on them we could stay longer, but my husband says that good meals are one big reason why we go to France.

I hope everyone you know in Australia stays safe. What’s going on is heartbreaking.

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