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Expedia World on a plate – France

This was a very interesting challenge for me, given that until recently, we drove down to France on a yearly basis for our summer holidays.

Despite spending months in France, in total, I doubt that we’ve actually even tried anything that remotely resembles French cuisine.  In the past, I’ve always thought of frogs legs and yukky green things, and to be honest, never really gave it a chance.


Expedia challenged me to come up with a dish that was inspired by France, and as part of their world on a plate challenge.

They sent me some lovely French ingredients to work with, including duck confit, black truffe paste (I had no idea what to do with this.  It took a bit of work to figure something out), fleur de sel sea salt, dried Morel mushrooms, red fruit coulis, a cheese wedge of Beaufort, goose fat, cooked chestnuts, chestnut puree and Perard fish soup.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t persuade anyone in my house to consider trying the fish soup, which is a shame, but it will go to a good home where it will be enjoyed.



The challenge for me, was what to do with those ingredients.  They’re not anywhere near my usual staples for cooking, so it did take some thinking.

A chestnut gravy seemed like a good place to start, and that’s where I did go, and used the truffle paste as part of that, to enable those who like the taste to try it, and those who don’t, to leave it off their plate.

As an underground fungi, they’re more like a type of below ground mushroom, and pigs seemingly like them.  Finding that out, means that I could add it to my chestnut gravy as a taste booster, or even to soups.

I do have to say though, that at nearly £50 a jar, it’s not something that would be on my shopping list.  For that reason, part of me is actually hoping truffles don’t become a taste or flavour that we enjoy too much as a family.

To make our meal, I took the advice on the tin of Duck Parfait, to remove the duck and put it into a roasting dish for cooking.  After 20 minutes, it was lovely and crispy on the outside.  I’d rubbed the skins with the salt, which added an unusual flavour.

With the addition of some lovely vegetables and a Chestnut Gravy Sauce that I made up on the spot with our ingredients, the meal was actually lovely, and well appreciated by all.  These aren’t ingredients I would have chosen originally, but even I was impressed with how good this looked at the dinner table.

Chestnut Gravy Sauce for Turkey


Chestnut Sauce (Savoury) for Turkey

Lesley Smith
4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Accompaniment
Cuisine French
Servings 6 -8


  • 200 g Cooked Chestnuts.
  • 2 cms Chestnut Paste.
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt.
  • 1 Clove Garlic chopped (optional).
  • 400 ml Unsweetened Almond Milk.
  • 1 Teaspoon Truffle Paste.


  • I've made the garlic optional, as the truffle paste is very garlicky. It depends how strong you like your gravy sauces.

  • Combine all in a blender and whizz until as combined as it can get to. Mine ended up with some tiny black dots in the sauce, which gave it a little character.

  • Heat in a pan until thoroughly hot. If it's a little too strong, add a little cream to dilute it.

  • As truffles can be an acquired taste, serve in a dish on the side, so that diners can choose how much to use.


Expedia provided or paid for all food in this post.  All views are my own.




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Review: Caravan/Motorhome Essentials On The Trip To France, from Olpro

Thanks to OlPro for giving us some of their chemicals to test.

As some of you know, we visited the South of France on a whim this year.  The weather in the North of France was dismal so we just kept on driving.  That’s the beauty of taking your home on your back, so to speak.   The weather there was glorious, but to get there and home again, we ended up having to do two overnight stops on French Aire’s.

There are all sorts of stories about how unsafe they are, and yes, there is the possibility for things to go wrong, as things can go wrong anywhere.  If you find yourself in the same boat as us, with nowhere in driving distance, pick your Aire well.

Avoid ones next to large Cities and choose one that also has an overnight petrol station, with regular visitors.  We tend to look for one with lots of other overnighters, so we have safety in number for a few hours kip.  The preferred option would be to find a municipal campsite, but they close quite early and fill up much quicker than literature suggests, so book ahead if you can.

France - SF

We’ve owned caravans for years, and at the moment, we own a motorhome, though that may well change in the future with family illness, but for now, we still enjoy its comforts when we can.


The one thing we all need on this kind of journey is a loo.  French Aires’s do have toilets, but the kids often found them tricky to navigate, and to be honest, there’s no way I’m dragging myself from a comfy bed in the middle of the night to take a child to the loo, no matter how desperate they are.  I don’t understand people who have vans, but never use the loo as it’s easily enough cleaned and maintained with the right help.

France - Toilet

To prolong the life of our favourite little home from home, chemicals are a necessary fact to keep us all healthy.  We need toilet chemicals if we use our toilets, cleaning chemicals, and yes, even things to stop the inside of the vans becoming damp over winter.   The picture above, is the toilet cassette from our van.  Chemicals and water go in the top, and it’s emptied into a toilet or chemical waste point when it’s full.  The chemicals do a great job of breaking down the waste and toilet roll, so that there’s no smell inside the van, no matter what gets dumped into it.  Yes, it has benefited from vomity upchucks with ill children on occasion.

The flush water also needs chemicals, but it usually has to be two different chemicals.  This year, we used the Olpro Bottom and Top Plus.  That meant we only had to carry one bottle for the job.  We used the same chemicals for the flush water as we did to put into the toilet.  Any reduction in weight when you’re travelling in a van is a welcome thing.


We kept going with it for the duration of our holiday and didn’t need to get anything else to use, so we were pleased with the results.  It’s Formaldehyde free and environmentally friendly so can be used on all Caravan & Camping & Caravan club sites and even on inland water ways.  It’s high strength kills all bacteria in both the top and bottom tank and breaks down waste quickly.  It also protects the moving parts within the toilet and ensures the bowl remains clear and free from bacteria.

We’ve also been sent a few other things that have come in handy.  It seems we can get away with four chemicals in total for the van.

Fresh and ClearFresh and ClearWinter LongSanidry Dehumidifying Tray

While we’ve not had the chance to try the Winter Long or the Sanidry Tray yet, they’ll come in handy for winterising the van at the end of this year’s season in October.

We used the Fresh and Clear to flush through the system before we left for France, and used it again when we came back, to make sure the pipes were clean as a whistle.  The Inside and Out is pretty good.  I decanted some into a smaller container to take with us, but it did the job well.   I tended to use wet wipes to clean the toilet before, but this did the job nicely.

The chemicals can be used on caravans, boats, motorhomes and cars too, so there are lots of jobs they can work for.

On the way down through France, the boys stopped at the Millau Bridge.  Apparently it’s the highest and longest suspension bridge in the world, but that was not on my radar until we’d passed it, so our picture is pretty boring.

France - Millau Bridge

France - Beside Millau

The kids loved the weather, so I’d love to go back.  Hopefully more organised and knowing where we’re going before we leave home.  That’s one of my daredevils sitting on the top of that rock on the left.