Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blackberry Picking

The lane leading to Jardins des Thevenets is lined with Blackberry bushes. One afternoon Tami, Kelly and Susan came back with handfuls of berries. They were so delicious we decided to return and pick a few bowls of them for breakfast.
On the walk we passed century old buildings.
Bits of  pieces of charm littered the path.
Windows were dressed with graceful branches and wild roses .
There were flowers everywhere.
Even the barn has that certain French charm:-)

Tami found the choicest berries.
Kelly managed to look chic even though she was being pricked.....
We used the berries for breakfast, served in a large compote dish they were a lovely addition to the yogurt.
They were so sweet we decided to use them for these delicious dessert verrines. Layers of berries, whipped cream and Speculos cookies were a light but satisfying sweet. As Lynn would say, "It was sufficient."

All photos and text are property of The Gypsy Chef.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Quick but Satisfying Lunch

The thing about being in the country is that your always hungry. Whether it's the fresh air, exercise (sitting on the train reading is rather strenuous) or just picking vegetables in the garden, I find I'm always hungry when someone mentions lunch. Lynn took us to her chicken man, who had an Airstream trailor he had configured to roast chickens. At the bottom of the roaster he cooked sliced potatoes in the chicken drippings. The aroma was enticing.
Just look at those potatoes, couldn't you just take a fork to them? And let me tell you, the chicken was spot on also.
The chicken man was a delight. he had decorated the inside with Vintage American signs. Give us a smile, I ask, and he obliged.
The next stop was for macaroons at the local Patisserie.
Sweet and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, they were as good as they looked.
Lynn said the best way to have the chicken man's potatoes was to saute them with garlic. We quickly minced garlic and sauteed the potatoes. She was right, they were rich and flavorful with just a touch of garlic and sea salt. 
Our french chicken was delicious. We popped him in the oven just to keep him warm. Perfectly cooked and well seasoned, we devoured him with hardly a bit left. 
What do you crave most after a satisfying lunch? A nap of course, we relaxed in the garden under the soft Auvergne sunshine.  If you look closely you will see Lily the cat, Kelly is offering her a caress.
These lovely garden shoes drew my attention. I mean really, even the shoes in France are beautiful.
All photos and text belong to The Gypsy Chef

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Traveling is a funny thing. No matter how many times I cross the Atlantic or Pacific there is still that anticipation of adventure and excitement. What’s that you say? I’ve been to Paris so many times there is no adventure? No, your wrong. Adventure and excitement come in small bits coupled with seconds of confusion and miles walked on tired, swollen feet. It’s a glass of wine at a cafe, or sharing a coffee with a new friend in a strange kitchen. Adventure is getting to know people you would have never met in your own neighborhood.
Adventure comes in the form of ticket kiosks, at large and busy train stations, making reservations for restaurants in a language you don’t speak and staying at hotels where it’s a journey to your charming room at the top of 6 flights of stairs under the garrett (the elevator only goes to floor 5). It’s realizing the ground floor is 0, and cold is hot and hot is cold when you turn the tap. 
Such was the many experiences of my guests this year. The first to arrive were Tami and Kelly, who traveled to London, caught the train at St. Pancras Station and slowly but surely made their way to Paris.  Here they are with Annette, whom they met on the plane. She took them under her wing and delivered them to St Pancreas.
 From Gare du Nord they decoded the metro map and arrived at the Grand Hotel Dore. In the true spirit of adventure they didn’t nap, but toured the Eiffel Tower, dined at a local cafe and finally ended the evening at the bistro across the street. 
Next was Susan, a South African living in Canada, whom, never having been to Paris, stood in front of Gare de Lyon to orient herself and decide how she would travel to the Pierre’s apartment in the 12th. According to Susan, everyone helped her with her suitcase and directed her to the right stop. When she rang the bell, I opened the door to a big smile and a lovely voice saying, “You must be Pam”. We hugged and I knew instantly we would be friends.
Ok so I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM. I had planned on meeting Lisa, the next arrival at the Gare de Lyon Air France bus stop. Needless to say I overslept, Lisa waited for me 3 hours. Her adventure was only just beginning. She navigated the soda machine and managed a Diet Coke. At the cost of 2 Euros a bottle, she was looking for the bill slot when she realized the she had a 2 Euro coin. Voila! Another mystery solved. Feeling confident she then stood in line, bought her ticket and decided if I didn’t show up, she would just climb on the train and head to Vichy. Bravo Lisa!
When I climbed out of the cab at the station, I remember thinking there can’t be too many blonds with curly hair. ”Monsieur, avez-vous vu une femme blonde aux cheveux bouclés? “ I ask the Air France busman. In a very stern manner her replied, “Elle a attendu trois heures.”
Pointing three fingers at me.  Où at-elle aller? Where is she? Ou est cest trop?   "Je ne sais pas" he replied. I climbed the stairs and looked toward the station and there she was, that blond hair shining in the sunlight. “Lisa” she looked up and with relief in her face we feel into each others arms.  “I was afraid you wouldn’t show up!” she said. “I was afraid you were lost!”I replied.
Over cafe creme and chocolate croissants we talked about her trip, her wait and the upcoming week. We then bought sustenance for the train, found our coach, seat and headed to Vichy.
At noon Debbie arrived tired, but game for anything. She had traveled from New York, through Cincinnati into Paris and finally Vichy. Having attended last year, Debbie and Lynn were thrilled to see one another again.
Off we went to La Galea, the local tennis club restaurant.
 We were wined and dined by the very handsome owner, Patrick Corrazzin. Here's a snap of Lynn and Patrick.
 And then the rest of the girls arrived, their train was delayed by a knife wielding, ticketless ruffian. After a bit of a struggle he was apprehended, and the train moved on. Only 10 minutes late, their train pulled in and out they spilled, luggage and laughter.
  Stay tuned for more adventure.......... 
All text and photos belong to The Gypsy Chef.