Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Suite Française

I saw this movie in French in our little movie theatre in Cotignac.  This movie version of Irene Némirovsky's novel is very well-done. It stars Michelle Williams is at once timid and strong in the role of the daughter-in-law of a hard woman played masterfully by Kristin Scott Thomas, who's only son is at the front.  The tension between the two women and their evolution makes for a good story.  The filming is beautiful and the cast is strong.  I give this four stars out of five.


Postcards from Paris

Best Burrata I've ever had at La Cantine du Troquet
Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella, while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. (Wikipedia)
Medieval sculptures above a door at the Musée de Cluny

King's heads at Cluny Museum

La dame à la licorne
Detail of medieval stained glass window
A dame in front of La dame
Croque Monsieur
Food and sights and food and sights, isn't that what Paris is all about?  I wish I had pictures of pounding the pavements because we did a lot of that in the four days that I spent there with my friend.  I recorded 14,000 steps a day which for a Canadian coming out of a long winter, was a shock to the system...

The Musée de Cluny, Cimetière de Montparnasse, Le Marais, Montmartre fabric stores kept us busy over the four days, not counting the evening walk in the neighborhood (charming, authentic 14e arrondissement) where crowded bookstores, hidden gardens, gorgeous algerian barbers and antique shops provided yet more eye candy.

Back in 1980 when I first came to Paris, I was with my roommate and this trip, I enjoyed Paris much the same way I did 35 years earlier, not shopping but walking and talking, seeing and feeling Paris.

I also indulged in desserts, one very sophisticated and pricey, the other, well, judge for yourself:

From Picard Surgelés: 8 mini-Best panna cotta-framboise
Picard frozen foods are very good but this little dessert at 109 calories and .41 euro apiece is dessert fun.
Photo via
At Aux Merveilleux de Fred, I had the Incroyable meringue cake; a confection of meringue, speculoos biscuit and whipped cream coated with shaved white chocolate.  I paid 2.85 euros for an individual serving of this baby, almost as much as for a box of mini-Best panna cotta-framboise from Picard but oh!, this dessert is as heavenly as it is decadent.


Slightly-heavier Stella

Monday, May 11, 2015

Un jardin provençal

Yesterday a friend invited my friend and I for tea.  She lives in a beautiful  provençal house which was rebuilt on a ruin using old stones.  Her husband was in construction and loved the outdoors as evidenced by the garden.

We walked the grounds after tea and  marvelled at the numerous wild thyme plants that released their aroma as we tread on them. We also saw wild orchids, rosemary and linen (little purple flowers above). 
The dogs romped and played in the three acres in front of the house.  We did not explore the further seven acres behind it... Our friend lives in a protected area where no new houses can be built.  All of the land is terraced with old stones.  There is an abundance of olive trees and the sixty odd  cedars stand tall as soldiers guarding the land.

We left at 8pm when the sun was dipping and all was calm.  The five kilometers home were on an ancient one lane road winding back to Cotignac. Vlad doesn't like driving this road but Elisabeth and I loved it.  Senses heightened by our nature walk, we noticed all of the flowers on our way home and sang happily along with Joan Baez: Take the ribbon from my hair..."



Saturday, May 9, 2015

Birth of a Recipe

I've hardly taken any pictures since I've been in Cotignac.  Here is one of lunch for one that I made for myself this week.  It's a kind of a salade composée with cubes of beet, grated celeriac salad, tomatoes and chèvre. This lunch for one inspired the creation of a new aperitif tidbit pictured below.

I call it Salad on a Stick. To make it , take a cube of beet (sold cooked and peeled in a vacuum sealed bag here in France) top it  with a leaf of arugula and then a cube of chèvre cheese. Spear a toothpick through all three then drizzle with home-made balsamic vinegar  dressing.  In France, they sell "velours de balsamique" which is a thicker, slightly sweet balsamic vinegar, great for salad dressings.
I served it for the first time Thursday night when I had a couple of friends over for dinner and they loved it, as I knew they would,  for they are French women who are always watching their waistline.  This little appetizer is as delicious as it is low in calories and nutritious.

Love from Cotignac,