I did it again. I ate my lunch before I could draw it for you nice people. But you have to have a life before a blog. And besides, the false spring has gone to my head.
These few balmy days when the trees are still stripped bare, the warm sunshine and the lone butterfly brave enough to venture out are lulling me into a syrupy stupor. I know that it will rain again in April, that I will have to leave my hideaway in the south of France for self-important Paris, but for the moment I have a diamond patio and a plate empty of anything but radish stalks, so blissful denial is the way forward.
What’s more, I have found the perfect salad, the perfect lunch. I already knew radishes and avocadoes and rocket and fennel were happy partners, but they are made bistrot-worthy by the simplest addition: a pat of soft goat’s cheese fried in bacon. Ours came from a local farmer, ready wrapped.
(I just asked my mother for a suitable simile for the size of the goat’s cheese crottins – which means poop, by the way, confirming my longheld prejudice that the French are obsessed with crap – and she suggested “larger than half a crown, slightly smaller than an Olympic medallion.” Neither of which I have ever seen or will see, in all probability. Thanks, Mum.)
So, take a tub of soft goat’s cheese and form a little fat pancake per person, as much as you can stomach. Wrap it all over in a thin streaky bacon like pancetta so it’s nicely sealed in and fry in a hot frying pan until crisp outside and just warm within. Serve on a bed of rocket and raddichio (bitter to cut the rich cheese flavour)with slivers of fennel, circles of radish and chunks of avocado, lightly dressed. Eat with lots of French bread and pale butter.
(Our favourite local just caught us finishing our lunch, barefoot, at 4pm. He wished us a bon appetit, but refused a slice of apple tart on the grounds that his top dentures are being repaired at the moment. He is the picture of health for 87, always in the same black beret and wire rimmed sunglasses. The magic of the southern sunshine and the robust Gascon diet.)