Duck Burger, Memories of a Bastille Day

Today is a blustery, cold and miserable day. Not that you would know sitting inside: the sun is out, the sky is cloudless and a beautiful shade of pale blue. Stick your nose out the door though, and the near freezing temperature will make you retreat back in no time. Yep, cold snap all right! Ok I will admit it may not be so miserable for some, in fact, I saw a young girl walking around the Cronulla main street wearing nothing but a summer dress and a pair of sandals. She was skipping though, I suspect if I did the same (or jogged!) I’d warm up too…

For now, I will blame my lethargic mood on a dreadful flu that I have not been able to shake out for 2 weeks and making me feel like every day is miserable. Which of course is not the case, with so many other horrible things happening in the world ( too much news watching, I know!!), one would argue that what I feel is merely slight discomfort. So how do I deal with discomfort? By cooking of course, and the more “comfortable” the food the better. So, let me see. We’ve tried, Swedish meat balls (inspired by a recent visit to Ikea, I decided to make my own),


beetroot and sweet potato soup (I read somewhere it was good for you),


seafood chowder ( to go with corn bread a girlfriend had brought along one night ),


even a big steak (after Terry said I needed to up my iron intake)


and the mother of all comfort food: mac and cheese!


They say you need to feed a cold, well let me tell you, mine is so well fed it does not want to go away.

Today is Bastille Day, so tradition would dictate that I cook a French feast to celebrate. This will happen later this weekend. In the meantime, I have been sorting thru some old photos of our past sailing trips and came across memories not only of our stay in La Rochelle, France, 5 years ago but also in Benodet, France, 10 years ago. Back then, the focus was on the boat and preparing for our big cruises ahead, food blogging was not even something I thought of, so focused was I on sailing and homeschooling 2 young children on board…( I started documenting our adventure on our sailing blog around that time, with more details here ) Very few pictures of meals were shot back in these days, which makes the rare ones I find  priceless. So when I re-discovered photos of a Bastille Day dinner from 2011 I knew I had to share them.

I remember that day so vividly. We were docked at in the Vieux Port of La Rochelle, only meters away from the public esplanade. That morning, we woke up early to the sound of motorbikes and heavy traffic setting up for the annual military parade. Amazingly our back deck was prime seating to watch the line-up of politicians and local dignitaries gendarmes, police officers and their dog companions ( a great hit with the kids!).


The rest of the day was spent pottering on the boat and as was our usual ritual, we joined the crowd of tourists in the evening looking for somewhere to enjoy a sundowner and possibly find a nice place for dinner. Being Bastille Day and peak summer season, the streets of La Rochelle were busy and most restaurants pumping, so spotting a free table on the footpath was a bit like sport.


That’s when we ended up at Baitona, grabbed by the prospect of a “Hambur-Gers”. And we were not disappointed! To this day, I have not had anything like this: duck meat patty, topped with a thick slice of freshly seared foie gras, caramelised onions, a slice of sheep cheese, handful of rocket, in a bun and served with a generous amount of frites! That was Terry’s choice.


Marc went for a classic duck magret and frites (his favourite food in the whole world, still today!)


Anne opted for safe option of beef patty and chips (this is standard French kid’s meal, she was 8 years old back then )


while I picked pork steaks with braised capsicums ( I remember it was very tasty but in hindsight, a little boring considering the other dishes on offer!)


I am pretty sure we finished the night at the local ice cream joint watching the fireworks over the harbour, though I can’t find photos of that. But it is this kind of memories that sustain and inspire me on blue days…


Off the couch, into the kitchen and prepare a batch of pancakes. If we can’t have Hambur-Gers tonight, we will have crepes for dinner instead!



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