Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring has arrived and the leaves and buds are popping out everywhere! Oh, it feels so good. Last Saturday at the market in Uzès, it was still cold and everyone had jackets and scarves on, but the vegetables were so colorful, and the flowers beautiful. You could tell that Spring was just around the corner. There was quite a crowd of people, but mostly local. The tourist season starts in earnest next month. I'm enjoying being able to navigate the lanes in between the stalls without all of the extra people.
I stopped into a shop that has really pretty linens, and the shopkeeper told me that by Wednesday, I would be warm and thoroughly enrobed in Spring. It came a day early. No problem. I walked into the shop speaking French, but he heard my accent and started speaking English. Before he and his wife opened their shop, he sailed for the French team in the America's Cup and they spent nine months in San Diego. With my accent and bad grammar, I sound like every parody you have ever heard. Inspector Clouseau in reverse?

Just a quick note about the olive merchants. The assortment of olives is quite simply "To die for!". I happen to adore olives, so this stand is always a temptation, in that I want to buy some of every kind. They also have an excellent selection of dried fruit, garlic and dried cod. Among other things, the dried cod is used to make the local delicacy called Brandade. This is a spread made with the cod, olive oil, crème fraîche, garlic and potatoes. You serve it on croutons as an appetizer or to accompany a salad for lunch. Really, really good!

Yesterday (Monday), I went to the grocery store and while I was there found a display of geraniums. They were too tempting, so I bought two little plants and now have our first flowers for Spring in the courtyard. Since Easter is not until April 4th, and as I have always been advised not to plant much before Easter, I am being cautious. This climate is new territory for me, but who can resist one or two little geraniums?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yesterday, we came home from running errands about 6pm. Since Dominique and Christophe are here visiting, Pierre decided he wanted to make brioche for Saturday morning breakfast. It always amazes me when he whips up something that complicated with such ease. He was inspired by a recipe he had seen in Chef Roland Messnier's cookbook. We had met Chef Messnier when he was the pastry chef at the White House in September 2000. (See Chocolate Diaries entry for November 28, 2000) This morning, the brioche dough was ready to bake. It smells so good, I don't know if we will be able to resist eating some before tomorrow's breakfast!

We woke to a bright blue sky today, with a strong wind. It is Pierre's birthday, so Dominique and I are taking him to Uzés for lunch, then we will go to visit a B&B there as a prospective place for people to stay while on one of their tours. Dominique and Christophe are working very hard on their tour business, and it is fun and exciting to watch them. You can check it out at www.atasteoffrancetours.com.

The sky looks so clear and the sun is shining so brightly that you can imagine that it is a warm outside, but don't be fooled! The wind they call the Mistral is blowing hard and it is glacial. This afternoon I took Truffles for a walk. Both of us hunkered down against the wind. Fortunately, I bought a down coat from Land's End before leaving and a good friend gave me some earmuffs that are wonderfully warm. Add to the ensemble a huge woolen scarf, gloves and fuzzy-lined Merrills and you have what looks like a pile of clothing walking down the road with a little black dog leading the way.

Tonight for Pierre's birthday dinner, Dominique and I are making shrimp and grits. We have been able to find raw shrimp finally. They're frozen, but taste pretty good, as they have the shells and heads on. I brought the grits from Tallahassee and will bring more when we visit in April. Shrimp and grits goes great with a 2007 Saint Joseph L'Amarybelle by Yves Cuilleron! Life is good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I'm very hesitant to do what's called a blog, so I'm just going to call them little letters or notes.

I plan to share some observations on our life in France. Some will be interesting and some will no doubt be dull, but that's life, isn't it? The things that interest me the most are the common, everyday events that shape my life over here.

For example, the other day, Marie-Jo stopped by to say hello. Now Marie-Jo is a wonderful and energetic woman, who lives with her husband on their farm just outside the village. She is paid by the French government to help in the homes of the elderly in the village. You see her little Citroën car everywhere, as she stops by to clean, organize, help with chores, or do whatever is needed by some elderly person. Its a great service, and helps to keep people in their own homes for as long as possible. She also does housekeeping for people that have second homes here. She has worked for us for several years, while we were in Florida and this was our second home. We love her. She had been next door at "the English people's" house to pick up the sheets and towels they left after their last visit. She will wash and dry everything and bring it back to their house before they come back. A lot of people love Marie-Jo.

Anyway, I have been doing battle with the vacuum cleaner that we bought a couple of years ago. It is one of the Earth-conscious bagless types. I hate it. It gets clogged with dog hair after a short time and then requires a lot more care than I am interested in giving to a vacuum cleaner. So, I asked Marie-Jo what kind of vacuum cleaner she had. Oh, she said that she had gotten one at Carrefour (the local giant grocery store), and loved it! It was called a 'Blouski". OK. I was ready to get one. So, today we went to Carrefour and they had several models on display. I looked all over for a "Blouski". Pierre asked a really nice lady that worked in that area about the various models and we chose the Carrefour brand, which was on sale, and is called Blue Sky. On the way home, I commented that I hoped ours would be as good as the "Blouski" that Marie-Jo had, and voilà!, it hit us...we had gotten a "Blouski" too.

The above photo is of Mr Truffles taking Pierre to market in Uzés on Saturday morning. This dear little dog, who bravely flew in the bottom of the plane to come to France, is happy as a clam. He adores French cheese and can wake from deep sleep at the slightest sent of cheese. Every evening after dinner when we get the cheese from the refrigerator, he thinks its Christmas morning all over again. He is easily pleased, and so are we.