Monthly Archives: September 2012

TASTING SANARY

Enjoying peas, new potatoes, radishes, mint, crispy shallots, zucchini, wheat berries, shaved carrot, red leaf lettuce, and fennel at our tiny place in Sanary-sur-mer. (Nice view, right?) My kind of salad, aka the kind that has a million ingredients and is seemingly never-ending, a byproduct from my California upbringing of monstrous chopped salads. But it needed something more, so we bought a few wedges of pissaladière, a Provencal onion, anchovy and olive tart. (Here’s Richard Olney’s version if you’d like to make it yourself.)

 

 

THE SKY WAS PINK

When we were in Provence, I finally got a peek at my dream house. We were at the Chateau Barbeyrolles — a small property located at the foot of Gassin, one of the three villages on the Saint-Tropez peninsula — which was both an excellent winery and home to its proprietress, Régine Sumeire. From wandering her grape vines, which grow freely within clusters of rose bushes, to exploring her beautiful home (which had a gigantic swimming pool!), I was completely and utterly seduced by Barbeyrolles’ unabashed femininity and timeless personality.

Here in Montreal, Régine’s drinkable, friendly rose wines are very popular (her Cotes de Provence Petale de Rose, drunk poolside or at the beach, is especially a hit in the summer), and it was fascinating to see how her womanly, flower-loving personality translated to both her wines and the inspiring way she lives her life.

We were lucky enough to eat a simple, summery meal prepared by Sumeire herself, right in her own home, where she’s lived since 1977. Everyone knows that I’m obsessed with everything pink (my favorite color) and flowery and girly, so I was totally in hog heaven as I took in her rose-patterned tablecloth, impressive Persian rug collection, and shelves and shelves of well-read books. It incapsulated everything I’ve ever imagined for my own dream home — especially the cozy, terra cotta-tiled kitchen, where we ate.

Régine, in true effortless French lady form, had prepared a feast of traditional Provencal food, like cubes of foie gras wrapped in ham; a cold tomato and salt cod salad, dusted with fennel fronds and chives; tender squares of zucchini, stuffed with ground veal, garlic, and breadcrumbs; and mini fig and raspberry tartlets. (All carefully paired with her delicious wines, of course). Right as we were about to sit down and eat, the kitchen was flooded with intense, fluorescent pink light, which spilled over the hillside like water. We didn’t encounter many other female winemakers when we were in Provence, and Régine had a particularly intriguing, witchy aura about her, like she was in control of the sunset somehow. I felt lucky to be there.

PS. Montreal friends, if you’d like to get a taste of this kind of Provencal magic, my friends Seth and Michelle are hosting a special Provencal dinner tonight at the Foodlab, in honor of the late, great food writer Richard Olney. (A familiar name on this blog, for sure!) Trust me — you don’t want to miss this.

AUTUMNAL ACCEPTANCE

Just as I was lamenting the inevitable turnaround into winter-like weather, suddenly I’m craving the heartiest of fall foods, because I’m fickle like that. Adam had cooked up a seared veal chop, mashed potatoes, baby swiss chard, boiled carrots, and morel mushrooms, and I wolfed it all down. Tasted great, I think I’m ready for fall now. (Yesterday I put on my first pot of soup!)

Also, Adam started buying vintage china from a great thrift store in Parc Ex and recently came home with dinner plates bearing a pattern that we also have at Lawrence. I have to say, it’s a little disconcerting to eat dinner at home and stare at a design that also appears on some of the dessert plates that I use at work. Universe, stop messing with my brain!

YOU’RE SO BABY

I fully get that fall (and winter) is going to strike Montreal, and soon. But my back terrace, blanketed in grape vines, and this golden light, blanketing my shins, is telling me something else.

TRAVELING QUIETLY

 

Since saturating my brain with images and recipes of Provencal roasted fish, I knew our trip to Provence wouldn’t be complete unless I got my hands on an entire striped sea bass, which is exactly what I did on one of our last days in Sanary. Roasting fish whole is one of the easiest and best ways to eat fish ever. (Basically: split a bass lengthwise, stuff it with delicious things like baby fennel, garlic and lemon, and then roast until just opaque and still so tender). Adam and I aren’t really the bar-and-club hopping types when we travel — we spent most evenings happily drinking wine, eating cheese, and playing cards. My kind of traveler’s paradise.

TIME TO RELAX

Yay, weekend! I hope yours is filled with lots of wine, sunshine, and extra-salty potato chips.

[Photos taken at Domaine Tempier in Bandol, Provence!]

BREAKFAST IN SANARY

Breakfast in Provence. Sigh. Earlier this summer, we were toying around with the idea of going back to Sanary for a month — that’s how cheap the apartment that we rented was — so Adam could finish his book in solitude, but it’s so impossible with my new job. Still, so grateful for the handful of sunny mornings we spent there, one egg for me, two for him, some wilted greens and peeled asparagus.

NOW THAT’S A FEAST

[Images via Dispokino]

I feel slightly obsessed with tracking down this film Vražda Ing, Čerta by Czech filmmaker Ester Krumbachová. These stills are driving me crazy! From Dispokino: “During most of its 77 minutes, the two main and almost only characters cook (Ona, played by Jirina Bohdalová) and eat (Ing. Cert / the devil, played by Vladimír Mensík) inside Ona’s appartment.”

The entire film is on youtube but without subtitles it’s hard to know what I’m missing.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: PURITY IN A DISH

I recently wrote about our epic and magical trip to Provence for the Montreal Gazette. I loved reminiscing about all of our gorgeous adventures in the countryside. I also came to the worthwhile realization that the best part of the trip wasn’t our time at fancy restaurants or hotels, but the handful of days when we rented a tiny apartment overlooking the ocean and cooked all of our own meals from vegetables I bought at the market. (I not-so-secretly want to live in Sanary-sur-mer forever).

You can read the full story here. And I’ll be posting photos from our trip to France for the rest of the week!

SEMI-DEAD AIR

Between juggling writing deadlines, running around at Lawrence, catching up with friends, and finding time to hang with Adam, this poor little space has been feeling a little neglected. To punctuate the radio silence, a photo of cornmeal-crusted deep-fried pickles — eaten in Atlanta, of course — to appease the blog gods. (And served with homemade ranch dressing, of course).

Last night I finally ate at La Salle à Manger — a place that has long been on my to-do list — and it was so, so awesome. Venison tartare, a dozen oysters, a little charcuterie, a bottle of natural wine from the Rhône valley. A perfect order, and so wonderful to leave my little bubble of Little Italy and the Mile End and see a new-to-me zone. It felt like I was in a whole new city. Mondays are my new Saturday nights, and they are amazing!