If you could smell what I smell, you’d be really excited. It is fall. I spent the day in the sun, working on my yard and my house, walking around town and looking for warmth. It dropped down to 35 degrees last night, and we still haven’t turned on the heat. We needed to find it elsewhere, and so we started cutting… Carrots freshly picked from our garden (they are really short and funny looking, but very tasty), champignons de Paris*, garlic, onions, beef roast, bacon… Well, everything we needed to make the year’s first boeuf bourguignon*.

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Summer nostalgia

And so it ends. The amazing warm streak we had last week is officially finished. The temperature dropped by about 25 degrees in the span of three days. It is fall, which means that winter is right around the corner. While fall offers lots of delicious possibilities (I’m already dreaming of Thanksgiving dinner and mentally planning my menu), I’ll definitely miss the quintessential summerness of barbecues, homegrown fruit and vegetables and eating outside.

One of the best things about my new house (and one of the main selling points, for me anyway), is our cherry tree. I’ve never been a fan of cherries. Cherry pie, okay. Cherry cobbler, sure. I never understood, however, when my French friends and colleagues would come to work with a paper bag full of cherries from the market, and revel in the fact that it was finally the season for them. I’d take one or two when offered, and politely eat them while wondering what all the fuss was about. They were good, yes. But nothing compared to a ripe melon, a tender fragrant pear, or a juicy, sweet orange. Continue reading

L’Atelier des Chefs*

I’m sitting alone in my little house in Normandy, in the middle of a relaxing four-day weekend. It was a long week at work, and having Friday and Monday off could not have come at a better time. I’m in full “figuring my life out” mode (as I seem to be every year or two) and have come to the realization that an office job is not for me. I can’t deal with the drama, the bad management, the lack of recognition…

I’ve always had a feeling that I needed to branch out on my own, and start something that was mine. While the ideas have come and gone over the years, the basic idea that entrepreneurship was for me has stayed, and even developed into a certainty. I even have an idea that seems feasible, and that I think would make me happy.

But in this economy, how do you just launch into it? How do I explain to my partner that I want to quit my job and start my own venture, when we just bought a house, have taxes to pay and projects to accomplish? A long and bumpy road is appearing before me, but I think in the end, we have to do what makes us happy, right?

So, in the midst of a mental breakdown after the most frustrating week at the office, an amazing thing happened. Like that four-day weekend that just happened to come at just the right time, the outing to the Chef’s workshop that I had planned with my colleagues was right in the middle of it all. Continue reading

Indian summer

Well, the boeuf bourgignon will have to wait. It was 28° this weekend in the North of France, which meant everything we had planned (stew and home improvement) for this weekend would be postponed, and that we would be hitting the open road hard in search of the perfect, sunny corner of beach that was not too packed, not too loud, not too rocky. I’m not sure that we actually found it, but in our to total refusal to set foot in Deauville or Trouville where the crowds would certainly be atrocious, I think we did pretty good.

Our first stop was Pont-Audemer, which is not actually near the ocean but nestled among forests and along the Risle river, which leads to the sea. It was adorable and tiny, which meant that after a quick lunch and thirty minutes of walking, we had about seen it all and decided to continue our promenade. Continue reading

It’s officially fall

The few leaves left on my cherry tree are turning colors, and the vast majority of them are now carelessly piled on the ground below. Our tomatoes have all but died and we picked our first beets last weekend. I wore socks for the first time in months (only at home) and have been wearing my new leather jacket (only in the morning). Fall is here, and with it one of my favorite times of the year, full of antiquing and savory, slow-cooked meals, beautiful reds, auburns, oranges and golds adorning the Normand trees, the end of tourist season in Paris and walking to work with the rising sun, pots of freshly made soup, heated up as needed, lazy weekends at the seaside, jackets buttoned up and scarves rippling as the coastal wind reminds me, just in case I’d forgotten, that summer is O.V.E.R.

Despite the unseasonably hot temperatures this week, I’m definitely feeling fall. After a weekend of antiquing in Giverny and Aubevoye, I’m officially ready to dive into my pre-winter menu. Last weekend at the super market we debated on whether or not to buy beef for bourgignon, and decided that it was too early. Now, it feels just right. The tenderly cooked and red-wine infused beef pairs so perfectly with the spicy flavor of cloves and garlic. I can’t wait for my first one of the season. Continue reading

Traveling through food…

Travel is my number one passion. Either that, or food. Or maybe both. Or perhaps traveling and getting to experience what’s new and different in any given place. That’s what I love.

Food is often the star of my vacation. The first thing I do when I book a trip is not search for the best museums or historical monuments, but delve into the culinary culture of my destination. Germany? What does it have to offer other than the typical wurst and schnitzel. The Czech Republic? Goulash, yeah, but what else? Mexico? Guacamole of course, but not just that.

As I prepare for a trip this week to Macedonia, a raw country laden with history, and later to Slovenia, I’m dreaming first of all the photos I’ll be able to take, second of getting paid to go there, and third of what kinds of Meditteranean-meets-Eastern-Europe fair I’ll be able to find there. I hear they have baklava, and lots of meaty, hearty dishes. Sounds good to me. Continue reading