La Vie à Lyon

Living, learning and loving in Lyon !

Archive for the tag “food”

Pique-nique pig-out

Summer is here, and the season of picnics, or generally dining al fresco, has begun. Joëlle’s family kicked it off last weekend, with a huge picnic in Linod (near the French Alpes) at her aunt and uncle’s place. It was actually reminiscent of an Aussie Christmas, with wine instead of beer and pétanque instead of cricket. Hot weather, good cheer, too much lunch, an afternoon walk and an attempt at eating dinner. We even saw a snake!

Joëlle’s mum is the oldest of 6 – all the aunts and uncles were there, plus her cousins and most of their children, plus two large Berenese Mountain dogs – I think we were 40!

As is requisite for French meals, we started with an apéritif – a delicious cold white from Savoie, cassis and fruit juices. Snacks varied from Lyonnais grattons (bite-sized pork crackling, by far my favourite – and, of course, by far the unhealthiest!) to prawn crackers and salty peanuts.

Lunch consisted of typical picnic fare – cold quiche, potato salad, cold roast chicken, hard boiled eggs, chacuterie, saucisson, chips – and a deceptive punch, just like Chrissy makes! It was difficult to stay awake afterwards; indeed, lots of people were scattered around the garden with their towels or blankets, taking a cheeky 40 winks.

We took a walk along the country roads and bush tracks, picking wild strawberries and having one of the grandmas shooing us ahead so she could wee, to a gorgeous little waterfall. We stopped to dip our feet in the chilly river water and Sim’s great-uncle was the biggest kid of the lot, splashing everyone wildly!

It was tea time when we got back and, in spite of not being the slightest bit hungry, I managed more quiche, meat and wine, plus 4 pieces of different cake/slice for dessert!

Roll on summer!


Shenanigans on the Bateau Hermès

My birthday is 4 days before Sim’s, so Mum and Dad decided to take us out for a birthday dinner while they were here. We booked a table on the Hermès, a boat restaurant that cruises the Rhône and the Saône while you eat.  

All aboard!

It was a busy night, with a big, loud American group dominating. They even had a magician! The waiters and waitresses were very efficient – except for one. We first noticed him when he dropped a tray of drinks, the second time was when we heard more of a commotion than usual from the Americans – and there he was, knocking back their unfinished glasses of wine! Think the drunk waiter from ‘The Party’ with Peter Sellers!

After a few more antics, including locking a couple out on the deck, picking up a waitress and carrying her around and generally making a nuisance of himself, the boss appeared and spirited him away. Sim asked the waitress, a tiny little woman of Asian origin, if she was okay and she explained that it was the waiter’s first (and last!) night working on the boat and she was very embarrassed and cross, because she was in charge of him.

Dinner was delicious, aside from some unwashed lettuce in the salads. The waiter popped up again, bleary eyed, and was much more helpful and subdued. Mum and I ordered a vanilla, raspberry and meringue dessert, vacherin, which he served to us. To me, he said ‘Here’s your macherin,’ but to mum he said, ‘Here’s your vagine,’ which I’m sure you can translate! Sim was SO unimpressed, but us anglophones didn’t really understand what he said and even when Sim explained, we thought it was hilarious!

What’s that called again?

At the end of the night, all was revealed – he was an actor hired for the entertainment of the magician’s group. He and the waitress apologised to Sim (and the couple that he’d locked outside) and offered him a free drink, but he was having none of it! When the little survey came around at the end of the night, he angrily crossed zero for service!

So if you’re in Lyon, I’d recommend taking a cruise on the Hermès (Sim wouldn’t). Check it out at . 

Just watch out for drunk waiters!


Dining out, Savoyard style

Sim and I had our two year anniversary this week! We’d already decided, after viewing a cooking show dedicated to Savioe mountain fare (raclette, tartiflette, pierrade, fondue, farcement), to go to a Savoyard restaurant to celebrate!

Savoie (pronounced Sav-waa), and Haute-Savoie, are departments in France. They’re in the French Alpes, on the Swiss and Italian borders. As you can imagine, the traditional food is that which hits the spot after a day on the slopes – heavy, fatty and delicious!

My entrée was a salad, topped with a filo parcel full of chèvre-y goodness, and drizzled with honey. Sim had beef carpaccio, topped with parmesan, basil and olive oil.


Because I’d had such a “big day on the slopes”, I ordered the tartiflette for my main – potatoes, cream, lardons and onion topped with reblochon cheese. Sim had diots – Savoyard pork sausages – served with crozet, a tooth-shaped pasta.

Mmmmy tartiflette, with Sim’s diots in the background.

We had dessert as well – a nougat ice-cream, which was very much like the bottom layer of a cassata (so, awesome!), and a gooey chocolate cake.

It’s safe to say we rolled home after that! Luckily we don’t have big days on the slopes very often!



Winter in France sees the rich, heavy meals come out of the woodwork. One of my favourites is the gastronomic delight that is raclette.

Raclette is a type of cheese, but the meal of raclette is said cheese, melted and poured over charcuterie and potatoes, with gherkins and pickled onions on the side. It’s traditional mountain fare from the Alps. And it’s awesome!

I bought Sim a mini raclette grill for Christmas (because it’s one of his favourite meals too…really!). It’s an at-home affair – a traditional restaurant grill holds half a wheel of cheese! Home grills seem to be available for up to 8 people, and they have a hot plate on top – keep your potatoes warm or cook up some saucisson!

Traditional ‘appareil de raclette’ – scrape the melted goodness onto your plate.

Modern day mini – grill, for the small apartment!

Bon appétit!


Australia Days in France

Australia Day came and went quietly. It was a Thursday, and this is France. They’re more interested in the tennis. Although, the Ayers Rock bar did hold a wet t-shirt competition. Bogans.

I got decked out in my Australian flag apron and whipped up an awesome meat pie and a batch of sausage rolls, which I washed down with a cold can of Fosters! The pie and sausage rolls were great, the Fosters – not so.

Australia’s famous beer…

Before shot of the meat pie. After shot is just an empty pie dish – success!

Friday night was an Australian-themed dinner with the English Dining Club, brainchild of Sim’s cousin Marie. I took along some Vegemite sandwiches and Tim Tams, as well as my best Aussie accent to better demonstrate words such as bickie, sunnies, arvo, Chrissy pressies, smoko, crikey and struth. Fair dinkum!

And on Saturday, I finally counted down the Hottest 100 with my one Australian friend in Lyon!

I’ve got some more Australian-themed events coming up – a session with Sim’s mum’s English class, and a week at the school where Sim’s brother teaches.

Looks like I’ll need to replenish my Vegemite and Tim Tam supply!


Year of the…escargot

I’m lucky to have met some lovely Chinese people through my course and on Sunday, I was invited to dinner at Xiaofei’s place to celebrate the Chinese New Year. I’ve never been to a CNY celebration before, and I learnt that NYE differs depending on where in China one’s from. For Xiaofei, Sunday was ‘December 29,’ but for Stephanie it was ‘December 31.’

The dinner was a fun mix of Chinese meets French – tofu with Kronenbourg, eating baguette with baguettes (chopsticks) and cooking bean curd sticks on the pierreade. Plus my clumsy dumplings!

Mmmm, dumplings. Can you tell which ones I made?

Spot the French product!

Nom nom nom.

They don’t speak much English (with the exception of Stephanie, who’s from Hong Kong), I don’t speak any Chinese and none of us speak French very well! But we all speak eat, drink and be merry, so that’s what we did!

Happy New Year!


A slice of epiphany…or 3

And just when I thought all the feasting was over (yesterday was our third and final Christmas lunch, with Sim’s dad’s family), one snuck up that I’d forgotten about! It’s Epiphany, and time for la galette des rois (the cake of kings)! I think the galette is different in different parts of France, but the one we have  is a delicious cake of crispy, flaky puff pastry, with a thick frangipane filling. Not only does it taste amazing, it also comes with a paper crown, and a fève (trinket) hidden within.

Galette frangipane. Complete with Tintin-themed fève.

The traditional fève was literally just that, a fève – a broad bean. Nowadays, fèves are much more commercialised exciting, and can be anything from a building to a cartoon character.

Spotto fève! Bianca Castafiore, opera diva.

Whoever scores the fève after the cake is sliced and served also scores the crown and becomes king for the day! What this entitles, I don’t exactly know. In Sim’s family, they have to sing a song. It’s also tradition, he tells me, for the youngest person to sit under the table and dictate who gets which slice.

The king. Once he climbed out from under the table!


Continuing Christmas

Christmas II was celebrated at Chez Besacier, on December 24. It was cozier than Christmas I, with just Sim’s immediate family present. We were 9, well, 10 if you include the fleeting visit from Père Noël. In France, we put our slippers around the Christmas tree and Père Noël puts our presents around our slippers!


During…checking out the presents. No Mum, I haven’t changed!

After! Joyeux Noël!

We enjoyed a few glasses of champagne for our apéritif, accompanied by petit boudin blancs, smoked salmon and the assembling of Evan’s tractor.

The tractor mechanics.

Escargots, cervelas and salad for entree, plus star sign scratchies and French Christmas tunes.

Shells of snaily goodness!

I tried to sing along…Petit Papa Noël!

A fabulous Madeira ham for main course, with hashbrowns and mushrooms, washed down with a lovley glass or three of Bordeaux rouge.

Nom nom nom.

I made a pavlova for dessert. As my second Christmas away from home, I wanted a little more Australiana at the table! But French cream doesn’t whip! Not the three we tried, anyway. So after many adventures in chantilly, we gave up and, after serving, just poured the slightly thickened cream over the top! Voila!

A touch of Australia!

Then it was time for presents…

But that’s another blog post!


Kicking off Christmas

Sim’s extended family is pretty big. His dad is the youngest of 6, so it’s pretty difficult to celebrate Christmas together on Christmas Day (or Eve, as they tend to do over here). The solution? Simple. Three Christmases. The first was celebrated yesterday with the Guyots (Sim’s mum’s side) at chez Besacier in St Sym.

Everyone’s still in their pjs, but at least the tables are ready!

 A typical French Christmas lunch is … long. And yesterday’s lunch was typical!

The guests arrived between 12:30 and 1. In this case it was Sim’s grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins – we were 24 in total. We began with a champagne aperétif (no, I tell a lie – we began with kissing everyone twice, but I’m getting used to that!) and some delicious aperétif snacks.

Anne-Gaëlle and Raph’s take on Père Noël – Père Radish!

We played a musical game to determine our seats for the entrée, and drew numbers for each course thereafter so that we didn’t sit with the same people twice.  Well, hardly. A nice way to catch up with everyone! Entrée consisted of smoked salmon, foïe gras, bread, and wine. Of course.

I can feel my arteries tightening just looking at that foïe gras…

I seem to have misplaced my camera during the vegetable, meat and cheese courses – must have been all that swapping of chairs, sampling of wine and trying to remember all the French I’ve learned in the last 6 months! The vegetables were a cardone gratin and green beans, and the meat was duck with fig sauce. The cheeses were brie, chèvre, morbier, comte and blanc. Plus bread and wine…

Presents before dessert!

We had three desserts, traditional log cakes called bûche. One chocolate, one speculoos and one ice cream. We also had a dessert dessert with coffee, in the form of the witch’s house from Hansel and Gretel, made by Sim’s German aunt. It got demolished pretty quickly once we got the go ahead! Plates of chocolate, biscuits and fruit were plentiful as well.

Bûche glacé – vanilla and raspberry ice cream, encased in meringue and covered with whipped cream. The perfect dessert!

Evan inspecting the witch’s house!

We had a rest after that. Did some dishes, played cards and Rummikub, read, napped…then it was time for tea! Yes, really. We ate cold cervelas and salad (and what was left of the house) with bread and mineral water.

Then it was 9:30pm and time to call it a day. Night. French Christmas lunch!

And yes, it snowed!


Money well spent

Just a couple of essentials we picked up for less than 2€50 each at Carrefour tonight…

Yes, 12.

Price, label, size (bigger than my hand) – je suis contente!

Bon app!


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