This is my kind of grilling!
I was staying in the south of France in a family compound in a small town called Marseillette, on the Canal du Midi. The house was nestled in a wonderful garden, on the edge of the Canal.
This garden had everything from a bamboo area, with striped to black varieties, to a vegetable garden, to fruit trees, to a turtle bed. Really – live turtles – about a hundred of them. All of this was surrounded by flowers. Amazing!
This was the grill that was on the back patio, outside of the kitchen, for everyday use. I want one!
The fire was fueled by dried grapevines that had been collected from fields that the government had paid to have dug up. Go figure.
But the result was the most fragrant firewood and flavorful food.
We would go to the local farmer’s market and be inspired by the choices. Then we would bring them back to the house and fire up those grapevines, then prep the food.
After the vines would burn down to coals, we would place our culinary choices between two flat screens that would hook together on each end to keep the food from falling into the fire.
We would lay the screens on top of the coals and listen to the sizzle. The aroma that filled the air was heavenly, just like the glass of wine that we were enjoying while we waited. OK, glasses of wine.
On this particular day we chose duck breasts, red bell peppers, zucchini and portabello mushrooms.
Hey – somebody’s got to do it!
The seasonings were green, fruity extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground sea salt and black pepper and chopped fresh thyme from the garden. I actually marinated the duck and the vegetables in the same seasonings.
Accompanying this treat was s simple salad of greens and herbs pulled from the garden as the fire burned down. Amazing how wonderful salad can be with ingredients that fresh, drizzled with evoo, sea salt, a little pepper. The lettuces were butter and red bib, and the herbs were Italian parsley, basil and oregano, all from the garden. Love it!
A big bowl of fresh cherries and a plate of cheese for dessert and all was well in my world.
As you can see, all was grilled to perfection. Of course the veggies were great, but the duck breast was sublime.
I had always been a little afraid of duck anything, except pâté, bien sur. OK, and foie gras. I thought everything else would be gamey.
To think I had denied myself of such sumptuosity – is that a word? It is now. That duck breast was heavenly, juicy, luscious and perfectly cooked.
And never underestimate the power of local wine. We had gotten wine from one of the wineries that my “host” uses as gifts for the people who rent his gites.
It was Chateau Etang des Colombes in the Corbieres region of southern France. The wine was a blend of Carignon, Syrah and Grenache, with a wonderful fruit forward, full body that had a little spice on the finish. Perfect to go with the duck breast. Really, perfect to go with anything. I’m a red kind of girl.
I hope that you all give yourself the gift of grilled duck breast and veggies over smoldering grapevines when the opportunity presents itself.
So there you have my memory for the day. I’m glad that the weather is turning into that grilling and chilling time of year. That is one thing we can learn from the French: It’s ok to relax and enjoy life.
A bientôt mes amis!
Until next time,
Eat On Purpose!
P.S. Leave me a comment if you have ever had or would like to have grilled duck breast. I would love you to share a recipe that you love or an idea you think would be good.
Can’t wait to hear from you!