Photo du Jour - The Sounds of Summer in the South of France

This noisy little creature, a cicada - une cigale - arrived at our house clinging to the side of a box delivered by la Poste yesterday.
It was set free after posing for a few photos. Its wing was damaged so it was very subdued.

The cicadas appear every summer, on or around June 21, to fill the summer days with their endless chirping and buzzing. It is a sound I will always associate with the south of France.

"Nomad Chef" contagious!

I am proud to annouce Cecilia D'Imperio's successful trip to Mexico. It seems being a "Nomad Chef" is contagious!
Last April I gave two cooking classes in Buenos Aires, at Cecicila d'Imperio's Sabiduria Culinaria cooking school. Cecilia and I discovered we both were curious and creative Home Chefs, and we shared the idea that cooking must be fun and that recipes must be simple.
She had mentioned she had an invitation to train the staff of a restaurant in Mexico, and I encouraged her to accept!
Well, here she is! The training was a complete success and she's looking forward to more trips, discoveries, and experiences. Bravo Cecilia!

Photo du Jour - Château

One of the small châteaux that dot the Languedoc countryside.

Paella Under the Full Moon

Friday night we were invited to our friend's garden to taste their family specialty, Paella Valenciana.

The giant pan, the paellera, was balanced on a homemade "stand" made from flower pots and metal stakes.
José brought the homemade broth to a boil then started adding the ingredients.

The first layer was chunks of cuttlefish and small pieces of cut up chicken. Then the rice was tossed in, followed by chicken legs and thighs, mussels, giant prawns and finally roasted red peppers.

tossing in the rice

mussels going in

It was a smoothly orchestrated event. José's wife, Jocelyn, was standing by, ready to hand over each ingredient as they were needed.

giant prawns, called gambas, ready to be added

the final addition - a scattering of roasted red peppers

keeping an eye on the flames

we all watched it bubble away but José was in charge of making sure that the paella cooked evenly

love the heat resistant gloves!

Finally, a dazzling, saffron enriched Paella Valenciana. The flavor is almost indescribable. There is nothing to compare to paella when it is done right.
I've tasted some pretty awful versions, both in Spain and here, so to have the chance to enjoy a gutsy, rich, smoky homemade paella under the full August moon with good friends...well, it just doesn't get much better than that.

¡Gracias José y Jocelyn!

Photo du Jour

So necessary during the height of summer.

La Journée Nationale du Fromage

Today is la Journée National du Fromage.

I expected a grand tasting event at les Halles in Narbonne, maybe a little parade or perhaps even a young woman crowned la Reine du Fromage. (hey, why not?)
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the closest fromager celebrating the event is in Toulouse, an hour and a half away!
Nothing in Narbonne, Béziers, Perpignan or even Montpellier!

So, we're celebrating on our own.

What did you do to fête le fromage?

Things in Venice, California (1)

I am spending a few days in beautiful Venice, California. It's so plenty of color, flowers, scents, fresh food, and more. The front gardens of the houses on 6th st boast flowers, trees, plants full of vigor, colors, strong scents, and exuberance.As I walk along I see artichokes growing on the side! Lemon trees, dill, rosemary ... I have the impression that ANYTHING can grow here!
The Venice Farmer Market, at the intersection of Venice Blvd and Ocean Blvd, is small but offers an array of fresh fruit and vegetable, bread, seafood, dry fruit, most organic., under colorful square shades. Going to local restaurants can be a real treat! Look at this crab and shrimp salad! I ordered it with no other dressing that olive oil and salt and it was delicious.The current crisis has badly affected construction here and everywhere you see signs like this one ... people in the coffee shops gather for a morning latte and share their disappointment with the job market right now. Sad.