Saturday, September 18, 2010

You Feed My Soul

If Elizabeth Gilbert had Italy for the "Eat" part of Eat, Pray, Love, then France would definitely be mine when it comes to the art of nourishing your soul.
I ate my way through half a dozen villages in Provence, stopping at local cafes, boulangeries, and bistros. I'sle sur la Sorgue, Loumarin, Ansouis, Cadenet, and my favourite Bonnieux, where I stopped for tarte aux framboise.
There's something so gorgeous about simply eating what's fresh, local and in season. Aubergine caviar, zucchini tart, shaved black truffle omelet, ripe melon salad - these were the flavours of the summer. A glass or two of wine (pink or white at lunch, red at dinner) was always at hand.
Then, there's La Closerie. Recommended as a "must" by our hosts at the guesthouse, we wisely booked a table and treated ourselves to a 3-course meal under the vine-covered terrace.
To start, ricotta stuffed courgette flowers with chanterelle mushrooms and the largest shaved discs of black truffle I'd ever eaten. The earthiness of the chanterelles and truffles complimented each other, and the deepness contrasted beautifully with the freshness of the courgette flowers. The creamy ricotta smoothed everything together into one giant love-in. If I can eat my way into spirituality, then this must be the stairway to heaven.
Hubby's starter of smoked salmon, spring greens and waffle seemed unconventional but I assure you it was just about as good as my truffle decadence. The waffle was more savory than sweet, crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside. We both believe there's more than 1 path to enlightenment and if in doubt, why not try both?
My religious food experience was just warming up when my main arrived. Roasted white fish with cherry tomatoes, squash puree, and baby potatoes. The skin was blackened and crispy while the fish was moist and flakey.
The stars came out and dessert came with it to bring me home to nirvana. Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.
It's perfect, simple, honest food that reminds me: it's been A Good Year.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Two Nights...

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... is not enough in any great city. Especially if that city is as sexy as Stockholm. It was a quickie stop in the land of Ikea, hockey greats, and bombshell blondes (Hello Freddie Ljungberg!), and we made the most of it.
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I dressed up for a night out with hubby at the Michelin-starred F12 restaurant. The Swedes are known to be genetically blessed with beauty so I felt the pressure to doll it up in a Herve Leger one-shouldered dress. Unfortunately my coworker convinced me out of bringing my strappy hot five-inch platforms, so I was stuck with my more casual wedges (grr). I guess I should thank her because the cobbled streets would have killed me and likely destroyed my shoes.

Below: Hubby looking sleek as he strolls casually into F12.

I wish I had some photos of our meal at F12 but they turned out horribly. I have to say I was disappointed with the meal, being my first Michelin-starred experience. The overuse of foam, which I ranted about at The Unreserved, is all I really remember about the cuisine. There was supposedly a "berry" theme to the night which I don't recall, and my dessert souffle didn't satisfy because it needed more ice-cream.
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We visited the Swedish Royal Palace museum and upon our luck, just happened to see the changing of the guard ceremony which consisted of about 50 horses marching down the main promenade. The rows of grey and brown horses were so elegant and of course I was in horsey heaven just being able to see the royal four-hoofed fleet.
Old town, Gamla Stan, was charming with its narrow alleys and cobbled streets, but quite touristy. After a full day of walking, we stopped for a light lunch and coffee break and just soaked in the hustle and bustle of the town.
We stayed at the Clarion Stockholm Hotel in the trendy SoFo (Sodermalm) area and it was lovely. Very modern and clean, and a very peaceful night's sleep. Sodermalm has tons of boutique shopping, cafes and bars, and we enjoyed an afternoon of browsing in the shops (picked up a couple of pretty tunics). I'll have some more pics posted as soon I as load up my pictures.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


That famous soft golden light of Provence that inspired so many artists. Sweet lavender air. Softy chirping cicadas. And a view towards an ancient chateau.
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I spent one week in heaven just outside the small village of Ansouis. We stayed in a little farmhouse paradise called Ferme de La Platane, nestled in the valleys of the Luberon mountains, surrounded by vineyards.
Our 18th century stone mas was absolutely perfect with our own terrace that looked onto the chateau, full kitchen and the use of the BBQ, boules pitch, and of course a sparkling pool. The hosts Rosemary and Peter were extremely helpful and generous, making bookings to local restaurants and attending to our needs. One night we even did a communal BBQ with another couple (hello Catrin and Andy!) and shared our feast of goodies we had each gathered earlier that day from the local market. Marinated herb chicken, mixed sausages of pork and lapin (sorry bunnies), ratatouille, mashed potatoes, goat cheese salad, fresh baguettes, more cheese to finish. We ate and drank in merriment until Van Gogh's starry night came to life.
You can just see the chateau off to the right of hubby from the terrace. Magnificent.
Printed maxi dress picked up from a Provencal town
Crochet sandals, Elizabeth and James
Custom sunnies by Fox Optical