January can be a glorious month here is South West France with crisp sunny days and views of the snow-capped Pyrenees mountains in the distance and this January has been a beautiful one.
The local vignerons have been busy pruning their vines. Pruning is the annual task that takes the longest amount of sustained time. It can start once the leaves (and sap) fall in late autumn/winter and has to be finished before bud burst which is usually in early April. On cold wet days with clay caking your boots you can wish to be inside by the fire but on many days in January there is no better place to be than in the fresh air, wrapped up warm, working methodically through a parcel of vines setting the foundations for the coming season’s crop. Before coming to Manoir Mouret I spent nine Januarys doing just that!
January Recipe - This is of course the time for warming hearty stews and what could be more typically French and delicious than a good boeuf bourguignon. Our local butcher in the village, Cote à Cote, will cut the steak pieces to just the right size with just the right amount of fat and sinew to create that perfect gelatinous sauce after 2 or 3 hours of very slow cooking. So many good recipes exist but for my money the best are the very simple ones of steak, garlic, shallots, butter and button mushrooms with good light red wine, such as those made from our local grape variety Duras. Served with minted peas, crusty bread and of course a glass of Duras. Perfect!