Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2018 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
The pebble-paved streets wind through Haut-de-Cagnes’ narrow alleyways past stone houses, artist’s studios, restaurants and a few shops. The Chateau Grimaldi, a fort built around the 1300 dominates the village overlooking the sea. Replicas of canvases by well-known artists who painted this romantic place are stationed at the locations of the scene. The clay colors of the roof tiles, grays of stone walls, colorful vines creeping up the sides of the ancient buildings seem to be growing where ever they can find a little earth. Haut-de-Cagnes is a heritage site, classified as a “Monument of France”.
When I first walked up the pebble streets some 30 years ago, I thought I was stepping into a Renior canvas. Brush strokes and pallet knives created this village from the imagination of a genius painter I thought. Of course it must be, because Renoir lived and worked in Les Colette just around the corner from Haut-de-Cagnes. The panorama over the hills and blue Mediterranean gave him inspiration and his canvases reflect the colors and vegetation of the region. So this must be where I am, in one of his paintings. Then, when I came back to reality, I saw that Haut-de-Cagnes was a real place, with real people, and real stone buildings and flowers and I was going to stay here forever. Well I almost did and have visited it many times.
Painters lived in this region of France such as Picasso, Chagall, Monet, Erté, Rodin, Bonnard, Matisse and Modigliani who spent time with Renoir – just to name a few. All conspired and enjoyed each other’s company in this medieval world. The village reflects the romanticism of the past and you wander through the streets appreciating the beauty that they saw. Today you can visit Renoir’s home, now a museum where you can see why he was in love with Cagnes-sur-Mer.
In recent years there has been a revitalization of Cagnes-sur-Mer and in many ways it has improved along the sea. A boardwalk goes on for miles all the way to Nice. Restoration of the beaches and buildings has brought new life with little seaside restaurants that serve both French and Italian specialties. The city is charming in the area of the market place where people seem to be stationed all the time in the café’s. Maybe they are really sculptures by Renior who probably joined in this typically French pastime of café life. Sometimes I feel they are purposely placed there so visitors think that relaxing and drinking espresso or a glass of wine is all people do here. There are many new apartments in the center of the city, which I suppose is to be expected, and in some ways nicer architecture then some other towns. The town has all the shopping you need with outdoor markets and excellent boulangeries. Years ago it was possible to find small boulangeries and boucherie (butcher shops) in Haut-de- Cagnes, but they are long gone. Many foreigners have bought apartments and live part-time here making it difficult for small shops to survive. But they have also renovated the apartments and have played a role in keeping the village alive and free from commercialism.
There is a parking lot in Cagnes-sur-Mer, a paid parking garage in Haute-de-Cagnes and parking along the streets, but the chances of finding parking is slim. The public parking lot in Cagnes-sur-Mer is a quarter the price of the parking garage and with very good bus service to Haute-de-Cagnes. The shuttle bus leaves every 15 minutes from June to September from the Castle and can be taken from several places along the route to Cagnes-sur-Mer. From here you can catch buses to other destinations along the Côte d’Azur. The shuttle is free and the bus service is inexpensive and a good alternative considering the lack of parking in Nice or Cannes.
By some stroke of luck Haut-de-Cagnes has survived tourism. You quickly appreciate this when you visit St. Paul de Vence. It hurts to think that such a beautiful village that inspired so many famous artists is now a big commercial mess. The people of Haut-de-Cagnes and all those who settled there saved this magical place from the sickness that takes over when people only see dollar signs. This could have easily happened here, but instead it has stayed the same and you feel like you are going home every time you visit. This is the village where I could easily see myself getting lost in forever and many new residents have. It’s simplicity and charm just carry you through life as though you have nothing else to worry about except stepping around the palate knife and paint strokes that created it.
Vence and St Jennet are easily reached and are a nice side trip. Vence has done a lot of restoration and in fact has replaced its fountains with ones dating back to its origins. Many guests visit the perfume factories in Grasse. Collectors search for perfume bottles that are now collectables at some of the weekly outdoor markets.
I will only mention two restaurants in the village and one in Cagnes-sur-Mer that we found worth visiting. Le Fleur de Sel we did not visit because it was closed for vacation, we have dined here in the past and I was told that it was good and under new management.
You won’t find many restaurants in the village but a few stand out. Chef Stephane Francolino, owner of Entre Cour et Jardin, told us that many Italians fled to France during WWII and settled in the region mostly in Grasse to work at the perfume factories. Since we had just come from Dolceacqua, Italy, his hometown, it was an interesting connection for us. The region’s culture is intermingled with Italy and its cuisine reflects this. Entre Cour et Jardin is a lovely little restaurant decorated in the style of the village with paintings adorning its walls and in one corner a typical French fireplace. The chef’s menu reflects his love of travel and his creativeness in combining his roots with his cooking. He is the cook, waiter and owner and takes pride in his relationships with his customers, who he calls his family. Stephane and his restaurant are as enchanting as the village and exactly what one would expect to find here.
Thank you Stephane for this lovely recipe.
Entre Cour et Jardin
102 Montée de la Bourgade
06800 Haut de Cagnes
Tel: 04 93 20 72 27
Fax: 04 93 20 61 01
Crème de foie gras et fruits
(Cream of goose liver and fruits)
Yield: 40 glasses
Bake: 15 minutes @ 212ºF
250 g (9 oz.) of stuffed goose liver terrine
1 egg yoke
90 cl. (3 1/4 oz.) cream
Pimient d’esplette (Basque chili pepper)
Mix all the ingredients.
Put a raspberry and some raspberry coulis (puréed and strained raspberries) at the bottom of the glass, and then add the preparation.
Bake approximately 15 minutes in the oven at 100º C (212º F)
Put them in a cool place for 2 hours. They can be refrigerated for a few days.
La Goutte d’Eau
108 Montée de la Bourgade
06800 Le Haut de Cagnes
Phone: 04 93 20 81 23
La Goutte d’Eau has contributed a wonderful typically French “tarte au citron”. I will test the recipe and post it at a later date. I loved it because it has a light citron flavor, not overwhelming, with an Italian meringue topping. The little outdoor eating area is very pleasant in the evening and owners run back and forth to the restaurant to serve its guests outdoors. They are fun and it is a casual restaurant with an atmosphere so typically French.
23, Place Sainte Luce
06800 Cagnes Sur Mer
The restaurant is located next to the left of public parking lot in Cagnes-sur-mer. Its contemporary setting is a surprise, as the outside looks quite old with a small outdoor terrace seating area. The food was very good and even on what one would have considered an off night; it was completely booked with locals.
Le Cagnard Hotel
Rue Sous Barri
06800 Le Haut de Cagnes, France
Le Cagnard Hotel, our choice for many years has come upon some difficult times. Still beautiful, it’s one time one star Michelin restaurant has been closed. But I remember my first encounter with Madam Barel showing me each of the 4 rooms and 2 apartments so that I could choose my favorite room (They have many more rooms now). There were huge tulips on top of the antique chest and on stools placed around the hotel. It had a small elevator that never seemed to stop at the right floor and has a beautiful restaurant with its painted ceiling tiles (now opens to view the stars). I remember the New Years Eve we spent here with a fire glowing in the large fireplace and the huge selection of chèvre for dessert. This is where I was introduced to chèvre. On our 10th anniversary of visiting Le Cagnard, Madam came into the dinning room as we were having breakfast and insisted that we join her for a bottle of champagne to celebrate our 10 years of visiting her. We never made it back to Switzerland that day and she has remained in our memories of Haut-de-Cagnes. This year we opted to rent an apartment which we find a more interactive and interesting way to enjoy a place that is a home away from home.
Impressions of Haut-de-Cagnes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Vence, St. Paul-de-Vence, Saint-Jeannet
As summer approaches and people head for trips to Euorpe, be sure to visit Annecy if you are visiting France.
Annecy is in the southeastern part of France. It lies on northern tip of Lake Annecy in the Haute-Savoie surrounded by mountains where goats and cows quietly graze in alpine pastures. Farms along the route produce and offer chèvre for sale and beautiful chateaus can be seen behind tall majestic trees.
During the 1400 hundreds, it was in the possession of the Genevois and the Princes of Savoy and later under Sicilian, Sardinian, Spanish, Austrian and finally French rule. You can clearly see the influence of these countries in the cuisine. The production of salami can be found in shops and farm stands throughout the region. Some stuffed with hazelnuts or rolled in crushed peppercorns and herbs. Large ones, small links, soft and hard varieties are produced by small farms in the area.
The old village (Annecy-le-Vieux) rambles along the Canal du Thieu where passages along the streets are lined with colorful houses and flowers. It is a strange beauty in a way, as many of the houses look as if they will crumble into the canal at any time. Paint clings onto the buildings, but losing its battle. This tableau of colorful buildings precariously leaning in all directions is simply charming. The arcades are lined with shops with traditional crafts, antiques, dried flowers, and chocolates. The small restaurants that are tucked into these houses serve foie gras de carnard, fondue Savoyarde, salade du chèvre chaud or poisson du lac. You think, should I chance walking up the narrow stairs; the scent of the Savoie specialties lures you up to small restaurants with views of the canal and cafés below.
There is a farmers market on Saturdays with vendor stands throughout the old city. Along the street crowded with people waiting to make their purchases, you can find local specialties such as kraut and saucisson cooked in large copper pots, fromage melted on large crusty pieces of bread, freshly made local breads, pastries as well as fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. There are many antique shops and once a month there is an antique market along the arcades (check the web page for exact dates).
Locals fill the large park located at the lakeside on the weekends. Children enjoying the carousel beg to go on again and again. There are ball games and people just taking in the sun or enjoy the day with friends and family outdoors. Artists painting the unique village create memories for tourists of Anncey for many years to come.
Brasseries line the narrow passages along the canal and the specialty of plateau fruits de mer is our favorite. My husband and I actually enjoy going to Anncey on a grey day and even light rain. Sitting in a brasserie with a large plateau de fruits de mer and a bottle of local white wine is one of our favorite ways to spend a rainy day.
Anncey is a romantic resort town. If you are visiting France or the French region of Switzerland, take a side trip to Anncey. It is about 1 hour from Geneva and 5 1/2 hours from Paris.
Check the Anncey tourist web site for more history, cultural events and markets.
The recipe below is from France Monthly.Tartiflette is a typical “Savoie” dish. www.francemonthly.com
Preparation time: 50 minutes
2 1/2 lbs of potatoes
1 medium onion (larger or smaller according to your taste)
1/2 lb Canadian bacon
1 Reblochon cheese (or 1 lb of Swiss Gruyere)
3/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons oil
Salt and Pepper
The recipe recommends that you use a cheese from the region, called “Reblochon”, and a white “Savoie” wine. This wine is very difficult to find in the United States and we therefore advise you to use a bottle of white Burgundy (Chablis, Saint Veran, Macon Village) or of Muscadet (from the Loire region).
If you cannot find the Reblochon, or prefer a milder cheese, Swiss Gruyere can be used. To accompany this dish we recommend a green leaf salad.
Peel potatoes and boil or steam for 20 minutes. Peel onion and cut into thin slices.
Heat large frying pan with the oil and sauté the onion slices. Cut bacon into small cubes and add to pan. Cook on medium heat until onion slices are soft (10 minutes). Stir as needed.
Add potatoes that have been diced and pour white wine over it.
Salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut the Reblochon in two halves across its thickness. If you are using Gruyere, slice in thin strips.
Put half of the potato preparation in a round ovenproof dish.
Place half of the Reblochon (or Gruyere) cheese side down, on top.
Cover with remaining potatoes and finish with the second half of the Reblochon (or Gruyere).
Place in 350º F oven for 20 minutes
The day started with some rain and then the sky opened up with bright sunshine on Wynwood’s colorful wall art.
The international community has descended on the streets as artists and visitors alike speaking many languages open galleries and take paint brushes to the walls of buildings.
Connecting collectors and introducing new collectors with galleries and artists is in full swing.
It isn’t surprising that art fairs spread in satellite exhibitions around Miami with artsy Wynwood being one of the most popular.
The transformation of what was once a manufacturing district into an artist canvas with painters creating colorful images on everything from cars, buildings, walls and even garbage containers.
Photography, sculptures and experiential art have attracted an international community of artists and collectors.
Basel House and other pop up galleries displaying emerging artists draws tens of thousands of art lovers and opens up a world of “must see” art.
As the show begins and the parties start until the wee hours of the morning, I took to the streets to watch and join in the excitement.
What people are doing on the streets of Wynwood.
My image “The French Countryside” will be exhibited at the Palm Beach International Airport from July 9th to October 8th. The photo won a Merit Award in B&W 2014 Portfolio Contest and is currently published in the June special issue.
It is very exciting for me to have the opportunity to participate in this exhibition and display a location that I have loved and enjoyed for many years. Please stop by and enjoy the exhibition.
For more photo’s of this beautiful countryside go to my blog post: http://turosdolci.pturo.com/the-french-countryside/
Black & White is a leading photography magazine that conducts photography contests in Single Image and Portfolio images yearly. The magazines distribution is 35,000 worldwide. With about 9,500 images submitted in the 2014 portfolio contest, three of my images won a Merit Award and are included in the Special Edition #104 due in the Newsstands soon. It is an honor to be among the outstanding photographers who won this year.
My photos were taken in the Burgundy region of France. Having lived in Europe for many years, we most often traveled on the back roads and through the countryside whenever possible. The French countryside is my favorite, and to me the most romantic. I am absorbed with the tranquility, graceful fields filled with sunflowers, vineyards, quite villages and elegance of the architecture.
I have written a blog post with additional photo’s that I invite you to view.
The following three photo’s are published in the magazines 2014 Portfolio Contest Winners Special issue.
When looking for a quick but elaborate and unexpected first dish or even a main course, you don’t have to spend hours at the stove. Most Italian pasta dishes are prepared within twenty minutes with available ingredients in season. Pasta is almost always served as a first dish in Italy (primo piatto).
I like to serve pasta as a primo piatto because it is easy to make and most of the time you can pre-prepare the ingredients even if you are making the pasta fresh. Although you don’t often find foie gras on the menu in Italy, this dish is elegant and compliments meats that might follow. The rosemary gives it a smoky flavor and the richness of the foie gras makes this dish that special event star of the meal.
It can be served with red of white wine as the flavors are strong enough for either or if you really want to impress your guests serve it with a glass of Champagne.
Time: 20 minutes
3 baby artichokes, cleaned and sliced thinly
3 1/2 oz foie gras cut in medium size chunks
1/2 lb of spaghetti, boxed or freshly made
1/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 sprigs fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 medium size clove garlic, chopped
10 oz celery, thinly sliced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pat unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
Remove the leaves from the artichokes until you come to the white leaves. Cut them in half, if they are baby artichokes they won’t have any hay in the middle, but if they do, remove it. Slice them thinly.
Sauté the shallots, celery and garlic for a few minutes in the olive oil. Add the sliced artichokes, wine and chicken stock and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add salt and taste.
In another pan, sauté the foie gras and rosemary in the butter for 1 minute and set aside.
Boil the water for the pasta; salt when it come to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Sprinkle the basil over the top and lightly toss the ingredients well. You don’t want to over cook the foes grass, keep it on the heat just long enough to mix the ingredients.
Plate the pasta and grind black pepper over the and then enjoy the rich flavors you are about to experience.
Paris Metro Seats is on exhibit at the Ocean Wave Gallery in Ft. Lauderdale. The opening reception is January 12, 2013 from 6PM to 8PM.
Please join us and view the work of wonderful photographers.
My grandfather’s hobby and passion was his garden. Two fig trees stood at the head of the garden next to his beloved grapevine covered terrace. One was green and the other purple figs. We watched as they matured and their beautiful tropical foliage gave the garden an exotic look. Artists have painted the fig leaf to depicted modesty. But the fruit is sweet and alluring.
My grandfather would cover them with burlap and bury the trees in the ground during the winter. We watched this ritual and thought this was so strange, but they are delicate and susceptible to frost damage.
Vegetable and fruits are a main part of our diet and using fruits in the main course of a meal is one way of incorporating them into your diet and getting children to enjoy them. I think figs are one of these foods that many people don’t experience and they don’t know what they are missing.
Figs are very versatile and pare well with meats, breads and desserts. They can be canned, made into jams, dried or in cookies such as cucitdati (Sicilian stuffed cookie). Make a a tart, cake or poached as in this recipe, there are many ways to prepare them. Their sweetness adds an exotic dimension to a meal.
This recipe is so easy anyone could make it and with a little cinnamon ice cream it is dream of a dessert.
Poached Figs in Red Wine
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 people
8-10 ripe fresh figs
1 bottle red wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Skin of a lemon
Skin of an orange (optional)
1 Star Anise
Put them in a saucepan, pour the wine and add the cinnamon stick, skin of the lemon, star anise and add the sugar. Cover the pan and cook at medium high temperature for 10-15 minutes. Turn the figs around so that all sides are stained red. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Test the figs with a skewer. If it goes through easily they are done. Remove the cinnamon stick, star anise and lemon.
Remove them from the pan and add the butter and reduce the wine down to about 1/2 cup. The figs should not be too sweet and usually don’t need extra sugar. The butter will make the sauce glisten and will give the sauce a warm buttery taste.
They can be served hot or at room temperature. When you are ready to serve, place 2-3 figs in a glass or decorative dish and dribble the wine sauce over them. Or scoop some cinnamon or vanilla ice cream in a bowl and add the figs with dribbles of the wine sauce.
Note: reduce the sugar and serve the figs with a main course of game, pork or chicken.
Hunting season starts in September in Switzerland and the locals look forward to the hunt (Jagd). Switzerland strictly controls the hunt by setting limits to each species. The season lasts only about 3 weeks. Hunters bring their catch of mountain goat, wild boar, elk or deer to local butchers (Metzgerei). He prepares the animals into steaks, roasts, racks, bunderfliesh and hirschpfeffer, venison meat marinated in wine and a specialty here. It is not unusual to see a deer sitting in front of the butchers’ door waiting for him to arrive in the morning. After the hunter takes what he wants, the rest is sold by the butcher. If you are a good friend of the butcher, you can make your selection early in the season and have him store it for you in his freezer for the rest of the winter. When you want it, just give him a call and he will have your selection ready and waiting for you.
This is the start of Fall and the Alps are amazingly beautiful with the trees turning yellow and rust tones and light dusting of snow on the mountaintops. The anticipation of winter on its way moves people here. Winter is the bread and butter season in the Alps. The excitement begins with the hunting season, when the slow summer goes back to sleep and the cool air means getting the hay cut and into the barns, grapes harvested and the hotels and ski operations start preparations for the winter tourists.
Venison is traditionally served with spätzli and caramelized chestnuts. Spätzli is a thick batter that is scraped off a wet board into boiling water. It is similar to dumplings except looks more like pasta. Spätzli is a Swiss specialty and I can’t imagine venison without it. It also goes well with other meats and once you have learned to prepare it, you will find that when you are looking for something different to take the place of pasta or potatoes, spätzli is a very good substitute. The Austrians, Germans and Italian have their version of spätzli, but they are all pretty much the same except maybe for the size.
There is a gadget that is available to make spätzli but it is so simple by hand that I think it is a waste of money and effort to use it. I like the old fashion way.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: In boiling water approximately 2 minutes per späzli batch
Yield: 4 Servings
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons butter
Prepare a large pasta pan of boiling salted water. Mix the flour, egg, and water, milk and salt. The batter should have the consistency of thick pancake batter.
Dunk the board into the boiling water so that the board is wet.
Place a ladle full of the batter on the wet cutting board.
Holding the board over the boiling water, scrap small amounts of batter about the size of ziti macaroni into the boiling water. When they float to the top, which takes about 2 minutes, remove them to a dish. Toss them immediately with some butter to prevent them from sticking and continue finishing each batch.
When you are ready to serve, put a tablespoon or two of butter into a frying pan and toss the spätzli with the butter until they are warm.
Note: You can mix mashed beats, spinach or carrots etc. into the batter to make different colors and flavors. Broth can be substituted for the cooking water.
You hardly feel like cooking on hot summer days and yet fish and shellfish seem so perfect for light summer meals. They are also very easy and fast to prepare. I have a husband who just didn’t like fish but would eat shellfish. I solved this problem by taking him to a cooking class in Italy where just about all the dishes we prepared were fish. There were 4 chefs from a 5 star restaurant and just the two of us. I didn’t expect this, as it was a class at a hotel that we had gone to many times and advertised as a class for a maximum of 6 people. Seems we signed up for the first class of the season that started the beginning of June. Along the Adriatic, this is not high season and we were the only ones to register. The chefs wanted to do the class in any case, probably to test it out, how lucky was that!
I wondered how my husband was going to deal with eating the meals we prepared, as he really hated fish. My husband is a diabetic and it was important for him to change his diet that consisted mostly of meat. This class was the cure and he totally enjoyed every dish we prepared. He still eats meat, but today we have fish at least two or three times a week. The message is that if there is something you don’t like, it is worthwhile to learn how to prepare it. Many times you can find recipes that you never knew existed and will satisfy your taste.
The following is an easy recipe that is great as it includes greens, shellfish and pasta, what is there not to like!
Strozzapreti con rucola, patate e cozze
Chef Franco, Vieste (Foggia), Italy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 Servings
1 lb. strozzapreti, cavatelli or pasta of your choice
1 bunch arugula (rucola in Italian)
1/4 lb. of potatoes
1 lb. of mussels
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Wash the mussels thoroughly and let them soak for about 1/2 hour in cold water, changing the water a few times. Remove the beard that is between the shells. Steam them in a small amount of boiling salted water. This will take 3-6 minutes; discard any that have not opened. Strain out all the liquid and reserve it for the sauce. Remove most of the mussels from their shells, keeping about 5 per person for garnish.
Peel and cut the potatoes into small squares, par boil them in salted water. Set them aside.
In a skillet, sauté the oil and onions until they become slightly translucent. Add the garlic and pepperoncino and cook a few more minutes. Add the reserved mussel liquid and boil it down to about half. Add the cubed potatoes.
In a large saucepan, cook the strozzapreti in salted boiling water. Three minutes before the strozzapreti is cooked add the arugula in with the strozzapreti and cook until the strozzapreti are al dente. Drain them and toss them into the skillet blending them until they are completely covered with the sauce.
Schools of anchovies run twice a year in the Spring and September along the Ligurian Sea. They are cleaned and the innards are removed and layered in mer de sel (sea salt) in cylinder forms along the entire maritime region. Anchovies are the king of the Ligurian Sea.
The tradition of conserving anchovies in salt goes back to ancient times when they provided a stock of food in the cities and because anchovies and salt were used by the fisherman as merchandise to barter.
The quality of the anchovies is very important; they must be very fresh. Remove the heads and the innards, rinse them in running water and dry them with a cloth. Put a layer of salt at the bottom of a round container. Place a layer of anchovies and then a layer of salt paying careful attention to press them one against another until you reach the top. Finish the top with a layer of salt.
Close the top so that it is airtight and put a weight of least 3 km (7 lbs.) on the top. Store them in a cool place controlling them every two days removing any liquid that forms. Let them stay for 40 days and they are ready to eat. At this point if you wish you can scrape the salt off and transfer them into extra virgin oil.
Anchovies are used to flavor meats, sauces, in stuffing’s and stews. They are eaten fresh marinated in oil, fried, on pizza, in salads, and pasta sauce etc. Anchovies add flavor and give a unique aroma to dishes. Often it is not noticeable in a dish and you wonder what it is that gives it a flavor you never seem to be able to achieve in your cooking. Because it was used to salt dishes as stated above, it is still today a main ingredient in Italian cooking. Anchovies are your friend in cooking and will give you a unique advantage in creating that special flavor to your dishes.
I buy them salted, then clean off the salt and store them in a glass container or in a storage bag and keep them in my refrigerator. When using them, take them out and allow the oil to clarify. They have a more pungent flavor then the anchovies already put up in oil in cans. They can be found at most Italian specialty stores. Or buy fresh anchovies and try salting them yourself according to the recipe of San Remo.
It almost seems like a computer special effects studio created the make-believe villages for a movie. Narrow cobbled stone streets with neatly situated half-timbered houses form little villages in the middle of peaceful vineyards. Flower boxes filled with weeping red geraniums and flowers gardens disperse color everywhere. An annual competition for flower beautification in Alsatian towns takes place with a town being named the “Village Fleurie”. Giant weed nests settle snugly on chimneys and roofs with large white long necked storks perched atop. The white stork is protected here and takes up residency along with the rest of the population. Life seems simple as if to say don’t bother us with the trivial. Surly this can’t be real, it must be in the animator’s imagination – but it is real and this is the Alsace France.
Read the full article on the following link.
The Burgundy is well known for its gastronomy, history and excellent wines. It is old France – a land of culture with historic castles, Roman roads and magnificent Romanesque churches. As you slowly cruise along the prettiest canals in France you pass peaceful hamlets, pastures with the famous white Charolais cattle grazing, and herders caring for their ducks. Thousands of acres of perfectly maintained vineyards are seen along the way-Canal de Bourgogne is very picturesque indeed.
Construction of the canals began in 1727 and was completed in 1832 as a means to transport goods. The trading routes and crossroads provided economic importance for the region. The canal provides North to South access through France via the Yonne and Seine to the Saône and Rhône (Burgundy, Centre and Niverais). In Burgundy alone there are more than 1000 kilometers of navigable waterways on the three major canals with 209 canal locks.
Houseboats and barges are available for rent with limited engine sizes so that no “pilot’s” license is required. A short explanation of how to operate the boat is given and you’re on your way. You often come upon people fishing along the canal and it takes some care to keep from coming in contact with fishing lines as we found out very early in our trip. However, with a little practice we managed to keep from taking out fishing poles. The locks can sometimes be a little tricky until you get the hang of tying up the bow and stern of the boat. Some locks have attendants but the smaller ones do not and here it is up to you to open and close them. At first this is an interesting experience as one person has to jump out and tie up the boat, open the lock, untie the boat and again once the boat has passed through, close the lock and jump back on board. It is important to follow the operating procedures exactly as a boat in front of us neglected to loosen the line as the water went down in a large lock. As we began to descend, their boat swung around and caught onto the lip of the lock wall so that both the front and the back was suspended in mid air. We were speechless as we were looking up at the hull of their boat and watching this dramatic event helplessly as the people screamed for help. The attendant immediately flooded the canal and the boat detached as the water floated it again. Cleaning the filter each morning is about the only other thing to do except stirring the boat.
This is a slow easy vacation. Stopping whenever you want to nap or read a book. Mooring at small medieval villages, viewing vineyards surrounded by miles of stonewalls and enjoying the ambiance of the towns is the part I loved. You can rent bikes with your boat and bike through some of the most famous vineyards in the world tasting and buying wine for the evening’s dinner. Mooring along the canal covered with weeping willows, enjoying a bottle of wine with the cheese you bought at the local market and maybe a long evening walk alone the canal ends a beautiful day. In the morning we visit the local boulangerie filled with the aroma of fresh bread and buy a baguette and croissants for breakfast.
The Burgundy is known for its fine restaurants and the Michelin guide has awarded stars to 27 restaurants. Culinary arts are considered the best in the world and we were not about to miss enjoying at least a few of these restaurants along the way. Lameloise in Chagny is quite easy to visit as it is next to the canal. Trois Gros, in Roanne on the southern boarder of the Burgundy, (we took a taxi) were food experiences we will not forget. Reservations are usually required long in advance but we found that in August we were able to just call ahead and we took our chances. There are many small wonderful charming restaurants in every village and sampling some of the specialties of the Burgundy such as Escargots à la Bourgogne, Boeuf Bourguignon, and Coq au Vin should be part of your meal plan. There are many varieties of mushrooms, such as chanterelles, and cèpes and many others can be purchased at the markets and are very easy to prepare just by sautéing them in butter and tossing them with some fresh herbs from the region. Try stuffing morels with goat cheese and sautéing with butter-so easy to prepare on a boat, wonderful!
One cannot talk about France without mentioning cheese. What would France be like without cheese? Well of course there is wine and desserts, but the cheese – no other country can boast the variety and range of cheese.
Epoisses is one of my favorites and I am a lover of goat cheeses. The variety is awesome and it is difficult to choose especially after having a meal. They can be bought at cheese shops in every village and are so easy to prepare on a boat. France has such wonderful desserts enjoy them at the restaurants and choose cheese for meals on the board. There are also many prepared foods in the markets that can be easy meals on a boat trip and also gives you the opportunity to experience the local food specialties.
Cruising down the canals of France is a wonderful experience and can be fun for kids as well. Handling the boat is so easy that children can join in safely. They might find the slow pace a little difficult, but taking some games and books along can solve this. It is a great trip for a group of friends to enjoy together or maybe you have a gourmet club to experience a trip down the Canal de Bourgogne.