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Halfway the cruising week, two chefs decided to cook a meal for everyone, including all five crew, eightteen people in total.

I thought that was a great idea, although the idea of having all guests running around in my barge kitchen was a little scary, but why not…. 

In order to do this meal we suggested to go to the big covered market in Avignon, Les Halles. An amazing place! There are poissonieres (fish mongers), bouchers (butcheries), fruits et legumes (fruits and vegetables), spices and sweets. Also lots of boulangeries and patisseries, of course. They spent a good hour racing around the open market to find the best ingredients. Tour guide Nico had quite a job to keep track of all thirteen people, but he succeeded to come back on the barge with all of them. They even had the time to tour Avignon town, he brought cold bags to store the shopping.

The first idea of the chefs was to prepare a Salad Nicoise with lots of veggies. I think I looked a bit disappointed, because that is something we often eat ourselves for lunch. There was a lot of discussion going on and then this was their proposal:

 

Jay - One of our Guest-Chefs

Jay - One of our Guest-Chefs

*As a starter a leek and pear soup, followed by Ceviche (Poisson Citron) from three kinds of fresh fish including a beautiful swordfish, with crudités of assorted veggies, salad and citrus-braised Brussels sprouts.
*As the main course BBQ’d Tuscan Ribeye, on the barbeque, marinated in lots of fresh garlic and a good handful of rosemary (from the barge’s herb garden), a potato dish they had learned from a Tuscany adventure.
*As dessert two large apple and pear galette’s

The guests had to cook in both barge kitchens while cruising. That took some coordination. It was very serious cooking. They made their own chicken stock out of carcasses and a fresh stewing hen (purchased complete with feathered head and feet – luckily, they knew at least how to ask the butcher how to cut the head off!) All fish, meat and vegetables fresh and nicely cooked, the dessert was made from scratch. It took some time to convert the measurements, to find all pots and pans they needed, but it worked! It can give some funny things if you do not speak or read the French language, like trying to beat milk into whipped cream, just fun!

It was the first time guests offered us to make a meal and also the first time I’d ever sat eightteen people for dinner on L’Etoile.

It all was absolutely divine!

We were impressed, a big “thank you” to our guests!

With this group we were able to dine outside, on the sundeck of the barge, the weather was still great, although we cruised in October!

Cruising in Tandem

Cruising in Tandem

About the last cruise in tandem. A lot of fun! A group of 13 people, too many to accommodate on L’Etoile. The idea is to cruise the same itinerary with two barges following each other. We had eight people staying on L’Etoile, five on the other barge.  While cruising, the guests can decide on which boat they want to cruise that day, as long as we have the numbers on each boats. Lunches, although prepared by the two chefs, were mostly served on each barge seperately, to keep the program more flexible. All the dinners took place in L’Etoile. And it did fit! Now you can imagine how great that was! The two chefs divided the work of preparing of the meals, for example, one chef prepared the starter, the other chef the main course, so guests could appreciate the best creations of both chefs! Soon it became clear, that amongst our guests we had several other chefs on board. The second day the idea came up to have the last dinner on board prepared by the guest chefs to give us as ‘barge chefs’ a break What a fantastic idea. Next week I will tell you more about it, it all turned out great!

It has been a long, long time ago I wrote something on this blog. I cannot believe, almost another cruising season ending! There are so many stories to tell, I find it difficult where to start. This season I cruised mainly in beautiful Provence and in the natural park of the Camargue and it has been great! The flamingos showed themselves each cruise and several times we were really lucky to see them flying over the barge. One of our guests succeeded to take great pictures, hopefully I will receive them one day, I cannot wait to add them on the web site.

Flamingos of the Camargue

We still have two barge cruises lined up, very special, L’Etoile will cruise in tandem with other barges. Next week we will receive a group of 22 people and the week after 13 people, I will tell you all about it after those weeks! This Sunday we will depart from Avignon and cruise towards Agde on the Canal du Midi. The next week we start our cruise in Marseillan on the Etang du Tau and cruise along the oyster beds towards Beaucaire on the Canal du Rhone a Sete.We are looking forward to these weeks, cruising, special tours on request, it is all possible!

Happy New Year

Back in France!
Lots of things to tell you!

First of all we wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We started the New Year with a New Look, and a New Web Address – http://www.hbcruises.com/

The New Year with friends on the barge, it was warm and cozy. Often, during the cruising season, people ask me if the open fire really works, so hard to imagine while cruising during the summer. The answer is yes, and it gives a wonderful atmosphere!

Galette des Rois

Galette des Rois

Slowly ‘La France’ started up again on January 2. And already we celebrate another tradition.

In lot of French homes, a ‘galette des rois’ is baked. It is still a very popular tradition and an opportunity for family and friends to gather around the table. The cake contains a lucky charm ‘la fève’ and comes with a golden paper crown.

The cake is served, and the person who finds the ‘fève’ becomes the king and is given the crown. The round form and golden colour reminds of the sun, the days are getting longer!

The ‘fèves’ were beans in the past. But as the tradition was, that the person who found the ‘fève’ had to buy a round of drinks for all the people joining the party, the potential King or Queen often swallowed the bean!
The lucky charm started being made of china and became often a collectionable item.

For those who are not that courageous in the kitchen, the galette des rois is sold in all French bakeries, all over France.

Here I found a recipe on the net: http://www.info-france-usa.org/atoz/galette.asp

GALETTE DES ROIS

January 6, The Feast of Epiphany or Little Christmas, is a holy festival honoring the wise men coming to the infant Jesus. This is one of the most popular eating traditions in France that takes place in January every year. A “fève” – a small china figurine – is hidden in the galette before baking. The lucky guest who gets the fève is crowned king and chooses his queen among the other guests. This takes place all over France in every family, between friends and work colleagues. The children absolutely love the game.

Recipe: Galette des Rois

(Serves eight)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb frozen puff pastry
2 eggs
7 oz almond paste

Preparation:
Leave the puff pastry at room temperature for about 2 hours until defrosted but still cold. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with baking parchment or grease the pan and lightly sift flour on it. Shake off any excess flour. Roll each sheet of pastry into a circle about 12 inches across.Place one circle on the prepared pan.Mix the egg with the almond paste until smooth and spread the mixture evenly on the prepared circle of pastry, leaving a border 1 1/2 inches wide all around. If you have a small china, insert it into the almond mixture (you may also use a bean as the fève.)  The person who gets the fève is the King or Queen. Place the second circle of pastry on top and press it down tightly around the rim. Beat lightly the remaining egg and brush it on the top of the cake. With a long-bladed knife, press lightly but firmly through the egg glaze marking a crisscross pattern. Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden and puffed. Do not check for doneness for at least 15 minutes, as the pastry may collapse. Serve slightly warm or cold.

Bon Appétit et a Bientôt!

Cobie

Leaving Atlanta

Welcome to my blog. I hope you will help me out by reading and commenting often, as I love to hear from my friends – both old and new.

Today I am leaving Atlanta on my way back to Burgundy. I have been here 3 weeks working with my web designer on my new and improved web site. I hope you like it!

As soon as I am home and unpacked – I will post again and tell you all about the new itineraries for 2007, my life in the off-season, and other things.

Until then – A Bientot!