Thursday, December 31, 2009

La Fourchette in Paris 2010 Calendar - Now Available!

Yup! The Paris calendar (black and white) has arrived. Take a peek below at what awaits you month after month. (Custom calendars are available with start dates in any month - great for birthdays and anniversaries for any special Francophiles on your list.)

Only $30.00 US orders - or 25€ if you are ordering in Europe. (Shipping not included*). It's a double whammy: you have a lovely and artfully created mural-style calendar and your purchase supports La Fourchette...on many levels.

Need birthday gift ideas for 2010? Which of your friends or relatives would love a beautiful calendar from France? Take advantage of the custom option: Only $10 more, and your 12-month gift calendar will start in the birthday month of your receiver.

Your calender will be 12 by 16.5 inches (29,7x42 cm), printed on quality 250 gram stock (one side only). Each month's page displays a single image. The title page includes a transparent protective cover. This lovely display will hang elegantly from the heavy duty spiral binding and hook. Enjoy a Window on Paris every day of the year!

NOTE: The calendar shown begins in January 2010. Given the timing of the announcement, orders received by ***January 8, 2010*** will have an option for a February 2010 start month, running through January 2011 at no additional charge. Just let me know your preference when you place your order.

Order now - it's easy! Just fire an email to me and I'll send you to PayPal for payment (still working on getting a paypal button up). Once confirmed, the calendar will be heading your way.**

La Fourchette in Paris - 2010

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December


See La Fourchette in Provence - 2010 color calendar here.

*$14 shipping to the US

**Allow up to 3 weeks for delivery after order has been made.

All good wishes for peace, health, prosperity and love in the new year ahead,
Leslie

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

La Fourchette 2010 Calendars - Now Available!

La Fourchette is gettin' her little French groove back!

Now you can feast your eyes on the beauty of Provence 365 days a year with a calendar, La Fourchette in Provence - 2010, for only $30.00 US orders - or 25€ if you are ordering in Europe. (Shipping not included*). It's a double whammy: you have a lovely and artfully created mural-style calendar and your purchase supports La Fourchette...on many levels.

Need birthday gift ideas for 2010? Which of your friends or relatives would love a beautiful calendar from France? Why not take advantage of the custom option: Only $10 more, and your 12-month gift calendar will start in the birthday month of your receiver.

Your calender will be 12 by 16.5 inches (29,7x42 cm), printed on quality 250 gram stock (one side only). Each month's page displays a single image. The title page includes a transparent protective cover. This lovely display will hang elegantly from the heavy duty spiral binding and hook. Enjoy a Window on Provence every day of the year!

NOTE: The calendar shown begins in January 2010. Given the timing of the announcement, orders received by ***January 8, 2010*** will have an option for a February 2010 start month, running through January 2011 at no additional charge. Just let me know your preference when you place your order.


Order now - it's easy! Just fire an email to me and I'll send you to PayPal for payment (still working on getting a paypal button up). Once confirmed, the calendar will be heading your way.**

See a sample of the color images for each month below.

La Fourchette in Provence 2010


January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December


*$14 shipping to the US

**Allow up to 3 weeks for delivery after order has been made...so order right away!

Bonne fin de l'année (happy end of the year - here in France, it is considered bad luck to wish someone Happy New Year before the year actually arrives...so we'll stretch out the greetings across the bridge),

Leslie
p.s. Watch for Paris in black and white. It's on its way!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joyeux Noël!

I high-tailed it out of the city with my furry little friend on a rainy - make that stormy - Christmas Eve morning. We call it Le Veille de Noël in these parts. We took the opportunity to dry off in the warmth of the train during the leisurely three-hour ride through a gray Provençal landscape. Bodhi gets the pup-in-a-bag discount of a 5€ fare. Cool, non? After his initial terror (first train ride jitters...poor thing) subsided, he quite enjoyed it.

Yes, Christmas was spent with special friends in the country. Of course, this is the friend who was my model as I contemplated moving to France. From a very cozy kitchen, she creates one fabulous dish after another. A veritable kitchen goddess, she is. So it will come as no surprise that we spent the better part of our days together eating wonderful fare, drinking wonderful wines and laughing as we reminisced about my first Christmas spent with them - before I had really gotten the hang of this language. It's hilarious looking back. The polite smile in response to the questions coming at me was quickly replaced by a deer-in-headlights look as I realized I was in way over my head. How things have changed. I spent both days rattling away in French - and cracking a few jokes, at that!

After a soggy eve, Noël in Grignan was lovely. The sun made a welcomed appearance and decided to stay for the day. All the little rues, decked out in winter charm, sparkled even more as a result...






...and the meals prepared to celebrate each day were as deliciously French as it gets.

This particular soup, hiding coyly beneath its stylish puff pastry cap, will give you something to look forward to next week when I return with the recipe to break the suspense...and the hiatus chez La Fourchette.


I hope you spent your day with loved ones, enjoying being together. And I hope you made something tasty part of your day. It just doesn't get better than that!



Bon appétit!

Leslie
p.s. merci, mes chèrs amis!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Quoi de neuf, Doc?

Pulled from their warm beds before they awaken to the lavender and tangerine dawn of a Provençal morning, they are tossed into weathered wooden crates that are cracked beneath worn labels, the wood as gray as the wild hares in the field. These slender fingers of organic gold point the way to the market from their crates as they are loaded into the back of the dusty white panel truck.

The rising sun's first warmth coaxes a complex perfume from the fresh bounty that blends and wafts into the cab of the truck as the farmer makes his way from the fields to this new day’s market: bass notes of earth, mid-notes of tomatoes and fennel and sweet high notes of carrots and new onions.

Now unloaded and spread over sturdy tables set up side by side, the fiesta of color that is the marché in Provence – regardless the village or ville – entices me before I ever dig into those crates for the day’s menu. I drop the carrots into my basket to be weighed and before I wipe the dirt, picked up in the selection process, from my hands, I stop to press a tiny clump between my thumb and forefinger to see if I can sense the earth’s lingering warmth. I brush it off before digging into my jeans pocket for change to pay the vendor, his own hands stained with endless days working the same soil I just brushed away. As the money changes hands, I’m silently grateful for the familiar smile flashed at me as I’m wished a "bon journée", grateful that I know who grew the carrots that now fill my basket. I’m happy to be supporting the new organic wave that is hitting France.

A few slices and simmers later and this velouté de carottes (velvety carrot soup) is ready for prime time. Or an afternoon hour when something light and cool will drop the internal temperature down a notch.



In a perfect world, you’d be napping in a hammock as an occasional cool breeze softly thumbs through the pages of the book you were reading before you dozed off. The sound of your own name pulls you back from the edge of a dream. You open your eyes and see a figure through the unravelled bare spot in the favorite straw hat that shades your face.

An outstretched hand is offering a cup and a spoon. You reach to accept it and the chill against your fingers triggers a cascade of memories of cooling down as a kid: the patch of wide-leafed dichondra under the shade of the pine trees where you would lay on your back and watch clouds on a late summer afternoon, the first chill of a slight breeze on a wet swimsuit after running through the sprinklers in the mid-day sun, the pleasing crunch and squish that is a first bite into the slice of a watermelon that was just pulled out of the rustic refrigeration unit that is the stream near your family's campsite.

The first refreshing mouthful of this soup is a bit of a surprise: kicked up with spices and calmed down with coconut milk. Sip after silky sip has you thinking it’s not so bad cooling down as a grown-up either.

Enjoy it as a first course to a summer meal, or alongside a slice of tart and salad...or all by itself.

Now slip back into that hammock and enjoy the rest of the afternoon!

Bon appétit,
Leslie

p.s. I know I am way behind on responding to comments. Sorry. I'll catch up. In the meantime, eat your soup!

Velouté de Carottes (Adapted from Soupes du Jour by Anne-Catherine Bley)

Serves 8

1-pound carrots
1.5 liters water
3 lovely new onions
1-teaspoon ground coriander
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 small can (16.5 ml) coconut milk
sea salt and pepper to taste

Chop and sauté the onions in a bit of olive oil in a soup pot. While the onions are turning golden, peel and cut the carrots in rounds. Before adding them to the pot, toss the spices into the onions and cook gently until you can smell their perfume. Add the carrots and the water. Bring water to a boil then turn the heat down to a simmer for about 30 minutes. The carrots should be very tender.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before blending the mixture into a smooth soup. Add the coconut milk. Adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for at least an hour if you want to enjoy this cold. (This is, by the way, delicious hot, warm or cold.)

For a fresher bite, do not sauté the new onions but simply add them and the spices after the carrots have simmered to their desired tenderness. If new onions are not available, use regular onions but do sauté them first.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cool as a Mediterranean Cucumber

Just stopping in to say hello...and that I’m thinking of you. I thought I’d see what you are up to out there and catch you up.

We’ve officially slipped into another season around here and as charming as my little French chairs and table on the lower terrace are, they create some harsh shadows on the terre cotta tiles at midi (noon). In spite of an expanse of parasol unfurled against the first days of summer sun, thick waves of heat slither into the room as I type. Heat Slugs, I call them. Thick and fluid, the undulating currents of rising temperatures slink and slide over the threshold and take refuge on the cooler tiles inside. In no time flat, I'm in a giant solar oven. The upright fan, a brave and worthy soldier of cool, takes them on in battle but sadly loses by about 3 every afternoon. The last few hours of these very long days are tough as summer hits its stride. It’s more like Dante’s Inferno.

In such circumstances, this former California girl, away from the Pacific’s shore (and to be honest, she's just not that good with heat), is left to languish on a couch in a dark room with a tall glass of cool water and a stack of books (ahem! Monsieur JB: books, please!) at her side. Add one panting dog (in spite of a summer haircut) lying across her feet (which really doesn’t help either of us) and...well, you’re starting to get the picture of the weeks ahead in my little French summer.

If you are in one of the areas around the world that is also starting to sizzle, you can relate to how hot it is on the top terrace. I’d spare you the old standard, “It’s so hot you can fry an egg...blah, blah, blah,” to describe the sun baked tiles upstairs, but for the fact that, well, you can!

Oh, if only I had an air conditioner – an able antidote to the rising temps! Wait! I do have an air conditioner. Yes, dear readers, I bit the eco bullet and invested in a small portable air conditioner chez moi. It has an environmental rating of A - so I’ve got that going for me – and my intention/promise is to only run it a couple of hours to cool off the room in which I write and see clients during the day then roll it into the bedroom to run for an hour or so before I tuck myself in at night to give me a running start at a decent night’s sleep when August rolls around and the heat slugs have grown to fill the entire doorway. My carbon footprint will be just a tiny bit bigger but much less sticky.



The other antidote to summer heat? Chilled soup! This one is a veritable party, or festival, in these parts. A blast of Mediterranean sunshine delivered with a pleasant jolt of cool - as cool as my new air conditioner!



I’m a long time gazpacho lover and with a few tweaks here and there, this chilly savory treat has a new spin. I use red or yellow peppers for a sweet piquant kick rather than the green peppers usually called for. I prefer the hint of sweet to the bitter grassy bite of the green variety.

The dash of sugar and a generous schlug (not to be confused with the aforementioned slug) of balsamic vinegar corral and choreograph this raucous bunch and coax the new onions to shed their shyness and come to the front of the stage, singing together with the garlic in a full-throated flamenco performance as the rest of the Mediterranean mélange breaks into a festive and fast-paced flurry of a dance.

The cooling effect of green, important for the eye before anything ever heads to the belly, shows up in the cucumber. And if you like the sensation of heating up to break a sweat for more of a swamp cooler effect, then the Tabasco addition is for you. Otherwise, just hit the whole thing with a drizzle of good olive oil and you’ll be as cool as a...err...new air conditioner in the south of France!

Bon Appétit!

Leslie

P.S. if you happen to be out and about buying organic carrots for your horses in the next week or two, toss another pound in your basket. I’ve got another chilled soup recipe coming up that will have old Bugs Bunny swooning.



Gazpacho
(Adapted from Soupes du Jour by Anne-Catherine Bley)

Serves 8

4 lovely new onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 pepper (red or yellow)
1 cucumber
1-pound (or thereabouts) fresh tomatoes (or canned whole tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon powdered sugar
sea salt and pepper
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2-cup water
a few drops of Tabasco (optional)

Wash all of the vegetables in cold water. Peel the onions and garlic and cut the onions into large chunks. Drop them into a food processor and pulse to a finely chopped consistency. Place this chopped mixture into a large salad bowl. Next, seed and cut the pepper into large chunks and place into the food processor. Repeat the pulse process as before and add to the large bowl. Do not peel the cucumber! The green color is important. Cut into chunks and repeat the pulse process in the food processor, adding to the mixture in the bowl when it reaches a finely chopped consistency. Stem the tomatoes and cut into chunks, repeating a final time in the food processor. When the tomatoes are finely chopped, add them and all of their juices to the large bowl with the other chopped veggies.

To the large bowl of the vegetable mixture, add the sugar, sea salt and pepper, olive oil and vinegar. Mix roughly and add the water to obtain a soupy consistency that pleases you. Check the seasonings and adjust, adding more vinegar if you wish or a few drops of Tabasco, according to your taste.

Refrigerate for at least one hour (longer if time allows) before serving.

Serve with croutons of toasted whole grain bread brushed with olive oil and rubbed with a cut garlic clove.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 01, 2009

La Fête du Travail


This seems like a fitting holiday to touch base - this first of May.

It is a "worker's holiday" here and celebrates workers' rights. (In fact, it is one of the handful of days a year on which there is no trash service!)

On this day a flower, either Lily-of-the-Valley or Dogwood blossom, is offered to loved ones - a symbol of good luck. And so I'm offering this traditional flower, the muguet (in fact this day is also referred to as La Fête du Muguet) to you, Dear Readers, as a thank you and for luck, to be sure!

I've appreciated your support and gentle promptings about La Fourchette. In fact, the reason this day seems suited to touching base is because my absence from the kitchen and the blog has been due to a big project which is now finalized and has tossed me into an even bigger project: I have successfully been granted working papers for France. Not an easy feat, let me tell you. I am now able to build my private psychotherapy practice here - after 15+ years of successful private practice in the US. (A work in progress, this new site, and many have encouraged me to post a photo - which needs to be "sans Bodhi", cute as he is - so it will unfold as updated images are created and schedules are set for the calendar.)

All goes well on the new path and I'm navigating the maze that is "the French system"...so I'll take all of your good wishes with me as I go forward.

As for La Fourchette, she's not hanging up her apron just yet - just stepping out of the kitchen for the time being to be able to focus on getting things in place to make this little French life really float on its own.

I'll touch base as time allows and in the meantime, I send along May Day flowers and all of my best wishes to all.

Ciao!
Leslie

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Window on Provence...errr...Paris



Don't you wish you were in Paris...having breakfast at Café de Flore...indulging in a bit of people watching before you settle in with a good book for a few hours...until, say...lunch.

Me too!

What a week this is. I've got a few plates spinning and several things moving from the back burner to the front so this is it for the week.

None of that kitchen-sounding stuff is actually happening in the kitchen...so there was no tart this week...and tomorrow's planned recipe sharing will have to wait. (Although I think it's worth the wait, myself.)

Enjoy a moment of daydreaming in Paris until next week! (Me, I've got to get back to work.)

Ciao,
Leslie

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wednesday Window on Provence


I've been telling my "California Girl-transplanted-to-Minnesota-by-marriage" sister that it's been really cold here in Aix.

Her: "Is it minus 18º?"

Moi: "Well, no...but it's cold!"

Her: "Shut up."

But today there's proof: It up and snowed in our little ville!

Yes, we all woke up to a silent snowy morning here in the south of France.




I headed out into my little rue to see what the other kids were up to.




Not much action in the cafés...




...so not much of a need for these:




The lovely terraces around town looked quite elegant with their dusting of snow...


...but if you were parked, you got much more than a dusting!



Cours Mirabeau looks like a wonderland all decked out in white...



...but the faithful sentinels at the Palais du Justice aren't having such an easy time of it today.



And through it all, the fountains of this sweet and snowy ville are still singing along.



Wishing you all a lovely Wednesday...stay warm!


Ciao!
Leslie

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