------ Patrick MOON
Patrick Moon studied French and History at Oxford before working as a lawyer in London. He then decided to ‘stop’ in order to spend more time with his francophilia. He now spends every possible moment in his Languedoc home. Virgile’s Vineyard is his first book.
1- ARRAZAT'S AUBERGINES
How, exactly, does a young restaurateur set up business in rural France? In his delightful sequel to Virgile’s Vineyard, about Languedoc’s winemakers, Patrick Moon offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of life in a serious French kitchen.
Rich in truffles, oysters, olives, and eggplants, the Languedoc region of France is a gourmet’s paradise. It’s also full of wonders to explore: the secrets of olive oil and salt production, the Roquefort caves, the miracle of the sparkling Perrier Springs. But is it the perfect place for an ambitious young chef to open a restaurant? Intrigued by Laurent Arrazat’s determination to achieve perfection on a shoestring, Patrick Moon rolls up his sleeves and pitches in. For a year, he shares in the triumphs, disasters, and sheer hard work of restaurant life. By turns informative and funny, this is a captivating tale of culinary ambition, mishap, and discovery.
2 - VIRGILE'S VINEYARD: A YEAR IN THE LANGUEDOC WINE COUNTRY
Inheriting a remote and neglected house in the South of France, Patrick Moon sets out to discover how the Languedoc, a wine region so long notorious for mere quantity, has managed to transform itself, in little more than a decade, into one of the world's most exciting vineyards. Among the rich cast of characters he meets during his year of exploration is Virgile, a young local wine-maker who offers to initiate Patrick into the mysteries of each season's work in the fields and in the cellar. Virgile is passionately committed to perfection, though he operates on a shoestring with only a handful of hectares and the smallest cellar imaginable. At the other extreme is Manu, Patrick's dipsomaniac neighbour, a diehard traditionalist producing a private wine-lake of unspeakable rouge. With Manu as his self-appointed guide, Patrick embarks on a quest for the revolution's leading lights - a succession of lively encounters with growers as varied as the wines themselves, from modest one-man bands to the owners of elegant chateaux, with every approach from the very latest in mechanized efficiency to old-fashioned eccentricity. Interwoven with these bucolic expeditions are digressions into the history of the region and its wine-making, from the earliest plantings by the Greeks and Romans to the 19th-century scourge of phylloxera. Meanwhile, the author struggles to deal with his dilapidated inheritance - an unfamiliar and unpredictable world where the brambles have grown as tall as the olive trees, the water supply has just dried up and there is a ferocious animal under the roof tiles
www.amazon.com £12.99 / EUR 14,22
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The sun is out, bank holidays are in, we all want to go and explore, although this can sometimes be ruined by the dreaded mistral (p14). But let’s not spoil things. How about a visit to St Jean du Fos (p20) or if you’re feeling more urban, a nice shopping day in Avignon with a healthy tea break (p23) or a visit to an art gallery in Nîmes? (p17) If you’re feeling extra energetic like me, how about entering the Pont du Gard race on 30 June to raise money for a fantastic local charity? Also in this issue, the remarkable story of a simulated space mission by Claire (p18) and a very funny article by Bernice on her pathological inability (or so she says) to learn languages (p22).