Sunday, August 9, 2009


Just to throw this out there, I am sorry for not proof reading my posts and misspelling so many words, creating run on sentences etc. I just read through some and corrected them. I'm a cook, not a journalist. This post is mainly for my sister Leigh, ( the teacher ). Saute, got it, sentence structure?...not so much.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Final Project:

Ok so my plane was overbooked by 8 people and I was the first in line to get my seat back. Unfortunately, there were none so I got put up in a hotel near the airport. I took the wrong shuttle to the wrong hotel because every hotel has the word Ibis in it. I am here now and will be home tomorrow night thank god. Anyway, here it is the FINAL PROJECT, a compilation of all the decent photos I took throughout my stay here in France. It is about eight and a half minutes, so if you are in a rush, check it out later, otherwise enjoy, I know I did.

Note: The quality isn't too great compared to the original so I can make a copy on a CD for those who want it, for now this will have to do:

Sunday, August 2, 2009

On my way home soon...

The past week or so has been pretty low key around the farm which is why there were not as many posts as there were in the first part of my trip. I am about to leave the Ferme Auberge within the next hour or so to return to Kate Hill's house for the night. Tomorrow morning I will take the train from Agen back up to Paris where I will have literally 24 hours in the airport since my train had to be changed. My friend Jonathan, who I spent a week with at Kate's is there but who knows if I will meet up with him to kill some time. I am very ready to come back to the states, I need a burrito or cheesesteak or something. the time I had here was amazing and I met so many  sincerely good, generous and inviting people throughout my time here. To those people who helped me out thank you very much and here's a little note personally for each of you:

Kate: Thank you for giving me the opportunity of experiencing what Gascony is all about the local food, farmers and people. I will never forget this for the rest of my life. The way you live your life is very inspiring, and what a lot of people would consider a fantasy, so thank for letting me experience a small part of it.

Jehanne: I know bringing strangers into your house and home, feeding them etc. is what you do for a living, but you do it so effortlessly ( at least you make it look that way ) I thank you so much for bringing me in to work/play on your farm for these past few weeks. I learned more then you may realize and have a greater appreciation for what you and people like you do. You are responsible for so much, a farm, the restaurant, your kids, the people who stay at the farm and the list goes on, yet you always seem relaxed. It's amazing and I wish you all the best... you know you like ketchup you just don't want to admit it.

Claire: the one who I consider my French big sister. First off, thanks for speaking English, with out that I would have been screwed. More importantly, you were the one who made sure I had everything I needed, was comfortable, and showed me around you're little part of the world. The market was a blast and everything else we did. You were a very big part of my experience here and you made it that much easier/better. Thank you. Oh yeah please translate the letter above to you're mom, thanks.

Symon: Oh Symon, you are certainly a character and I really liked "working" and hanging out with you. I agree it was great to have a guy my own age to hang out and talk to while I stayed on the farm. You are an extremely a hard worker and you know how to have a good time too. I have a massive amount of respect for you and you're sister, the way you help your mom out so much. Thanks for everything and you are OBLIGED to keep in touch. - Clemens - keep him in line!

Veronique: Not sure if I spelled you're name right but thanks for showing me the ropes. You have a good sense of humor and I really like working in the lab with you filling all the "boxes."
Except for the hairnet. Anyway Jehanne is very lucky to have you working there at the farm for so long at it seems like you are just another member of the family, you just don't sleep there.
Thank you.

The Chapolard's: Thanks so much for showing me what you do. Butchering is a lost art and you as a family seem to have it down to a science. I learned so much in the 2 days I worked with you and I am sorry again for missing out the last week. Hopefully one day I will be able to grow a mustache as good as you Dominique and when I do, I send you the photo. Most likely for the rest of my life, whenever I eat pork, I will most likely be thinking of you guys. thanks again and keep in touch.

Jonathan, Camas, Eugenie: I'm coming to Portland so I'll talk to you then...but until then, 
J-keep skating C-keep butchering E-keep shooting

Chef Huber- I will see you in a few weeks, but thanks again for inspiring me to make the move and experience things most people only think happen in movies. I am a better cook and person because of it.

Speaking of movies, I am almost done the movie I have been working on showcasing all the "decent" photos I have taken throughout my time here. stay tuned I will post it hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Thanks again everyone,



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Salsa and Cows...and a few drinks

     Sorry I haven't posted in a few days but I got some interesting stuff for you now. First off, on Friday or was it Saturday night, Simone took me to a huge Party at some village where it was basically thousands of people salsa dancing and drinking. It got to the point where i was lost for 2 hours by myself, speaking very poor french except for, "beer please." I eventually found everyone and continued on with the night. 
     Last night Simone took my to a show that is very typical of the southwest of France. His 2 friends who are pictured below are not really "bull fighters" but more like "cow avoiders." Regardless it was pretty interesting to watch and besides the show, they have "games" that the public can participate in. As much as I regret it now, at the time I didn't really feel like playing soccer in a ring with horned animals bigger than me running around freely or try and steal a rose tied between the horns of an angry, reasonably sized cow with not a care about what it would do to here are the photos form outside the ring.

Simone's friends, Julien & Jerome

Jerome doing his job correctly

and Julien doing his job incorrectly, run Julien, run!

America's favorite pastime: Baseball
Southwest France's favorite pastime: Flipping over angry cows
Bill's favorite time last night? When Julien got plowed by a cow...he's fine.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cochon & Marche'

The past 2 days I was staying with some friends that own and pig farm, the Chapolard's. The Chapolards are a family of butchers who raise, slaughter, butcher and create different products from every part of the pig and sell them at markets. I was invited to stay and work with them in their cutting room where we broke down pig after pig creating sausages, pate, boudin, chorizo and the list goes on. It was a great experience to break down whole pigs since it is rare that restaurants back in the states get whole carcasses. It is amazing that a huge family of 4 brothers and their wives who each have at least 4 children can survive very comfortably off of their land by raising a single animal, cochon (pig). I was also taken the the abattoir which is technically the slaughterhouse if you want to be graphic, but abattoir is a nicer name. I got to see how the the pig are "put down" if you will which is quite interesting. I will not post any photos of the "put down piggies" due to graphicness of it but if you want to see them when I get home just ask me.
      Last night I returned from the Chapolard's to the Ferme Auberge and this morning I went with Claire to work the marche' (open market) to see what it is like working one since I have been to many as a customer already. It was really a good time since she told everyone I was an American, everyone wanted to talk to me, too bad I couldn't understand most of it. The other people working the venders next to us were extremely nice and friendly, and a few a bit crazy. Elliott was selling some of the best raw oyster I have ever had. Next to her was Alex who was selling her homemade confitures (jam) which I will bring home thanks to Alex. All in all the past few days have been really fun and really tiring. 

L to R: Alex, some guy who would not stop singing, Elliott.

Elliott's empty oysters. She sold out of 15 full coolers full.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Silkies and Hamburgers

I think this is really funny because a few months before I came to France, I discovered a species of chicken called the "silky" chicken. They are ridiculous looking with huge white fluff and it just so happens that the farm I am living at bought two small ones, male and female and heres a photo. Also since everyone here makes fun of my accent and says I don't speak English, I speak American so I had to find away to come back at them. All I need to do is ask anyone from France to say...hamburger. It's really funny how they try to say it, even though they really can't. Watch this ( clip ) from the newer version of the Pink Panther with Steve Martin all the way through (2 minutes) and you will see how much fun I have with them.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Farm Life

So like I said in a few previous posts, I am now living on farm cooking, learning and helping anyway I can. Yesterday was my first full day here and first up was picking strawberries for the restaurant:

After that we did some odds and ends and after lunch I usually work with Veronique in the conservatory where we make the prepared food to sell at the markets, like cured magret or canard hearts stuffed with foie gras, rillettes, pate' etc. There is also a full canning system where we can a lot of food hence "conservatory." Here is a photo of magret stuffed with foie gras that has been cured then soaked in Armagnac and peppered then hung to drywhich we did yesterday.

This is also a pretty cool feature to the farm as well...a pool, I took a dip the first day but yesterday was too cold and today looks like it will be too.
If you look on the very right inside that overhang is a giant wood-burning stove where some of their friends/local farmers come to bake organic bread twice a week and in return we get fresh bread twice a week to sell in the restaurant for free. 

Creative Commons License
the cutting boarder by William Reeves is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.