“Une Recette de Famille” – A Family Recipe

I recently went to a French family dinner, which has always been delicious, and this time was no different. The French classic “Ratatouille” was served – I usually think of this dish as just a pile of mushy vegetables (sort of like canned mixed vegetables in the U.S.).  But, this WAS different:  très colorful and exploding with flavor.

I was lovingly given the ratatouille recipe, including the secret of how it gets so savoureuse (flavorful).  It takes some preparation and patience, but it’s worth it in the end – Enjoy! (link to the recipe in English after photos)

Recette

Ratatouille

Vin rouge

Fraises avec chantilly

RATATOUILLE PROVENÇALE – English

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Unique Art Exhibit in Nice

A friend of mine is the artist behind this upcoming “vernissage” of “oil paintings merging powerful women’s faces from Hillary Clinton to Lady Gaga.”   The exhibit is being held just behind Nice’s Port, with proceeds going to the charity,  Womenkind.   Let’s all support the arts and the power of women !

Monaco: A Fun Quiz

Everyone has heard of Monaco, of course, with its Grand Prix, Princess Grace, and its reputation for a lush lifestyle. But, what do you really know about Monaco?

Quiz yourself here (multiple choice trivia quiz)

BONNE CHANCE !

Quest for a Sandy Beach near Nice

After my recent visit to La Grande Motte, I wanted to stroll again on a sandy beach around Nice (It’s no secret that I don’t care for the rocky beaches in Nice). So, I went to “la plage” in Antibes, about 17 kms/10 miles away. It was crowded, being vacation time, but still, I was able to walk along the water’s edge. The sea was warm, and I watched children playing in the sand and building castles. It felt wonderful to have my feet in the sand again – a sort of natural foot massage and exfoliation all in one! I will definitely be going back, from time to time, to enjoy this area and its relaxing ambiance.

I took in the view of the ramparts in Old Antibes and decided to have lunch in Old Antibes on my way back to Nice. The ‘formule’ (menu special) at “La Daurade” restaurant was a starter, main course, and dessert for 17€. I ordered a salad, grilled chicken, and ice cream, which was refreshing on a hot summer day. It was a nice, light lunch to end a great sandy-beach day – I even left my footprints in the sand!

St. Paul de Vence: Participate in “La Vendange”

A local grape harvest, in which you can voluntarily participate as a way to experience French culture and comraderie, has been reported in the following Riviera Times article.

“Let the harvest begin! Ever fancied a go at grape picking? If so, the domaine of Saint Paul de Vence is allowing one and all to come and enjoy the age old activity of harvesting grapes next week. The event, held on 24th September, is a perfect opportunity to experience the long established tradition in the stunning grounds of the vineyard. The activity isn’t for the faint hearted, but is a great way to enjoy the French countryside. After a day of picking in the vineyard a glass of wine will be well earned.

Early in the morning at 7.30am, eager pickers are welcome to gather at the ‘ramparts ouest’ in the domaine’s grounds where they will be taught about the grape picking process before the real work begins. From 7.45am onwards, volunteers will be let loose on the steep hillside vineyards of Saint Paul de Vence to help harvest during a challenging but fun annual event.

Lunch will be provided in the afternoon before another session of harvesting the grapes that will soon be transformed into delicious wine.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to enjoy a day of grape picking in the picturesque surroundings of the Domaine Saint Paul de Vence, then all you have to do is turn up wearing suitable clothing, some sturdy shoes, and carrying some (gardening) gloves. For any queries about the day do not hesitate to call the domaine on 06 09 28 26 59.

Don’t forget that the day could be long and the weather may be hot so bring lots of water and wear plenty of sun cream!”

Note: Clothes will most likely become grape stained; bring garden clippers if you have them.

Fete de la Gastronomie -Terroirs: Creativity & Tradition

Official website photo

On the first day of autumn, France devotes an entire day to celebrate gastronomy. La Fête de la Gastronomie marks its second year on September 22, 2012, celebrating terroirs, highlighting the traditions and creativity infused into French gastronomy through exceptional events all around the country (see link to search for an event).

The now annual fest was initiated for the first time in 2011 by former Secretary of State for Tourism Frédéric Lefebvre, who created the event as a way to showcase the great diversity of French cuisine within the nation. The festival follows UNESCO’s addition of the French gastronomic meal to their prestigious list of World Intangible Heritages, honoring the conviviality surrounding customary French meals. Inspired by the format of the successful Fête de la Musique, when open-air music fills streets all around France, la Fête de la Gastronomie aims to create a convivial and warm atmosphere that brings people together through the culinary arts.

This year’s events include free food samples at stores all around France, exceptional markets, live cooking demonstrations, and special discounts at restaurants. In Burgundy and Paris, lavish picnics will be held in various locations ranging from vineyards to open-air cafes, serving food prepared by famous chefs and wine by local growers. New this year is the launch of an amateur cooking competition, bringing together hundreds of chefs to showcase their creativity. Regional competitions will be held at various Relais & Chateaux properties as well as cooking schools around the country, where contestants will prepare dishes using a predetermined selection of local produce.

Source: France Government Tourist Office Press Release

Walking Down Memory Lane in ‘La Grande Motte’

My connection to this touristy, summer getaway spot popular with French families, goes back to 2002. The town is recognizable and known for: its asymmetrically designed buildings, giving La Grande Motte a futuristic look; its sandy beaches; boat/yacht; golf; and port.

During my recent trip to Montpellier, I decided to go down memory lane and visit my old stomping ground in La Grande Motte – to be honest, I just wanted/needed to put my feet in sand! I had owned an apartment about 50 meters from the beach (en première ligne), with sea views from both the living room and master bedroom. Every morning, I would walk, with my dog, along the shore and then, wash our feet and paws before exiting the beach to buy the breakfast croissants and baguette. It is one of my fondest memories of spending summers there, and what I miss most living in Nice with its pebbly beaches.

There are many great memories, of course, one being that I saw the Gypsy Kings performing impromptu at one of the restaurants near my apartment(video below). Life goes on, but it would have been nice if I could have kept this vacation property, outside of Nice.

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