Just a short post this week as we have car trouble- always an adventure in France! We love our little car. It was bought based on the dimensions of our very small garage door opening. The car has about an inch clearance one each side . It’s quite a project getting it out of the garage and putting it back in. In addition to the garage door, we have to maneuver over the little waterway that runs down the middle of the street! Ay yi yi. So… to the garage.

In the meantime, please enjoy this interview from the lovely company that filmed my DVD’s.


Cuq en Terrasse

cuqenterrasses-bienvenue-photonouveautes-fr2There is a very special place about a half an hour from our village. This restaurant-hotel is a little piece of heaven. Cuq en Terrasse is owned by Andonis and Phillippe and they have created an exquisite place. The hotel and restaurant are located in an 18 century rectory. The beautiful old church is right across the street.

The hotel and restaurant recently won an award from TripAdviser.

SECOND BEST SMALL HOTEL IN FRANCE and 11TH BEST FOR SERVICE amongst all the French hotels (more than 16 000!)

cuqenterrasses-bienvenue-photoquelqueslignes-fr2cuqenterrasses-restaurant-photo2fourche-fr2I had the good fortune to go for dinner last week. There is a fixed price five-course menu. The chef Andonis finds what is in the market and is local to the area- home grown vegetables, aromatic herbs,wine sauces fish and local meats. Each year in their off-season they travel the world and find new inspiration and recipes.

11535900_10205622497175661_8343276721957814787_nThe menu includes an “amuses bouche”, a starter, main course, cheese plate and dessert and costs 37 euros per person.

Our food was exquisite. We started with an amuse bouche- which translates as to amuse the mouth- a cool melon soup topped with a melon ball and piece of ham along with an artichoke tapenade with fresh goat cheese. We each had the nightly cocktail- ours was a delish lemon based drink.

11183444_10205622497415667_3841064072418843240_nFirst course was using asparagus- in season right now. Fresh grilled asparagus in a light sauce along with something absolutely wonderful- an asparagus flan.

Our main dish was a pork inspired by Thailand- lovely rondelles of pork in a Asian sauce, perfectly cooked green beans and a carrot orange flan. Cheese course followed next with homemade bread- I had the lemon dill bread.

And then of course dessert! Homemade cherry ice cream with a Cherry Financier. A financier is  a small light and moist cake in a rectangular shape.The name financier is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembles a bar of gold.

I was so enjoying the food I did not get more pictures so just imagine!

After dinner, Andonis, the chef, comes out of the kitchen and plays the pianola in the dining-room and sings joyfully with his rich baritone . We all gathered around him and sang several songs including UpTown Girl, two songs from Les Miz, two French songs, C’est Si Bon, and finished up with Andonis’s favorite- Never on Sunday. A great evening!

Collobrieres France

270px-Collobrieres-Place_de_la_LibérationLast week, after I finished teaching, we went on a short getaway to Collobrieres France- in Provence not too far from Toulon (east of Marseille). It is beautiful countryside and a bit different from our countryside here in Durfort. Collobrieres is know for its extensive chestnut trees and is famous for Marron ice cream made there and  especially for the Creme de Marron.  (You can practice your French reading this article)  It’s one of my favorite things to get in France.

icollThe French refer to chestnuts as châtaigne or marron. Both terms refer to the fruit of the sweet chestnut Castanea sativa. However, marron tends to denote a higher quality, larger fruit that is more easily peeled. One of the best and easiest ways to use Creme de Marron is to put a dollop of it in yogurt. The contrast of the two tastes is wonderful and addictive!!

Collobrieres is also designated a “Village of Character” (very interesting houses and architecture) and it certainly is. Every morning I took a walk and explored a different part of the village. Sunday morning we went to the weekly market there- beautiful flat peaches and apricots are in season now.

verneClose by is the Chartreuse des Vernes- an astounding working monastery high on a precipice and beautifully restored. The sisters there are known for their hand painted pottery.- painted in a mandala design.

I miss Creme de Marron when I am in the states and just so you know- I found it at Wholefoods and it can also be ordered thru Amazon! There’s a great little cookbook called:  Creme de Marrons- les 30 Recettes Culte. And here is a recipe from it:

Mix 400g of heavy cream, 60g of sweetened condensed milk and 500g of Creme de a blender. Transfer to an icecream maker and process as directed. Serve with a shortbread cookie.




a week in Provence

chambres-hotes-luberon-01bSuzanne Jenne and I drove across France last Wednesday to meet our group in Provence before continuing on for a week of artmaking at La Cascade. We got there safe and sound despite a few misadventures at the Autoroute toll booth (don’t ask, but picture several loud honking trucks about to crush my small car) and an assortment of complicated deviations (detours) that threatened to derail us. We arrived tired but happy at our fabulous B&B Bastide de la Roqeumaliere in Merindol France.

It is situated right up against a beautiful limestone cliff face. Our room was lovely and the rooms that would soon be filled with our workshop participants were all charming and comfy. And a pool!- much appreciated as it was hot!

France-03 060We met our group on Friday at the Avignon TGV station, drove to our B&B where we began with a lovely apero and welcome dinner. Our B&B.hosts Adriana and her husband  Christophe, attended to our every  wish and filled us with interesting information indexabout the local cheeses and other regional specialties and especially their delicious homemade jams and aperitifs. My favorite was the red wine marinated with grapefruit and oranges. It was perfect.

Everyday we were off on another adventure. Saturday we explored the Rousillon ochre cliffs and village- an artists village where all the houses are pigmented with the beautiful colors of the pigmented cliffs.

imagesThen on to Gordes. An ancient hill top village reclaimed and given new life by a group of artists in the 1960’s. The views are magnificent- 360 degree views of the Provencal countryside.

index1Sunday was spent treasure hunting at the infamous Sunday market at L’Isle sur la Sorgue. This market overflows thru out the whole village with antiques, Provencal produce and regional crafts. The village is unique with many canals and waterways and imageswatergrand water mills.

Monday we explored the Roman ruins up close and personal of Glanum. Glanum was a large Roman town in 27 BCE. famous for its hot springs.

From the magnificent archeological site you can walk into Saint Remy de Provence where Van Gogh spent time. His art is reproduced throughout Site_de_Glanum_Nord_2006-07-16the village and there are many galleries and boutiques.

A great week! Off and running to La Cascade for more adventures.


Je suis ici! Le Retour!

at the vide grenier

at the vide grenier

We’ve arrived in France and it took about a week to settle in, get unpacked, get organized (well kinda). The village is beautiful and so welcoming. When the “part time” residents of our village start to arrive here (we are usually the second to arrive), it means that summer (and fun!) is almost here. It’s called Le Retour- the return. Each of my neighbors, after a friendly kiss-kiss greeting said ” Ah Le Retour!” And smiled.

First up ,as soon as possible, was going to a vide grenier (flea market). Found some good things and really look forward to taking my classes on these treasure hunts!

dustWe had a fun-filled weekend here in the village. The first annual Copper City Dust and Rust. A huge gathering of antique and vintage cars (American and French) and motorcycles. Loads of motorcycle clubs ( lots of leather and tattoos) and people dressed in period clothing to match their cars. Craft booths, food, and live music all day Sat til 1 AM and all day Sunday. My fave band was the Riding Cats Rockabilly- look for them on Facebook.

Ochre cliffs in Rousillon

Ochre cliffs in Rousillon

My co-teacher for my first workshop, Suzanne Jenne arrived yesterday. We are off to Provence tomorrow and I’ll share with you next week what inspired me while there.