Tuesday, November 04, 2014


Climbers on this classic multi pitch sport route; the best route we climbed                UHG
‘When it comes to camping there are many choices. To pillow, or not to pillow? To shave, or not to shave? In my opinion an air mattress that requires a pump is definitely out, however there is one thing that is for sure: you want quick simple meals that you cook in a single pot.’

A quick, simple one pot dish. The bread mop helps clean the dishes                                                                                  UHG
Laura and I had come to France to rock climb. Now the thing about climbing is the lighter you are the better you climb: it’s a power to weight ratio thing. France is the home of sport climbing; it also probably has the world’s best food. Serious climbers are skinny and very careful what they eat. Thank heavens we are not serious climbers. We cashed in on the best value breads, cheeses, cured meats and paté around. The locals are eating this stuff every day and they seem to be remarkably slim and healthy (what do you say to that Tim Noakes?)

Our standard lunch eaten off the bouldering pad                            UHG
The brilliant breads seem to be the very fabric around which everyday French cuisine is based. I believe that by law there needs to a boulangerie (bakery) to serve even the smallest settlements (the state subsidises outlets that are not viable). Most of the breads seem to have a delicious crispy crust, which acts like protective packaging and makes the loaf robust. These loaves you can jam into a stuffed backpack, strap onto a bicycle carrier or carelessly toss onto a seat of a car. After collecting our daily loaf, not once could I make it back to our campsite without snapping off one of the nipples on the ends and popping it into my mouth- if I was feeling charitable Laura would be lucky to get the other one. Our stock lunch on the crags was bread (minus nipples), cured meats or paté, cheese and tomato.

Chanterelles                                                                                                                                                                            UHG
The cheese and cured meats (charcuterie) aisle in French supermarkets are extraordinary. The variety and quality available is better than any specialist shop you might find in Cape Town, yet the prices are very reasonable. Duck liver paté or paté de campagne and goats milk (chèvre) or a regional cheese became our firm favourites.

Oooo! another cep on the way to a bouldering site                                                                                                              UHG
FORAGING - Did you know that French pharmacies are obliged to identify foraged goodies, to let you know if it is poisonous or not? How splendid is that?! We ate foraged food every day. The best was picking ceps (porcini mushrooms) right under the very boulders we were grappling with in Fontainebleau. When it came to bouldering, the last part of our trip, I was thoroughly ‘burnt off’ (climbers’ talk for ‘my arse was kicked’) by Laura. After gathering the broken bits of my male ego she kindly dropped me off at Charles De Gaulle airport and we started our lonely journeys back home, her to Sheffield and me to Cape Town.

Laura showing me how it's done                                                                 UHG
A monumental thanks must go to Laura Evans. For a while now she has been a HUGE inspiration for my blogs. Not only does she have appreciation for good food, but her vast food knowledge amazes me (especially French food). I’m always drawing on her skills and instinctive grasp of what goes with what. Her keen foraging eye has at least doubled the variety and quantity of bounty on our foraging missions together. She has always been patient and gracious when I have gone off my nut on some crazy foraging frenzy. Laura has been editing and refining this blog for some time now. I also have to admit that on occasions I even use her ideas pretty much word for word in my writing, like in the first paragraph of this blog.

The climbing was brilliant                                                                                                Nadine
Finally Lor, thank you for being a great driver (except for that one occasion), ‘tour operator’, guide, French translator, but mostly for being partners in crime.

A Charlie in a pear tree                                                                                UHG
Tossing pears                                                                                         UHG
The Bracket Fungi, 'Beefsteak of the Woods'          UHG
Its uncanny how like steak these mushrooms are                                  UHG
Yummy with wild marjoram                                                                        UHG
Not a bad campsite                                                                                    Laura
Watercress from the campsite river                                                           UHG
                   Chanterelles, my new favourite mushrooms                                          UHG                     

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