That’s a wrap – September 23, 2018

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Mooloolaba Mornings this week

Down on Mooloolaba Spit, there’s a telegraph pole that was placed there to allow the resident eagle pair (although technically they’re kites…whatever) to build their nest. Each morning when we walk we look for them. Just lately there’s been a lot more activity in the nest and this morning all four residents of the nest were up and standing proud. Yes, they’ve managed to raise two chicks who now appear to be ready to leave the nest – at least mum and dad appear to be ready for them to leave the nest!

Anyways, enough about the eagles…

Where we explored…

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point

Sunday lunch was at the Apollonian Hotel in Boreen Point – about an hour drive north of where we live on the Sunshine Coast, but just 20 minutes or so from Noosa.

The Apollonian, first licensed in 1868, is a fabulous place for a bit of a Sunday sesh, but we were meeting some fellow bloggers and their husbands: Jan from Budget Travel Talk, Jan from Retiring Not Shy and Sandy from Tray Tables Away.

Food, wine, beer, sunshine and lots of travel talk. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

What I announced…

Coming soon

The cover for Happy Ever After. I love this cover and I truly love this book – and can’t wait to get it out into the world. If you want to know more about it, check out this link.

What I wrote…

I’ve finally finished drafting my 6th book – snappily titled Book No. 6. It’s no. 2 in my Careful What You Wish For mini-series. I’m now in the process of going through it making sure that the dots are joined and all the scenes run the way that they should. I write by the seat of my pants so there’s usually quite a bit of re-working through that I need to do.

I also blogged something about strawberries.

Buderim Village Park

Just up the road from us with great picnic and barbecue facilities and a pretty impressive outlook.

In the kitchen…

Ten acres spelt bread, Gympie fresh goat’s cheese, Noosa Red tomatoes

We tried out a new laksa paste from a local producer. The next best thing to making it ourselves – except of course, that it’s quicker. Super yum.

Oh, the green on the top of the soup is sliced snow peas because I don’t like bean sprouts but wanted some crunch.

We also took the kitchen to Buderim Park on Friday and prepared Bun Cha – Vietnamese pork noodle salad – outside.

 

There was also this salad I put together on Saturday using produce we’d picked up that morning at Kawana Waters Farmer’s Markets:

  • Smoked salmon
  • Noosa Reds cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber and leaves
  • Avos from the organic avo man
  • Yoghurt from Maleny Dairies
  • Lemons

What made me go eeeeuw…

The first cane toad sighting of the year on the front lawn.

That was my week…how was yours?

Happy Ever After – The Cover Reveal

Here it is – the cover for my next novel, Happy Ever After.

Do you only get one chance at a happy ever after?
Kate and Neil met at a protest march in Sydney in August 1985 – Kate was marching, Neil wasn’t. It was love almost at first sight.
Over thirty years have passed, their children have grown, and Kate and Neil have gone from being happily married to being happily separated. That is until Neil asks for a divorce – and another wedding brings up feelings they’d both thought were long gone.

Kate and Neil fall in love all over again, but the repercussions are unexpected and far-reaching. Will Kate be able to overcome a whole new set of challenges to find her happy ever after?

What’s it about?

Happy Ever After is a love story, but more than that it’s a story about love. It’s a story about how love changes, grows and is challenged over the years. It’s about the curve balls life throws us just when we’re ready to begin realising our dreams. It’s about living the better or for worse and richer and poorer thing and it’s about coming out the other side. It’s about family, friends, second, third and even fourth chances for a happy ever after. Mostly though, it’s about love.

When is it out?

It will be available for pre-sales in the next week or so and for sale in the usual places at the beginning of November.

Watch this space!

Strawberries

I was going to tell you about another chateau today, but there are more pressing matters at hand. Instead of long-dead French nobles with too much time and too many resources at their disposal, we’re going to talk about strawberries.

Aussie farmers are doing it tough at the moment with widespread drought. In the past week or so, though, we’ve seen a $500 million (or thereabouts) industry be brought to its knees by a few idiot saboteurs with sewing needles –  the Queensland strawberry industry.

What you might not know is that South East Queensland – and predominantly the Sunshine Coast from Caboolture and up through to Bundaberg – supplies Australia with its winter strawberry crops. The season runs between May and October. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of punnets of the best tasting strawberries you’ll eat.

The supermarkets may have pulled their strawberries off the shelf, but we’re still buying them from the markets. The alternative is to watch them being dumped – and the farmer’s livelihoods with them.

Radio stations and newspapers here on the Coast are imploring people to get behind the strawberry farmers and still buy strawberries – to cut them before eating if you’re concerned – and to share favourite recipes. Here are mine.

Check. Chop. Consume.

No recipe recipes…

What are we doing with them? We’re eating them – for breakfast with yoghurt and granola and passionfruit.

We’re freezing them – for smoothies and trifles. And we’re macerating them in creme de cassis for a little bit of France in a bowl.

You can, of course, also use them to make jam, top a pavlova or a Victoria sponge cake, or stir them through lemon curd and spoon it into little pastry cases for a quick and tasty dessert.

Need some more ideas?

No-Churn strawberry ice-cream

This comes out of the food processor looking just like a strawberry soft serve. It’s just 500g frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup icing sugar and 1 egg white all blitzed in a food processor. Job done.

Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt

An alternative to ice-cream is strawberry frozen yoghurt – although this one does need to be churned in an ice cream maker. The principle is similar. Take 500g strawberries and hull and dice them. Pop them in a bowl with 1/2 cup caster sugar and leave it for a couple of hours or until the sugar has dissolved.

Pop the strawberry mixture into your food processor, add 1 1/2 cups Greek-style (full fat) yoghurt and process until smooth. Then spoon it into your ice cream machine and let it churn for however long your machine needs to churn for. Then freeze.

Strawberry Cloud Cake

Anyone who spends any amount of time in the kitchen will have a party favourite in their repertoire – you know, that one dish that you pull out every time you have a crowd to feed.

This Strawberry Cloud Cake is mine. It’s impressive, it’s pretty, it’s seriously easy to put together, it tastes good and it’s pink.

Just what is a cloud cake? Aside from having a delectable name, this creation is a feather-light, frozen cross between an ice cream and a mousse, with none of the faffing around that usually goes with these. It’s also a piece of scientific mastery as this

photo-15 Becomes this,

photo-16

on the way to becoming thick and pink and fluffy

photo-17

And then, this.

photo-18

I won’t reprint the recipe, the link to the recipe is here

Strawberry Trifle

In our house, trifles are hubby’s domain. He makes one once a year – for Christmas. He uses aeroplane jelly mix and cut up sponge cake. It’s a bit of a Christmas classic, and this one represents no attempted takeover of the Christmas trifle. For a start, there’s no powdered jelly mix in sight.

To make the jelly you’ll need:

  • 500g strawberries.
  • Juice and grated rind of an orange
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 gelatine leaves. I used titanium strength – it’s a lot, but you need the jelly to be firm enough to hold the sponge fingers, custard and cream.

Place everything except the gelatine in a saucepan and bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer – for about 5-6 minutes. While the berries are simmering, soften the gelatine leaves in cold water. This should take about 5 minutes.

Squeeze the excess water out of the squidgy gelatine and add it to the hot berry mixture. Stir until it’s dissolved, and set aside to cool for an hour before pouring into your trifle bowl – or bowls, if you’re being fancy schmancy. Put into the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

Once the jelly is set arrange some sponge fingers across the top, drizzle with sherry, and top with custard. Of course, you can make your own – but it’s easier to buy the dollopy sort from the supermarket. Then it’s just a matter of spooning on some whipped cream and decorating with more berries.

Do you have any favourite strawberry recipes?

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


 

Chateaux of the Loire Valley: Chenenceau

Day 2 and Chateau No. 3 – the other chateau on most tourist’s must-do lists. And this one is truly beautiful – even if we did visit on a Sunday morning on the first rainy day we’d had all trip.

Henry II bought this place for his long-time mistress Diane De Poitiers. At 20 years his senior she was apparently the love of his life.

Diane created the fabulous gardens here and also built the bridge across the river so she could go hunting on the other side.

When Henry died his wife, Catherine de Medici took back the chateau – even though she had apparently no legal right to it.  It was all part of a revenge that she’d waited a long time – her whole marriage – to take.

It was Catherine who built the gallery over the bridge – creating a long ballroom that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. I tried to picture it full of fabulous people in fabulous finery instead of the rabble of tourists – it didn’t work.

Inside the chateau, it’s a sumptuous as any chateau has a right to be and much more richly furnished than Chambord was.

As for the flowers…oh, the flowers…

The grounds are also beautiful – and more extensive than we were able to cover in the rain.

We visited on a wet Sunday morning in May and it was absolutely packed. I’d hate to think how busy it gets in the summertime!

 

That’s a Wrap – September 16, 2018

Wow, I haven’t done one of these for ages and, with the amount of other work I have on at the moment, I probably shouldn’t be procrastiposting now either. Not to worry – on with the week.

How’s the weather?

Sunrise is now well before 6 am and Spring is definitely in the air. On my walk yesterday morning I watched some whales breaching not far off the Headland. They’re on their way back down to Antarctica, but seeing them is always a sign that the weather is warming up. What amazed me was the number of people watching their phones rather than the whales – and trust me, these guys were putting on a show and a half. Aside from the breaching thing, there was quite a bit of tail slapping and fin waving going on.

The banksia is in full colour and is full of birds every morning.

In the herb garden the Thai, or Holy, Basil is also in flower and attracting huge numbers of bees.

In the Kitchen

I’ve been experimenting with different noodle salads at least once a week – all part of the trying to eat a little bit healthier thing. This week it was Bun Cha – little Vietnamese pork patties with vermicelli noodles, a herb salad and a spicy dipping sauce. Very yum.

I had a colleague from Sydney working out of the Buderim Office this week, ie our home. We had a ridiculous amount of work to get through so booked out the meeting rooms for the week ie the dining table.

On Wednesday we cooked pho bo from scratch. We put the stock on during our lunch break – using a heap of beef short ribs and bucketloads of spices. We loved it on Wednesday night and enjoyed it even more for lunch on Thursday.

At the markets this week I bought a bag of passionfruit and turned them into passionfruit and vanilla pannacotta.

And yes, we’re still buying strawberries – direct from the farmer – despite what is going on in the supermarkets.

Using some of the berries we had in the freezer – a mix of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries – I blitzed up this instant ice-cream that I heard about on a Gary Mehigan podcast. It’s 500g frozen berries, 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 egg white all in the blender and blitzed. It comes out like soft serve.

Where we picnicked…

On Friday we took some fabulous Mooloolaba prawns, salad and bread rolls up to the Headland and looked for whales. We didn’t see any whales, but we did have the best lunch!

What I wrote…

With all the policy writing that went on last week, I’m running a few days behind in finishing my draft of the Tiff book for my editor. To say I’ve struggled with it would be an understatement.

In other news, I have the copy edit back from my editor but won’t start on that until I’ve finished with Tiff. The way that I’ve been struggling with the Tiff book even a copy edit seems preferable to work on at the moment!

I’ve also got a few concepts back for my cover for Happy Ever After. My faves are:

My pick is No 1 – I love the colours – but I’d love to know what you think.

Ok, that was my week – how was yours? 

 

Châteaux of the Loire Valley – Chambord

Chambord
Chambord

Ok, so we’re up to Stage 5 of our Le Grand Tour of France…or should that be Étape cinq? Whatever it is, it’s also the Loire Valley – and the Loire Valley means châteaux.

The thing about the châteaux is that they are somehow too grand, too ostentatious, and too too much. If you’re not careful, château fatigue can sweep through you before you can say Chambourcin. They (“they” being experts in this type of thing) say you should do no more than two a day, and, if possible, make that two a day one of the biggies and one other. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself shuffling mindlessly with your eyes glazed over and muttering…

The other thing about the châteaux? Let’s just say that I now understood why France had a revolution – and we’ll leave it at that before my anti-elitist soapbox comes back out from it’s resting spot.

Chambord

Chambord
Chambord

First up was the big daddy of them all – Chambord. Almost too big to fit into the camera frame, this chateau is more a statement of the splendour of the French monarchy than it is anything else.

Apparently, 25-year-old Frank the First spent just 8 weeks here in total.

Many of the rooms aren’t furnished – but then apparently they never were – at least not permanently anyway. the French court was constantly on the move and with them to the next place went all the furniture and fittings. The monarch’s entourage might number 10,000, with 20,000 horses. They didn’t just drop in – if you know what I mean.

The highlight, though, of this chateau is the double spiral staircase.

Apparently, it’s double helix design was designed by Leonard da Vinci – although that has never been confirmed. The two spirals ascend the three floors without ever meeting.

Next time… Clos Lucé, Amboise and Leonard Da Vinci

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Cervelle de Canut

cervelle de canut

Lyon has such a strong food tradition that it’s often referred to as the stomach of France. There’s an irony in this in that very often stomach is on the menu…more on that below.

Although Lyon has more Michelin starred restaurants than most other places in Europe, it’s not just about fine dining. In fact, in the bouchons, it’s very much the opposite; and yet, that’s what most people come to try – the food of the Bouchons.

The term “bouchon” is used to refer to a plug or a stopper – like a cork. It’s also used in reference to traffic jams. In the case of Lyon, the Bouchon is a bistro style restaurant serving Lyonnaise cuisine.

These were originally places where silk merchants stopped to have a meal, clean their horses and maybe stay the night. The term Bouchon was used then to describe the twisted straw brushes used to clean the horses. Don’t say you don’t learn anything from this blog.

Most of these Bouchons were run by women – Mere Lyonnaises (the Mothers of Lyon) who left their positions as cooks in middle-class households to start their own businesses.

The food of the Bouchon is heavily meat-based and does, shall we say, use the whole of the animal. A whole tradition has been built around pork products and charcuterie. As they say tout est bon dans le cochon – all is good in the pig and nothing is wasted.

Although some of the names of the dishes sound quite fabulous, there’s nothing flash about the ingredients or the way they’re put together. Even though Lyon’s silk weavers, or canuts, couldn’t afford expensive ingredients, they still wanted to show the wealthy middle class that they too had refined tastes so gave their dishes names that gave the impression of luxury and richness – when the reality was very different.

Take the rather beautifully named Le Caviar de la Croix Rousse for example which is, in fact, lentil salad seasoned with cream and cervelas (dried sausage) or smoky lardons (bacon). As an aside, this is quite tasty.

Then there’s the Sabodet – a (wait for it) sausage comprised of ground pork head – the whole head – seasoned with red wine, garlic and nutmeg. Yeah…nah.

Or Le Tablier de Sapeur – or sapper’s apron prepared from…you know what? I’m not going there. Suffice to say I had an entire list – which I’m happy to share with you another time – of things we absolutely weren’t going to mistakenly order…although that didn’t stop hubby from willingly ordering andouillette.

Conversely, there are other dishes with names that would normally turn you off that are actually pretty nice – like Groins d’âne salad which translates to donkey snout salad but has no donkey parts anywhere near it. It is instead dandelion leaves with egg and lardons.

Sure, some of these dishes sound revolting – and not for the faint of heart – but they’re only part of the story. There’s plenty to love about Lyonnaise food. The charcuterie and cheese for a start. Then there’s Coq Au Vin – which comes from this region, well, just up the road in Burgundy; Salade Lyonnaise – a caesar salad on steroids; the famous Bresse Chicken – which is as good as it was promised to be; and Poulet Sauté au Vinaigre – which I made last night…and very yummy it was indeed. If you want the recipe, you’ll find it here.

One of the foodie highlights of our time in Lyon was Cervelle de Canut. This dish is named after the silk workers and translates loosely to silk workers brains. No brains were (thankfully) used in it. The meaning is instead a derogatory one – meaning that it’s soft. It was, perhaps, an indication of the dubious esteem that the silk workers were held in by the more affluent in society.

In any case, the silk workers – or canuts – would start work at stupid o’clock and by mid-morning would be needing a snack. This snack was known as machons (there’s a little upside-down v over the a) and consisted of something like this herby cream cheese, probably some charcuterie and all bits porky served with pots of Beaujolais in a Bouchon in the early morning.  My kind of breakfast. And yes, they’d be back for lunch.

We had this herb-flecked cheese dip served over boiled potatoes in Lyon, like in the photo below, but it’s also good on baked potatoes or slices of toasted baguette.

If you want to be really authentic have it with a glass of red wine or, better still, a communard – a Lyonnaise classic – red wine with blackcurrant liqueur (creme de cassis).

What you need

  • 250g cottage cheese or quark. Choose the full-fat version.
  • 50ml creme fraiche. You can also use non-sweetened greek style yoghurt if you like.
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chives, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

To serve: boiled peeled baby potatoes or potatoes baked in their skin, or sliced and toasted baguette

What you do with it

  • Place the cottage cheese and creme fraiche in a bowl and mix together.
  • Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper
  • Stir through the shallot, chives and parsley.
  • Cover with cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour

Cluny

Every so often when you’re on a road trip you come across places that are surprising in all the good ways. Unexpectedly and accidentally places that you could spend so much longer than you can there.

Chateauneuf en Auxois was like that – so was Cluny. Accidentally and unexpectedly fabulous.

When we arrived there was a horse thing on. Some very accomplished looking riders prancing around – ok, they weren’t prancing, the horses they were on were prancing – around a dressage ring. Cluny is big on horses – Haras National, the national stud farm, was founded here by Napoleon in 1806 and houses some of France’s finest thoroughbreds. Well might they prance. You can do tours of it, but we didn’t have that long.

We were there for the Abbey.

Cluny’s abbey, dating back to the 11th and 12th century, was the largest in all of Christendom when it was built. St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican took that title when it was constructed.

Back in the 12th century though, it was all about Cluny. The abbey, answering only to the Pope, had such great wealth and political power that it controlled over 1100 priories and monasteries not just across France, but as far afield as Portugal and Poland.

Of course, there are only ruins here now, but you can still get a fair idea of the scale and, if you close your eyes, it’s possible to picture what it must have been like.

As always, I was drawn to the gardens.

Just outside the abbey, we found an artisan glacier or home-made ice cream shop – the blood orange gelato finally took away the taste of the andouillette hubby had taken a bite of at lunch.

This town isn’t, however, just about the abbey. Full of restaurants, art galleries and cute little boutiques, this is one of those towns that you couldan wander for more hours than we had.

This menu certainly sounded nicer than what we’d had up the road in Saint-Gengoux-Le-National

Getting there…

Cluny is in Burgundy 92kms north of Lyon and about 425kms south of Paris. The closest TGV (train) station is at Macon.

 

 

Lyon

Pic was taken at the Roman ruins at Fourviere

Last week I took you along on a food tour of Lyon and showed you where we stayed. This week we’ll be checking out more of the sights.

Cathedrale St-Jean

Each of the neighbourhoods in Vieux or Old Lyon are named after the churches in those neighbourhoods. We have St-Georges to the south, St-Jean in the middle and St-Paul to the north. The area we stayed in was St-Jean, one of the traditionally more wealthy of the neighbourhoods.

Cathedrale St-Jean is, as many churches we looked at seemed to be, in a state of almost constant scaffold and renovation. It was built between the 11th and 16th century, with the facade completed in 1480. I was drawn – as you’d probably expect me to be – to the astronomical and astrological clock.

Fourviere

I told you last week about the traboules and how these alleys were used by the silk traders as a convenient shortcut, keeping their precious fabrics dry as they went from the workshops to the river. The traboules have, however, been in Lyon at least since the 4th century.

Back in the day, Lyon was a bit of a poster child for the Roman Empire. Lugdunum as they called it – which doesn’t have quite the same ring as Lyon – was important partly because it was a handy stop-over point, but mostly because it has two rivers. The Rhone curves through the centre of Lyon as does the Saone. It was, for many years, the capital of the Gaulish Roman Territories.

Anyways, once the Romans reluctantly left town, the aqueducts bringing water to the city started to fail – a little like an iPhone at the end of its warranty. People started building closer to the river and the first traboules were built around this time to allow people to get from their homes to the water quicker.

Which brings me back to Fourviere. The Romans built Lugdunum on the slopes of Fourviere more than 2000 years ago. Yes, we’re talking BC – but when we’re talking millennia, do the exact details really matter? It’s still very well preserved and well worth visiting – although it’s far better to catch the funicular up here than it is to walk.

The Roman Theatre – Théâtre Romain – was capable of holding an audience of up to 10,000 people. The day we visited we watched a school group rehearse.

There’s a museum you can go look at, but we were entranced by what we found here in the ruins and didn’t bother.

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

As far as French churches go, this one isn’t that old – it is, however magnificent and stands high on the hill with the whole of Lyon below it.

The day that we visited the funicular station at the Basilica was closed so we walked up from the Roman ruins. Even if we hadn’t, stepping into this grand space would have taken our breath away.

There’s part of me that is offended – although I don’t know if offended is the right word – by this outrageous display of wealth and power, and I feel quite hypocritical to be marvelling at it, but it’s impossible to turn away from. I read somewhere (can’t remember where) that all of this opulence could possibly have been to make up for the fact that the Basilica had no real political clout with the powers that be in Rome. Whatever the reason, the mosaics are absolute works of art.

The views from the terrace down to old Lyon and across the river are also pretty spectacular.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Saint-Gengoux-le-National and the andouillette incident

With Lyon as our destination and the start of stage 4 of our Tour de France, we’d left Burgundy relatively late, planning to stop in Cluny for lunch. That was until we saw the sign “Cité Médiévale” – always a reason to turn off the highway and go and have a look.

Saint-Gengoux-le-National

According to Wikipedia, this place has had a bit of an identity crisis over the years. At the revolution, Saint-Gengoux-le-Royal took the name of Saint-Gengoux-le-National. It reverted to Saint-Gengoux-le-Royal is 1834, Saint-Gengoux-le-National in 1848, Saint-Gengoux-le-Royal in 1852 before finally settling on Saint-Gengoux-le-National in 1881.

This town is full of houses with history – and by history, I mean hundreds of years. The church was built in 1100 something by the Benedictines of Cluny but has been extensively renovated over the years – following semi-regular plunders, trade issues, and changes in architectural taste.

There are plenty of other properties from the 16th and 17th centuries as well. I loved looking through the fences to see the medieval gardens – many still growing the same plants as they would have grown back then.

When we arrive it’s just past midday and the whole town is deserted. The only activity is in the few coffee shops and restaurants in the village square.

After walking around we decided to stop for lunch too – in what ended up being the only truly bad meal with truly bad service that we had in our entire French experience.

There were a couple of lovely looking bistros in the square – the sorts of places that had wisteria hanging down the stone walls and yummy sounding fixed price lunch menus. As tempting as the menus were, we had dinner booked at Le Nord that night so didn’t want a full meal – just something cheap and light.

There was a place across the road that looked as though it could be okay – pretty ordinary from outside, but they’d made some effort with the decor and the menu was cheap.

F and I order a croque monsieur – sort of like a French toasted ham and cheese sandwich, but so much better. This one is served spread across a disposable plate – like the ones you use at barbeques – and slapped on the table with some plastic knives and forks. It’s the worst croque monsieur that we’ve had, but then, even an ordinary croque monsieur is pretty good. It’s one of those dependable things in life.

Hubby, however, wanted to eat here because they had andouillette on the menu for 7E. This sausage made of pigs large intestines is often referred to euphemistically as a tripe sausage – and my husband has been wanting to try one ever since he got talked out of one in a Paris bistro back in 1995. What can I say? He has a long memory.

Of course, I tried to talk him out of it. I told him that Gary Mehigan said in a podcast that the first time he tried one it was like he was eating a biology lesson. I told him that the food writer Terry Durack said you needed to be able to get past “the aggressive aroma of stale urine mixed with sweet spices and pork fat” in order to enjoy it. As an aside, Durack apparently does enjoy it – as do (inexplicably) so many others. There is, believe it or not, an Association Amicale des Amateurs d’Andouillette Authentique (AAAAA) that was formed in order to protect standards and to honour those establishments serving the true, original andouillette. True story.

After both F and I repeated all the reasons why he’d be an idiot to eat something that sounded so gross, hubby reminded us that he enjoys blood sausage, tripe and haggis and that this could not be much different to that. Besides, he said, at 7E if it was really awful he wouldn’t have ruined a nice dinner. Then he reminded us that he’s a Scotsman – although what that had to do with anything I didn’t know.

The andouillette turned up on yet another disposable plate with a handful of ordinary chips and an approximation of a salad. When he cut into it the smell permeated everything and all the bits that were previously inside the sausage were suddenly not – and that is the nicest way I can explain it. Gary Mehigan was right when he described it as a biology lesson.

Bravely he took a bite and wordlessly F and I each handed across half of our croque monsieur and ordered him a beer – which also came in a disposable cup. Even the chips tasted of the smell of the sausage. He said that neither the beer or the croque monsieur was able to get rid of the taste.

When we indicated to the waiter that we’d finished our meals, he grunted and nodded towards the garbage bin in the middle of the floor. We understood that we were to take our plates and our cups and our utensils and the remains of the foul sausage and dump the lot in the bin. The meal was memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

We saw andouillette on virtually every menu in every Bouchon over the next couple of days in Lyon. If they’re that popular, maybe I’m missing something. I must have just had a bad one, hubby decided. Perhaps I should try another one here or maybe there? F and I simply glared at him.

Have you tried andouillette? Are you a lover of all things offal?