Fly fishing content
Old Newsletters - river gossips and gourmet news...
Sorry but since december 2000 we haven't found the time to write more...
Vol # 1 Oct 1998, Sad news from Médoc and Sea-trouting in Normandy.
Vol # 2 Nov 1998, Médoc "restore hope". The Bourrut has arrived and other fall traditions. Guy Plas flies and the province of Leon in Spain.
Vol # 3 Dec 1998, Private Ryan brings people to Normandy. My Mother, the Beaujolais Nouveau and Paul Bocuse. Moscas y Gallos de Leon. (Flies and cocks from Leon, thanks to Don Faustino Alonso).
Vol # 4 Feb 1999, The Pouldu and Painter Gauguin. Ellé river and salmon poachers. The Salmon's Pub and a local figure. Breton flies. Brittany woodcock and salmon. Our man on the Scorff.
Vol # 5 March 1999, News and Calendar. Fishing license, picture. Neuvic coqs fair. Game Fair at Royal Chambord. Tour de France, fly fishing and birthday celebration in Pamplona. (Ernest Hemingway 100 years).
Vol # 6 April 1999,1/ Gourmetfly introduces selected packages. 2/ Normandy. Blooming orchards and half timbered mud walls. 3/ Try an “Andelle”. 4/ My secret Gourmet weapon.
Volume # 7 May 1999, 1/ Mayflies and Hendricksons. 2/ The “Rio” Irati and Santiago de Compostela, a touch of spirituality. 3/ An “evening rise” in Normandy at noon on Aug 11th 1999. 4/ Evening rise, Darwin and the last cartridges. 5/ Pickled “safranés” and artichokes. 6/ Les cépages provençaux.
Volume # 8 July 1999, 1/ A President's dinner party in Paris. 2/ "Feeding up" birds. 3/ For (young) fishermen, a best seller of French cuisine. 4/ Another American in Paris, Lance Armstrong on the Champs Elysées, and French countryside landscapes.
Volume # 9 Autumn 1999 1/ Gourmetfly introduces hunting proposals 2/ A new presentation of fly fishing suggestions. 3/ Fall... catch & release but do not forget your willow creel 4/ Webcam at Château Figeac of Saint Emilion. 5/ Grands Vins “at cost”, near the Arc de Triomphe. 6/ Prestigious “country” chefs settle in Paris. 7/ Smuggling Roquefort cheese.
Vintage 97 vs 98 in Médoc and Seatrout in Normandy.
Sad news from Médoc.
We'll be back on this topic at the total end of harvest when all the wine
is vatted. However we can say right now that despite the great hopes raised
by the quality of grapes at the end of summer, the 1998 vintage should be
quite poor. Heavy and continuous rains started almost at the beginning of
harvest and accompanied harvesters all way long. By the time "merlots" were
picked-up and "cabernet-sauvignon" had to be started, rains had washed out
all the best of grape's sugar. And situation was getting worse everyday.
You must have noticed that within a few years, it will be quite fun to
invite friends for dinner and tell them: "Dear friends, tonight we drink a
bottle of the last century !" (Last millenium would be true as well but
wine speaking, kind exaggerated).
Well, if you're expecting this occasion, hurry up buying what remains of
1997 as 98 you already know and 1999 or 2000 we know quite well too, will
be either bad or (very) highly speculative.
In a next mail, we'll tell you if other regions have been able to harvest
on time before the rains, capitalising the great hopes of early september.
It is a poor consolation for them that the year is excellent for "cèpes de
Bordeaux" wild mushrooms, "penny buns" (Boletus boletus). They're great
actors in season's gastronomy of all France, but especially in the
The same reasons raising big hopes on grapes at the end of summer made
snipe shooters fear for a bad season. Again the heavy rains inverted trend
and while "vignerons" were crying, snipe shooters started to smile.
Although early and mid-september had seen some teals, shovelers and
gadwalls, going down on southeasterly winds, no big migration has started
here. We're expecting it soon now.
A saturday on Seatrout in Normandy.
One of my guides invited me last saturday for seatrout on the "Touques"
river, not far from Deauville. The seatrout we have here is an anadromous
fish equivalent of North America's "Steelhead" . One difference: This is
the migrating version of our local Fario brown trout when the Steelhead is
a member of Rainbow's family.
The seatrout is present from june to the end of the year. Legally it can be
tackled from beginning of season untill end of October. (One month more
than regular trout, ending by end of september).
Seatrout can be attempted with dry-flies during hatchings. Subjects caught
are usually the smallest (Finnocks) around 30cm.
The most classical fishing is the wet-fly to next bank and downstream as it
would be done for salmons. The good rod is a powerful one hand (river is
not wider than 10/15 meters), silk 6/7 with fast sinking end.
Guide was using an orange "shrimp" at lowest part and a sort of "black
pennel" above on a "T" junction.
Seatrout can be fished at any moment of the day, but best hours are from
evening to midnight. Legally you're allowed "2 hours after sundown".
I loved this place, it's a very flat and wide grassy land with this
"serpentine" chalk-stream in the middle. You're among nice horses and cows
(those of the "camembert " and "Pont-Lévèque" famous cheese !). On both
sides in the far, dark woody hills. We arrive when day decreases and soon
night comes as the "Angelus" bell tolls at nearest village. A pack of
mallards disappears and an owl chooses a wood post nearby us. Maybe she's
interested to know if fishing works tonight. This is also the time you see
local anglers arriving. (At tackle shop we heard an 8 pounder had been
caught yesterday) They all use the same orange day-glow "rappala". No
The guide starts fishing and a finnock jumps as a heavy rain starts
pouring. It's totally dark now and all we can see are the dark silhouettes
of our villagers operating a fast retreat !
I am wearing a very good Holland&Holland tweed cap and I start feeling the
water getting through. My guy is still wading in the pool, fishing, he
wears no cap at all and I wonder how he can manage ? Maybe he's some sort
of fish too. I was bound to tell him that possibly another time... but I
guess an action takes place. He swares and a big fish jumps out of stream.
He turns towards me and I understand he was not as successful as he wanted.
Broke the line ? I ask.
No, just not hooked. I'm sorry. Maybe it's not worth staying.
I 'm quite glad he said this before me...
Two "classic" places.
I had spent my morning running after snipes in the marshes of the "Baie de
Seine", I left my friends after a snack in the beginning of the afternoon,
but my appointment with the guide was only at 6.00pm and by 4.30pm I got
scared. "Could I be starving during the fishing ?" There's always a risk.
So I decide to stop in port of Trouville at "Les Vapeurs". At any time in
the day they serve wonderful shrimps or mussels "à la crème" with fries.
The fishermen's market is just on the other side of the street. I have a
little look at them. They all have picturesque tiny shops and all sell the
same fish at the same price. Market is full of Parisians who are here for
the week-end, so fishermen try to catch them with a marketing based on
jokes and shout.
The shrimps look great. They jump everywhere. So I choose them. As weather
is OK, I sit outside at "terrasse" and order my "live shrimps" with a
bottle of cider. They call that: "crevettes vivantes beurre". Shrimps are
alive and cooked upon demand in salted water perfumed with herbs and
pepper. They arrive hot with minced parsley and are served with fresh bred
and salted butter. With the cool cider and the street and fish-market
entertainment, it's a great moment.
After my rainy seatrout experience, I had to meet friends at "La Ferme
Saint Siméon" famous restaurant of Honfleur. This time I was really
starving and a bit tired too. It had been a long day. This is not
particularily a cheap place, but it is one of the most comfortable and
beautiful dining room I know. Great for first winter rain recovery. Walls
are half-timbered with old pale tiny hand-made bricks. the building is very
old. And the food is perfect. My friends who are no "starving outdoormen"
took delicate fish, John dory and Sole, I went for the "veal escalope
vallée d'Auge" which is a golden wide escalope in a "crème" sauce with
apples cooked in butter, "pommes de terre sautées" and a bit of cress.
Nothing complicated to do but so well done. I convinced them to order
Vol # 2 Nov 98
Vintage 98 in Bordeaux followings, "restore hope".
The "Bourrut" has arrived and other fall traditions.
"August makes the wine" , the old vine saying seems to be true again this
year. Sorry if I scared you in my first issue, but despite the heavy rains
of September, the grapes had really accumulated great qualities during
The period is now for "remontages" (lifting-up ?). The juice acomplishes
its fermentation in the big vats. It is not pressed yet, only sort of
mashed. Therefore, on top of vats are floating the rests of the original
grape. Skins etc.
The "remontage" consists in pumping the vat at lowest section and pour the
juice angain on the floating skins. This produces again an exchange of
taste and flavour.
The vats are still filled with sole "cépages" and sometimes single patches
of land. It is not yed "pressed" nor "assembled", but still you can see
when pumping the rich (very) dark colour. And professionals are able to
taste all these seperate parts and build up in their mind a quite clear
idea of final result they can expect.
Well, they all say it will be great but because of the rains we missed a so
called "exceptionnel" vintage.
You must know also that they have (sadly) widely used the only two tricks
known to fight against water. "Rouler à tombereau ouvert" After harvesters
have filled a tip cart, instead of carefully closing the folding doors,
they're left nearly wide opened. When driving to the "chais", the mere
weight of grapes itself added to the shakes of the road produce a sort of
first pressing. On a dry year, all efforts are made to loose nothing. This
year all efforts were made to evacuate as much as possible this first
press. Trailer is inclined to the floor.As well when mashing the grapes,
the pressed juice goes direct to the vats and they were kept open for a
while to evacuate the first press. this is called "la saignée" (bleeding),
that tells you how much they like it.
A lot of wine has been lost but vintage is sound and safe ! Now is coming
the period of the "assemblages" (kind of blending) and Bordeaux wine
producers (good news for us) can still count on a very good product to
sell, at a (bad news for us) still crazily increasing price.
The "Bourrut" has arrived.
All the bars and bistrots in wine areas have placed the sign on their
doors: "Le bourrut est arrivé" some regions call it "grenache" or
"bernache". Bourru shouldn't have a "t" at the end but many write it
bourrut. It is newer than a beaujolais nouveau, in fact it is so new that
it is still something inbetween grape juice and wine. It has the colour of
white wine but not too clear. It is quite sweet and a bit sparkling as its
fermentation is not finished. People like it. The nicest bistrots serving
it have a fireplace to roast wild chestnut in a pan that seem to have been
shot with a machine gun. One must admit that once a year, a glass of fresh
bourrut with chestnuts is something you wouldn't like to miss.
Saint Luke in the Basque Lands.
Pure chance ?, on October 18, I was visiting some places of the Pyrénées
mountains for next year's preparation. October 18 is Saint Luc, and you get
an other saying: "à la Saint Luc, c'est le grand truc !" it is only a
saying among palombe hunters of the south west. At Saint Luke, the big
thing ! It is supposed to be the migration peak of this more than
appreciated pigeon. It still produces fever among south-westerner hunters.
Many of them take a month holiday just to wait for the mythic flocks. There
are many ways to hunt them but what is done on the top of the Pyrenees is
unique in the world. Let me try to explain.
Those pigeons come from subarctic parts of our continent like Russia or
Scandinavia and go to the south of Spain and North-Africa. They move in big
flights making few stops and their migration lasts from early October to
mid November. On their way, they must cross the Pyrenees high mountains.
There, for over centuries, the Basques have developped an amaizing
technique to catch them with nets. The clue was found by a monk of
Roncevaux abbey 6 or 700 years ago. He observed that falcons and hawks were
waiting the birds too. As the mountains are quite high, the effort for the
palombes to fly above them is very important, so they choose passes they're
using every year. Here wait and attack the hawks, (from under the flight).
And so do the Basques. When the bird attacks the flight, pigeons are too
tired to fly away as usual, so they dive to the ground and escape from the
bird of prey like this, continuing to fly very close to the ground.
The Basques imagined to imitate the attack of the hawk to make them dive
into a net. You must figure out that all this happens on the top of a big
chain of mountains. The birds arrive flying at an altitude of 1000, 1500
meters, they fly along the mountains and some Basques are here with big
white flags, used like whips, horns and their famous shouts. Theyre called
"xattar" , pronounce it like chat, but don't find in it the origin of the
english chat. They really have an amaizing voice. If the flight leaves the
right lane leading to the pass, they begin to shout like hell, use the flag
and the horn, beat some sort of drums, and the birds leave that lane and
keep well centered. Then they arrive close to the net, they're very high in
the sky. so the Basques have built towers (still on top of mountain). And
it's a high mountain. The towers are still low compared to the flock. Now
comes the invention of the monk: The guy on the tower called "abatarlari",
very strong and skilled man, starts throwing to the flock, sorts of woodden
discs or battledores painted white whith chalk. This imitates the hawk's
attack and the flight dives (if god wants) to the small net in the center
of the pass. Maybe I'm not explaining well, but believe me, this is
something very impressive and means a lot of efforts to succeed.
So on Saint Luke many people go there to see or eat some "salmis de
palombes" in the restaurants nearby. I was among them. And I always
Want to eat a salmis ?
Take a wild pigeon, roast it a short while in an oven. Take it it out and
cut it in parts. Two breasts two legs, and the rest. Take the rest, skin
and other bones cut in pieces, put in a casserole with butter. Add a small
carrot and an onion, also cut in small pieces, garlic, parsley, thyme, let
it take colour, put a spoon of flour, mix, let it take colour again. Add
two glasses of strong red wine and a spoon of brandy, give some heat, place
inside it the breasts and legs, then boil gently at low heat for an hour.
Take the breasts out, press and strain the sauce on it. Sauce must be
thick. serve with mushrooms and potatoes. Sprinkle with a little of fresh
Guy Plas and my friend Faustino.
In Argentat sur Dordogne, I had the occasion to visit the Guy Plas flyshop.
Guy Plas invented most patterns but sold his business to a new manager.
It's a great shop and the flies are an enchantment. There 's too much to
describe, but I was really impressed by the microscopic dry flies for
grayling to be used on 0.08 lines. Really an amaizing work.
The manager told me the patterns were from Argentat, as well as part of the
hackle, but they are manufactured in Spain in Leon where people breed the
good Spanish cocks "gallos pardos".
I hope my good Spanish friend Faustino who lives not far, will send us a
report on the "fly industry of Leon".
Vol # 3 Dec 1998
-Private Ryan brings people to Normandy.
-My Mother, the Beaujolais Nouveau and Paul Bocuse.
-Moscas y Gallos de Leon.
(Flies and cocks from Leon, thanks to Don Faustino Alonso).
Private Ryan brings people to Normandy.
Halloween holiday in Normandy. Weather is horrible, continuous Western wind
and rains from the ocean. At this time of the year, the only tourists
should be waterfowlers. But these are at home as only cold dry Eastern wind
brings beloved ducks and snipes. In spite of this weather, hotels are
filled with visitors. These are the friends of private Ryan. Courageous
assaulters of memorial sites, running through the drops like if they were
bullets. Americans, British, Canadians, "Aussies", French and even Germans
are here, united to respond orders of General Spielberg !
The "memory duty" is nothing to joke about, but you can fight against the
sadness produced by the thousands of tumbs.
1° Choose another date than Halloween. 2° Take your fly rod. 3° Plan a
short trip starting with D-Day sites, and ending at the "Mont Saint Michel"
(Unique XIIth century Abbey standing in the sea).
4° Between those two cultural visits, keep 2 or 3 days to fly-fish in the
beautiful Normand rivers of the Cotentin (some are facing the famous
Mount). With a couple of good seafood dinner parties it may convince you
for a while (if it was needed) that there are better destinies than dying
My Mother, the Beaujolais Nouveau and Paul Bocuse.
This year, the Beaujolais Nouveau was supposed to be good ! And to my
sense, it was. Every year and for years now, my mother buys a few bottles
and organises a dinner party around them. I dont know if she likes
Beaujolais, but she likes tradition. And here comes another one: Every year
she wonders why (the hell) people keep trying to distinguish in it a taste
of raspberry or banana ? (And so did I ?) Maybe I found the solution
remembering a few lines I read from Paul Bocuse. He owns one of the 2 or 3
most famous restaurants in France, in Collonges au Mont d'Or near Lyon. He
also owns a vineyard in the Beaujolais area. To him, Beaujolais is the
"plus petit des grands vins" or the "plus grand des petits vins". (The
smallest of the greats or the greatest of the small wines). Beaujolais
would be the first step for the apprentice in "degustation". It is
important to be able to name the sensations given by a glass of wine,
(first because it means this wine was able to produce a valuable
sensation). With the Beaujolais, it is supposed to be quite easy to isolate
the main character (often a mono-character) of it's flavour or "aroma". I
remind you that a young wine features "aromas" which are vegetal flavours
of flowers, plants, or fruits, when an old wine is supposed to develop a
"bouquet" featuring smells such as fur, tobacco, leather, or dead leaves
and mushrooms ?! ...
However, you should always buy your Beaujolais Nouveau at least in the
quality called "Beaujolais Village". Don't miss the "crus" of Beaujolais,
like Moulin à Vent, Saint-Amour, Morgon, don't drink them too young. The
fashion of Beaujolais Nouveau has more or less killed their market and they
are good value high quality wines.
The Beaujolais vineyards are situated south of Burgundy, not far from Lyon.
It produces almost only red wines. The grapes are from "Gamay noir" cépage,
on a granite soil.
As we're talking of Paul Bocuse I also remember a good joke supposed to be
true. This guy is very gifted and everything he touches becomes gold. He is
in "cuisine" what the Pope is for Catholic Religion. He is also a keen
hunter. He tells that on a hunting day lunch, he served as a home made
"pâté de campagne" to his friends a can (didn't show the can of course) of
the petfood he uses for his hounds.
They all said they 'd never eaten something so good, so "authentic" ...!
Allways keep a critical eye on things.
"Moscas y Gallos de Leon" Thank you Faustino !
A report on flies and cocks of the Province of Leon in Spain.
The Leon is a Spanish province situated in the Northwest, of the country,
in what is now often called "The green Spain". Although it definitely is
Spain, it looks nothing like what people usually figure out from this
country. It would be even more true for Galicia, celtic roots are strong
there, the popular drink is in many places cider and the usual guitar is
often replaced by a ... bagpipe ! (la gaïta). It is true, (I am not Paul
Leon is a green mountains land with numerous streams going to the sea (good
for salmons and seatrout) The fly-fishing tradition is first described
there in a book published in... 1624 (Was it yesterday ?) This means the
cock breeding tradition was even more ancient).
Leon produces two kinds of coks, the "Gallo Indio" and the "Gallo Pardo",
but it's fame is more based on the "gallo pardo" (The dark cock). This
wonderful bird called "The golden feathers cock" by it's breeders (they
don't mention the eggs but no one knows if it started with a cock or with
an egg), well these birds operate a curious link with the wine's world.
"L'effet terroir !" It is supposed to loose all of it's wonderful fishing
qualities, shine and shades, if it is bred outside Leon. (They assure that
thanks to god, once the fly is made, you can export it with no risk).
You can take feather from three sources on the cock, hackle of course, but
not so much. Mainly: riñoneras (kidney's) at wing's base and "colgaderas"
on both sides. In France we call them "shovels" and "lances". The different
names according to the shade are: "flor de escoba" (Broom's flower). "Pardo
crudo" (Raw dark). "Pardo encendido" (Fire dark). "Pardo corzuno" (Roebuck
type). The "Pardo" is a cock that looks almost black if seen from far. But
the extremity of the interesting feathers are full of brown, blond, golden,
spotty shades .
The fishing in Leon, and therefore "Pardo Cock" normal destination was
wetfly. Until quite recently it has been almost the exclusive technique of
these streams. But now (like everywhere) dry-fly flishing is taking over
and this creates applications for feathers traditionally not or not much
Gallo Pardo makes wonderful may-fly tails. But also beautiful wings. It is
used as oblique wings for "Palareta"/wet , double hackle for "March
Brown", wings for "tricopteros" sedges and as I told you before, in very
small dry imitations for October graylings. The variety called "broom's
flower" makes very useful sedge's wings for the late evenings, very
attractive and easy to see for both fish and angler.
The cock called "Indio" is a grey cock resulting from various native
Spanish breeds, and now often "crossed" with French Limousin cocks. It's
hackle is more important and it is more applied to dry flies than his
We'll be back one day on Limousin cocks (If you want to come over shopping,
there is an amaizing "Fishing cocks fair" on May 1st every year, in small
town of Neuvic / Corrèze), and back on Northwest Spain gastronomy and
Vol # 4 February 1999
The POULDU AND PAINTER GAUGUIN
There are many good reasons to stay at Le POULDU, in Brittanny.
Among them, I can mention that it is where painter Gauguin created the
"School of Pont-Aven", and that beach or sailing plus excellent seafood are
already a good occupation.
Personally, I used to go only for Woodcock "over dogs"in the winter.
Now I also go for Trout, but my first fly-fishing experience of the area
took place during a woodcock hunt.
Brittany's countryside is wild, beautiful, with a touch of mystery,
perhaps created by the many cairns, calvaries and chapels erected by
Celtics and early Christians. Almost any walk takes you to something of
that kind. Landscape is covered with moors, brooms and sharp gorse, there
are beautiful rivers and in many places, sea penetrates the land in sorts
ELLE RIVER AND SALMON POACHERS.
First we were on the top of the hill, high above the Ellé. A wonderful
valley. Black pine's silhouettes on top of the banks. Both banks very
abrupt slopes, hairy of deep woodcock coverts, and the river maybe 250 or
300 yards downhill. A sort of "woodcock canyon" coloured with fern patches
and big blocks of granite. We had lost a setter pointing a bird somewhere
in the slope but impossible to locate as his bell was totally silent. So we
went down and finally reached the water. It was a wonderful stream, some
35, 40 yards wide. Quite fast, with strong shade of colour, small rapids
giving a feel of energy. It is bordered with 10 or 15 yards of flat green
grass then the woody banks start.
"Here, said Noël (the friend who was inviting me), Back in the 70's,
we found a fresh dead salmon with a big hole in the head. A big salmon.
Maybe someone had tried to poach it. After the war, some poachers who had
stolen "Mauser" rifles to German soldiers, were using them on big salmons.
Because of heavy rains, water was very high. First the dogs were
pointing the water and we got prepared as sometimes a mallard or a teal
jumps out from these wet grassy banks. But nothing moved and the dogs were
looking weird. So we got closer and found that beast. A huge fish. We had
to cut a branch of hazel tree and pass it through the gills to climb again
the slope and go back to the car".
We had a good lunch at the old Ar Faouëd Market Hall and spent the
afternoon running after a witch woodcock that I missed twice on master
points of Noël's setter.
THE SALMON S PUB AND A LOCAL FIGURE.
On my way back, I stopped at Quimperlé. By the time people used flat
woodden barges and horses, this smalltown was a harbour. River is strong
and dark with foamy lines. You hear an impressive roaring when you look at
it from the embankment.
Altough I had already heard a lot about it, this was the first time I was
having an occasion to go to the Salmon's Pub.
Decoration does not insist as much as expected on Salmons, but there are
frames with nice famous flies. The great thing with that Pub is the
lounge's wall on the river. It is made of wood and windows and it is built
slightly proeminent over the water. There, the stream is quite narrow
between the pub and it's neighbour houses, forming a "pool". From your
table, when salmons arrive there you can see them passing by or waiting.
(June, early July is a good run).
As I was going out of the bar, I decided to buy a "Quimperloise" fly like
those I had seen on the wall. And here comes the first outstanding
encounter. I hardly believe it myself so you just do what you want !
I crossed the small bridge behind the bar and walked down the narrow
streets illuminated for X-mas, in search of a tackle shop. I asked someone,
and went where I was told, but found nothing else than a baker's shop and a
A man in an old red jumper and grey cap came out of the shop with a bred in
hand. I asked again:
- Do you know if there is a tackle shop somewhere here ?
- What are you looking for, Young man ? He answered.
- A tackle shop.
- Allright but what sort of tackle ?
He was looking so serious, that I started to laugh.
- Well ...ahem... a "Quimperloise" salmon fly !
At these words, he started to evoke almost each possible point in
the history of salmons in this area since a rod was invented. He was hardly
speaking French, as he was a very breton Breton ! I was staring at him
hallucinated, and I don't know how long this lasted but at the time he was
landing in front of me his 600th salmon, I realised I was not yet having my
hint to buy that fly and that my friends were probably starting to wonder
where the hell I could be lost !
- Well, you'll probably find one in Kervidanou, he finally said...
These "Quimperloises" flies are also called "Mouches bretonnes" or "Mouches
paysannes". Some have classic patterns and bear the name of their father or
of the river on which they were commonly used. As a hunter, I love these
flies. You can spend your season collecting things to tie them. The snipe,
the woodcock, the pheasant, give hackle, wings and tails. The
jay gives blue cheeks, and the coot makes an excellent dark grey
Boar and hare gently offer dubbing, a copper or silver wire used to
go around. Long stiff boar hair can also be tied along with, (or as) wings
as well as some others I never used such as squirrel, marten and badger (I
never shot any). Drake & cane mallard, teal and partridge are also
accepted. You can tie them as a pastime, just for fun on big longshank
hooks around #4, or on specific salmon simple,or double hook. You don't
even need the vice. The word "Mouches paysannes" means simple patterns that
were used by country fishermen who were having many ideas, but not the one
of wasting money ! They would never pay for feathers. These flies look
poor, kind of "raw" but they've been widely used even by gentlemen who
could easily afford buying the most expensive "Jock Scotts" and cousins and
all the feathers of the (former British) Empire ! This means they were very
efficient, and they still must be (The Kervidanou tackle shop still sells
some). For me, however, they mainly recall a vanished "golden age" !
I called my friends to say I was going to be late.
- Hurry up said Noël, I have bought scallops and little burbot tails. We'll
cook them "à l' Armoricaine". I also have a 16 years old LAGAVULIN,
telling me it's old enough and would like to be uncorked !
BRITTANY WOODCOCK AND SALMON
Other sportfish or game can be found here, but for Sportsmen, the name
BRITTANY, was always linked to woodcock and salmons. I find it funny as to
me they're both very similar in many aspects. How can our most delicate
gamebird compare to our most powerful sportfish ? Follow me: Both are
migratory quarry and visit us after a long mysterious Nordic journey. Both
are unpredictable, one day here and the next... God only knows. They
require skill and experience added to... a lot of luck ! , especially
needed for those who cannot spend all their time on the river or can only
spend a short vacation. At this sport, you're always very likely to hear
something beginning by: "If you had come last week.... etc" Both are
sometimes very friendly to beginners (probably to create stronger
addiction), and very crual to "old rods". Catching one means an awful lot
of hopeless efforts and deceptions. Endlessly, you must brush the river,
launch your dog, fish a new pool, climb another bushy slope. And again and
again, square inch per square inch on miles of river or hundreds of acres.
Always, until the moment when tears in your eyes and fist to the sky, you
are just about to say to Saint Peter or Hubertus, words you would regret
later. (Like: "Tomorrow I stay home and watch the match !). But, just ONE
satisfaction: The plentiful peace of a perfect point in the silence of
woods. The great pulling and lightning linking you forever to the river,
and then addiction becomes total.
To be fully honest, this description of the difficulties was already true
in the "golden age", but now is more than true especially for the salmon.
Today in France, an exclusive salmon flyfisherman must be somehow crazy.
But you can still find some. Here more than everywhere, salmon has suffered
and still suffers (a lot). The trend is now on more protection for big
winter and springer salmons, and a report of angling pressure on grilse.
There is a Fall's extention for them now during October. They are called
"castillons" in Brittany and are weighing around 5 lbs. Sometimes they are
here in reasonable quantities and give good sport if water conditions are
nice. Even though, one is far from making "series". Big pieces can be with
them, but probably will have to be released if caught after 16th June.
I will not give you the total number of catches for all France, I would be
ashamed. However, this wonderful fish is still present... in some rivers...
and in the heart of many fishermen.
OUR MAN ON THE SCORFF RIVER.
The day after, we were hunting Kerscoulic and Loc-Maria, on the SCORFF
river and had planned a lunch in Plouay. We reached Plouay and the
restaurant was full of Sunday clients. We quickly went upstairs and found
the very last (big) table. Soon after, two other "woodcockers" arrived, saw
there was no more space and asked if we would accept them with us.... And
I made my second astonishing encounter of the week-end.
One was the hairdresser of Auray. The second was weighing a minimum of 260
lbs, and asked what we had been doing yesterday ?
- We were on the Ellé, answered Noël. "We were there because Nick is crazy
about fly-fishing and wanted to see the river..."
And that guy of 260 lbs got litterally transfigured by these words. It took
us ten seconds to understand that fly-fishing was all his life ! (and also
that when you carry so many pounds you must feel better floating in the
stream than climbing a slope after a 300 grs witch bird !). This was the
second time in the same week-end that pure chance made me meet a local
figure of fishing. I was gifted. He also knew everything of each river of
the area and of many rivers in the world from remote Siberia to cold
Alaska. We were all listening like taking a lesson and I really regret I
did not take note of everything he said.
To end the story, Noël told him: "Nick met a funny guy yesterday in
I added: "He told me he had taken some 600 salmon's from the Ellé ! I do
not know if I should believe that ?"
And he started to tell me that it must have been Marcel Le Pennec, wearing
red jumper and grey cap. Small man speaking half French, half Breton,
rusted car, mean fox terrier etc... I was amazed. Quimperlé is not such a
smalltown that the first person you talk to should be Marcel Le Pennec !
I also of course had to ask him if he knew the "Salmon's Pub" ?
He smiled and rose his two hundred and sixty pounds. All the restaurant
stared at him as he started to... UNDRESS !? I couldn't believe it.
Thanks to God he took off shirt and sweater only. He appeared in a lousy
black T-shirt. He turned round and a silver shining huge salmon appeared
in his back...
In a scroll were written those words: "THE SALMON'S PUB QUIMPERLE"...
I smiled and knew he was going to be my future fly fishing advisor for the
The recipe of the "small burbot tails à l'Armoricaine" can be found on our
website, http://www.Gourmetfly.com Click "Links" on toolbar top right, find
"recipes" and click on "BURBOT".
This is the GourmetFly newsletter list.
If you do not want to receive theses mails, please advise:
Copyright Gourmetfly Paris 1999.
Country news from France.
Vol # 5 March 1999, News and Calendar
1/ Fishing License and a Picture of you.
In 1999, the picture becomes compulsary on
most fishing licenses. Therefore, do not
forget to take one. Fishing licenses are sold
in places like “Chez Marie, Café Tabac
Epicerie” in 200 souls village of the
Aveyron, where getting an instant ID picture
at 6h30 am is very likely to be... quite
Cost of a full local fishing license is around
If you change district, some areas will accept
your full license, some others (who did not
sign the “reciprocity” agreement), will claim
for an extra fee of around 100 Francs.
Many places sell holiday licenses valid for a
period of two weeks. The cost is around 150
Francs. These holiday licenses are usually
not sold before June 15th or July 1st
according to local rules.
Some places have a system of daily license of
around 50 Francs. This is not everywhere
and even in places where it does exist, these
licences sometimes do not apply to trout
2/ Neuvic cock’s fair and contest on May 1st
Like every year, the small town of Neuvic in
Corrèze is the venue of the most important
“fair and contest of fishing cocks” (especially
the grey local Limousin). It takes place
during the main “Foire aux Bestiaux” which
is the fair for live cattle, like the delicious
veals of the Limousin / Corrèze region. It is
as you can believe very picturesque.
Peasants and traders still wear traditionnal
black overall and keep a pencil on the ear.
They spit in palm and hit hands when a deal
is made. This is also the day Neuvic almost
becomes the Capital of the Fly-fishermen
Around Neuvic are numerous trout streams,
wonderful countryside and gorgeous
3/ The Game Fair at Castle of Chambord.
The dates of the 1999 Game Fair are June
18, 19 and 20. As usual, the setting is the
magnificent park of Royal Castle of
Chambord on the Loire, built during the
Renaissance by King François 1er
(1494-1547). This is THE MEETING of all
the field sports in France. A unique occasion
to see together around 15 or 20 équipages
de chasse à courre, (traditional Hunts with
horses, hounds & horns. Members are
wearing the 18th century uniform).
A special emphasis is made on Africa this
year. (Maybe for Ernest Hemingway’s
centenary, or pure chance, I don’t know).
There is also a large section of traditional
crafts emphasizing this year on all the
wicker’s and willow’s works. Probably an
occasion to buy a new outstanding creel.
Of course you can visit the Castle during the
exhibition. Don’t forget: The night fireworks
show is on the Saturday. There are plenty of
barbecue stands to sit and look while eating
Their webpage can be seen at:
4/ Real Sport !!! Fly-fishing on the TOUR DE
FRANCE bicycle race.
The race will run from July 3 to 25, 1999.
As you may know, it goes around the
There are basically two occasions to stay in
Places that will allow you to fly-fish and
leave the river one day to attend the race
(live) from the side of a road. Let me tell you
that it is something unforgettable.
July 16th and 17th, the race crosses the
Massif Central Highlands from
Saint-Galmier to Albi. There are many rivers
(not to cross for them! but to fly-fish for
you), not too far.
July 20th and 21st, the race climbs the high
Pyrenees passes. Lots of famous rivers in
the neighbourhood. This is the heroic part of
the race. If you feel like being heroic too,
after the race, let me point out these facts:
On July, 21, 1899, hundred years ago, was
born Ernest Hemingway, in Oak Park
Illinois. Pamplona in Spain, setting of “The
Sun Also Rises”, is very near from where the
race passes. If there should be one single
occasion in a lifetime to get drunk, it could
well be this very night in Pamplona “ al BAR
TXOKO ”. (Who knows who will be able to
do it on July, 21, 2099 ???). FYI: July 21st is
after the San Fermines fiestas, traditionnally
starting on July 7th, and over on July 14th).
Copyright Gourmetfly Paris 1999.
Country news from France.
Volume # 6 April 1999
1/ Gourmetfly introduces selected packages.
2/ Blooming orchards and half timbered mud walls.
3/ Try an “Andelle”.
4/ My secret Gourmet weapon.
1/ GOURMETFLY INTRODUCES SELECTED PACKAGES.
Gourmetfly is introducing the widest choice of fly fishing solutions to
enrich with a river experience your trip to France. Only rivers (mean and
wary fish) are featured. All these destinations are friendly to non
fishers. They all allow you to combine outstanding sightseeing and some
fishing. Of course the gourmet aspect has been closely worked out too.
Short stays, week-stays, week-ends. Near or far from Paris. Featuring a
wide range of different accomodations but all in beautiful settings and
“worth visiting” surroundings. Go to http://www.gourmetfly.com and click a
region on top toolbar. You will find already a lot, but there is also more
to come so we are expecting you back anytime you are planning a trip to
The price of all the stays includes accomodation with one meal a day, and
fishing costs inclusive of license. Some are very cheap, some are more
“Château”, but regardless of the price they all respond to the same
criteria: Places of quality that only the very special eye of Gourmetfly
could have found for you. Why ? Simply because we share the same passion !
2/ BLOOMING ORCHARDS AND HALF TIMBERED MUD WALLS
On this Easter Saturday morning, my friend Carl wanted to play the “Guinea
Pig” for my “Risle Bouteloup” fly fishing circuit. A promising day with
mild weather and blooming orchards. Everything was looking OK until my
clutch broke down at the entrance of the highway, so we had to drive back
on 2nd gear to take his own car. This was the beginning of a hard day for
him. First I took advantage of the heavy traffic jams to announce that we
had to go first to my Waterfowl marshes on the Seine estuary, for the
yearly “Clean Seashore Operation”. This is the day local hunters collect
all the possible rubbish, plastic bags etc, brought up there by the river,
tides and winds. But we were so late because of the clutch and Easter
traffic, that we reached the place after the “apéritif” when everybody was
leaving. As we were having our hip boots I thought it could be nice to have
a short walk in the reed fields. It was a good occasion for my shaggy
griffon to prove his skill on snipes and his ability to paint with fresh
silt, Carl’s beautiful “Orvis” Limited Edition... !! car. We were lucky
enough to take a few points on about 26 or 30 snipes in something like half
Ghillie’s superstition ! seeing so many snipes on a fishing day could well
be a bad omen for trout ! (Last February, I took a journalist “on snipes”
we saw two ! in 6 hours). I told Carl, but he was taking everything with
sheer good mood for “just being there outdoor”. We also had some slices of
saucisson and wine and a “tarte Chibouste” on the Seine banks facing
Risle’s estuary and the white cliffs of “Pointe de la Roque”. He also took
with good mood the “tarte Chibouste”. I had warned him: “The tarte
Chibouste is a delicious apple pie with light Calvados cream on top. It is
awfully good but very difficult to handle as the cream is so light and
easily fills your nose”. Splotch !! his nose was filled up and the rest of
the cream on the ground (for the Fido !). “You see ?” I said. (Now he was
So we left the marshes and finally joined the fishing stretch. I was very
proud of my Country as he was admiring everything on the way. This period
in the year is too late for hunting, too early for fishing, but the
blooming apple trees are a real pleasure for the eyes. Carl was very
impressed by the traditionnal “half timber”, (colombages normands),
The oldest barns are built with these complicated beam assemblings and the
walls are made of “torchis”, mixture of yellow clay mud and mashed straw.
It is somehow “rustic” but quite durable as some of these are century old.
The nicest have a beautiful thatched roof with Iris flowers planted on top
to reinforce ridge. They’re not made of straw but of reeds cut in the
marshes (where we saw the snipes). I met once a roof maker renewing an old
house. He now assembles the bundles with steel wire, but he showed me that
the original construction was linked with bramble leash. This roof was at
least 200 years old ! .
3/ TRY AN “ANDELLE”.
My fears regarding river were alas founded ! Too cold, too high, too
powerful, absolutely no surface activity apart some coots. Carl defines
himself as an “avid” fly fisherman... and he is. Only a real one could
have been drifting like this for two or three hours in the powerful cold
stream (apparently the big chalkstream browns themselves don’t do it and
stay hidden somewhere !). Mr Bouteloup had told us that sometimes trout
accept something dry falling from banks. So he brushed all banks. Then we
went to the conclusion that because of the current trout could only be
eating on the bottom staying in the protection of big stones. But no nymph
was for their taste. The only satisfaction came when I gave to Carl my
imitation of an “Andelle”*. (Yes an imitation of... the imitation). The
“Andelle” takes her name from a river, it looks like an Irish mayfly nymph
and it fishes wet preferably to the bottom with a little lead. In fact it
goes to bottom and fish when rising up again. It is a pale yellow body and
a soft hackle but I was short of raw material. It is a big fly but mine was
on a strong # 4 long shank hook, had a tail, a yellow body and a teal
hackle. After a few casts downstream Carl hooked something and with such a
big lure everything was possible from tarpon to salmon, but a small
“shiner” (Dace, says my Harrap’s for “vandoise”) came up. Maybe I had tyed
by mistake a “fly fisherman deceiver” !!!
Après l’effort, le réconfort....
4/ MY SECRET GOURMET WEAPON.
I knew he was glad of his day, but I didnt want him to stay on this
impression. We were starving and Carl wanted to find a good place for
dinner. I couldn’t do the “deceiver” again, however I wanted to be
adventurous and test a new address I had noticed some time ago. (I was
walking in the street, looked inside the kitchen and got impressed by the
The place looks out of fashion and a piano plays alone...!? And chance
As we place our order, we get a few hot and cold canapés and other
interesting amuse-bouche. We order the scallops brochettes but a (not
ordered) “mini” soup arrives as an other starter. It’s a mushroom cream
perfumed with a drop of olive oil, macerated with new garlic. The scallops
are amaizing, all displayed in individual brochettes and served with a
wonderful sauce. In the middle of the plate is a little pot of “brandade”**
used as a condiment. The wide plates are beautiful modern Limoges china and
the dishes arrive covered with the silver bell like in the old tradition.
The bred is warm and home made. Everytime one small loaf is finished, a
discreet eye sees it and brings another one in the minute. A wonderful meat
arrives in a thick brown sauce flavoured by Calvados and morels (morilles
in French). The cheese is perfect and I specially look at the Livarot and
Pont Lévèque as we are in their native region. Absolutely perfect. Then
again a waltz of amuse-bouche and sweet entremets, and again like they had
done with the mushroom cream, a not ordered sort of pre-dessert. A small
sandwich of violett crème glacée !? between two crispy “fresh out the oven”
“lace” tiles with sesame seeds, on a bed of raspberry “coulis”. We get the
dessert. It’s a warm pear beautifully cut in thin slices, the spicy syrup
in which it was poached makes a hot sauce. All around are different kinds
of sherbets with almond tiles making sort of hat on top. All crispy, tasty
To end it up, a choice of three arabica coffees was offered: Maragogype,
Brasil and Colombia. We have the delicately bitter Maragogype and another
bunch of delicious mini pastries and chocolates comes along again.
Believe me or not, this was the 145 frs menu ! There is no typing error and
your calculating machine doesn’t lie. On the side we had an unforgettable
Saint-Emilion Château Coutet 1989 (not at 145 frs ! ), but with such a
price for the menu the whole bill still was much under the usual prices.
Now “deceiver” again... do not dream, even in France, this kind of place,
at this kind of price is most unusal, I had not seen that since ???
* The “real” Andelle is a nymph that also looks like a wetfly.(And can be
pulled like a streamer). On a # 10 longshank, you tie your yellow thread
and fix two yellow dyed mallard soft hackles. You can make a black head.
From head, the 1st hackle is left as a hackle. With the second one, you
take all the fibers and with the yellow silk, you tie them together on
shank just before hook’s bend only. So the same fibers make: 1/ at
extremity the tail. 2/ Along the shank, a big thorax.
If you look at it then from a side you see: Horizontal tail, then 1 or 2mm
yellow thread before bend level, then big thorax or belly, then soft hackle
** The Brandade is a specialty of Mediterranean cities like Nîmes or Arles.
It is a spicy “purée” of pomme de terre with cod, garlic, parsley, a drop
of lemon and olive oil. You can eat it as a dish or on toasted bred slices
for appetizer. It was the first time I was seeing it as an “accompagnement”
to scallops !
Copyright Gourmetfly Paris 1999.
This is the GourmetFly newsletter list.
If you do not want to receive theses mails, please tell us by return e-mail.
Volume # 7 May 1999
1/ Mayflies and Hendricksons
2/ The “Rio” Irati and Santiago de Compostela, a touch of spirituality.
3/ An “evening rise” in Normandy at noon on Aug 11th 1999.
4/ Evening rise, Darwin and the last cartridges.
5/ Pickled “safranés” and artichokes.
6/ Les cépages provençaux.
The so called “beaux jours” are here, (the nice days), and as it is logical, more fishing produces...
less writings. However here is a short note to keep you informed of .... what you miss !
1/ Mayflies and Hendricksons.
Since early May, we have had very interesting hatches. On May 12th at the end of a mild rainy
day, I have seen an outstanding quantity of Mayflies. Big ones in creamy body and grey wings,
creamy body and wings, olive bodies grey wings, reddish bodies and wings, smaller grey, cream
and sulphur yellow... a “fly festival”. Of course a hectic activity was to be observed under water
too. The flyfisherman’s dream.... but nothing is perfect down here and I was amused to observe
on myself the following phenomenon: “How proud you are on the tying bench after creating a
beautiful big mayfly, and.... how disappointed you are on the river when you spot the difference
between it and the “naturals” ! When there are so many, your fly is always cruising along with
three or four “reals” in its very close neighbourhood, and the truth is that the best success was
obtained with imitations of spents (looking more than dead) with CDC wings floating the film.
The first good day on May 5th however, trout were biting on American light Hendricksons, but
the hatch was not as strong as on May 12th.
2/ Pilgrimage: The “Rio” Irati and a touch of spirituality.
We have now displayed on our http://www.gourmetfly.com webpage, a solution to flyfish the Rio
Irati in Spanish Pyrenees particularly adapted this year for a Hemingwayan pilgrimage (100 years
celebration). But if you really feel like a pilgrim, there is more to do (1.000 years celebration ! ).
This year is also the last “holy year” before the Christ Jubilee of 2000. A few millions ! (no less)
of pilgrims are expected to walk to Santiago de Compostela, using what is called the “Camino
Francès”, the French route. The starting points were everywhere in Northern Europe and walkers
used to join quite often city of Le Puy en Velay in central France, but there were many other
itineraries. These routes had to merge in the Pyrenees mountains where three or four passes only
were used. After crossing the high mountains the remaining routes were all converging to
“Puente la Reina”, and at this moment, only one way was leading to Saint James of Compostella
(“campo stella”, the field of the star that guided Theodomir and Pelagius to the grave of Saint
James in 810). I particularily encourage everybody to take 1 year or a couple of months to walk
the “Camino de Santiago”, but this a personnal decision in which I would not interfere. (Many
people do this walk for non religious reasons, just because they meet the time, the earth, the sky,
the people ... and themselves, which is probably what some others call “meeting God”).
All I can do is pointing out that Irati’s fishing stretches are in the neighbourhood of the Monastery
of Roncesvalles. That joining it from France means a stop at “Saint-Jean Pied de Port”. That a
famous stage of this march is the one from “Saint Jean Pied de Port” to “Roncesvalles”, as it
crosses the Mountains. “Saint Jean Pied de Port” litterally means “Saint John foot of Port”, as
“port” is the old word still used in Spanish (puerto) for “pass”. It’s always an experience, (for
instance, Roland, defeated by the Basques and Saracens, lost here in 778, half the army of his
uncle Carolus Magnus Emperor of the Francs) to walk this old pilgrim’s way. It’up to you. (If
you decide to do so, you must find in old Saint Jean, the house with the “scallop shell sign”*,
where pilgrims get a stamp on their “credencial” passport. You may walk the Saint James way
and remain a disciple of Saint Peter, so when you cross the bridge in St Jean, look down the Nive,
spot the big trouts... and just glorify God !!!).
* The French name for “scallops”, is “Coquille Saint-Jacques”, it translates by “Saint James’s
3/ An “evening rise” in Normandy at noon on Aug 11th 1999.
As I see you seem to like outstanding experiences, you’re cordially invited for an “apéritif” at the
“evening rise of the century”, (the next one will only be on September 2081 !). On rivers Valmont
or Durdent near Etretat in Normandy, there will be a two minutes deep dark night between 12.20
am and 12.30 am. This means “evening rise” just after the “apéritif” and early morning fishing just
before lunch. There won’t be many places in the world where this will happen. (South Cornwalls
for our English friends and some rivers of Austria).
4/ Evening rise, Darwin and the last cartridges.
“Evening rise” or “dusk fishing” called here “le coup du soir”, is always on our rivers a very
favorable but short moment. Please find here a famous “gourmetfly tip” especially dedicated to
my friend Bob, who is a close relative to Mr Darwin (for being Bob’s friend, I first thought it was
the nick name of the guy who invented the famous “dark winged olive” but after research, this fly
does not exist !). Well thanks to Darwin, everybody knows that man proceeds from ape and that
ape comes from the tree. But I think he died too early to answer the crucial question: “Why does
man’s fly go back to the tree with such pleasure ? And why so often at dusk time when trout are
getting crazy for ten last short minutes ? ” Neither Halford nor Skues give more answer... Making
the hook’s knot at this moment is a real pain. Totally in the dark is hopeless, using a torch is
unpleasant. I now prepare myself like this: I dress a big clear high floating flie that I tie with a
lenght of tippet. I place it in an empty shotshell 12 Ga.Cal. leaving only 1 or 2 cm of tippet out of
it. Then I plug a cork on top.
I usually use “Château Dauzac” 5ème cru de Margaux 1990, and I’ve always been happy with it.
One of my friend says he only uses magnums of “Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande” 1985,
and catches (he says) more fish than me. But I think he is snobbish !? However, if in the very
dark your fly flies to a tree and you have to break it all, making the knot leader/tippet is far easier
than finding the little hole...
5/ Pickled “safranés” and artichokes.
“Evening rise” again ! On Provençal river Verdon, before one of those “coup du soir”, I’ve been
served a wonderful accompanyment to boar pâté or cold meat. In big glass pots, they prepare
during the winter a wild mushroom called in latin “lactarius deliciosus” and in Provence “Safrané”
for its yellow color. During Springs they do the same with tiny artichokes. They are pickled in a
very Provençal mixture of wine vinegar and olive oil. The mixture is delicately fragranced with
thyme, rosemary and juniper berries all found in the wild local hills. (Boar and mushrooms too). It
is absolutely gorgeous. (I will place the very easy recipe on www.Gourmetfly.com “links” page,
6/ Les cépages provençaux.
Those picnics of Provence are always a very nice moment also because cheap nice local wines are
available. What defines them best is : “modesty allied with a strong personality”. There are
prestigious bottles, like “Châteauneuf du Pape” or “Bandol” but the cheap bought in bulk local
red or rosé is quite nice in many places. These wines are not scared by a backpack walk and a
chilly stay in the river. Just one (angry) word about the vine plants. In the Luberon charming small
market towns, those shops selling wine in bulk are now offering a wide range of “sole cepage”
wines such as “Lubéron Merlot” or “Cabernet” or “Chardonnay”, whatsoever, even sole Syrah.
Fine ! Those wines are maybe good but I hardly understand the reason of their creation. It’s a
loss of identity and there is no gain of quality. So please keep in mind that in Provence the vine
plants assembled for reds and rosés, are Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache and Carignan. Then for
the Provençal regions close to the Rhone like around Châteauneuf du Pape*, the Syrah appears in
the assembling, but never as a “sole cépage” in the old tradition. The whites use a lot of “ugni
blanc”. If you try a “Cassis” with a charcoal grilled fish like seabass or “daurade” on the small
harbour (of Cassis) by a mild June evening, you will find no reason to make it look like a “forged”
Chablis by adding Chardonnay !?
* In the classic tradition, best “Châteauneuf du Pape” are a marriage of up to 13 cépages ! If
someone thinks he can do better with “sole Syrah”, he must be a .... (I don’t know).
Copyright Gourmetfly Paris 1999.
This is the GourmetFly newsletter list.
If you do not want to receive theses mails, please tell us by return e-mail.
Volume # 8 July 1999
1/ A President's dinner party in Paris.
2/ "Feeding up" birds.
3/ For (young) fishermen, a best seller of French cuisine.
4/ Another American in Paris ??? and French countryside landscapes.
1/ A PRESIDENT'S DINNER PARTY IN PARIS.
Sometimes Presidents as Prince of the old fairy tales, like to pretend they
can mix up with "normal" population. Nowadays, they will not disguise but
will simply have dinner "like anyone could do", at the "AMI LOUIS" in
This restaurant is the perfect representation of an old Parisian Bistrot.
It is quoted in Patricia Wells's book BISTRO COOKING. These "bistrots" are
the most Parisian thing on earth but at all these places the food is
claimed to be from a remote region. I think no restaurant can be found in
Paris, saying it serves "Parisian Cuisine". Well this one is from the
South-West of France, (Le Sud-Ouest), and anybody speaking of the
"Sud-Ouest", means food based on "force-fed" geese, and ducks, and many
other goodies prepared with duck's fat, garlic and Cognac or Armagnac. The
fat used to prepare a dish will always be the crucial hint helping the
Gourmet Sherlock Holmes tracing where a dish comes from. Olive oil will
mean Provence, butter Brittany or Charentes, cream will denounce Normandy
and lard, Alsace.
If you like to eat at places where the "Grands de ce monde" had dinner
before you, here comes an extra one. In Bordeaux when former Prime Minister
Juppé (Mayor of Bordeaux), first met Mr Tony Blair, they also pretended to
play the "simple people", and and went to the TUPINA.
At both these bistrots and all of the kind the bill will hardly reach
500Frs with the wines, they serve all the traditional dishes of the
"répertoire". This is the main difference between them and the "stars" of
French cuisine who are continuously in search of new inventions and
creativity. The price is also a difference as for "creativity", you will
more probably be charged around 1500Frs ... without wine !
So if you also feel like "simple people", and have a little hunger in Paris
or Bordeaux, you can also try these places like Mssrs Chirac, Juppé,
Clinton and Blair. They are not professional gourmet critics, but I think
they were happy of it.
L'AMI LOUIS, 32 rue du Vertbois, à PARIS (3ème Arrdt), Tel 01 48 87 77 48
La TUPINA, 6 rue Porte de la Monnaie, à BORDEAUX, Tel 05 56 91 56 37
2/ "FORCE-FEEDING" BIRDS.
To end up with this theme, if you finally go to "l'Ami Louis", you will
notice the words "Ortolans & Foie-Gras", painted with old fashion letters
on the front wooden wall. Foie Gras you may know is obtained with, (in fact
is) the oversized liver of special ducks or geese. The word "Ortolans" has
not been removed, but do not order these or you will be considered as a
sort of criminal. Hunting Ortolans has been finally banned in 1999 and it
has been considered a great victory by all the "greens" and
"pro-protective" animal lobbies of the entire World. In fact, people had
been eating Ortolans with great pleasure for over 2000 years or probably
more, and for sure this had to be stopped. It must be a major step for the
happiness of mankind so if you people feel happier this year and you do not
know why, maybe it is because French Gourmets have lost the Ortolan !?
There is a link between Ortolan, geese and ducks, although Ortolan is a
very small bird. The three were killed after a period of "over feeding" to
develop special qualities particularily of the liver.
It is often described by the same lobbies mentionned above as something
"very cruel". I would like to point out that this allegation is totally
wrong. These birds in nature use their fat as a sort of fuel allowing them
to cover long migratory distances. They naturally "over feed" themselves
before the long flight and all hunters have noticed a huge difference of
fat and livers on these birds during migration. Obtaining "foie-gras" or a
"fat ortolan" proceeds from same principle but assisted by man who provides
endless quantities of seeds.
3/ A "BEST SELLER" OF THE FRENCH CUISINE (Special for young fishermen).
I have noticed among foreign visitors (Hi Kirk !) that the fish soup
prepared like in Provence, always meets an incredible success. This dish
looks like "wizard" work that only a few "Chefs" cand do but the reality is
much simpler. It is actually one of the easiest dishes that can be obtained
with a mixture of love and simple products. Why love ? 1st because you
should put some in anything you cook, and 2nd because the fish soup is THE
PRIDE of very young fishermen. In my own memory, "la soupe de poissons" is
probably the most beautiful fisherman souvenir. When you're 10 years old,
anything you hook around 3 inches long is already "big game" fishing and
going back home with a plastic bucket full of shiny prays make you feel
like... Well nothing compares ! In the future "perfect world" some people
are building, young kids will probably be told that it is cruel to go
fishing, but before this delicious moment you can still enjoy your summer
holiday, waiting for the "fishermen's return" and get prepared to another
pride: Preparing la "Soupe de Poissons".
You need a kid's bucket of very fresh (non silty*) small fish. Olive oil.
Two big potatoes, two big tomatoes, 1 big onion, 2 or 3 garlic "teeth",
salt, pepper, a bit of saffron, thyme, laurel, and 1/2 pint of water for
Get roughly rid of fish bellies but keep heads and tails and all the rest.
First heat your olive oil with the garlic, the onions and smoothly add the
fish and let it fry for a while. Add also the tomatoes and potatoes that
you have cut into small parts.
When it is all warm "singing" enough, put the water and season accordingly
with salt, pepper, saffron, thyme, laurel etc...
Boil until the moment the potato pieces are starting to disappear.
Pass it all through a "small holes colander", taste and add salt or pepper
It must be served with slices of French type bred, toasted in the pan with
olive oil and garlic. You can also put on the table grated "gruyère" cheese
that you spread over soup and toasts, in the plate and this special spicy
mayonnaise called "rouille". La "rouille" is obtained very simply by making
a normal mayonnaise in which you incorporate a mashed garlic "tooth" plus a
bit of saffron making the "rusted" colour.
I am not sure all kids will enjoy the dish but adults surely will
especially if a chilled rosé or dry white good wine comes along. But all
kids will be proud to see parents and friends enjoying result of their hard
*Small colorful sea "rock-fish" like in the Mediterranean sea are the best.
However, almost any fish can be used. Almost each region of France has its
"soupe" and all species of fish are used.
4/ ANOTHER AMERICAN IN PARIS ??? AND FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE LANDSCAPES.
After Greg LeMond, another American could be seen in Paris wearing yellow
!!! If that sentence sounds mysterious to you, it probably means you're not
a fan of the TOUR DE FRANCE, big bicycle race... You should however have a
look at it because it is an amaizing sporting event and also because the
race crosses many of our beautiful landscapes and villages. Today Massif
Central hills of the center of France, and soon (around the 20th), high
Mountains of the Pyrenees. Many trout streams are aside, maybe it's an
occasion to pick up ideas for a next "voyage".
Copyright Gourmetfly Paris 1999.
This is the GourmetFly newsletter list.
If you do not want to receive theses mails, please tell us by return
Volume # 9 Autumn 1999
1/ Gourmetfly introduces hunting proposals
2/ A new presentation of fly fishing suggestions.
3/ Fall... catch & release but do not forget your willow creel
4/ Webcam at Château Figeac of Saint Emilion.
5/ Grands Vins “at cost”, near the Arc de Triomphe.
6/ Prestigious “country” chefs settle in Paris.
7/ Smuggling Roquefort cheese.
Couturier Paco Rabanne had predicted world’s end for August 11th at the
very moment of the eclipse, but thanks Mother Nature we are still here. We
have enjoyed this wonderful event although no trout considered it was an
extra evening rise opportunity and no duck envisaged a dusk flight at noon
! Now comes fall for the pleasure of the survivors !?
1/ GOURMETFLY INTRODUCES HUNTING PROPOSALS.
From our homepage http://www.Gourmetfly.com , you have now access to
wingshooting & hunting proposals for a discovery of French Countryside
during fall and winter periods. Again this is not the opportunity to burn
your shots record but a nice outstanding way to visit the Country with gum
boots on. Take it as a “cultural” way to have good fun outdoor, we take
care of the gourmet... side. We insist on the fact that this is a sporting
destination non hunting Ladies will love for they are not obliged to follow
in the mud. They are allowed to sleep late, stay in town for “fashion shops
hunting”, visit museums and exhibitions and just join “the boys” in the
evening for a good dinner party. (There are suggestions around Paris,
around Bordeaux and in Provence).
Click hunting on the right of top toolbar http://www.Gourmetfly.com
2/ A NEW PRESENTATION FOR OUR FLY FISHING SUGGESTIONS.
A new presentation has been adopted for our fly fishing suggestions: After
a brief description of the area, a frame has been displayed with “flat”
costs of room per night, meals, fishing license etc... It should allow you
to make a pretty simple estimation of your costs if you choose to visit one
of the places we have selected for your intention. Only Normandy and
Brittany are ready this way but the other regions will follow soon and new
venues will be placed during the winter.
3/ CATCH & RELEASE BUT TAKE YOUR WILLOW CREEL...
Our trout season ends by September 20th on the huge majority of streams.
There are few extensions until Oct 3rd in some rivers of the Normandie Pays
d’Auge. Extention for migratory seatrout in Normandie. Extention for
salmon in Brittany. And grayling in some waters classified “2nd category”
(non trout dominating waters). Although nice solutions exist in Normandy
and Jura, the most famous is the splendid Dordogne in the South-West.
I just read in a magazine a tribute to Arthur Oglesby a legendary English
(or Scottish ?) salmon fly fisherman and writer. “The most important thing
I have learnt with time” He says. (60 years “on streams”), “... is to
know moments I should fish and moments I should sit on the bank”. Fall.
is a season A. Oglesby would have described like: “including a lot of
bank sitting”. Good fishing moments are scarce in this season. Salmon and
seatrout runs are linked to special water conditions. Grayling will rise
(or only be active) at warmer hours of the day. You can use bottom
rolling nymphs and wait for rises, but the travelling anglers knows that
fish also take “days off”, the very day they shouldnt. So you could also
grab your creel (one occasion to use these wonderful craft works) and join
the next wood mushroom hunting. Any compensation is good to take and
mushroom hunting is a fantastic one. A big cèpe found is a moment of
glory you will never forget. And rain is not a reason to stay home anyway.
If you know which one you can pick up, your hotel will never refuse to make
for you one of these wonderful “omelettes aux cèpes” or place them “en
fricassée”, aside of your duck “magret”. If you’re not familiar with them,
there is a very easy way to learn. Go to any village’s market. Buy 100 grs
of “Cèpes de Bordeaux”. Put them in your basket, join the next wood (it is
ridiculous but it is only for this first time). And try to find a nice bag
of the same. I can hear you thinking: “Why not filling the creel directly
at the market !!?” I will not answer...
The forests of Dordogne are uphill the steep banks of the river and allow
an unforgettable “point de vue” on the valley. And in Normandie, one of our
guides is proposing mixed days, fly fishing grayling and mushroom hunting.
Everywhere the colours of Fall are the most wonderful of the year.
4/ WEBCAM AT CHATEAU FIGEAC.
Travelling gourmet sportsmen also know how difficult it is to “do
everything”. “Should I use my holiday on rivers or should I finally visit
vineyards in Bordeaux ?”. If the river won again this year, Château Figeac
of Saint Emilion has created a nice webpage and allows you to make a short
(sober) “vinic break” from your computer. A webcam is showing you some of
the nicest parts of the wine making process. http://www.chateau-figeac.com
5/ GRANDS VINS “at COST”, between Arc de Triomphe and Trocadero.
A possible way to meet again and taste Château Figeac. I would like to
point out an interesting address 79 Avenue KLEBER, in Paris XVIth. François
CLERC, was a Chef in the race for Michelin stars but met financial
difficulties during the recession of Gulf war. He turned his former
prestige “Vieille Fontaine” of Maisons Lafitte near Paris in an affordable
“rôtisserie” still using the same décor but cutting into the overwhelming
brigades* of waiters and cooks (it has not become a self service though).
At the same time he opened in Paris his first “Les Bouchons”. He also
realised that in a time of recession the price of the good wines was too
high for most clients and as he wanted to concentrate on cuisine and
advertise in some original way, he started to claim that he was taking no
or very little mark up on the good bottles. In fact, price of these are
already quite high even directly purchased “au Château”, and the usual
mark-up was production price multiplied per 5 . If you pay five times the
normal price, you end up drinking the simplest “Côte de Blaye” at the price
of a good vintage “Pauillac”. It is frustrating for the client and
frustrating for the Chef who considers that very few people can order the
wine matching best his cooking work. When he first launched the idea he
was considered the “black sheep” of his trade but he also met success and
this “Bouchons” is his 5th of the kind. Still, it is not a chain of
restaurants. En résumé, this is THE place to try and taste outstanding
wines with wonderful cuisine.
*Les Bouchons du XVIème 79 av Kléber, Paris 16ème, 01 47 27 87 58. (If it
was overbooked you can ask for a table at one of the other addresses).
Menus between 200 and 300 frs + outsdanding wine list and Champagnes.
*NB: It is usual for highest class restaurants to have more people working
than people dining, even on a night the dining room is full.
6/ LA CAMPAGNE MONTE A PARIS. Prestigious “country” chefs settle in Paris.
Another word on chains that are not chains and problems of remote
prestigious places.You can write down on your notebook that Chef Bernard
Loiseau from Saulieu in Burgundy, just opened his second restaurant in
Paris (also on lower standards than his original 3 Michelin stars “maison”
of Saulieu, around 300 frs instead of 100/1500 in Saulieu. ), it is called
“Tante Marguerite” and sits on 5 rue de Bourgogne, near the “Invalides”.
And exactly based on same principle the charming, good looking and talented
young lady called Hélène Darroze famous for her star restaurant and Relais
& Châteaux hotel of Villeneuve de Marsans (South West of France), opens a
(her 1st ?) place in Paris, 4 rue d’Assas, not far from Boulevard Saint
Germain, place Saint Sulpice and gardens of Luxembourg.
* “Tante Marguerite” 5 rue de Bourgogne Paris 7ème, near the “Invalides”
01 45 51 79 42. (If it was overbooked you can ask for a table at the other
address “Tante Louise”, near la Madeleine).
* Hélène Darroze 4 rue d’Assas, Paris 6ème, 01 42 22 00 11. Not far from
Boulevard Saint Germain, place Saint Sulpice and gardens of Luxembourg.
(Around 300 frs).
7/ SMUGGLING ROQUEFORT CHEESE.
We are in the middle of a soft world war whose victims are a few country
workers and some sad gourmets. We can hear or read monolithic statements
like “U.S bans Roquefort !“ or “French rejects UK beef ” and “British chefs
boycott the truffes !?”. The heroic highlight happened late August when
French peasant’s chief José Bové was arrested for having destroyed a Mac
Donald’s (in construction) and was released after his bail bond was partly
paid by an American farmers union...
Nevertheless, US gourmets must pay 100% taxes on Moutarde de Dijon, or
Roquefort, when French chefs like Alain Ducasse complain because they
cannot import Virginian soft-shell crabs or Arkansas beef nor the wonderful
Angus. On another hand France imports 100% of the mustard seeds from North
America (mainly from Canada) and hunters regret the old time when partrige
where flushed out mustard fields as this covert was excellent.
I have been told that the best cheese shops in Paris now offer a vacuum
system to wrap cheese and I guess this must help very much who want to
smuggle back home these smelly souvenirs. Just cross fingers, in hope that
customs “labs” in your country are not used to begg at their master’s
table like most French dogs do and only react to uninteresting products
like drugs or explosives.
There are many good “blue cheese” in the rest of France and even in the
world. A good Stilton with Port or a Gorgonzola are always moments of sheer
happiness. But Roquefort has something unique. It is made in desertic parts
of France called “Les grands Causses” and the sheep milk particularly comes
from the Causse of Larzac where nature is not generous except in stones,
dry grass and thousand of wild flowers. (The word “causse” bears the same
root making “chalk” or “calcareous”). The milk is collected on the causse
and brought to the “bergeries” to prepare and salt the raw loafs. Every two
weeks the production is sent to nearby “Caves de Roquefort” where the real
work will start. A “real work”, that mainly consists doing... nothing !
Just waiting. The cave itself works with help of the winds proceeding from
the “causses”. These winds are swallowed by the cliff of Cambelou and are
sort of thamed in narrow wet long dark natural rock tunnels. The winds
litterally blow through the belly of the mountain to end up in the “caves”
at a temperature of 5° (Celtius) and 98% hygrometry !? To make it simpler
it is wet and cold and does not vary all year long. The loafs are salted
and prepared with “penicilium”, then pierced by 32 needles !? but after
this, only the cave and wind make the job. This is the “affinage”. It is a
very old process as Roman Historian Pline is supposed to have mentionned
Roquefort in one of his books 2000 years ago, and the oldest caves
replacing previous grottos were founded around 1780. It has much to see
with the making of Champagne also resulting from an original process
married with outsdanding calcareous caves. Both are nice places to visit
and the region around Roquefort has many good “fly fishing” streams.
Champagne would be more a big game hunting area.
Copyright Gourmetfly Paris 1999.