August 04, 2005

Blackberry Summer

August descends like a nap… even this quiet Gascon countryside feels sleepier. While most of France (and Europe) heads to the beaches leaving the inland open spaces nicely vacant, my good friends know that this is the time to leave the crowded beach cafes, overworked seaside restaurants and tourist shops and come for a visit to this rural French Kitchen.

‘Camont’ is in its glory—the canal flowing by the foot of the garden, running springs under towering Ash and Oak trees, a swinging hammock, a funny rowboat, a vine-covered terrace and a weed overgrown garden bursting with tomatoes. In August, I am more inclined to assemble then cook: pluck, pick and gather, sugar, salt or freeze, eat raw rather than stew and stir. Tim Clinch and family arrive for a few days fun as we work on a new summer story for a Catherine Bell’s beautiful Dish magazine. Photographs of simple food arranged on the oak vat table sing summer: tomatoes of every hue and shape, charcuterie and fresh plucked radishes, a Salade Parisienne made with a slab of beef from my neighbor’s Blondes of Aquitaine, and a breakfast of fat scones with summer blackberries. We go to the market at Lavardac to buy perfect nectarines, small aged goat’s cheeses, a round of sausage to grill. Camont’s potager carrĂ© supplies the rest.

In the afternoon, the rowboat is pressed into service as Marigold, Bella and Felix gather from vines overgrowing the canal. I turn my hand to finding an old jar big enough to hold the harvest. A few handfuls of sugar, a squeeze of lemon then leave the jar in the sun for a day. Eh voila! -blackberry jumble to put on those golden scones.

photos by Tim Clinch

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