La Cancoillotte, also the Drawing Room

La cancoillotte, when I first heard the word I thought it’s a type of dance maybe, or something old fashioned-yet-rather-fancy to wear. Now I assure you it’s something much more mundane, in fact, it is cheese. Or almost.

I remember when I moved to France people always were so thrilled, France! Of all countries, café and croissants in Paris or drinking rosé wine in an olive grove in Provence. Not Provence, I used to reply, but Province. Good old countryside, where people greet each other in the streets and where good people have a tidy garden and big geraniums in pots. Where lunch still is the most important meal of the day and cars without a trailer hitch don’t sell well.

This is the countryside with all its advantages and all its flaws. Where so many people left for the city as soon as they could. Where dirt on boots and wonky windows mean poverty. Where a modern shiny white kitchen with an inbuilt steamer is a thing. Where 16th century farmhouses are torn down, as happened in our old village, to make room for building prefabricated shoebox houses, presumably. With shiny withe kitchens and inbuilt steamers. And lawns so impeccable that one never gets one’s boots dirty.

Yet there’s still no place I’d rather be. I also know I can’t stop time, and if people want modern they’ll do modern. Yet I can preserve what’s within my reach. And maybe, hopefully, inspire others to do the same. To cherish their heritage. The beautiful time-worn houses of their grandmothers. The hedgerows and orchards and dry stone walls. Their foods, foods like the cancoillotte.

This is a typical farmer’s dish, agriculture culture where nothing goes to waste. You’ll take the milk and skim off the cream to make butter from and crème fraiche, and you’re left with a lot of skimmed milk, probably more you can drink and make bread of and it will turn, and so you’ll make curd and let it dry so it keeps. And when you’re feeling like you could do with a pot of cancoillote you’ll take a cup of curd and melt it and you may add a little garlic and maybe a sip of Vin Jaune and there you go. It’s probably the unfanciest of all French dishes I admit. Yet what I call the queen of comfort food!

Also the drawing room, on a very other note, I’ve made some pictures for you now the furniture is in! I’m currently sewing the curtains and today we’ll get the big mirror I found through a very kind lady up on the mantle. Then I think that’s where we’ll leave it for the time being. We decided to keep the original plaster walls and some patches of the wall paper, creating a time-painted look rather than sleek newly painted walls. My husband thinks it’s a little wild but I rather like it!

What you’ll need

  • A pot of ready made cancoillotte (I checked, it’s possible to order it online outside France, though I admit at completely ridiculous prices but alas…)
  • A clove of fresh garlic
  • A sip (i.e. 4 cl) of Vin Jaune (I use a local version called “Cuvée des Archevêques” which is not a Vin Jaune in the sense of the rules but technically speaking the same make. You can get it here).
  • 200g of spring potatoes, the ones that are really small, they’re called “Grenailles” here
  • A bit of fresh farmer’s butter
  • If needed a pinch of fleur de sel

How to cook it

Cook the grenailles for about 15 minutes in water, no salt needed. At the same time warm the cancoillote with the garlic and the wine in a pot of simmering water (i.e. the “Bain Marie”, also about 15 minutes. Don’t crush the garlic, just peel it and remove the hard part at the bottom. When the potatoes are done drain them well and arrange in a shallow plate. Add a little butter and shake the plate a bit so the potatoes are glistening in fat. Then mix the cancoillotte and, if needed, add a little fleur de sel. Pour over the potatoes.

How to eat it

I like to crush my potatoes so to get the maximum concoillotte per potato, but you may as well cut them or eat them whole. As to wine, this is sturdy lands, an aged chardonnay will do well, or Vin Jaune. Also enjoy it a lot and I even heard that cancoillote is very very very healthy, so it’s really self care on every level, don’t you think?

6 thoughts on “La Cancoillotte, also the Drawing Room

  1. The patina on your walls is divine and couldn’t be replicated with all the money and artistry in the world. I love it.


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