Duck breast with winter fruits

Duck breast with winter fruits

Duck breast and fruit is a sure combination. In this recipe, duck breast is marinated overnight, and the honey and spices in the marinade add warmth to the dish. This is comfort food South of France style on a cold and dark winter evening.

2 servings

1 duck breast
1 pear, sliced
1 apple, sliced
200 ml red wine
2 tbsp. raisins

For the marinade:

1 tsp soya sauce
1 tsp lavender honey or other runny honey
1 tsp quatre épices (a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg)

The day before criss-cross the skin-side of the duck breast. Mix the marinade and rub it on the skin-side. Cover with cling film. Marinate in the fridge for about 24 hours.

The next day preheat the oven to 200° C.

Place the duck breast skin-side up in the centre of an ovenproof dish. Slice the apple and place the slices around the duck breast. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the duck breast and continue roasting for 15 more minutes.

Meanwhile slice the pear and simmer in red wine for about 20 minutes together with the raisins.
Steam or microwave some new potatoes to go with the duck and fruits.

When the duck breast is cooked, slice it and divide on the plates. Divide the potatoes on the plates and place the fruits on top. 


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New loop trail above Carros Village

Balcons de Carros signpost 32

It is not that often that new hiking trails are introduced in Alpes-Maritimes. So when we discovered that a new trail called Les Balcons de Carros was opened above Carros Village, we were eager to test it.

The hike itself is not that long, about 2,5 hours, but nevertheless it gives a good workout because some parts are fairly steep. The trail is very well marked with yellow signs, and with new signposts that don’t exist in older maps.

From the signpost #26 at Carros Village entrance we walked about 50 m along the road to Broc. Then at signpost #27 we started ascending along a small paved pedestrian and cycle route, crossed a small road and continued ascending towards Canal de la Gravière. We soon reached a lavoir (lavoir de la Foux), nicely restored in 2015, and continued our ascent in the woods, now more steeply. At signpost #30 we came to an unpaved forest road, turned left and continued ascending along it.

After a while we came to canal de la Gravière, and continued following it about 200 m to signpost #32. There, an impressive panorama over the Var Valley rewarded us.

From signpost #32 we started descending steeply back towards Carros Village along a recently prepared trail. At signpost #33, we reached the first houses, turned left following a narrow paved road, soon passing the Monastery of Carmel located a bit higher up on the hillside. At this point, navigation was easy as we just followed the yellow marks by the road, and descended back to our starting point.

Duration: 2h 25
Following the small road after signpost 33

Elevation gain: 337 m (GPS data)

Map: 3642 ET Vallée de l’Estéron/Loup


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Whiting fillets with mussels, herbs, and white wine

Whiting fillets with mussels, herbs and white wine

In France, the best season for whiting is in January and February. Whiting in itself is not a very inspiring white fish, it is mainly used in fish cakes, fish pates, coated in breadcrumbs or poached in white wine.

It is the latter method that was used in a video clip shown on the French TV2’s Tele Matin.  The dish was cooked outside in the open countryside in a heavy casserole, and with fresh herbs plucked from the hillside.

This recipe is my variation and cooked in my kitchen. The ingredients are simple: olive oil, shallots, garlic, fresh herbs, white wine, fresh mussels and the freshest whiting that I could find. This is a quick one pot dish cooked in my trusted Le Creuset casserole.

2 servings

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
A handful of different fresh herbs, such as dill, chives and parsley or basil, chopped
100 ml white wine
About 12- 16 cleaned fresh mussels
2 whiting fillets, about 150 g each

In a heavy casserole, warm the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallot and garlic for about 5- 10 minutes until softened. Add the white wine and bring to the boil.

Add the chopped herbs and place the whiting fillets in the middle of the casserole. The fillets can be folded because they are so thin. Place the mussels around the fish. Cover and cook about 5- 7 minutes until the fish is opaque and the mussels have opened.

Serve with steamed new potatoes and courgettes.  


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Visit to Saint-Tropez and a wine store in Gassin

Saint-Tropez harbor

Saint-Tropez is known as the summer playground of international celebrities and people with serious money. But it has an artistic side as well.

We looked forward to this day trip, combining strolling around in Saint-Tropez, art and even a little oenology.

It was the novelist Maupassant who almost accidentally sailed into this little fishing village in the 1880s. He was followed by the impressionist painter Paul Signac. Signac bought a house in Saint-Tropez and many of his painter friends stayed there.

It was originally Signac’s idea to have a permanent exhibition space for the impressionists who painted here. Finally, in 1955, a collection was put together in the Musée de l’Annonciade. A 16th century chapel was transformed to an art museum by the industrialist and art collector Georges Grammont.

We visited this delightful museum situated at the port of Saint-Tropez on a beautiful September day. Paintings of Signac, Matisse, Bonnard and many others were displayed, mostly representing the pointillist, Fauvist and Nabi movements. Incidentally, monumental sculptures by Bernard Bezzina were exhibited outside the museum and elsewhere in Saint-Tropez during our visit.

After lunch at the harbour (plat du jour comprising fresh grilled sardines), we headed to Les maîtres vignerons de la presqu’île de Saint-Tropez, a wine store/winery in La Foux, Gassin. We had read that this wine store specializing in local produce sells the delightful red called Cep d’Or. We had tasted this wine last summer at a small mountain hotel in Queyras and wanted to explore if this or similar red wine could be bought.

Unfortunately, Cep d’Or was discontinued but we could taste two very similar wines:

Les Voiles 2012 AOP Côtes de Provence (70% Syrah, 30% Grenache; 8.95 €) and La Petite Parenthèse 2013 AOP Côtes de Provence (Syrah, Grenache; 6.95 €). They were both nice and light, perfect with poultry and rabbit.
Entrance of the wine store in La Foux Gassin

We also tasted 2011 Château de Pampelonne red AOP Côtes de Provence, (A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties; 12.35 €). This more robust wine would go well even with grilled meat.
Wines to be tasted at the wine store in La Foux Gassin


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