Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Few Days in Provence

Last Thursday I packed for a 4-5 day trip to some unknown destination that Yannick had organized as a surprise.

And what perfect timing. After such an uncharacteristically cold spring, it was just about the first beautiful warm day. Which was followed by beautiful warm, hot, almost too hot days. And as it turned out, our destination was Provence!

This photo was taken by Yannick. He used to have a lovely black cat named Ciboulette, which is French for chive. Perhaps that's why he has an affinity for black cats. When he sees one, he'd run chasing after it for a picture.

But then he also likes to take pictures of me too.

At the end of the day, we'd come back to the bed and breakfast, and Yannick would swim for a while and then we'd have our picnic dinner which was quite a simple affair -- some deli meat, cheese, wine, bread, etc. But what was truly memorable were the super flavourful tomatoes, the sweet juicy cantaloupes and cherries (merci Yannick!)

Another planned surprise visit was to the musée de bonbons (candy museum). I had been discovering French candies. My favourites are Mao Croqui and Carambar.

"Coucou !"

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I was going for the New Zealand team today, but only because I would go for any team playing against the Italian. Seeing the Italian team lose a match used to give me enormous pleasure and it was almost worth the self-inflicted stress of watching the games. If there was a team that didn't leave me indifferent...

But then, you know, I am reminded of some awesome things coming from this country. Things that touch my heart like the films Il Postino and Cinema Paradiso, stories by Alberto Moravia. And imagine, the cheese world without Parmigiano, the operas without Puccini and Verdi! How much poorer this world would be.

Despite the Italian soccer team, I love many things Italian. As a prove, I just finished baking a batch of almond biscotti. And more prove, dinner tonight was spaghetti. Oh yes, I want to share something about this spaghetti as well. It was in a simple tomato sauce, with shreds of fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. But what made it top top was --purists please forgive me-- swirling in a few blobs of boursin. A perfectly satisfying dinner.

The next appropriate thing to follow, if it's even possible to improve upon a perfectly satisfying spaghetti dinner, would be none other than a tiramisù. And not just any tiramisù, but this particular one. The one that stopped my search for the tiramisù recipe, from ever ordering one in a restaurant again. And if the Italian team had won tonight, this tiramisù would have been consolation enough.

Tiramisù Recipe

For 6 servings

Ingredients :
250 g mascarpone
3 eggs
4 TBSP. icing sugar
a pinch of salt
100 g ladyfingers
4 small cups of espresso
50 ml marsala / amaretto
cocoa powder

Directions :
1. Separate egg whites and yolks in two separate bowls.
2. Beat the yolks with 3 TBPS. of icing sugar until pale. Add marsala and mascarpone while stirring until it mixture becomes smooth cream.
3. Beat the egg whites with the salt and the rest of sugar until stiff.
4. Incorporate gently into the mascarpone cream.
5. Layer with dipped lady fingers. Refrigerate at least 12 hour.
6. Sprinkle with cocoa powder before serving.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Candied Peanuts

Over 10 years ago now I read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet in English and French and recently I have wanted to reread it. And I thought, why not in Spanish? So today I decided to copy all the letters in the Spanish version by hand in my poem book. That way I reread the letters again, slowly, contemplating each word, meditating on each phrase, in Spanish. And I spent a few hours this afternoon doing that while listening to Granados and Yannick puttering about besides me. Happy moments.

This has always been one of my favourite quotes:

'Si su diario vivir le parece pobre, no lo culpe a él. Acúsese a sí mismo de no ser bastante poeta para lograr descubrir y atraerse sus riquezas'

'Si votre quotidien vous paraît pauvre, ne l'accusez pas; accusez-vous vous-même de n'être pas assez poète pour en appeler à vous les richesses'

'If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches'

All that has nothing to do with the candied peanuts other than the fact that they happened on this same day. These peanuts are extremely addictive and can do a great damage to your waistline. And other bodily parts too as it just happened to me. A finger slipped into the boiling caramel and instinctively I put the finger covered in caramel in the mouth to cool it, only that I missed the mouth and the finger landed on my upper lip and so now I have a burned finger and a burned piece of lip. Boiling caramel is very hot! So if you make this, be careful!

This original recipe is from David Lebovitz and can be found here.

Candied Peanuts Recipe

Ingredients :
2 cups raw peanuts
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
a sprinkle of coarse sea salt

Directions :
Stir the peanuts with the sugar and water over moderate heat in a wide pan until the liquid dries up and the peanuts become sandy. Continue to stir, the sugar will melt in spots and turn into caramel. Keep stiring to coat the peanuts with the caramels. When they are done, sprinkle with the salt and stir. Spread the mixture onto parchment paper in single layer. Break into pieces after it's completely cool.

Bon appetit!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Secret

I'm resurrecting this blog after a long absence of 16 months. Resurrecting and expanding from food blog to include some other tidbits of life.

I'd like to start by sharing this poem by Katherine Mansfield.

The Secret
In the profoundest ocean
There is a rainbow shell,
It is always there, shining most stilly
Under the greatest storm waves
That the old Greek called "ripples of laughter".
As you listen, the rainbow shell
Sings--in the profoundest ocean.
It is always there, singing most silently!