[Ce billet a également été publié en français ici.]
When I heard that Séverine Brun not only produced chutney, which I love, but only used local produce to make it, I knew I had to meet her without further delay. Neither snow nor ice could stop me on that chilly February day when I drove to Mornant, a small town up in the Monts du Lyonnais (literally, the Mounts of Lyon) to meet up with her.
As we sat drinking hot tea, a smily Séverine told me all about her personal and professional paths. She started out as a computer engineer and later became a science and English teacher. After she was laid off and got pregnant for the second time, she decided this was her chance to try and carve out a better work-life balance for herself and her family by creating her own business. 15 months ago, a few months after giving birth to her son, she made her dream come true by launching La Saison des voisines, the company that markets her chutneys. Why did she choose to make chutneys among all products ? Because she has always had a thing for English food and most all, because she’s a vegetable and fruit lover. As a youngster, she used to work on farms in the summer and grew to respect the hardship of that kind of work and the seasonality of produce.
When I tell you this is a local business using local products, this is no exaggeration on my part. Gérard Brunet, Séverine’s neighbor, who lives just a few feet away from her, grows all the vegetables that she will later transform – beet, white onions, green tomatoes and zucchini. The apples and pears and rhubarb come from Saint-Didier-sous-Riverie, a few miles away from Mornant. Those fruits and vegetables are not organic because of the high prices the farmers would have to pay to obtain the AB label, but they are grown following the concept of integrated farming.
After one to several hours of low-heat simmering with cider vinegar, fair trade spices and a hint of unrefined sugar, the chutneys, packed in adorable-looking jars, are ready to be tasted. My favorite flavor is definitely beet – a current obsession of mine ! My baby loves it as much as I do : its small pieces have the perfect combination of tender crunchiness and sweetness. I like eating it with cold chicken – for lack of foie gras around the house those days ! - whereas I’d rather have the green tomatoe chutney with soft cheese. Séverine’s latest creation is her rhubarb chutney. You’ ll have to wait until spring for new batches to be produced so you can enjoy it with goat cheese. Whatever kind of food you’re having, you will surely find a chutney to go with it !
Where can you buy these chutneys in town ? At l’Epicerie fruit, 34 rue de la Charité, Lyon 2ème, or in the newly open grocery store Scarole & Marcellin, 98 rue Béchevelin, Lyon 7ème. You can also order them online (3,40€ for a 60g jar and 5,50€ for a 120g jar) or attend one of Séverine’s private sales (see contact details below).
Chemin de la grande Pavière
NB : Séverine is also the founder of the Little Mornant Market, a local creators' market. The 2nd edition will take place on Sunday, May 19.