My French Heaven

AUTHENTIC MOMENTS & JOIE DE VIVRE

From Cap Ferret to the Dordogne – Mimi and Gabriella’s visit to My French Heaven

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As you all already know, my greatest pleasure in life is to share everything I love about France with my guests and my friends.

My dear friend Mimi (Chef Mimi Blog) came back to visit me last week and brought along one of her dearest friends, Gabriella.

All we did for a week was eat and drink and laugh. Oh we laughed so hard… When people ask me what I do for work, I just tell them I don’t actually work… They always look at me and smile (you know, the “oh poor thing” smile. The suckers think I’m kidding. The joke’s on them!

As always, I’ll share way too many pictures today. You know how hard it is for me to sort through them all. I should have written several posts about this, but… I’ll sort them by day with a few words between each gallery. I hope that works for you and makes it a bit easier to digest (“digest” get it?!)

Day 1: Saint Emilion and the Farmers’ Market. We visited my Butcher Michel to get some nice lean cuts for our lunch. I made green peppercorn steak and sautée potatoes to go with it. Michel loved to meet the ladies and Gabriella gave him a kiss on the cheek. He became as red as the piece of beef he had sold us… I gave the ladies a tour of St Emilion in the afternoon. We returned to the townhouse in the evening and had a light dinner with goose rillettes from the Dordogne on garlic bread, warm white asparagus with a walnut vinaigrette and Saint Felicien cheese on baguette.

Day 2: The coast (Cap Ferret and Arcachon). On our second day, we headed for the coast. We visited a traditional fishermen’s village and had seafood in a tiny restaurant overlooking the Arcachon Bay for lunch. We then spent the afternoon in Arcachon and climbed the highest dune in Europe (quite a workout). We spent the rest of the day having cocktails and delicious food on a terrace overlooking the ocean. The sunset that evening was breathtaking…

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Days 3, 4 and 5 in the Dordogne. From a medieval village high up on a hill called Domme, to the castles of Beynac, Comarque and Filolie, I showed Mimi and Gabriella all of my favorite landmarks. We stayed at a small B&B owned by a lovely Italian couple near Montfort (l’ombrière). A very special place and a lovely couple. We gorged on the best local foods including foie gras, tournedos Rossini loaded with black truffles and duck confit. I think duck confit was an absolute revelation for Gabriella. I failed to mention that this was Gabriella’s first time in France outside of Paris :0) Mimi and I almost killed her with food. 17 fine lunches and dinners in a row… But Gabriella’s a tough foodie! She was able to enjoy every bite of every meal… We also visited “Chateau des Milandes”, the home of musical legend Josephine Baker. Truly special…

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Day 6: The Sauternes and it’s legendary sweet wines. We visited Château Guiraud and had an afternoon walk around the medieval village of Saint Macaire.

Day 7 and 8: The Medoc wine region, wine tastings at Château Lynch Bages and one last medieval castle where Mimi found a baby falcon that had fallen into a well and rescued him from a certain death. I told you she’s a super woman! :0) For our last lunch together that Sunday, I made my grandmother’s famous free range olive chicken. I think that was the last draw for poor Gabriella, pictured here as she was having a food coma in my chair…

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A late celebration of Spring

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It seems a little late to celebrate a season that will be over in a matter of days, but I found some photos of my first picnic of the year and thought I would share them with you.

I had been visiting my friend Corrine at her lovely chateau the afternoon before and came back with a few of her delicious eggs (free range obviously). We’d even been chased by her geese on our way back from the chicken coop at the end of the garden. If one should ever think one is too insignificant or too small to make a difference in this world or impose their views upon others, they should spend some time with geese. These bitches are fierce I tell you!

I do love to visit Corrine. Beyond the stately house, what I like most is the atmosphere her and her partner André have managed to create there. The way each room welcomes you and the sunsets alike. The way cats and dogs play and lay… Every little thing, from object to host inspires calm and instills well-being.

Anyway, over easy eggs, fresh salad and some cherry tomatoes, a blanket and a lawn… red wine and primroses everywhere… The perfect picnic!

My French heaven indeed.

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Martin and the invisible moon

We had a four day weekend this past week and my friends Quitterie and Laurent invited me to join them at their beach house in Cap Ferret. Cap Ferret is located on the coast, West of Bordeaux. It feels a lot like the Hamptons without the crazy ass mansions…

They had also invited some of their closest friends. And although Quitterie and I have known each other for some 30 years, I did not know a single one of her more recent friends. They were quite fun to be around and I think we all appreciated the introduction. One couple had their baby with them. A little girl named Mathilda. The best behaved toddler I have ever met (note that I have 23 nephews). Cute as a button to boot…

We had long walks on the beach, played cards and had delightful meals with the freshest seafood, lovely wines and the very first strawberries this season that did not taste like cardboard. We added red wine, sugar and herbs to our strawberry salads: HEAVENLY!

Now about the tittle: as we were walking in the woods heading for the beach one early afternoon, 4 year old Martin was told to look up the moon. The moon was almost full and quite obviously visible despite the sun. Martin looked up and kept staring at the deep blue sky. He couldn’t see the moon. He became very upset and told us how impossible this was. Funny how the mind works. He’d been told his whole life that the sun and the moon couldn’t be in the sky at the same time. Some children’s songs and bedtime stories mention that too. So like the Indians who couldn’t see the European ships off of the American coast, Martin simply couldn’t see the moon. It just didn’t compute in his brain. He ended up seeing it after a few seconds of course, but we all thought this was quite interesting… If we can so easily be conditioned to not see what we believe doesn’t exist, what does it mean for all of us? Have we been conditioned to not see some of the best things that life has to offer? Can we truly notice the love or happiness that’s right under our noses?

Enough blabla. Here are some of the pictures I took:

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