Once again, our local corner shop L’Epicier has some unusual items for sale at Christmas. I had seen a poster in their window, very eye catching, advertising La Gauloise, a strong liqueur. Named as a Liqueur Hygienique it comes in a beautiful bottle which lists all the prizes it has won Internationally from Paris, Italy, Brussels and even Glasgow!
It first took its name from Le Gaul of Roman times whose legions of soldiers well appreciated its fine flavour.
Founded in 1789 in the city of distillers, Limoges, which received goods from afar such as exotic spices and herbs, saffron, cardamon, angelica, nutmeg, cloves and St John’s wort to mix them with Cognac. Double distilled to age slowly in wooden barrels and also huge stone vats, the alcohol level is 40% for the Jaune and 48% for the green bottle Verte .
A family business, now run by Pierre Nouhaud, whose great grandfather started it so many years ago, called Center Distillery, which is the last remaining one in the region.
The old original recipe from those years is still a secret and unique . It won a Medaille D’Or at the Parisian Exhibition in 1889 to Glasgow in 1902 with a Prix Haut.
It can be taken in a warm cup after coffee as well as in a balloon glass. In moderation as they always say. At 26 euros a bottle too. Santé!
We once went on holiday to the Dordogne at Christmas, which was very special. In a hotel overlooking the valley and sitting in a cozy restaurant by the river we had, what seemed to be, a twenty course dinner. Starting with a soup made from different fish, foie gras on toast, a huge seafood platter, beef or salmon as a main course, cheeses of every kind,and the buche de Noel as dessert.Plus different wines for each course.We enjoyed it enormously and luckily didn’t have far to go to bed!
We encountered a potato dish too called Pommes de terre Sarladaises which was delicious. I now do it here in the winter with a warming beef stew.Here is the recipe.Duck fat is required.
Peel the potatoes(depending on how many you might want) wash them, and cut into thin circles.Dry them thoroughly in a teatowel.
In a large frying pan, put in a good dose of duck fat on a medium heat gas.Spread the potatoes onto the pan overlapping each other.Cook for 10 minutes, stirring them gently and regularly.
When they start to become golden, put in a little salt,and add more duck fat.the more the better.
Cover the pan and let them cook for about 15 minutes,turning them delicately with a spatula.
Prepare during this time, several big cloves of garlic,again to individual taste, chop them finely and mix it together with fresh chopped parsley. Stir it into the potatoes and add salt and pepper to taste.Cover,and let this cook a further 10 minutes.Serve immediately.
A French Dessert for Christmas
Apart from the usual Christmas log ,which is lovely of course,there is another one which I hadn’t heard of. I was given a brioche , a slightly spicy loaf from the region La Vendee which is another delight.Called La Maligorne and it has been in existence since 1932.
Apparently , as the story goes, local authorities in Brittany,would offer their hosts and important dignitaries a sweet tasting bread called ” une gaiche ” They were made locally mainly for Easter times. It is rich in spices, butter, eggs and some rum I noticed on the packet.Unusual but very nice.
I have been given, so far from friends and neighbours little presents for Christmas, including a magret de canard, a Christmas pudding and mince pies, Belgian chocolates and several bottles of wine.
Merry Christmas to you all and a Very Happy New Year from rural France.
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