Chilled white wine and cherries on the bank of the Canal du Midi in Montchanin, Burgundy. The barge, Libertijn of Alphen, in the background.

Fete de la Musique was celebrated across France last Thursday but some celebrations continued into the weekend. Fortunately for me, one such celebration was just across the road from where my friends D & E moored their barge in a tiny town called Montchanin on the Canal du Centre in the heart of Burgundy wine country.

And we can’t forget World Cup fever that has embroiled this entire planet with the exception of one major world power, so much so that when I called a colleague in Germany yesterday, I was admonished for disturbing him one hour before the Germany-Argentina match. So last Friday it was World Cup, Saturday it was local Fete de la Musique and Sunday it was back to World Cup. All on a barge. In Burgundy. Surrounded by vineyards. And beautiful wine. And oozy unctuous cheese. And great, fun friends. This I could do.

Saturday’s festivities included a huge buffet dinner for the entire town (of a few hundred), local traditional dance, fireworks and a huge bonfire. We showed up completely prepared, and rather conspicuously as it turns out, with a table, 6 chairs, 6 wine glasses, and a cooler of wine and snacks. It seems the only thing we didn’t bring was an umbrella… the one thing we really needed. Well that and the wine! However it takes more than a few drops of water to dampen any French festivity so the bonfire roared, the dancers danced, the accordions squeezed and the music poured out into the night.

For dinner Sunday evening, after the England-somebody soccer match of course, we thought it’d be fun to fire up the barbeque and do some serious grilling. E and I had bought a pork loin the day before and changed our mind a few hundred times as to just how this was going to end up in our tummies. After listening to our back and forth, D, the grill-meister, whipped out his Steve Raichlen’s grill bible and tossed it our way. Mojo-marinated pork was the winning recipe so we set out with great gusto juicing limes and oranges, slicing garlic and measuring spices. D grilled it to perfection and we dined by candlelight al fresco (“en plein air” doesn’t have the same panache) on the banks of the canal next to the barge….

dining alfresco….

the bonfire before….. and after

the whole town turned out for dinner including the young…

and young at heart…

the band complete with *three* accordians!

the dance of the red ballons…

more traditional dance…

and the grand finale fireworks!

Mojo-Marinated Pork
adapted from Steve Raichlen

2 or 3 – 1.5 lb pork tenderloins
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 head (8 large) garlic cloves
1 tbsp cumin, more or less as you prefer
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup water
a few shakes (2 tsp) coarse sea salt
quite a few grinds (1/2 tsp) fresh ground black pepper

now here is where we were a bit distracted by the soccer game (ok, it was the wine!) and forgot to add these two ingredients, but it was still delicious!

1/2 tsp ground oregano
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or mint

1. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the garlic and cumin. Cook until the garlic is golden brown. Don’t let it get too brown or it will turn bitter.

2. Stir in the lime and orange juice, salt, pepper, water – and oregano if you remember it!

3. Bring it to a boil, then turn off heat and let cool. Once cooled, stir on cilantro.

4. Marinate pork loins in half the marinade for 3 hours up to overnight. We marinated it for about 3 hours.

5. Preheat the grill to high. Oil the grill.

6. Cook the pork for 3-4 minutes on each side for a total of 12-16 minutes.

7. Take it off the grill and let it rest for 10-15 minutes covered loosely with foil.

8. Slice the loin crosswise on an angle and pour over the remaining marinade.

Bon Appetit from Burgundy!

Mojo in Montchanin 1 July,2006Cucina Testa Rossa


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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