Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 23 - Shakespeare's birthday -

and International Talk Like Shakespeare Day. Just in case you forgot....

Quatrains and sonnets especially welcome tomorrow.

A Post From Paul - just while we're on the topic...

 Canard Avec l'inspiration de la France (a la Paul)

Now I’m not one to skite and of course I realise you may have limited resources on which to draw but I thought I would share a recipe I kind of made up. (Well, the fig bit, anyway.)


1 extraordinary Provencal Marché

1 very Gallic gentleman with an even more Gallic moustache who runs an unbelievably Gallic wild duck stall in the aforementioned market.

One large breast of his produce

Unfiltered Olive Oil of Nyons bought from the above Marché

 Lashings of an extraordinary red wine from your own village

 The juice of an orange from Spain (Dois-je vous entendre dire "traitre"?)

 Some finely-grated zest from the above

 A good dollop of that rustic fig conserve made last week by woman in your marche, who, when you greet her with an enthusiastic « Bonjour.Madame » responds with a smile that can light up the world.

 Fabulous salt (from the Carmargue, of course)

 Mixed poivre

 A good baslamic vinegar from Italy (Did I hear Bruce say «Sacre blue ! »)

 Local beurre moule extra- fin (demi sel, of course)


Wander  into your quintessentailly Provençal kitchen and turn up enough heaters to make cooking fun; uncork your fabulous local wine by your landlord’s father  - whose father of course took over the vineyard from his father's father (6 euros). And now spill an appropriate amount of your unfilterred olive oil into the pan at a moderate heat.

When the oil is hot place your well-seasoned breast skin-side-down into your pan and leave to sumptuously brown for about 8 minutes – (or 1/2 of a glass of your vin rouge in the old scale). The skin should now be a golden brown and crisp.

Now turn your duck breast and, after piercing the skin generously to allow fat to expel, cook for a further 1/3rd of a glass (or five minutes if you must).

Retire it to a warm oven.

Skim off the fat from the juices in the pan. Add to it two tablespoons of your rustic smiling fig conserve, juice and zest from half of your orange, a smallish glug of baslamic (tablespoon ?) and a larger glug of your local tipple.

Reduce until syrupy. Add your local butter. Reduce a little bit, being careful not to burn the butter.

Bring the canard ouvre le oven and thinly slice it. It should still have quite a bit of colour.

Now generously drizzle the reduced sauce and go into a room all by yourself and indulge…….

That's it….I’m finished…..I don’t care if i ever cook again….. J

There would have been a photo but we ate it.

Food. In France.

There's been a cheeky assertion that we may be having trouble containing ourselves at the  markets: the suggestion, in fact, that we might need to
"fess-up about possibly going a wee bit over the top in the market - bringing      home the just-a-little-excess=to-requirements of that certain something. We're only concerned coz we know that you're still sans dehydrating, pressure cooking/canning and preserving equipment. (That dear Sylvie - she sure has managed your excesses over the years) "
          Well, really! We are totally masters of ourselves.

except for stuff like this

and this

and, well, this...

Truly, other than that - and the bread, of course - we're fine.

Oh - and except for the Gigondas...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tomorrow -

I'm going to get a haircut-and-colour.

In a foreign language.

*le sigh*

Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Not to brag or anything, but we seem to have worked out a general "Living In Provence" sort of thing, which involves spending a couple of hours each afternoon walking around picturesque villages and checking out wines and delicacies and, oh, you know - all the stuff. We do this for educational purposes, you understand - so we know where to take you lot when you turn up (bleary, jetlagged, hungover) at our front door.

Yesterday we discovered a nearby RPV (it's a just little acronym I made up myself.  Ridiculously Picturesque Village, actually. Feel perfectly free to use it.) called Venasque.

It's a quiet little place

with a really lovely 12th century church

and a surprising number of potters.

We think you'll like it...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Seguret Village

Our nearest neighbour is pretty Seguret - a tiny village about two kilometres away, a dear little place, walled, like ours but older I think and cobbled and nearly lost until it was re-invigorated by a few far-sighted people who thought it was much too pretty to crumble forlornly away.


So wasn't that lucky?

It seems even less busy than Sablet now that the tourists are out of the way, and Joss took us up there last week, to show us the prettiness of the entry, and the views and the church which houses a photographic record that goes back a century and more of  the nativity play that is put on each year with the villagers playing the roles and the newest village baby playing the Christ-child: and I thought (but didn't say) that there's likely some battling for position in March each year...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This is for the AW people

I wrote today!!! Yayyy!!!!

Stephanie arrived while we were sans internet

And I think she's rather taken with Sablet, all things considered. It was lovely to have her here for two or three days but of course she has plans and shot off to Paris early this morning on the TVG.

She did the Seguret walk with me, though,


and we went to the markets at Nyons

and climbed the Dentelles

and drove down to Rousillon of course,

and went out to dinner.

Plus there was laundry.  

She's coming back after Paris-and-Spain and we're going to go up to Switzerland and look at hills and stuff.

Honestly, how pretty is this country? All these photos were taken on the hop with a really pretty erratic little iphone.

The Mistral

The mistral was blowing last week, as Joss promised it would. Have we mentioned Joss yet? She's the first friend we made and we've been so lucky to meet her - we like her immensely. She's introducing us to the village, and helping us navigate French bureaucracy, and when she gets done with that, she's going to teach us French. She is quite a find!

She sms-ed us this morning about the big antique fair in a village not too far away, and the mistral blew us down in plenty of time to find good parking - and just in time to see a line of antique-book-stalls picked up by a gust and tipped over the railing and into the quick little river below. Dozens and dozens of books, so old and so precious! Heartbreaking to see, and heartbreaking too for the vendor because the fair is expensive to join, is the biggest event of the antique year around these parts - so of course they bring all their most valuable stock. And the marquees were blowing so wildly the old cups and saucers and statues and nightgowns were flying like leaves, and before very long it was clear that it was a buyers market, this year.

It was too wild and tragic for photos, so here, instead, for your viewing pleasure -

Vineyards at Sablet

Friday, April 13, 2012

We have Internet again!!

For the moment, at least. So - a few days bloggery will be typed up soon, Mistral permitting. And there will be pictures!!

Meanwhile, there's this -

 Paul's first catch from a nearby cave.


Friday, April 6, 2012

And so -

We have workmen in the cellar, workmen with angle grinders - two days, three perhaps and they are invisible Pierre assures us and I find that thrilling. Here, in this old house, in this old village, in this ancient rhythm of birth and death and renewal, my cellar is full of invisible workmen. Who wouldn't be thrilled?

We have unearthed The Blue Book (there is always a Blue Book, one of the joys of moving in to somebody's rent-house) and it fills us with - what? Delight, of course, and trepidation in equal parts but with gusts of admiration, too, for the writer who has an innate sense of the power of Things Left Unsaid. So we learn, for instance, to pay directly for fuel replenishment and sort it out with the landlord later, because M-le-supplier-of-fuel likes to be paid on delivery, no later, and, note, it is not a good idea to make M'sieur angry. And we learn that the gas fire does not light because the instructions are in English, so good luck with that; and best of all, we learn that should the drain in the shower not be kept clear, there will be les resultats tres malheureux. So what can we do but love the place?

Paul has gone out now with Pierre to buy a second-hand car, They have very few points of contact linguistically speaking, but they are psychic twins and what they lack in coherence they make up in volubility and enthusiasm. They are fast friends already, but still I can't help wondering what they'll likely come back with. And whether or not it might need, you know,  grooming and feeding and stuff...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We're heeeerre!

It is unbelievably gorgeous. No, really - it is. Singapore was as adorable as it always is (if you're in Singapore right now, find Wyman-in-Chinatown, buy him a beer and ask him - anything. Ask him anything. Ask him why his mother named him Wyman. He'll tell you. He's wonderful!); Rome was Rome and full of tourists and music and art and bad pizza and nuns; and France responded to news of our imminent arrival by plunging into a full-on air-traffic-controller's strike from the moment we left the hotel. So seven extra hours in Fiumicino Airport waiting to board, a certain amount of crowding and panic and temper (not ours) in the crowds at the taxi-rank, and it was still worth it. Into Marseilles ten hours late, stacks of running around and losing each other and trying to make sense of the arcane vagaries of all the French bureaucracies small and large, and we didn't arrive in the village till dark,
and still someone was waiting, the lights were on, the bells were tolling, the air was full of soft, gentle early-spring woodsmoke and we were shown through the house (a couple of centuries old, and achingly lovely) and straight to bed. And this morning we woke to the bells again (they weren't tolling while we were sleeping, surely?) and headed off to the markets, not having had time to shop or cook the night before.

And the markets - oh!


We're going to be happy, here.