Posted by: kathandroger | March 26, 2011

Jerusalem artichokes, rugby and the cuckoo

We don’t have a lot left in our garden at the moment, but we do still have a fine crop of Jerusalem artichokes. As last year, however, it has proved a bit of a struggle to use them all up (largely because we get carried away when we plant them!). So I was very pleased to find an interesting new recipe in a new book Roger bought me for my birthday… “Nose to Tail Eating” by a chef called Fergus Henderson. Apparently this is a bit of a cult book, and it certainly has some very different recipes in it. As the name perhaps suggests, it has recipes for the whole animal – the bits we generally throw away or never get in the first place.

It does also have recipes for lesser eaten vegetables, such as our old friend the Jerusalem artichoke. So, I made a salad of grilled JAs with roast red onions and olives. Basically I boiled the JAs, skin on, until just soft but not mushy, then put them aside to cool. I cut the red onions into quarters, mixed them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roasted them until soft. Then, I mixed the olives with some mache (which I think is lambs lettuce in English?) and some crispy bacon bits. Next, I sliced the JAs lengthways and grilled them on a hot griddle for 2-3 mins on each side. Finally, I mixed all together with a tasty vinaigrette (using our walnut oil). It turned out very tasty indeed!

Then we realised that we were due to spend 2 hours in a car with our friends Phyll and Paul this morning. Oh dear. If you’ve eaten JAs before, you will know they have an adverse effect one one’s digestive system resulting in unpleasant gaseous emissions. Catastrophe! or so we thought…. In the event there were no adverse effects! Is that the secret? Consume with a vinagrette?…or salad?…or onions?…or is it olives? Whatever it was, Phyll and Paul were saved!

The purpose of our trip was to watch La Rochelle play Perpignan at rugby in the Top 14 championship. We set off quite early, as La Rochelle is a beautiful town, so we decided to have a wander and lunch in the old town before the match. As it has been all week, the weather was beautiful so we sat outside at a very classy restaurant overlooking the old port and watched the world go by. Then to the match. Unfortunately we had been only been able to get standing tickets behind the posts, but thought at least we’d be able to soak up the atmosphere. When we got there, however, we discovered there wasn’t even a stand – it was literally just standing behind the posts. Our experience of the french is that they are  pretty small as a race – I reckon we had the tallest hundred or so standing right in front of us! We were a bit downhearted, realising our view wasn’t going to be great, so I decided it would probably best if we split up and tried to work our way towards the front. It turned out that I was more of a natural at this than the others as soon I had a virtually unimpaired view of the pitch. Unfortunately the others didn’t! We were supporting La Rochelle, our most local team, who are unfortunately threatened with relegation in their first season in the lucrative Top 14….after 20 minutes they had already conceded 3 tries. Their afternoon only went downhill from there…whereas I managed to work my way through right to the very front and had a wonderful view of proceedings! Despite the viewing issues, we all agreed we’d had a grand day out!

Then, when we got home, the dulcet tones of the cuckoo could be heard from the wood up the hill… We were worried he was late and might not make it this year, but he’s here and spring is now definitely underway!

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