Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall Harvest

Autumn in Grenoble is absolutely beautiful and very Indian summer like.  Temperatures still hover between 16C to 20C, and the high abundance of deciduous trees that surround the mountainous slopes of our home make the fall scenery a delight for the eyes.  It is the perfect time to go hiking, climbing (yes, the climbing season here is quite long!), wine tasting and harvest of course!  This fall I set out to explore the surroundings of Grenoble to find walnuts and edible chestnuts as they are grown here in large quantities.  Chestnuts are very popular here not only for roasting but they are also used to produce chestnut spread, chestnut mousse, chestnut jogurt and other types of dessert, for example.  Walnuts are also included in many local recipes such as the salad Dauphinoise which I have not tried out yet, but is considered a local specialty.

And so one weekend we set out for a little walk in the vicinity of Hurti√®res, where we found many fallen walnuts on the trail as well as wild chestnuts in the forest.  The chestnuts, however, were very tiny and not quite ripe yet.  Regardless, it was fun to walk around and collect the nuts and at least it was entertaining for the kids. 

As sharp as needles!

Our collection.

Chestnut tree from below.

Chestnut tree from above.

Deep in conversation.

Sheep, near Hurtieres.

As I said, the chestnuts were too scrawny and got moldy before we even tasted them, so hopefullly next year I will find a better spot and good timing.  At the end, I did end up buying (local) chestnuts at the grocery store and they were the best I've ever had.  Massive in size, very easy to peal, sweet and melt-in-your-mouth.  The walnuts we picked required cleaning, washing and drying, but at the end it was a very nice treat and will be at Christmas time.

Another weekend  idea was to go to the adventure park up in St. Nizier since we haven't taken the kids there for a while.  Jakub has been training his uphill running, so he jogged from our house to St. Nizier, which is roughly 1000m in elevation.  Pretty impressive, I'd say!  We drove up there to greet him at the "finish" line :).

And then it was time to head to the adventure park where the kids get harnesses and go on all sorts of rope bridges, obstacles and zip lines.  

The first obstacle - cows in the parking lot :).  These lovely ladies provide us with the milk for the local cheese "bleu du vercors".

Anna on the course.

While the kids were having fun (and Jakub too, I hope), I started looking around and saw tonnes of fly amanitas (Amanita muscaria) and it became almost challenging not to step on one by accident.  So I decided to wonder deeper into the forest to see if I can find any edible mushrooms, and sure enough, this was a perfect time and place to be if you're an avid mushroom picker or a hallucinogen seeker.

Interesting quote of the day: "In eastern Siberia, the shaman would consume the mushrooms, and others would drink his urine.  This urine, still containing psychoactive elements, may actually be more potent than the A. muscaria mushrooms with fewer negative effects, such as sweating and twitching, suggesting that the initial user may act as a screening filter for other components in the mushroom (taken from wikipedia)

First edible find! Bay bolete/ Boletus badius ?

In a few minutes I found several edible mushrooms including some perfect porcinis, but the icing on the cake was when I found a rather large porcini mushroom that was the size of my whole foot, untouched only with a few superficial slug holes.  At this point I really thought that I was hallucinating.

My lucky find.

385g, 20cm.  My record in my mushroom picking career.

Ready for cooking.

Cream of wild mushroom soup.  Mmmmmmm.

Deep fried 'shrooms.

Fall in the wine country is of course very exciting as there are the so called "wine fairs" in every supermarket and you get great deals on wines as well as a very large selection lasting about two weeks between end of September and start of October.  I studied all the little catalogues very well this year and went around to get some nice wines that I want to try out in the winter when we have our fireplace lit :D.

Our fall/winter 2012 wine collection :) I don't think I've ever owned this many, I must be getting into this!

But life isn't always about having fun of course :), the next day on Sunday, I became ill with some viral bug, and had to stay home for several days, to catch yet another virus just when I recovered and finished my antibiotics for laryngitis/bronchitis...and had a lovely itchy rash break out all over, either from the virus or antibiotics.  So it took me 3 wks to get better again in total -- part of the fall season as well I guess!


1 comment:

  1. Turns out I had mononucelosis, when combined with antibiotics = major rash....