Amboise and the Loire River
“At my dinner parties, I like to serve cheese after the main course because you still have red wine in the glass, and it goes very well with the cheese. And that is what they do in France, and I think they set a good example.” – Mary Berry, British food writer and judge on The Great British Bake Off
The Chateau d’Amboise overlooking the Loire River.
“In France, we have a saying, ‘Joie de vivre,’ which actually doesn’t exist in the English language. It means looking at your life as something that is to be taken with great pleasure and enjoy it.” – Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat
“I would take them all to my home and cook them a grand Perigord meal. We’d start with a soup made from a duck’s carcass. We’d then go on to an omelette au touffe with eggs from my own chickens and truffles from the hillside near our home. I would cook Aiguillette de canard, using a thin strip of meat just below the breast. I would cook it with mustard seeds and honey. I would add to that, pommes sarladaise, which are potatoes thinly sliced and cooked in duck fat, with garlic, parsley, and truffles. It would all be done in the Perigord style.
And the wines?
The white wine would be a Bergerac sec from Chateau Jaubertie. Then I would offer everyone a deeply robust 2005 Chateau de Tiregand. It’s made by a friend of mine in the village. Oh, and I’d also serve some foie gras. I would serve it with a glass of chilled sweet wine, Monbazillac from Chateau de Tirecul. It’s something akin to Sauternes. I would finish it off with some cheese, of course.” – from The Resistance Man by Martin Walker
“Cassoulet is the God of the Occitan cuisine. The Castelnaudary version is God the Father, the Carcassonne recipe is God the Son, and the Toulousain is the Holy Spirit.” – Prosper Montagné, Le Festin Occitan. 1929
Christmas Tree at the Chateau de Chenonceau
It was a sweltering hot July afternoon in 1945 when famous jazz vocalist Mel Tormé showed up for a writing session at the Toluca Lake house of his lyric partner Bob Wells. Mel let himself in and walked over to the piano. There, on the music board, was a pad of paper with four lines of a verse:
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos
When Wells walked in the room, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, Tormé asked him about the little poem.
“It’s so damn hot today, I thought I’d write something to cool myself off,” Wells replied. “All I could think of was Christmas and cold weather.”
And that is “the rest of the story” behind one of America’s most loved contemporary Christmas hits, A Christmas Song. With this intro, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and all of the best for 2018.
(This post was originally published on February 11, 2017)
Our vacation house in Sablet*
“Gourmets are thick on the ground in Provence, and pearls of wisdom have sometimes come from the most unlikely sources. We were getting used to the fact that the French are as passionate about food as other nationalities are about sport and politics, but even so it came as a surprise to hear Monsieur Bagnols, the floor cleaner, handicapping three-star restaurants” ― Peter Mayle, A Year in Provence.
“And sharing food at the table is ultimately about sharing one’s love for life.” – Frank Stitt, Frank Stitt’s Southern Table
“The dining room was filled with wonderfully intermixing aromas that I sort of recognized but couldn’t name.” – Julia Childs, My Life in France
Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses, Paul Cezanne, ca. 1890
“Fruits… like having their portrait painted. They seem to sit there and ask your forgiveness for fading. Their thought is given off with their perfumes. They come with all their scents, they speak of the fields they have left, the rain which has nourished them, the daybreaks they have seen.” – Paul Cezanne
“With every new place that I visit, I pick up something new along the way that I can apply to my cooking.” – Sean Brock, Heritage