Our terrace has a slightly awkward shape — it’s long and spacious, but a little skinny, like an outdoor hallway — so it’s been hard to find a table where we can sit comfortably. But I’d love to find a way to eat meals outside other than placing the bowl gingerly on my lap! In any case, it’s been so nice to admire all of our plants, our little potted garden. We have a small fig tree, strawberries, so many herbs, a few succulents, hanging flowers, all framed by the beautiful grape vines that grow on the terrace right beneath us and snake all the way up to our balcony. The heat wave last week was so intense that I was watering our plants two, three times a day. I’d come back after a few hours and the soil would be cracked and dry. It was incredible. But the plants have really been loving the full sunshine and generous waterings — they’re looking lush and soft, and I ate my first strawberry this morning!
The market is looking better and better everyday, too. I had lots of leftover vegetables from Sasha’s visit, so half of them went in this lemony, garlicky pasta, and the other half I had for breakfast in an omelette.
I knew that food would be delicious in Provence, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how much more incredible it would all be. The cheeses, fruits, milk, butter, wine — it was all like a slightly electrified, more saturated version of itself. Dorade stuffed with wild fennel. Strawberries macerated with fresh mint. French cheeses. French wine. Tomatoes stuffed with parsley and garlic.
Of course, these things taste magnificent here at home, too, but it does feel like some of that local magic gets lost along the way, dissippates just slightly during the long flight over the ocean. That’s a big part of why I love traveling so much — it’s a intimate opportunity to experience food in its proper home, in its unique context and climate, surrounded by the swirling, dry coastal winds and the heady sweeps of rosemary.
As I wrote about earlier this weekend, we spent our first night in Provence at the beautiful home of Alain Pascal, the former boxer-turned-winemaker. He owns Domaine Du Gros’Noré, which produces some of my very favorite Bandol rosé. (Their Bandol rouge is life-changing, too!) His home is a classic, sprawling Provencal villa, surrounded by grape vines, the air thick with the scent of roses, rosemary, and wildflowers. I was insanely jet-lagged when we arrived, but as soon as I stepped onto his property I felt as awake as I have ever been. It’s a magical place.
I can’t believe I still haven’t finished uploading my Provence photos. Oops. Here’s some Côte d’Azur scenery to set the mood (I took these in the Var and Bandol regions). Looking at these images, I can still smell the rosemary and blossoms that enlivened my senses — and angered my allergies!
Adam’s driftwood collection increased about 500% when we discovered the gorgeous specimens on the shore of the Saint Lawrence River around Kamouraska. Sadly we couldn’t take the beauty in the second photo home — but wouldn’t it make the most amazing bench?
The Charlevoix waterfront along the Saint Lawrence river is a really tremendous thing — the river there is so wide, it feels like you’re staring out into the ocean. La Pinsonnière had a private beach, about 15 minute hike from their property. The tiny strip — packed with huge boulders, rough sand, and towering pine trees — was startlingly similar to the windswept Maine beaches where I spent summers growing up.
It’s already so hot here in Montreal it’s hard to believe that there’s still snow somewhere in the province. I took these photos in the mountains near Charlevoix, only a month ago. We went on a helicopter ride — my first time! (it was a little scary; Adam would have called it a “soft adventure”) — and flew around the Charlevoix crater, which was created by the impact of a gigantic meteor over 15 million years ago. I was totally blown away with the aerial perspective — with enough distance, the macro starts to look like the micro in this crazy abstract way. Everything was reduced to a cellular level. It was really, really astonishing and beautiful.
I just can’t stop daydreaming about Ithaca summers…. and don’t these images from Sasha’s house just scream summer? They are almost painful to look at.
My lemon cake looks pretty serene up there, but it wasn’t that fun to make — stirring a big pot of lemon curd in a 100 degree kitchen at the height of a humid upstate New York summer was not the best idea I’ve ever had. (Next time I get a crazy idea to bake in the summer, I’ll think about this cake, and make a granita instead.)
Sasha and I don’t live in the same town anymore but we still fantasize and plot to do stuff together. Sometimes that’s the only way to keep long-distance friendships strong, you trade ideas for future plans and schemes, then you always have something to look forward to, the distance doesn’t feel so distant.
[Photos taken from the most recent issue of Acquired Taste... get it here!]
Since my Acquired Taste story about Sasha isn’t available online, I thought I would post some of the photos I took when I visited her last summer. I have so many, I kind of want to share them all.
It was really humid that day, the kind where staying inside is almost unbearable. Being in a hot kitchen, even worse. Typical upstate New York summer, it rained on and off all afternoon, but we took every opportunity to escape outside to her backyard for wine or to go on walks.
I love writing about my best friends. It’s happening more and more, almost emerging as a pattern, which made me realize how fascinating and talented and smart my loved ones really are. I’ve long admired Sasha’s intuitive and thoughtful cooking style, yet I had never really watched her “in action.” (Whenever I would arrive at her house for dinner parties, everything would already be ready to go!)