Walnuts are dropping thick and fast from every tree in the area. It makes walking a little dangerous, but the risk is worth it. A nut falling on your back while you harvest those on the ground is a small price to pay for the tender, juicy fruit inside a walnut shell.
The French are big believers in the health attributes of the walnut. Convinced they make the brain stronger, they also believe, firmly, that six walnuts a day will keep rheumatism and arthritis at bay.
Health attributes aren’t the most important thing about the walnut here, though. Walnuts are revered – that is the correct term – for their flavor, their delicate crunch, their toasty temper when they are roasted in the oven.
I eat a lot of walnuts this time of year. Each time I go swimming at my friend Edith’s, who has an enormously productive walnut tree on her property, we have a glass of wine and fresh walnuts afterwards. At home, I crack a few for my mid-afternoon snack, or add them to a sauce to pour over chicken.
My favorite way to eat walnuts, though, is freshly cracked and set atop roquefort cheese that I’ve gently spread on a piece of delectable whole wheat bread. Together, these three ingredients make a sublime snack, apéritif, even dessert, with a few dried figs alongside.
I urge you to try this combination. There are, though, a few caveats. When you’re looking for roquefort, if you can find that made by Carles or Gabriel Coulet, you know you’re in the presence of heaven. These are the last two artisanal producers of roquefort in France, and their products are exceptional. If you cannot find these, get the best blue cheese available.
Then, get fresh walnuts, the finest loaf of bread and, finally, a deliciously rich-flavored white wine. I love Montlouis sur Loire; you’ve undoubtedly got your favorite.
All that’s left is to enjoy!