We had dinner in the village last night.
It was the Repas de Chasse, or hunter’s dinner. All of the villages in the area have them after hunting season is over. This is the first year that we’ve gone.
It started at 7:30 and we left at 1:30….. It was a long dinner.
Unfortunately, the dogs don’t understand the concept of sleeping in.
Details about the dinner tomorrow; today it’s about Andorra.
Well, the veal in Andorra, anyway.
I remember when I lived in the US there was milk-fed veal, or (I think) very young veal.
That’s not what I get here.
When we lived in Andorra we had grass-fed, ‘country’ veal. that was grazed in the high pastures until it was a year old. All aspects were strictly controlled and it was delicious.
Although it’s not controlled here in France (which is surprising) it appears to be about the same age and is equally good.
This is a traditional Italian dish, but I’ve been making it for so long I may have deviated from the original recipe.
This is a quick and easy dish, using tender veal scallops. It’s finished with a silky wine sauce. Chicken breasts, pounded thin, or turkey scallops would make good substitutes. Both would need a bit more cooking. Pounding the veal is optional.
Total time: 15 minutes
- 12oz (360gr) veal cutlets, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) sweet Marsala
- 1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) beef broth
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 3 tbs flour
- 1 tbs butter
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Place each piece of veal between 2 sheets of cling film (plastic wrap) and pound with a meat mallet or the edge of a heavy plate. You want to get them a bit thinner and larger. (I often don’t bother.)
- In a large, nonstick skillet heat the butter and oil over medium high heat.
- Spread the flour out on a plate.
- Dip the veal into the flour, coating both sides then place in the pan. Do not crowd. Do them in batches if necessary. Quickly brown on both sides, about one minute each.
- Remove to a small platter and cover to keep warm or place in a warm oven (250F, 125C).
- The sauce:
- Add the Marsala, beef stock and tomato paste to the pan, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Let sauce cook rapidly until reduced and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Return the veal to the pan, cover and heat through, 2 – 3 minutes.
- Put veal back on platter, spoon sauce over and serve.
As long as we’re traveling around talking about food – here’s another opinion on the foods of Andorra from my friend Peter:
If I had a complaint about restaurant food in Andorra, it was the unimaginative desserts. In the 1990s, there wasn’t a patisserie in the country and if you didn’t like crema catalana (Andorra’s version of crême caramel), your choice was cheese, ice cream or fruit. Fortunately, better things were available, just over the border, in France. Not long after we arrived, I made a 4-day trip across the Pyrenees to St. Jean de Luz, on the Atlantic coast.
In Bagnères de Luchon, where I stopped for coffee, the patronne of Le Charivari offered me a slice of the regional specialty, gâteau à la broche. Made from butter, eggs, flour, sugar, rum and vanilla and cooked in artisan style over a wood fire, it was expensive at $25 for a small cake, but she was selling a couple of dozen every day in a town with a population of under 3,000.
Bagnères is famous for its spa, located at one end of the Allées d’Etigny, an elegant, tree-lined avenue with sidewalk cafes, where the patrons sip coffee and people-watch while pretending to read their newspapers.
The spa was open to visitors and I was free to walk around. In one of the treatment rooms, people were doing more things with water than I would have thought possible; in the spacious lobby, wraith-like figures in white robes were shuttling in and out of doors with dire-sounding names: Vaporarium, Pulvérisation, Gargarisme. It seemed best not to know what was going on in the Drainage de Posture.
On the road again next day, in the patisseries of Luz St. Sauveur, I found myrtilles: small, densely-textured, almond-flavored sponges with a layer of bilberries inside. Later, around Oloron Ste. Marie, there was a Le Russe cake with meringue, marzipan and butter cream; further west, in St. Jean Pied de Port, the gâteau basque, an almond cake layered with crème and cherries. It’s a classic dish in the region and I sampled it again in another village on the way to the coast.
When I drove into St. Jean de Luz on the last afternoon, the temperature was still 30C (86F) degrees and people in almost-costumes were sprawled on the beach. The city was celebrating a festival and, in the evening, as I sat on the patio of a restaurant in the Place Napoleon enjoying my dessert, a band of musicians in black trousers and white shirts slashed with red, paraded the streets.
“Heaven,” declared a famous 19th century English cleric, “is eating paté de foie gras to the sound of trumpets.” Perhaps so, but I wonder what he would have said about gâteau basque and oom-pah-pah music.
If you are interested in reading more about Peter’s adventures in foreign lands have a look at his book:‘Here, There and Everywhere’
There will be one more excerpt next week – building castles in Spain.
We’re still working on the wine…..