August 25, 2013

A Week on the Water - windsurfing in Bombannes

A week on the Water

Windsurfing on Lac d'Hourtin Carcans (in the Bordeaux area, France)

Joining my good friend on her trip from Düsseldorf to Brittany brought me back to France, and after a wonderful weekend in the area it was time for me to say goodbye and head down south again - to Bordeaux and towards the coast.

It is an area I have been to before, I was here in the end of June, when I went surfing (in Lacanau, very close to Carcans), and I was also in the area 2012, for windsurfing.

Surfing you do on the sea, the ocean outside Bordeaux is always in motion, with amazing waves for surfers - although not always easy for beginners (and watch out, the currents are strong at times, I would not go in the water without proper instructions and without someone keeping an eye on me, missing me if I don't get up) - windsurfing is great on Lake Carcans-Hourtin (Lac d'Hourtin-Carcans), the biggest fresh water lake in France, as my teacher told me. 

Both windsurfing and surfing is a lot of fun. I am not very good at either of them – not yet anyhow – but I really enjoy it. Both sports require good balance as well as some strenght (and even more stubbornness), and yet they are both different from each other. Surfing is easier in the sense that you need less equipment, and you only go in one direction, with the waves, towards  the beach (with some turning for those who are good, but still, you end up back on the beach). Windsurfing can take you away from the shore if you don't know what you are doing. When it comes to windsurfing you can take time to figure things out (unless it is very windy), but with surfing you have limited time; You have to catch that wave, and you have to get up fast, or you will be on the beach before you get up.  Windsurfing you can transport yourself to places (once you have learnt enough that is), and you can do what we did and go for picnic - very nice. Surfing is more "just" a sport. Windsurfing you have to be less IN the water - you are ON the water and the good windsurfers hardly gets wet.

August 23, 2013

Natural food

Now THIS is natural food - peppers straight from the farm
What is natural food? Lately I have gotten myself into several discussions about natural food - food is something I am very passionate about so it happens quite easily.  One of the things that I am the most sensitive about is yogurt. It does make me slightly upset when the producers of yogurt as well as many consumers talk about all natural products, especially when it comes to yogurt, and then it turns out that the yogurt is fat free.

In my world natural food is food without unnecessary additives. When you remove fat from dairy you remove the vitamins which then have to be added again later, artificially. Seems rather unnatural to me. Also, if you remove the fat you have to add some other stabiliser. Most of the time it is sugar or some artificial sweetener - read more on this food related website. I know that stabilisers are sometimes necessary, to keep the consistency of the food, but I do question that we remove something that already works as a stabiliser (fat) and replace it with something else. 

Personally I don't get it - and I also feel that the yogurt that has the natural fat still in it is tastier and fills me up better - which in turn makes me eat less junk. I'd rather skip yogurt than eat the low fat. Besides yogurt where no fat was removed is about 96.5% fat free already; Natural milk contains around 3-3.5% fat, which makes it pretty low fat as it is... 

What do you think? Am I silly when I get a bit upset and frustrated when yogurt with 0% fat is advertised as "natural"?

August 22, 2013

A stopover in Bretagne (Brittany)

Bretagne - a little piece of my heart is there

Brittany Coastline - sea and beach
The beautiful coastline of Britanny
A short stop-over in Bretagne (link to Brittany Tourism) on the way to new adventures...

France has been close to my heart for a long time. I don't know if it is the attitude towards food that does it, the beautiful landscape, the language or the charming French people, who just like me talk with their hands – or if it a combination of all of these factors.

Regardless I find France an interesting part of the world to visit; Not the least because I want to improve my French – and it is step by step getting better, just don't ask me about the grammar...

Me and my good friend F
Fact is that once I am ready to take a break from Asia and return to Europe I am very strongly leaning towards spending some time in France;

To become fluent in French yes, but more than that -  very much to learn more about the French food culture; I learn some every time I visit, but there is so much more to discover.

There is so much to see and do, so much to explore in France, the biggest country in Europe, at least when it comes to landmass - beautiful coastline, high mountains, big open fields, forests, little towns and villages, big cities. France has it all - and if you top that up with local food specialities in every corner of France, I am sold. For a foodie like myself, there isn't much more to add - France is hard to resist.

August 19, 2013

Cooking on the road - how to survive without a kitchen

What? There is no kitchen?

Cooking outside - one hotplate was all it took
Food is my passion - sometimes to a level that it's ridiculous; Start me talking about food and I can go on for hours. Travelling the way I do right now, saying goodbye to Europe for a while, the one thing I really miss is a kitchen - to cook relaxes me and makes me happy. I love being inspired by the local food and by people around me. 

Luckily I have met people in every corner of Europe, people who were happy to lend me their kitchens and let me experiment. I have visited the kitchens of professionals - my friend Joy in Warzaw who is a professional pastry chef being one of them (check her equally professional blog here) - and I have been using very limited kitchens and cooked there too, and it is equally fun. The smallest kitchen was probably the kitchen outside, with only a hot plate (and a piece of wood to be used as a carving board) - but the owner of the kitchen had excellent kitchen knives, and I could get great ingredients, and that's all that matters.