April 25, 2010

Diodati cheese, Saint-Clet and leave the fish alone

I was having a quick coffee in Saint Clet Québec in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, when I wondered who was this saint. I do not wonder often given that every second town in Québec is named Saint someone, perhaps this one sounded a little odd. I look around me, early Sunday morning, nobody looks awake. I could ask the waitress, but she does not look like being bothered, even serving my coffee was another spark to potential pandemonium. I text message a friend in Montreal instead. His reply a few minutes later was 'weird question at this time of day J, are you in a church or something? Clet. Third Pope. circa AD 79. Call me when you get back. Explain please. You are not in Rome or something?'

18 degrees outside. Smell of fertilizer everywhere. Lazy. Figure I would visit a few places but have to be back at work to prep for a Fair Trade launching of Eric St-Pierre's new book. I figure I would try a goat cheese at Ferme Diodati to go with a Fair Trade dried pineapple and dried mango chutney from Équita that I would serve on top. I thought of serving it with my guinea hen and pistachio terrine but a very fresh and young goat cheese would be a lot better.

Terrine de pintade de la ferme La Sabinoise aux pistaches

340g pintade
380g pork shoulder
3/4 cup pistachios
3/4 cup chopped and sauteed pintade livers
10 g 7 spice
60g crust-less bread
60g milk
1 egg
10 chopped parsley
30ml brandy
20g salt
5g pepper
25g smoked bacon lardons
20g diced shallots
20g garlic
1 cup porto or red wine
enough barde to line one terrine mold

1-grind meat keeping 1/3 big grind for texture, the other 2/3 grind small
2-saute bacon with shallots and garlic, deglaze with porto and reduce by 3/4 quarters. chill.
3-soak bread in milk and mix to make a paste.
4-saute pintade livers in a little butter until golden but still r
Boldare in the middle (they will finish cooking in the terrine. this adds a little taste, texture and colour.)
5-once all ingredients are cold mix well.
6-line a terrine mold with the barde, put mixture in, cover with remaining barde.
7-cook for 30 minutes at 450F and then for 1 hour for 350F in a bain marie in the oven.
8-take out, let sit for ten minutes, press in fridge until the next day.

When I arrive at the Ferme Fromagerie Diodati I am looking at a house/tenement which looks at lot like something in Saint Leonard than the area of Les Cèdres. A little worn and time locked. I open the door and a woman tells me to enter. Her smile slightly eases the thoughts I was having of a Tarantino movie involving a gimp etc...She, Giovanna, explains the Montefino cheeses to me, from a few days fresh, to aged to something which she calls a Parmesan. I ask her if her family is from Abruzzo (Montefino being in the east). No. Napoli. Her father who started the fromagerie in 1972 was born in Galluccio, but that is in Campania. She laughs a little in that kind of that is how it goes and gives me a slice of fresh goat cheese which is two days old. Almost like a very floral tasty ricotta. Incredible...a soft spreadable texture which I see already with tomatoes and olive oil, but also with my Fair Trade dried fruit chutney. I ask Giovanna if she is the next Maitre fromager. Her father Antonio is ninety two. A few more questions and things are making more and more sense. When he first came to Canada by boat in the 40's he worked construction. This could very well explain the building. Only later did he start the farm. They are five children so they waiting to see who will keep the business going. They know they have to modernize it a little but, for now, our father, like a patriarch, has the last word she says giggling a little. I try the next cheese which is the same but aged a little longer. Beautiful. Roasted on a piece of toast in the oven for a couple of minutes. The third is what she calls Parmesan like. In 1972 it was difficult to sell this type of cheese she told me because Quebecois found it smelled too much like goat. Not now. We talk a little of Italy, a place I miss. I buy some cheese for the restaurant. I see a sign saying Farm fresh eggs. The simple pleasures. I buy a dozen for home. Arrivederci, gracie, a la prossima!

I decide to drive to Coteau du Lac wanting to see the water. The great gift of a large body of water. I found myself at the National historic site of Coteau du lac along the St-Laurent river where the first canal lock system in North America was built. A few stone formations of British military fortifications remain. I walk around. The beautiful St-Laurent river. A no fishing sign is posted. Funny. I kind of read it that the fish will not bite so don't bother. Sitting there listening to the passing water I felt that I was coming up for air, not unlike Orwell's George Bowling returning to his home town 20 years later. I don't need to go back to see how quickly our points of reference are changing, how we age with all these evanescent points of reference.
My friend sends me a text message "Cletus meaning in ancient greek 'one who is called' or his other name Anacletus meaning 'one who has been called back'...what the fuck are you doing anyway? Where are you?" Perhaps I thought that is exactly what our memory constantly does. Calls us back. Calls us back to something before the trend. Giovanna's stories remind me of just that, the cross roads of all our memories and the capacity to keep on moving with them and in fact the St-Laurent river reminds me of that of too.

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