The South of France offers the perfect climate for growing delicious fresh produce, which you cannot beat when it comes to good cooking. Sadly we don’t have a garden ourselves, so the most I have been able to cultivate is some slug-riddled basil and an out-of-control parsley plant.
However our good friends Sam and Babs have let us enjoy some of the produce from their garden during the time that we have lived in France. Their little patch of garden in Saint Laurent du Var has produced delicious lettuces, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons and oranges.
With a renovation project of their house underway, they have temporarily moved in with Sam’s parents, who are the proud owners of one of the best allotments on the French Riviera. Sam’s father is an excellent horticulturist, and has an extremely impressive array of delicious fruits and vegetables growing on his land.
His olive trees have yielded some of the most delicious oil I have tasted- rich, flavoursome and sweet. Last week, I had some of his avocadoes, which I used in some Mexican bean wraps that I made for a picnic. They were nutty and smooth- just the way that they should be. We have had amazing tomatoes as big as small footballs from his garden, which are delicious when stuffed and roasted in the traditional Provencal way.
Yesterday, Babs brought over a welcome surprise of grapefruits, blood oranges and Marmalade oranges from Monsieur Debeche’s garden. I have never had home-grown grapefruits before, but the freshness of the fruit made such a difference to the flavour.
A nice thing to do with grapefruits is to grill them. Mix up some brown sugar with a little bit of melted butter and a pinch of cinnamon, and then pour the mixture over halved and segmented grapefruits. Pop them under the grill until the sugar starts to bubble. It is a bit like a citrussy crème brulée. This is not my photograph I’m afraid, but you get the idea.
So now I have to use all the beautiful fruit that we were given. I am planning to make marmalade this weekend. I personally have never done it before, but my husband whipped some up a few years ago with some oranges we had smuggled back from Marrakech. He decided to halve the amount of sugar stated on the recipe, and the result was a very tasty, but very liquidy marmalade! So much so that my father took to using a straw when he wanted to eat some. So hopefully mine will set a bit better than that, but I would be interested to see any marmalade recipes that you have tried and tested.
Thanks to the Debeches for all the lovely food!