Last night a few friends gathered at our home for dinner:
Philippe our friend who makes paella, dances salsa and teases me ruthlessly about how my dishes are not as old as I say they are, and that certainly I bought them at Ikea. If my dishes weren't so old I might bop his beatle with one of them just to add to the teasing/taunting fun of it all.
Victor is a friend that use to live in our town. He is so funny and fun to be around that usually I start laughing the second I see him. He is a studied clown that is a fact. Some of my funniest memories include him... One of the best is him doing a striptease on a cruise we went on. God I still crack up thinking of it.
Denise and Vlad I met several years ago through blogging... I adore them both.
And if you have been reading my blog you know Denise is a one fun loving woman. Panties, dirty jokes, blue bras and one of the best cooks I know.
Sacha and Yann well that goes with out saying, a fun night.
Since I rarely cook with recipes, usually inventing as I go, last night wasn't any different. I roasted pears with roquefort, hazelnuts and hazelnut oil. On the side was a mixed herb and green salad with a walnut dressing.
Everyone enjoyed it, so that was a happy hit.
After the aperitif I served a chilled melon, banana, mint, coconut vodka cream. Sacha called it, "An APRES-pero", or in English, "A After an apero."
Romantic table cause I like pretty.
And since there were mostly guys last night I especially like going sweet romantic just to see them dine with such grace. Nothing like seeing men comfortable with their feminine side.
What is one of your favorite dinner moments?
Yesterday was French Husband's birthday. Sacha, Chelsea, Alice and Mr. Espresso joined us for a day of hanging out.
All was well, until dinner... let's just say that if Paris had a horrible place to eat, one that you would take the devil to, (or this is for you Cheryl one that you would take that chick potato to), or to a place which you would NEVER EVER GO AGAIN... we ate there.
I cannot tell you how bad it was because I become sick just thinking we PAID to dine there.
Mr. Espresso kept cheering us on by saying, "At least we are altogether." In which French Husband would agree and smile happily. But even he did not finish his dinner, and usually French Husband makes a garbage can look difficult to fill... We all begged him to finish our plates and well he couldn't.
But we were altogether in our misery celebrating his 53rd.
(Above photo collage via Alice Aplin.)
Oh glorious Paris who could tire of you?
If ever you should fall Eiffel Tower, I hope you will fall on that horrible restaurant, of course excluding the people who are sadly eating there. And that the cook gets such a scare that she takes up scuba diving.
I went to the brocante.
I missed by seconds some of the best things ever... I blame it on indigestion, and the terrible thoughts regarding the chef that I was carrying around. Bad thoughts get me nowhere.
To THINK we PAID for that meal.
At one point during our meal I had to get up and walk out for air. Then I walked back in and stuffed Chelsea's plate content in a napkin so Chelsea could stuff it in her purse. Poor purse. French Husband was not pleased. Total people pleaser, talk about kissing up the cook. But then in all honesty none of us wanted to insult the cook by being honest. Instead I am writing the post.
(Photo collage via Alice Aplin)
Have you ever had and paid for a bad meal?
What would you have done?
French Husband is rolling his eyes, and blowing out his mouth like the French do in disgust.
Alice, Sacha, Chelsea and Mr. Espresso agree with me.
We were altogether and that is all that matters.
Put the napkin as a diamond shape on the table, with the silverware in the middle with the tips towards the folded corner, and as close together as two peas in a pod.
Then roll the napkin around the silverware in one motion.
Finally dab your finger in a glass of water moisting one corner then sticking it to the rolled part. This will keep the napkin from unrolling. Stack the rolled napkins in a basket or container.
Thank you Alice for teaching this old dog a new trick.
Found folded in an old book.
Soup, salad, vegetables, meat, cheese, dessert and wine.
Turkey with truffles.
And a wine of dreams.
Now every time Thierry and Gail invite us over to their home for dinner, I am blown away at the recipes I discover. Gail is a fantastic cook; I am never disappointed and thankful (in more ways than one) that we bumped into each other's lives. Thierry is happy. I am getting chubbier and life is good.
Gail should open a bakery.
Gail uses Nigella Lawson's recipes. I never knew of Nigella, but since I have had a few of her recipes from Gail's hand, I am a big fan.
The other night we had Gail and Thierry over to our house for dinner. French Husband made cucumber, basil, green onion, melon and limoncello smoothies. Oh my.
I made vegetable tartlettes without the crust, amongst other things... but the HIT was the dessert that Gail brought over:
Lemon Polenta Cake.
It is now my most favorite dessert ever.
Have you tried it? Don't you will eat it the entire cake by yourself, because you will not want to share.
It is that good.
"This cake is a sort of Anglo-Italian amalgam. The flat, plain disc is reminiscent of the confections that sit geometrically arranged in patisserie windows in Italy; the sharp, syrupy sogginess borrows from the classic English teatime favourite, the lemon drizzle cake. It is a good marriage: I love Italian cooking in all respects save one - I find their cakes both too dry and too sweet. Here, though, the flavoursome grittiness of the polenta and tender rubble of ground almonds provide so much better a foil for the wholly desirable dampness than does the usual flour. But there is more to it than that. By some alchemical process, the lemon highlights the eggy butteriness of the cake, making it rich and sharp at the same time. If you were to try to imagine what lemon curd would taste like in cake form, this would be it."
Lemon Polenta Cake
NOTE: to make this cake gluten-free, make sure to use gluten-free baking powder, or omit the baking powder altogether and beat the batter exuberantly at step 4.
Meanwhile back with Thierry and Gail... all is well. Happiness is a mix of those things that make us feel safe, loved and wanting to share with one another.
What is your recipe for happiness?
Where: La Ciotat Figuerolles
The elegant egg, amongst many good things.
Wear flats as you gotta hike down to the tiny beach to reach the restaurant.
A Throw Back to 2009... Since I am travelling to Ireland today I thought I would repost something 'Irish'... Scones!
School holidays are happening as I type. French Husband and Sacha went skiing. Chelsea came home with more books, binders, and notepads than laundry. She has finals and nothing else matters more than intense studies right now. My broken rib, lack of skiing skills, a daughter who needs a devoted mother to feed her, and my love of silence allowed me the avenue to stay home. I am happy the sun is shining.
I asked Chelsea what she would like to have for lunch, she replied, "Scones."
A flood of memories poured in with that one word... Scones. Don't you love food memories? Oh how they nourish the heart and soul, giving it food for thought without calories. The memory of scones does just that...and we are not even from Scone-Land. Scones, muffins, bagels and cupcakes are not a French thing. Instead Brioche, pain au chocolat, escargot, croissants and pain perdu take their place.
During the school holidays, when our children were little, I often made scones for them. More often than not, when we made scones something happened, interrupted us from our scone making-- or caused us to make them in a flash.
It got to the point that if we were going to make scones, we would expect something unexpected to happen. If nothing happened, we would doubt whether the scones would turn out.
From my cookbook the SCONE recipe says:
(1995-- School Holiday Scones)
"This morning we made scones for breakfast at lunchtime. While I was making them I was not focused on what I was doing due to the phone ringing, the postman coming to the door, and a friend came over telling us about how they found human ashes in a milk container. (I decided to use yogurt instead of milk for the scones.)
And guess what? The best, flaky, moist on the inside, crisp outer texture scones arrived out of the oven. I discovered the secret ingredient in making scones: Distraction."
Recipe from my friend who is Irish: Mary Kate (Allison's Sister).
A well buttered baking sheet from the hand's of children
In a bowl (Sacha mixed the ingredients with his plastic sword turned into a spoon.)
Dust the table with a little flour. Place the dough on it, gently knead and pat out into a circle. Cut the scones using an upside -down, juice glass. Makes 6 or 8 scones.
Preset oven to 375 and bake for 6 to 8 minutes. Turn off oven and let rest for a couple of minutes or so.
Serve with butter, strawberry jam, honey, orange marmalade and a bowl of cafe au lait (this is France after all.)
I hope to have new memories of scones soon!!
Nearly everyday someone asks me about France and the brocantes or both to the tune of:
Can you tell me what to do in France?
Since my natural tendency leans more towards spontaneous and less on structured details I thought I would take a leap to creating a once and for all blog post with links about things I am often asked about. Then when I hear, "Can you tell me what to do in France?" I can refer them this blog post, instead of writing a long email.
"Duh," I can hear myself say, "Should have done this years ago ding dong."
Click on the highlighted words below which will lead to other links.
And please if you have any secrets, suggestions, hints or favorites about France add them to the comment section.
Just in case you want to see more of my photos, or want to know how to rent our apartment, or want to lick your computer screen, or encourage me to keep doing what I do, or want to know what to do when you are in France...
If you want you can follow me on
A bookshop in the Passage Jouffroy, Paris
If you love photos, I post daily to my instagram of everything around me.
Or if you want you can see the photos rolling on the side of my blog.
Our apartment in Paris
Where to stay in Paris
If you or someone you know is looking for a place to stay in Paris, check out our apartment:
Paris twilight last year.
One of my favorite blogs, that has incredible information and tidbits, and history about Paris and more is
Where are the brocantes?
Oh man. I could write a book about that, but do not want to.
Instead let me take you.
Porte Vanves in Paris, every weekend ten minutes from our apartment in Paris.
Where everyone goes, every one.
None of the above are secret, they are constant, well known, sought after and very good. Everyone who loves the brocante knows these and goes.
Where are the "secret" ones? the best ones? the ones only the insider's know? Well those are the ones that come with living here and being here, and having the luxury of not having to go if you do no want to go because there are literally hundreds of them every weekend.
A sign I love in the Marais.
Lavender fields in Provence?
Lavender in Valensole.
Must stop into every bakery. I am not joking.
Restaurant in Cotignac on the Square.
Chez Gilbert in Cassis.
15 minutes from where I live.
My happy place.
Drink a Pastis when in Provence.
Our dear friend's Patrice's Restaurant in Marseille, where the locals go for lunch
Provence my backyard.
My friend Denise and I created a mini list of things to do...
Cassis on the Route de Crete
Just go without a map.
Open the door.
Let your desire lead you.
Ten minutes from my home.
I cannot visit her without wanting to buy something.
Ruth's photo of some wallpaper I found for her...
My friend Ruth and I have created The French Muse Experience where we offer week long, all included retreats in Provence.
If you are interested in the brocante, history, food, lifestyle, art, hanging out with us, staying in an old Provencal country house... and more. Tailored made experiences for you or your group.
Grabbing the paper bag that I had prepared the night before, I left early in the morning to my friend Annie's house. (Annie is my friend who is 95 now.) Annie told me to come early, and what to bring to make Bugnes. Bugnes, like oreillettes are similar to beignets, or dough-nuts, though without yeast or any self rising agents... other than eggs.
Annie is a wonderful cook, as Sacha has reminded me many times over, "...Women Annie's age really know how to cook. Honestly mom, they can take a plain head of lettuce, put it on a plate and it taste like a million bucks." I always feel so reassured about my cooking skills after a conversation like that. Once, he went on and on about how Annie's "green beans" were the best he ever had in his life. I asked him if they were so different from the ones I made. But before he could answer I said, "...shhhhhht, forget about it, I don't want to know."
I put the paper bag full of flour, sugar, eggs, and oil on Annie's table. She had her apron on and handed me one. Annie placed a big bowl on the table, open the flour sack, pouring half of it into the mixing bowl. Quickly her hands moved at lightening speed as she whipped the other ingredients into the bowl.
Clearing my throat, I said, "Annie, Annie remember I want to LEARN how to make Bugnes, can you tell me your recipe first?" She pointed, then wiggled her floured finger towards the kitchen drawer, "There! Over there... yes that drawer, see it?"
Looking through her stack, of neatly printed scratch pieces of paper recipes, I found it.
Glancing at the list of ingredients and looking at what she was mixing in the bowl, I said, "Annie it says here, Two soup spoons of sugar..." but before I could finish my sentence, she added, "Yes, I know, but my way is better."
Mt eyebrows raised as I asked, "Isn't this your recipe?"
Annie knew the recipe by heart... had tweek-ed it by heart too. She shook her head as to say, "Whatever."
I grabbed a pen and started to scribble down what she was doing:
I kneaded the dough. While it was rising she talked about what it was like living in France during WWII. I love her stories about her past. Two hours later the dough was double in size.
Annie handed me an empty wine bottle. "Inventive rolling pin, isn't it?"
I rolled out the dough, as thin as paper.
Annie use to be a hat-maker, she has a good eye for detail. She sliced the rolled out dough into a perfect rectangle. Then Annie cut long strips down the rectangle, two inch wide. She then cut each strip into diamond like shape, and slit each diamond shape down the middle. (Why, oh why didn't I take my camera, it would have been so easy to show you instead of trying to describe it!) Then she tucked the top of the diamond into the slit and pulled it through.
Annie made four to my one. Then she stopped, and said, "Okay you need to learn, go ahead and do the rest." She watched me with an eagle eye. Letting me pretend I could do it as well as she did. Though after making several of them I did get the swing of it.
We deep fried the Bugnes (they fry quickly, several seconds on each side.) Then we let them drain on a paper towel, and sprinkled powered sugar to them.
Photos: Bugnes: A French classic during February.
French Husband loves to eat. I was taught that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. It stands to reason that we'd make a good team. Except he eats so fast. His plate is cleared-off before I've taken my first bite. Honestly, he shatters the French image of proper dining etiquette. He borderlines abnormal in this department. I've often wondered why he doesn't enter a food eating contest.
To slow down his rapid hand-to-mouth feeding, I propose simple non-threatening questions, non-threatening because he could blow food chunks! Questions such as,
"What are you eating?"
Last night was no exception. I made curry lentils with coconut. I asked French Husband if he could define the flavors he was inhaling? Barely coming up for air he answered,
"Brown and good!"
"Really," trying not to be insulted I laughed, "I haven't seen brown and good in the market. Seriously, Honey what is the flavor of brown and good?"
He guessed cinnamon.
He thinks humor will charm me. Which it does. Though I did not lend a smile.
French Husband knew if he wanted seconds he had to appease the cook. He always wants thirds so he had to make up big time. He added without licking his lips, "The dinner tasted like bananas mixed with little grainy things and chopped white stuff." And as if that was the craziest answer, he added, "...there were hints of chocolate, eggs and tomatoes."
Nothing surprises me when it comes to his description of food. He almost described a cake until he said tomatoes.
Sometimes I wonder if he is just being cute, or truly a clueless dude when it comes to flavors.
I gave enough clues that the fish in the pond could've given me the answer.
I said, "It is white." He teased, "Oh white chocolate!" Not acknowledging that response I continued, "It grows on a tree." French Husband frowned, "Mais Oui, I said bananas!"
You're probably thinking he is being funny, that he's pretending to be food illiterate. Trust me he is not kidding. He claimed to our baker friend that mustard would be a sweet flavor to add to brownies. Before that comment she thought his "French" admiration to her baking was honorable. He is really just a piglet in a handsome French body.
Looking at him I shook my head, "Remember I am listening, and trying not to feel like I could cook a shoe and you would eat it."
One last clue. "It starts with the letter "C" and it is a tough nut."
French Husband didn't miss a beat. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. I smirked, "Don't even say Corey, or you will be eating rocks tomorrow for dinner!"
French Husband does love my cooking. Actually that doesn't sound like a compliment anymore. I'll let you know what he thinks of rock souffle.
Photos: Of a French vintage journal about love, food and homemaking.
The morning after Christmas. Wrapping paper, remains of a day, like strewn confetti after a grand festival, with the morning light reminding us that a new day is dawn.
The day after Christmas has a feeling all its own doesn't it?
Because after such a feast that Christmas brings why stop?
I held the day old baguette and flashed, "Pain perdu."
In France a day old baguette is as hard as a brick. Hence, French toast was created, which in France is called "Pain Perdu".
I sliced the baguette thinly. Then in a bowl I added six large farm eggs, two heapfuls of creme fraiche (like sour cream) a tablespoon of sugar, a dash or two of nutmeg, a splash of water which was really champagne from the night before and whipped.
Then I tossed the thinly sliced dried baguette and mixed.
Letting it set for fifteen minutes or longer.
In a baking dish that was heavily buttered I layered the French toast mixture, adding any left over liquid on top.
Baked until golden for about fifteen minutes at 350°.
Served with a spoon of creme fraiche and maple syrup (a gift from the last person who stayed in our apartment. Thank you!)
Tomorrow yes tomorrow the day of no more feasting, pig out, holiday treats begin... until New Year's Eve that is.
Not a flattering photo, but that is what I have. I asked imy family if we could at least take a photo of all four of us. I cannot recall who held the camera out but I do remember thinking why are we turning around, and someone saying, "Mom we cannot see you."
Yes I am that short.
I begged to have a nice photo.
And the camera wasn't ever in my control.
All I could do was enjoy the moment.
And enjoy I did.
Between classes, work and my cooking we will be hanging out together.
When asked what I wanted for Christmas I said,
"To be with you as much as possible."
Back in 1996 French Husband was given a Buzet Magnum 1996. He put it in the cellar saying we would drink it years later. Eighteen years later, Chelsea's twenty-fifth birthday we decided it was a good time to open it. We had sort of forgotten about it, plus we weren't sure it would still taste good.
We figured we would have wine for days to come since Chelsea's birthday is four days before Christmas eve.
Photos of the cake!? I will see about that. It was three vertical layers of chocolate yum.
I have asked to write about her trip to Nepal, and she will... Someday.
Thank you for your prayers, Jean-Luc needs everyone of them.
Thanksgving decor for the table at a nearby antique shop.
Small varied squash; one per plate, served in small brown bowls.
A paper name tag was attached to each stem.
For more information:
There was a message from my friend, to my brother, to my sister in law, to my mother, to me:
"Tell Corey to come over, I have a recipe I want to try, how about Sunday around 10."
Staying at my Mother's home means good food, constant family, no TV, no answering machine, no internet... almost out of touch except for the word of mouth and if you hear the phone ring.
Judy was one of my seventh grade teachers, we became friends when I grew up. A few months ago she came to visit us in France. I love her home, her style and her honesty.
Judy found a recipe in the newspaper she said, "It has caramelized Onions, Cranberries, Roquefort..." my mouth watered, "Need not say more."
Gathering the ingredients we talked between snippents of thyme, spoons of sugar and pinches of cranberries only to tear up when we sliced onions thinly.
Roquefort Tartines with Shallot-Cranberry Confit
2 T unsalted butter
4 Shallots halved and thinly sliced
1 medium onions thinly sliced
A half of a cup of dried cranberries
1 t of fresh thyme leaves
2 t sugar
2 T Sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
A fourth of a cup warm water
a half of a teaspoon of salt
a fourth of a teaspoon of pepper
One baguette cut in 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices.
1/4 cup olive oil
2/3 or five ounces of Roquefort cheese
Fresh thyme to garnish.
Preheat oven 350
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, onions, cranberries and thyme cover and let until the shallots and onions are soft and begin to carmelize (10 minutes +). Stir in the sugar; cover and cook another 10 minutes. Add the vinegar, lemon juice, warm water, salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, stir when need be, until liquid has evaporated and mixture is golden brown.
Brush the sliced baguette on one side with olive oil; arrange with oil side up, on a sheet pan and bake until golden around the edges, about ten minutes.
Spread some Roquefort (or soft goat cheese) over each crostini. Top with some shallot-cranberry confit, garnish and serve.
We made them.
My mom does during: Halloween and Christmas, and has as long as I can remember.
Hers are the best.
Not too sugary, not soggy, perfect crunch.
My mom spends time with the details: Only butter, warm the bowl, take out the unpopped kernels that she calls, "Dead Heads", and make them no larger than two handful.
Where is a photo of the finished product?
If you had a choice of taking a photo of a popcorn ball or eating one what would you do?
Pear, Roquefort, Walnut and Celery Tart
For the best ice cream in France
New twist to St. Moret, a classic French cheese.
When you open the package it looks like this. "Too pretty to eat!" Is what Ruth our friend said today at lunch.
I thought it looked like a dessert.
I get a kick out of going to the grocery store, finding a new product, or new to me that is, coming home, trying it, falling in love and then thinking to myself, "What else is hiding in the grocery store waiting for me to discover it?" It is like playing hide-n-seek.
What is one of yours?
A little wine tour is what we set out to do. Chateauneuf du Pape is not far from Carpentras where the brocante I love to go to is at. Though when I am at the brocante red wine, even in such a dream place as Chateauneuf du pape, is the last thing I think about.
Today might have caused a change of habit... well let's just say after a morning at the brocante I might start going wine tasting, er um discovering wine that is:
Our first stop was Chateau la Nerthe.
I could have stayed there.
and been happy ever after.
A little tour anywhere in Provence will show you olive trees, stone walls, ancient ruins, vineyards... beauty.
And I never grow tired of being shown such.
We were fortunate to taste a 1984 bottle at Chateau la Nerthe. I like to entertain the thought that they sensed I appreciated old things.
On the grounds of my Nerthe...
A stone tower.
One door leading in.
Via Chateau le Nerthe,
"The moment the harvest arrives in the cellar it is sorted on a conveyor belt - always by hand - in order to eliminate the grapes that are either not ripe enough or spoiled. The whole of the harvest is stemmed, then undergoes a second sorting to eliminate any leaves or debris.
Then the grape varieties that are particularly complimentary are mixed together in a vat where the fermentation will take place.
Several successive tastings will help determine the best moment for the devatting: the free run wine is then drawn off by gravity and poured into vats for the malolactic fermentation. It is in this way that the wine will begin to evolve either in 16th century stone tanks, or in some cases, in large wood barrels."
Was our second stop after lunch.
French Husband, Vlad and Denise carried a lively conversation with the owner.
I twirled, breathed in, thought of flavors that spoke of fruits, swished the wine in my mouth and drank.
Falling in love with wine tasting.
"Domaine du Vieux Telegraph, is the family background, the heart, but also the flag bearer, the flagship Vineyards Brunier. Located since its origin in the plateau of La Crau, South East Chateauneuf du Pape appellation, the vineyard has grown, developed and matured on this huge gravel terrace giving it its character, generation after generation. Of the 70 acres that make up the area today, 65 are dedicated to Châteauneuf du Pape red and 5 white. Only 4 wines are produced: Old red and white Telegraph, from the oldest and most complex wines vineyards, and Red and White Telegram, representing the second Vineyards wines Brunier AOC Chateauneuf du Pape. The cellars are located on the highest point, but 2 km to the south, at the foot of the plateau, at a place called The Pigeoulet, where it was more natural to dig into the rock formation to create the cellars , and enjoy the soil cutting for gravity delivery of harvests. For over a century, the Brunier family product in these places Chateauneuf du Pape red and white strongly influenced by their terroir wall behind which it can protect its vintages assaults of modernity excessive." Via Lavinia
What do you prefer?
Coffee with a shot of Kahlua
I prefer red.
From the descriptive words used by the wine makers it seems I prefer wines that are:
Feminine and gourmandise.
Gourmandise sounds better in French then Gluttony in English.
So much goodness in one day.
"Le Clos du Caillou is ideally located in the municipality of Courthézon. It consists of 44 hectares in Côtes du Rhône, and 9 ha in Châteauneuf du Pape. Le Clos has the distinction of being located on the edge with the appellation Châteauneuf du Pape." via Le Clos du Caillou.
"The Clos du Caillou , run with passion by Sylvie Vacheron, is a winery located in the municipality of Courthézon, and spans 53 hectares appellations Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du pape . The vineyards of Clos du Caillou enjoys an exceptional soil composed mainly of pebbles and sand filters. Vineyards Clos du Caillou are worked in accordance with nature: organic fertilizers and composts, regular plowing without use of herbicides, handpicking. Rigor that allows the field of Clos du Caillou get impeccable quality of grapes and develop some of the best nectars of the Southern Rhône Valley." Via 1 day I wine
Chelsea came home for the weekend to celebrate a family wedding, we met her at the train station and then headed towards our friend's restaurant "Les Bars du Moment" for lunch.
Of course the photos I took have nothing to do with what we had, or the order. I wasn't thinking blog instead I was too busy talking and enjoying the moment. It was later when we were home that I kicked myself for not taking a photo of the lasagna.
Patrice's (that is a masculine name in France) restaurant was full of local color, talk and homemade cooking. If you like to go to places that are hidden way and not talked about in guide books, have French homecooking for a good price... this is it.
Les Bars du Moment is a casual place, note Chelsea's hair tied up with a white rubber band? Chelsea brought some magazine's for her "Papa" one was on Real Estate in Paris and the other on Flying. The two of them jumped right in, like the golden days before cell phones.
We ordered the same thing, goat cheese pumpkin lasagna and a green salad.
The lasagna was delicious Patrice asked me to guess how he made it. I was 99 percent right, but the 1 percent that I did not know made all the difference in the world. The unique flavor, the haunting yet married well taste was Patrice' secret touch:
Such an incredible embodiment of flavor. Tea cooked pasta: I wonder if Marco Polo with his travel to China ever cooked his pasta in tea?
I am o going to try this... better yet ask Patrice for his recipe, don't you agree? Have you ever cooked anything with tea?
Patrice photo bombed Chelsea's photo bomb of my wanted photo. And yet it is better than I had aimed for.
Patrice is a one man show in his restaurant, entertaining and genuine.
Une Noisette: an espresso with a tad of steamed milk.
We also had tarte tatin that was flawless.
Now I wonder if I will fit in the dress for tomorrow's wedding?
Nathalie and Patrice are our neighbors, though their business is in Marseille.
A cafe/restaurant: Les Bars du Moment
19 rue du Docteur Escat,
They are open Monday through Saturday,
Seven to Four.
Even if you don't speak a word of French you will feel like you are their new BFF in the first five minutes. They are salt of the earth kind of people.
For years I never understood the adoration for creme brulee. It amazed me how friends and family alike often asked for creme brulee, instead of any of the other beautiful desserts on a restaurant's menu.
Burnt cream? What was the attraction?
Small glazed terra cotta pots with a couple of spoonfuls of chilled cooked cream, spoonfuls of sugar sprinkled on top, and then often blow torched to melt and harden the sugar.
I had heard that if you tapped your spoon on the harden sugar and it makes a hearty crack then it is a sign that it is a "good" creme brulee.
I rarely heard a crack.
Besides, creme brulee isn't the beauty queen of French desserts.
Food porn is visual n'est pas?
There is a small restaurant near where I live that is a fav of mine. Of course if you know me and have read my blog I have many fav restaurants here in France. I am faithful to good cooks who offer a lovely meal at a reasonable price. Brocante and food are a good enough reason to for me to go anywhere.
La Table en Provence in Saint Maximin does just that.
Family owned. Reservations a must. Undeniable clever cuisine.
And their creme brulee... has me dumbfounded. I dream about it, literally dream about it.
Amazingly one of the best things I have ever tasted.
Honey lavender ice cream frozen solid. Taken from the freezer, sugar added, grilled golden and served.
Love on a dish.
Like OHMYGOD this is worth every calorie.
The taste of yum.
Unreal happiness in a spoon.
Am I makig myself clear? Delicious.
When something taste good one tends to eat slowly, but when there isn't a taste or very little of it, people tend to eat more in search for it.
I asked the owners if I could one day I could come around four in the afternoon, a traditional hour for a tea or coffee break. They said of course. I think they saw how desperate I was.
If ever you come to my neck of the woods, Lavender Honey Ice Cream Brulee is in order.
The taste of yum.
Thank you Denise for the delicious dessert and recipe from:
A French affair started with lunch.
The table was set with care, and thought to detail.
A heart on top of a bowl of gazpacho.
Tossed green salad
flavored with dill and roasted walnuts,
well mixed conversation
spiced with humor and tease.
faded lavender with a vibrant fragrance.
Without thought of who, what or where...
Lunch is a French affair...
Caramelized onions layers with thinly sliced potatoes and cheese,
then baked in a cast iron skillet.
Another recipe to put in my pocket.
The dill and roasted walnut salad slide in next to it.
Mingled taste gave way to,
Silver forks, knives and spoons.
Lunch in Provence:
With French Husband, Cheryl, Vlad and Denise.
Home made panna cotta with roasted fresh apricots with honey rosemary glaze.
By far one of the best dessert I have ever had.
And I do not like panna cotta... until today.
A French affair means untold delights in the unexpected.
I begged Denise for her recipes!
The kitchen goddess,
the bearer of rich taste,
the recipe holder
my friend from blogging: Denise.
(Sorry no photo of Vlad ...)
What did you have for lunch today.
Merci Vlad and Denise for the lovely lunch today.
From the local producer down the road, zucchini blossoms with tiny zucchinis... maybe a few hours old, cause those of you who have ever grown a garden know that zucchini grow at rocket speed.
The producer Michel, grows eerything organically. He has fields for gardens, plus olive trees and orchards. If you buy one or two pounds of anything it is one price, but if you buy five pounds or more it is basically a giveaway.
Carrying it back home is the challenge.
I roasted cherry tomatoes with garlic and marjolaine (oregano in English) that I picked in the hillside nearby our home. The aroma was summer defined.
I mixed the roasted tomates with pasta.
The colors of Provence can be described by that which grows under the blue sky during summer:
and of course the sea.
I cannot get enough of this 1700s boutis in my friend's shop.
My dare to wear color.
Threw in my black.
I cut the sleeves and hem, and took in the sides.
I have learned from Annie that anything can be transformed.
comes in pale blue, pink and salmon.
I figured if I was going to wear color... go bold. I must admit I felt self conscious all day long.
Grilled Zucchini Blossoms
Coat a hot skillet with olive oil
Gently place the zucchini blossoms in the pan
lightly heat on each side (a minute or two)
add nutmeg and a splash of cognac.
Heat another minute.
Salt as needed.
Served on the side of the pasta dish.
What is your favorite summer dish? And summer color?
A Provencal lunch under a chestnut tree, on a Sunday afternoon with friends. The morning had us worried as it rained, down-poured actually, but by nine the sky returned to its glorious blue: Provence! Shutters opened wide, the cigales sang, the river hummed and the aperitif began... pastis, tapenade on small toast. Two friends brought tapenade, a comparison began... both used the same ingredients. Though one used more garlic which brought out the taste of the anchovies. So if you like the taste of anchovies, as French Husband does, then add more garlic. If not follow this recipe... hum... er... as it was given to me:
start with two or three soup spoon worth of olive oil
2 heads of fresh crushed garlic
3 or 4 small anchovies
two or three soup spoons full of small round capers
two hearty pinch full of thyme
The majestic old chestnut tree shaded the garden, the canopy filtered flickers of sunlight as if knowing just what leaves to turn or bend, sparkling golden-ness a perfect crown over our heads.
Admiring its beauty Joyce Kilmer's poem echoed in my thoughts:
And so we sat as the French do, that lovely Sunday afternoon, enjoying each other's company, having lunch. Four hours leisurely passed at the table:
Glazed salmon with soy and ginger
twelve different types of cheese
white, rose and red wine to match the courses
Fresh peach charlotte
Needless to say I rolled from the table dreading the thought of dinner .
Fresh Peach Charlotte
Recipe from my friend Monique, well as far as recipes go amongst those who cook, or bake, or like dabbling in stories of food preparations during a four hour lunch. The exacts aren't important if you know the basics, or are a cook. Talking about food, and listening to the way one prepares such, often leads without meaning to the revelation or a secret ingredient, most often to a certain unknown flair: "how to".
Lady fingers lightly soaked in orange juice and rum, then layer the bottom of a souffle dish, and along the sides.
Add two cups of finely cut peaches
One cup of plain sheep yogurt (any yogurt will do, but my friend used sheep yogurt the taste difference was notable.) with a spoonful of sugar and fresh ground vanilla into the sheep yogurt.
Add the sheep yogurt on top of the peaches.
Add another layer of lady fingers and repeat the above.
Add another layer of lady fingers, then cover the top with plastic, and put a small plate to the opening.
Put the fresh peach Charlotte in the refrigerator for six to eight hours or overnight.
Our friend and hostess of this lovely afternoon meal, our generous friend Anne-Marie who has been our friend for over twenty years.
I met Anne-Marie when she walked by our home overhearing me speaking English to Chelsea and Sacha, she proclaimed, "Your speaking English!" and as she said that to me I uttered, "OH you speak English!" We became friends for life.
Merci Merci Merci
French Husband cooks... and now he is taking photos of his meals prepared. He use to think I was nutty doing that. I am rubbing off on him. This was the breakfast he prepared. Gives meaning to "Happy Meal".
A radish for a sausage. Or a radish for a nose. Two over easy eggs and a bit of scrambled smile. French Husband beamed at his masterpiece than asked if I was making pancakes.
Oh the advantage of saying no to pancakes is the fresh warm baguettes around the corner.
We are vegetarians.
I gave up meat during lent when I was seventeen years old. It wasn't hard, except when I smelled bacon. But over time I didn't notice or crave it. My parents thought it was a teenage craze, or a phase of mine. But as days turned into months they were concerned though after awhile, like my craving for bacon their concerns faded away.
When I met French Husband he was a vegetarian too. I didn't know then how odd that was for a French person. Though his not eating meat scored big "like" points in my heart book.
Later when we married and I moved to France to be with him, I realized that being a vegetarian in France wasn't as easy as being so in California. Grocery stores, restaurants, menus, dinner parties, French meals... circled far from the tofu section that I was use to at the whole food co-op. Pasta was the adopted fast food... and "Californian Salads" became my trademark with our French friends who usually ate only "green salad" after each meal.
When our children were born I breastfed them. What seemed natural to me was offensive to most French people. A million stares, heads shaking no and comments such as, "...only women from poor countries breastfeed their babies!" didn't derail me from what I believed in.
When our children went to school they were consider "different"... Their mom was an American, they didn't have a TV, their house was full of old stuff and they were vegetarians.
French Husband and I started to have fish when we would go out, or if we were invited over to friend's home for a meal. The comment, "...I don't know what to cook when we invite you over!" Became too difficult to ignore. Living in a culture were food, talking about food, sharing a meal with others was crucial to being connected to family and community. We made the choice to include fish in our diet.
When Chelsea and Sacha were in school they heard from their science/health teachers that being a vegetarian meant you could not be physically or mentally strong. The other children looked at them knowing that wasn't true, because Chelsea and Sacha did not fit that description. Neither of our children cared to correct the false statement. Instead they sat back and trusted who they were.
In the exact same class the students had to record what they ate and calculated their protein intake. Chelsea and Sacha were told they had too much protein in their diets. Considering they ate dairy products and eggs, plus from everything I had ever read about being a vegetarian, such as we were meatless but not vegan, I never doubted their protein intake.
Over the years my habits and reasons for being a vegetarian have changed and deepen. I am not on a bandwagon about why I don't eat meat... My children and French Husband share my thoughts... we are this way period. Will any of us ever eat meat? I don't think so, but life is full of surprises, and eating or not eating meat is not one of them.
Chelsea has been asked, "Don't you miss not eating meat?" In which she has said, "How can I miss something I have never had?"
Sacha has tried meat two or three times, much to my brother's triumph, but he does not eat meat, and considers himself a vegetarian.
This morning while Sacha was doing his daily pull ups he said, "No steroids, no vitamins, no protein drinks, mostly greens, rarely junk food... thanks mom for showing me a healthy way."
I looked at that muscled arm and was pleased to know that I had given him something to honor.
On a scorching summer day, water, ice cold water smooths the dry spot.
My mother who disapproves of soda pop and bottled water, has a way with serving ice cold water to the many grandchildren that gather at her home.
My Mother takes out her large glass water fountain, layers it with ice, sliced lemons, chopped cucumbers, and fresh mint from her garden and sets it outside. Sometimes she adds halved strawberries to it as well.
Outside under the tree, on a rickety wooden table sets the water fountain.
Sacha's rooster, (or is it a chicken?) pecks at the grass.
Cups are stacked on the bottom shelf for easy serving.
Glasses can be used, but as some of the grandchildren are little, plastic is often used.
A white linen with lace is used to spruce up the everyday occasion of thirst, and to add a touch of old fashion sweetness to the day.
My mother's way with seeing that no detail is overlooked, and how she can appreciate beauty in everyday moments, has wrapped my memories of childhood in a bundle of joy.
A new twist to the lemonade stand.
Did you ever have a lemonade stand?
In a five gallon infusion jar layer it with:
Add ice, about five inches thick,
Then lightly cover the ice with whole mint leaves, chopped cucumbers, sliced lemons and strawberries.
Repeat the layers until you reach the top. Then add water until the half way mark. Let it sit for an hour or more. Add water as needed.
This is a repost from 2011...
simply because when Summer comes
I miss being back home the most.
A bit of Classic French: Click on any of the Following to take you to France:
Okay, it is the season of a million emails per day asking:
WHAT-WHERE-HOW-TO DO in
So every now and then I am going to add some favorites.... first listen to old French Music to set the mood:
I added the best link last....
Wine ... French... Tours
France would not be French without a baguette and cheese...