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Gemma Driver

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Gemma is a food writer, who lived in France for eight years, and now divides her time between her cottage in the rural Dordogne and her home in the UK.

Articles by Gemma Driver

French Sauce Names Explained

Ever wondered what the difference is between ‘Béarnaise’ and ‘Périgordine’ sauces? Ever had to ask a waiter and then struggled to understand the complicated response?

Foie gras explained

A look at the different French foie gras products. Being unused to this product in the UK, the various forms of foie gras can be confusing at first.

Perfect Winter Cheese

The ring of spruce casing that keeps the cheese together infuses a woody flavour. Try the baked version of this winter favorite.

French cuts of meat

It is not just a case of simple translation when buying meat in France, because the French cuts can differ from those you are used to. Here are some useful explanations and vocabulary.

Tantalizing pair • figs and foie gras

This delectable treat is ideal to go with aperitifs – they really get the tastebuds going. Delicious with a floral, dry white wine, fizz, dessert wine or fortified wine…

How snails are bred in France

Snails are such a French-associated speciality, and are often ordered from menus by tourists due to the novelty factor. The French eat them because they can be very tasty and satisfying, but where do they actually come from?

Well, snails that are eaten in France are not all gathered from the wild…

Maison des Bulliats Real Life Wine Story

“Approaching retirement from our university teaching careers, we were ready for new challenges, making a product that we both enjoy – red wine! ” – British couple describe their steep learning curve since buying a vineyard in 2005…

French Walnut Oil

One of the Périgord region’s finest gastronomic products is undoubtedly the glorious walnut oil. Its deep and divine scent and flavours do miraculous things to ripe tomatoes, salads, cold meats, charcuterie and vegetables. Having been tempted up a steep track by…

Tourain Blanchi à l’Ail

This delicate and velvety garlic soup from South-West France makes a heart-warming lunch a light starter for an evening meal. It will fill your kitchen with the wonderful smell of garlic frying in fat – a scent and flavour, which the soup manages to…

Dream French Meal

We were invited to the kind of French meal you see in films. A couple from a neighbouring village asked us over…

Bloody Delicious

Black pudding and boudin noir ‘Boudin noir‘ sounds so romantic, but these French blood sausages certainly not glamorous objects! They are basically the black pudding of France, and a good example of the charcuterie ethos; use every last bit of

Downshifter’s Weekend Menu

One weekend of thrifty, delicious and waste-free meals This is basically what my man and I had for our evening meals, one weekend in January. The food is tasty, satisfying, warming and CHEAP! – perfect for the downshifer in France.

Crashing waves to represent french tide times

French Tide times, Maps

Access tidal predictions and other useful information such as times of sunrise/sunset, lunar phases and Springs and Neaps data, plus nautical maps and other information to help you prepare for crusing the French coast…

Baby Feeding Controversy in France

“Avoine, avoine, avoine..?”, I try again, saying it differently each time, in the hope that I will fall on the right pronunciation, the right vowel sound, which I, with my American tongue, have trouble with…

What is a Mirepoix and How is it Used?

If you do any authentic French cooking, you’re likely to run across recipes that call for mirepoix. While that might sound daunting to English speakers, the fact is that mirepoix is a very simple, easily-found ingredient. So what is mirepoix, and how is it used in French cooking?

Vins de Pays

Grahame Martin, Wine Writer, explains…
“Put simply, Vins de Pays wines are a step up from Vin de Table, and a step down from Vin Délimité de Qualite Supérieure, which, in turn is just…”

Room with a View

Jamie and Ali Stickler moved to their farm in the Aveyron, in 2004. After years of major work on the property, their very special gîtes are now ready to rent. Here’s Jamie’s account of their life in France, the ethos behind the decoration of the gîtes, and their farm, which produces organic beef.

French Flavour of the Month

Check out our series of delicious recipes using a seasonal star ingredient, including recipes using pigeon, bass, lamb, cherries, cognac, quince and courgettes.

Vignerons Indépendent

Look out for this logo on wine bottles in France. It shows that the wine producer belongs to the syndicate of ‘Vignerons Indépendants’ (independent wine producers) and has grown, harvested and produced all their own wine. We found out more from Mike Spring, a VI member and Cahors wine producer, who also helped me understand more about the addition of sulphites to wine…

Seasonal Special – Christmas Goose Breast

Sooner or later in France, everyone encounters ‘magret de canard’, or duck breast. These fantastic and juicy alternatives to steak come from the foie gras birds, and are available year-round. But goose magrets are usually only produced at this time of year, so get your orders in now for this very seasonal treat…

Channel to the Med

Follow Paul Smith on his 850 mile journey through French countryside, which he completed in just two weeks!

The only Cassoulet recipe you’ll ever need?

The recipe for a perfect Audois cassoulet is a subject of much debate – some of it bordering on the fanatical! Gemma Driver takes her life in her hands by asking what all the fuss is about, and gives you her definitive recipe …
“Cassoulet Recipe”

GR20 lake in France

Up for a Challenge?

The infamous GR20, across central Corsica: this incredible experience will take you through breathtaking and diverse scenery, to beauty spots which can only be reached on foot. It is reputed to be the hardest but most spectacular hike in Europe. Read on to find out what to expect and get some tips from Sarah Quee, who helps run Tour Adventure’s GR20 trips.

Deux-Sèvres Menu

If you’re lacking inspiration for your supper or a dinner party, you could try this excellent 3 course meal from the Deux-Sèvres region of Western France.

Deux-Sèvres menu…

Belgian Beer in France

La Ferme de Laubicherie is a very special place to stay. The Chambres d’Hôte, at Lanouille near Limoges (Dordogne), are catered for with a traditional Table d’Hôte…But the most special thing about this farm, and the reason for my visit, is the micro-brewery.

Flour in France

Which flour to use for what, and what the ‘types’ refer to.

French Favourite; Crumble!

“A ‘poire crumble'” Anyone with experience of the French opinion on British culinary savoir-faire, will be surprised to learn that a book devoted to the very British desert, crumble, has enjoyed huge sales in France. ‘Crumble’, by Camille Le Foll, is a French book containing…

Growing Olives in the South of France

“What struck me immediately on my first visit to Languedoc was the common nature of olive trees – they grow in gardens, they grow on pavements, they grow in front of supermarkets, they grow in the middle of roundabouts. So, I ask myself, how do they get from tree to table? And can I pick the olives in my own garden?…”

Amazing Aquitaine beach

Amazing Aquitaine

Just some of the unusual sights jostling for space in this region are: bullfighting at Mont de Marson (the “course landaise” involves vaulting over the horns and the back of the charging animal); an eco-museum at Marquèze that shows how fishermen used to cross marshy ground on stilts; and Lourdes, a site of modern pilgrimage and miracles that is visited by about four million people annually.

Then there are oysters from the Bassin d’Arcachon, the enormous Dune du Pyla, world surf championships, the city of Borbeaux and medieval villages, all in the immediate area

Wind surfing

Homes & Plots Available

Prices range from €15,000 for a 2 bedroom, pre-used mobile up to €60,000 for a new luxury 3 bedroom mobile home.

Free-Range French Pork

France: “…the country where the pig is most valued” – Jane Grigson, Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery.

If you enjoy the food of France, it is likely that you have shopped in the fantastic butchers and charcutiers here. I am frequently in an uncomfortable position, in that I have to try all sorts of delicious charcuterie for professional reasons. This is uncomfortable because…

Cookery Courses In France

Masterchef finalist, Jim Fisher, took his cutting-edge skills and enviable cheffing experience (such as cheffing for Rick Stein) to the rural Dordogne, where, with the help of his wife, Lucy, he has established a thriving cookery holiday business amongst their beautiful stone farm buildings at Bombel. Jim and Lucy invited me to join them and their guests for a week, so that I could find out exactly how the holidays work.

Cook In France

“Making pastry” The Fisher’s impeccably-run cooking holidays take place in their beautifully converted barn. The smooth running of their courses gives an atmosphere of calm, while Jim and Lucy are relaxed. You would have no idea…

Fromage de la Trappe

We drove round the lane, up to the Trappist community of nuns, Notre Dame de Bonne Espérance (Our Lady of Good Hope). We had come to find out about the cheese which is made here. Both ‘au naturel’ and walnut-flavoured, the famous ‘Trappe Échourgnac’ cheese is sold in shops, supermarkets and on stalls, throughout the local area and beyond. On entering the clean, warm, modern shop, we were surprised by the…

‘Private Chefs’ Become Popular in France.

Employing a Chef to cook all your meals is traditionally the preserve of royalty and the super-rich. But now a phenomenon imported from the US is changing the culinary habits of France.

I caught up with Emmanuel Sofonéa, a private chef from Antibes, to find out why his service is becoming so popular…

Lauren Booth Comes to Lunch

Lauren Booth, journalist and broadcaster, came over for lunch yesterday. She wanted to show her daughters the chickens, and to get Perry and my feelings on our life in France, for her twice-monthly column in the Mail on Sunday.

Lauren is a dynamic and plucky writer, who recently…

Supermarket Waste

If you are familiar with French supermarkets, you may have noticed all the local produce that they stock. The management and the customers simply wouldn’t accept a shop stocked with the same produce as all the other outlets in all the regions of France.

The British supermarkets operate in stark contrast to these ethics. This, coupled with a rejection of good produce, for cosmetic reasons, mean that Britain is wasting millions of tonnes of food a day…

What Mardi Gras Means in France

People around the world have celebrated this feast day with carnivals, parties, food and drink, since Roman times. Images of partying and street festivals are what we associate with the words ‘Mardi Gras’. France and Britain are a little more reserved in their revelling, but the French do enjoy a day of feasting…

French Bread

Nicolas Delmas was very welcoming and friendly. The 26 year old set up the successful bakery, ‘Le Pain de Peyrignac’, with his girlfriend, Sabrina Manière, 24, one year ago.

I went to see Nicolas, and find out how they manage to supply the huge demand for their extra special bread.

Snuffling for Truffles

We got up early on Sunday, to attend a local ‘randonnée de la truffe’ (truffle ramble). Each winter we become very interested in the mysterious truffle, and where it likes to grow. Desperate to find them in our garden, or spot them on walks, we thought that we might learn something from this ramble.

Reader’s Viewpoint

Regular FrenchEntrée contributor, Karen Gottlieb observes the differences between American and French eating habits. On Le Gastrozone we have seen several mentions of the time that the French spend on preparing and leisurely eating their food. Karen gives us her experiences of this fantastic reason to spend time in sociable France…

“You Americans eat lunch standing up; debout!”

Recommended Reading

In this section you will find suggestions for helpful books on cooking and food in France.

Current recommendation:
‘The A – Z of French Food’, Scribo Editions.

This unusual, almost quaint glossary is an indispensable handbook for anyone who is not totally fluent in French. There is always something on the menu which…

A French Master ‘Chocolatier’

‘La Chocolaterie’ is a sight to behold, and is the creation of Eric and his wife, Marie. Its incredible window displays draw the customer’s attention into the shop, where they can watch Eric at work, and choose from the vast selection of exquisitely presented chocolates and enticing truffles, which are…

French Goat’s Cheese

An interview Christelle and Dominique Foucaut, who are a dying breed of cheese producers. They rear and milk their own animals, and make the cheese which they sell at local markets. There are only 35 ‘artisan’ cheeses in the Dordogne, so all the other cheeses which are made in the region, come from co-ops.

Oyster Farmers in France

A look at the life of an oyster and a visit to an oyster farmer at Gujan-Mestras, on the Arcachon Basin, to find out, among other things, how the oyster parks prepared for the huge French Christmas rush…

French Food Festivals

We have had two national food festivals in our area, in the last couple of weeks!

The first was the internationally renowned ‘Salon International du Livre Gourmand’, in Périgueux, which is based around books on food and drink. Then, from November 26th – 28th , was the turn of the 10th anniversary ‘Gastronomades’ in Angoulême.

Gluten-Free in France

Because wheat and gluten allergies are a medical condition, you may have a more understanding response to your allergy than veggies or vegans will get from their life-choice. However, the land of patisseries…