So yes, family dinner on the 24th with my brother’s gravlax (my recipe here) and my home made terrine of foie gras. It was 18 of us + an army of kids. Noisy as hell… And the traditional log for dessert of course ! That made it all better for one grumpy uncle high on Zoloft :0)
it will be a terrific vintage in the likes of 2005 and 2009. Great harvest conditions and ideal weather throughout the Summer. A heat wave in August burnt part of the fruit though. Most châteaux in Saint-Emilion had to go through their vineyard twice in order to sort through the grapes. The sugar content was so high on some lots, that it will be chemistry 101 to try and bring the overall harvest down to the usual 13 or 14° (alcohol).
I had so many things to say about the terrorist attack on Nice. I decided to share none of it here. Except maybe for this: THEY WILL NOT GET OUR JOIE DE VIVRE!
So vive la France, vive Nice and vive food and wine and sex and laughter and friendships…
I made salade niçoise for lunch today, following the original recipe from Escofier himself. It couldn’t be more simple and certainly shouldn’t be more complicated (or sophisticated). Provence is all about simple ingredients and authenticity!
They will never take away our humanity. If anything, they will make us stronger and teach us to be more kind to one another. That’s the way to victory! That’s my thinking anyway…
So God (or whoever is watching from above) bless America and God bless our brothers and sisters of the LGBTQ community. We love you all very much!
Let’s find a way to make others feel a tiny bit better today. One way to achieve that is to make a lovely cake for everyone to enjoy this evening when they come back from work or school. Here is my recipe for a quick and easy (and delicious) chocolate cake:
I don’t know about you, but I have this terrible habit of always wanting to rush through things; and for a perfectionist, it is the definition of hell itself, because I want to get many things done all at once while expecting them to be done well. So basically, I am the French guy preaching the importance of joie de vivre and the importance of slowing down while rushing through my life like the mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
Whether it’s in my photography or in the way I welcome people here for our culinary adventures, I always try to create the best possible sensory experience, but I also make it a point to keep things as casual (OK, casual chic) and authentic as possible.
Film photography has slowed me down in my creative process and has forced me to get out of my own way. I will continue to shoot digital of course, if only for the simplicity of it all, but I have now officially become a diehard film photographer!
You know I’m a big fan of friends and family reunions. Sadly Easter and Christmas are the last ones we really celebrate in France anymore. No one really cares about Bastille Day and we never even had Thanksgiving. Obviously. Oh how I wish we had Thanksgiving!!! I’d be planning and cooking for days…
I have already started to build my annual Christmas inspired board. I erase it every year in January so I don’t get stuck with too many of the same ideas from one year to the next. Go check it out here. You’ll find plenty of incredible links with DIY stuff from deco to lights to cookies and trees etc.
I simply sear my scallops to a golden brown (about one minute on each side on medium to high heat) and then dump my persillade on top. I also like to add a bit of lemon juice to give it an extra kick. To die for!! Note that scallops are like calamari: they have to be cooked quickly so they don’t feel like rubber in your mouth. Some people slice them in half before cooking them. I don’t because they end up being thoroughly cooked before they have enough time to brown on the outside.
I often turn to complete strangers at the farmers’ market or supermarket for cooking advice and inspiration :0) I try to target a lady with a bag full of what I think are interesting ingredients. She would be my nana for the day. That would make for a great business idea: rentanana.com… Don’t you think?
The sea front in Nice is called “La Croisette”. The name comes from the French verb for passing someone on the street: se croiser. In Cannes, it is called “La Promenade des Anglais” (the English promenade). This comes from the olden days when the British gentry would come to the French riviera while on their European tours or just to escape the cold of Winter. If you watched the latest episode of Downton Abbey (spoiler alert), you know that the Dowager Countess is heading for Cannes as we speak :0) These “promenades” were ideal locations for street photography. From the two girlfriends eating ice-cream on a bench to the German biker covered in tattoos: portrait photography heaven!!
But let’s talk about what’s really important: THE FOOD. Our two favorite meals in the area were at “La fourchette” in Avignon and “Le bistrot du Paradou” in the village of Paradou. La fourchette had the most exquisite traditional dishes, all cooked to perfection. Escargots, pieds paquets, grenouilles… While this gave us the traditional French dinning experience, the other place was even more fun
The guests thought the idea of using the stables was quite fun. Remember that episode of Downton Abbey where they had to improvise an indoor picnic because Mrs. Patmore’s oven was broken? The fact that we all had to stay quite close to each other in these quarters helped the evening be a great success. People had to introduce themselves to other guests they didn’t know and wouldn’t have thought of talking to if we had been outside, free to roam around… This was also the perfect setting for me to take portraits. The light wasn’t great, but practice is always good in photography.
Peter just started working on his very own vintage Bentley. All he has right now is a chassis, 4 wheels and the engine. I will document the whole process and post the photos on my car website. Peter’s shop is filled with Riley’s and Salmsons and Bentleys and all he plays in there is prewar music. Walking in there is like turning back time…
The Basque country (Pays Basque) is well known for its hot peppers (piments d’Espelette) and its incredible cheeses (mostly sheep and/or cow). The “piment d’Espelette” is not very strong, but it is extremely flavorful. I use it on cheese, meats, sauces and vinaigrettes as well as in most marinades. The name Espelette comes from the village around which the peppers are grown. Farmers hang them to dry on the façades of their homes. It is very decorative and gives a great authentic feel to the area.
Most markets (even here or in Italy), are now the target of con artists. These are people who just buy their products in bulk at the supermarket or in large food factories etc. and try to sell them back to you for two, three or even four times the price. The worst ones in France are those who sell olives, “Herbes de Provence” which actually come from Bulgaria, and cheese. To avoid being taken advantage of, my advice is this:
I find that doing things slowly (when I can) is very therapeutic. Especially cooking. It is conducive to staying in the now.
A lot of what we call “Joie de vivre” has to do with living in the present moment.