Copyright Piacere - Food & Travel without rules! 2019 - Theme by ThemeinProgress
Seewis is in the Prättigau/Davos Region of Switzerland. The language spoken is Swiss German and it is located high up on the green pastures of the alps. Homecoming of the cows in September/ October is celebrated with great fan fair, cow bells, älpen horn, folk music and local specialties such as bundnerfleisch (air dried meat), raclette, alpen kasse, the regional cheese. It is a traditional event played out throughout Switzerland. Small family run farms blanket the alps and this festival highlights local traditions, costumes and the spirt of the alps.
I joined in the festivities and created a video I hope will give you a little bit of the atmosphere of the Vehaker, the return to the barns from the upper alps.
The vibrant street life of Paris is magical. The only way to really experience the city is to walk and view the impressive architecture, art and monuments. Stroll through the gardens, visit the museums and walk along the Seine. Feel the magic atmosphere where cafe life is the center of social life. Romance is what Paris is all about in every aspect of life and known as “The City of Love”. Everywhere you look Paris awakens every emotion!
Come with me on short walk and visit one of my favorite cities in the world, Paris.
The country with its dramatic landscape, lakes, rain forests, jungles, volcanoes, markets and welcoming people is in transition. Its colonial cities such as Granada and Leon are colorful, a photographers paradise.
The population is 95% catholic and there are many churches; a colorful country with buildings, doors and dwellings painted in bright tones. Tourist are discovering the culture and beauty of the country and there is a transition under way.
Those who are not afraid to experience adventure, traveling the country by car can be very rewarding. The landscapes with cone shaped volcanoes, lakes, beaches and pastures are dramatic.
Although the infrastructure is only just beginning to be developed, there are a few good highways and many of the roads are challenging but drivable. We traveled from the North-west to the South-west of the country, parallel to the Pacific Ocean coast line, visiting the major inland cities.
Although the driving is slow it also allows you to see rural life and stop at the small food stands along the way. I highly recommend renting a car and experiencing the country and culture.
It should be said that speaking Spanish is a must. Although you can find a few people in the cities, particularly in the hotels that can speak English.
I can’t say enough about the warm nature of the people. In general they live in dwellings that are built from any type of material that can be found, many with dirt floors and within their property they are cleaning and sweeping to maintain an orderly environment constantly.
Their dwellings are often built in the jungle under trees for shade, smoldering fires are lit to keep bugs away. They are friendly, and more then willing to engage in an attempt to converse, or have you take their photo.
They love music, dancing and being together with family. Their neighborhoods are a close community of people and they are hard workers.
It also must be said that the common areas are filled with trash and my guess is that the country doesn’t have the infrastructure to handle trash removal. The beaches, crowded with locals all the time, are not well maintained. High-end condos for foreigners are in the process of being constructed along the coasts, but the small villages, small hotels, restaurants and roads are inadequate to handle large numbers of tourist.
Having said this, we ate in the local restaurants and found the food to be not only delicious and fresh, but we totally enjoyed everything about them including all the local activity and entertainment.
It was fun to spend time being locals for a little while. The food is very inexpensive and there is no need to eat at higher end restaurant. We visited cantinas, small little eateries, beachfront restaurants and the local markets and never had a problem.
It is always best to be aware of eating in local places, it can be risky, but although we brought along all the medication we needed, we never had the need to use them.
Adventure travelers will find hiking, volcano sliding, zip lining, surfing and many other sporting adventures to explore. There are 25 volcanoes, 9 of which are active. Hiking them opens dramatic panoramas in every direction.
It is time to visit Nicaragua now and enjoy this interesting country before progress changes it.
Scary, crazy and tons of fun, Lincoln Road put on their Halloween Party that was a wild and fun evening. From infants to seniors and pets, the costumes were innovative and crazy. The crowds had a wild time interacting with each other and photographing the craziest of them all.
Some photo’s I managed to take surrounded by crowds of goblins, witches and really way out creative homemade and wird outfits and characters.
Yesterday some hundred photographers participated in the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk. These walks were scattered around South Florida but The Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Walk is organized every year at locations around the world. I choose to go to one of my favorite places in Miami, Wynwood Art District. Several models arrived with outfits from th 80’s, the theme for the event. Our models did a great job modeling for this group in the sun until late in the afternoon. It is always difficult to take photo’s with such a large group, but meeting photographers from around Florida and dinner at one of the local restaurants makes it worth the effort.
There is one woman that I have photographed before who arrive with an unexpected guest. She managed to make being pregnant look wonderful and sexy. She is colorful and full of fun, so forgive me if I added a few more photo’s of her then anyone else.
I’m always looking for the perfect Latin look.
And there always has to be Black & White.
This little guy just could’t wait until it was over.
Photography Miami had a photo shoot at the Little Havana Festival, which is held the last Friday night of each month. I thought, well we will go for about an hour and then go to dinner somewhere, a good excuse to go into Miami. We arrived at 5:30 PM and left at 10:30 PM and probably would have stayed longer if it were not for an hour ride home.
Typical of the Latin culture, it was electric with music and dancing in the streets. As we have found in the past on our excursions to Little Havana the people are great and ambassadors for their neighborhood. Take time to talk to the locals, artists and vendors displaying their work on the streets and visit the galleries.
Around 8PM 1,000 bikers came rolling down Calle Ocho some wearing costumes, music blasting from their bikes, hooting and waving all the way. It was an amazing site and for a minute I thought I was in Beijing again.
We went to a Cuban restaurant with our group who helped us select a typical Cuban dish, with the waiter chiming in to help us make our selection. Later we were back out on the street listening to the Latin beat and watching people dancing.
The crowds got larger towards the evening, so I suggest getting the full flavor, go about 7PM and be sure to visit one of the many restaurants and galleries for a memorable evening in Little Havana
Some Street Photography
Henna painting is a form of tattooing. The color generally comes from dyes taken from plants, seeds and fruits. Typically it has been used in Asia and Africa for centuries. It has become a popular form of body art.
I felt like Paparazzi clustered in with a hundred photographers clamoring to photograph models in Wynwood. The Meet up Group “Shoot Miami “ arranged the shoot for their members. As word got out young and aspiring models arrived. It was a win, win for everyone. The models were offered the photos to create their portfolios and we worked on our skills shooting them.
The challenge for us was to work around the colorful art covered walls to set the scene for the models that worked along with the photographers to create interesting shots.
The models can view and select the photographs on the website and hopefully it will help to promote their career. Business cards were passed out, which gave both models and photographers the opportunity to make contacts for further shoots.
Wynwood, the art district of Miami was a perfect location as galleries line the streets, the coffee shop and restaurants were buzzing and music added to the colorful atmosphere.
The “Village by the Sea” showed how big it was yesterday when thousands of people created a sea of green along Atlantic Ave for the St. Patrick Day Parade.
People waited for hours securing their places along the street complete with picnics and well-stocked coolers.
Dressed in costumes and adorned with green beads adults and kids cheered as the parade marched by.
The police, military, fire department, business community, and local bands as well as invited guest groups handed out hats, beads and candy to children scrambling to catch them.
The expressions on the kids faces and the families and friends who gathered for the event to enjoy the day together made it the most fun for me.
And of course the beer flowed well into the evening.
They came for a celebration and Delray presented a display well worth waiting for.
Photo’s of the people who joined in the celebration.
Little Havana is a community of Miami, Florida and the home of many Cuban immigrants. Along the main street of Calle Ocho, you will find vibrant and friendly locals whose life can be read in the expressions on their faces.
You can feel the passion in Domino Park where cards, chess and dominoes are played each day with enthusiasm and serious competition.
In all aspects of their lives, whether it be music, food, art, or just everyday discussions, their faces tell their story. This is all about the people, and to miss the people, is to miss Little Havana.
In my photography I present The Faces of Little Havana.
The allure of West Palm Beach and its famous and luxurious Worth Ave is world acclaimed. Its palm lined streets, quaint allies, lovely courtyards and lanes lined with orchards and statues are charming and intimate. It is well known that the Rich & Famous from Hollywood to international socialites and business people make West Palm Beach their second home. It is where Old Money meets New, and where the Who’s Who in this special social network live and party. Beach life comes alive during the winter months and Worth Ave provides everything that is needed to cater to its famous residents.
The Latin beat, aromas and vivid colors greeted our arrival in Little Havana. My friend Joan and I were invited by Miami Culinary Tours to join one of their walks in Little Havana led by Mirka Harris.
You can not pass a coffee bar without taking in the warm aroma of sweet cafecito and chatting with the locals. Venture into a cigar shop to watch the able hands of an experienced cigar maker, stretching, layering and rolling the deep brown subtle tobacco leaves and comfortable seating areas where cigar smoke fills the air as locals relax with their favorite brand. The sound of dominoes being tossed onto the table draws you to Domino Park as people play this game with intensity and friends stand around anxiously watching and playing along with their eyes as each move is made. The atmosphere is electric and game after game continues all afternoon. Little Havana is colorful from the murals painted on buildings, the vibrant works in art galleries to the Cuban culture and friendly people who are always willing to have their photo taken.
We started at the gallery of Midlrey Guillot, who was there to greet us and give us a little story of her life and how she came to paint mostly women and what they are passionate about. She says “after all it is what I know best as I am a woman”.
We visited several restaurants where we sampled Cuban food as our guide Mirka explained the traditional way it is prepared and eaten. We moved on to bakeries and markets, discovering the beautiful colors of the ingredients used to prepare these famous Cuban dishes. Like many Latin cultures food is what brings families and friends together from happy occasions to sad. It is about the deep sense of life and connections between them that make up their social world.
We tasted a cold sweet drink made with sugar cane, flaky pastries filled with guava fruit, typical Cuban sandwiches and plantain cups filed with chicken and beef. The final stop was Azurcar, the famous ice cream shop where we had the dilemma of selecting one of their many flavors. A very good way to end a culinary tour after walking around Little Havana on a sunny afternoon.
Yesterday was my birthday and he and I decided to have dinner at our favorite French restaurant in Miami only to find out it was closed on Tuesdays. So we headed to Wynwood, an district between NW 1st Ave and I95 and NW 20th and 36th Street. A friend had told me about the painted walls and galleries near the Design District where I had once considered opening a studio. I knew of the artist activity there even then, which is now about 10 years ago, but didn’t realize how far it had advanced.
It is growing and developing every day as artists set up studios and galleries and restaurants attract visitors.The shear complexity and variety of art is invigorating and the huge brightly painted scenes on the sides of buildings attack your senses simulating every part of your being. My feelings were dancing around in amazement as I found the work, sometimes confused and comical and others romantic and sensual. As I viewed each painting depicting its story in bright colors, I felt myself trying to absorb the intensity of the work. As we roamed the streets talking to artists and locals excited to tell us their life experiences we knew that we this district would be a continuing part of our visits to Miami.
The area is not all fully developed, in fact parts of Wynwood are still somewhat depressed, typical of most areas that artists are attracted to. The incompleteness and struggling sections blends in as artists move into these districts because they to are struggling to find ways to do their art and live inexpensively. This melding is what makes this neighborhood interesting. And where artists thrive, so does everyone else, a phenomenon that is both wonderful and at the same time is what causes them to move on eventually. For now this growing neighborhood is bound to be an attraction for a long time to come.
We found some of the friendliest people in the cafes, bakeries, coffee houses and shops where mingling is part of the lifestyle here. I talked to an artist who was painting the side of a building and he told me that painting is all he wants to do in life. Working on the side to pay the bills and earning small amounts of money painting whole sides of buildings is his life. He loves it, lives it and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. This is the passion of Wynwood.
The owners of these buildings collaborate with the artists about the theme of the work and are happy to promote the artist to whoever comes by. The second Saturday of the month is “Art and Gallery Walk” when all the galleries and shops are open and live music welcomes thousands of art lovers.
Art Basel stimulated this neighborhood to give itself over to the art world and the neighborhood responded and is reaping its benefits growing into an attraction of its own. Some of the photographs I took roaming the district will give you a small impression of the scope of the work. It is now up to you to discover it as I did.
A lucky mistake landed us in Northwood Village and after a short stroll we were making plans to come back. A Palm Beach restoration project brought this neighborhood back to life and it belongs to everyone who visits. Home to Art, antique, interior decorating shops and galleries filled with items that reflect the style of the 1940’s – 1960’s. I felt that I had truly missed but found a period in time that brought out not only the elegant life style of that period, but when color and beautiful furniture decorated the homes throughout the region. Shops are stacked with decorative items that I just wanted to spend hours sifting through. Being an Art Deco fan, this was my candy shop. If my husband didn’t prod me to move on in every shop, I probably still could be found searching in some corner.
When you need nourishment between searches, there are many restaurants, café’s, coffee houses and bakeries ready to feed you and keep you going. At “Bistro, Bistro, The French Bakery” you can have an authentic pâté served with real French bread by friendly owners who are thrilled to speak French with you. This little French Bakery cooks up the real thing and you can easily put together a French picnic to take to the beach or on a boating day or just take home for a French light evening meal maybe with some nice French wine. You know, the French love picnics, and a variety of pâté and country terrine are perfect. I wish this bakery were right next door so that I could just walk over and fill my French food desires anytime. They also have specials, soups and desserts.
We stopped in at Jade Kitchen for dinner and almost walked into the open kitchen. White tables and comfortable white couches fill the small space with views of the busy kitchen activities. The food is fusion with specials from Asian to Mediterranean.
Sunset Bar & Grill constantly changes the tables around so that you never get board with the surroundings. There are Jamaican, Chinese and Italian restaurants ready to fulfill your food preferences.
After dinner we stopped in a coffee-house to listen to jazz and drink an espresso. People sat around on comfortable chairs, someone was sketching the singer, another danced to the the sultry voice of a jazz singer and base musician. Strangers became neighbors enjoying a few nice moments together.
This friendly neighborhood has an “Art & Wine evening every time a new business opens welcoming their new friends in style. Street artists, musicians, craft vendors line the street to entertain you as you stroll in and out of the little shops. The historic neighborhood of Northwood Village is located just one mile north of downtown West Palm Beach between Broadway and North Dixie Highway.
Delray Beach Florida is a community that knows how to have fun and that includes the pets. On Saturday an Easter Egg Hunt and Pet Parade attracted some curious customers! The kids as well as the adults who haven’t given up on the Easter Bunny gathered for the annual Easter Pet Parade. Some of the pets were a little unconvinced, but enjoyed all the attention.
Here are some of the cute participants who I’m sure loved all the attention.
The Limmat Quai runs through the city flowing out of the Lake of Zürich. Lined with swimming areas and restaurants it is the playground of the city where people meet in beer gardens and cafes. The city is sophisticated, elegant, spotless and yet it seems like a beachfront with people sunbathing along the river and lake. Motorboats, sail boats and steamboats move along the lake in a frenzy of activity while people dinning in the restaurants enjoy their champagne brunch. During summer, the lake promenade is a relaxing way to spend the day or evening enjoying the beautiful views and feeding the swans that gather around the shore.
This is the center of Switzerland’s famous financial services, an important international business hub. It looks more like a resort then a business center. But then you walk down the Bahnhofstrasse and you are in another world. Banks, insurance companies, trading companies stand side by side with exclusive shops.
Zürich is the largest city in Switzerland and offers the traveler more then 2,000 restaurants and some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. People stroll along the Bahnhofstrasse window-shopping at spectacular jewelry, art galleries and elegant boutiques. Smartly dressed people stop at Sprüngli’s for an espresso and decadent desserts. Sweets are not just for special occasions here, they are an important part of the lifestyle and you cannot pass by without experiencing some of the luscious chocolates beautifully displayed to excite your taste buds. My internal navigation system is permanently set to take me to the Paradeplatz; if not to indulge myself in chocolate truffles, griotte, and tarts, but to also take in the visual experience of Sprüngli’s and Teuschers’ chocolate concoctions. It is said that the average Swiss eats approximately 22 pounds of chocolate per year.
Zürich has the biggest techno parade in Europe, and has the Züri Fäscht, a fest with spectacular fireworks to music that sprawls along the entire harbor side and held every 3 years. Zürcher Theater Spetakel, an outdoor cinema and live musical programs fill the summer schedule with entertainment.
Many political refugees lived in Zürich shortly before and during the two world wars of the last century. They gathered in the Odeon Café at the Bellevue, among them Trotsky, Lenin before the Russian revolution and many artists and writers during the Nazi period, such as Berthold Brecht. Even today it is a place where intellectuals gather.
Visit the Grossmünster, a Romanesque church and the Fraumünster. The old Gothic church has windows created by Marc Chagall. Kunsthaus, one of the major Swiss art museums and many more are mostly free entry.
This civilized city somehow seems to be in slow motion and still in high gear at the same time. It is like everyone’s back yard yet there is serious business going on in the majestic buildings. The intermingling of young smartly dressed business people in suits lunching at the many ultra modern bars and the serious looking bank buildings are a stark contrast to all the activity surrounding them.
The Niederdorf can’t be forgotten. This is the Old Town, and here like in many cities it coexists with jazz clubs, exotic shows, small theaters, restaurants, clubs, galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques. This is the place to go at night and during the day for a bit to eat in one of the many restaurants. Here you find people elegantly dressed on their way to the Opera or pre-opera dinning or enjoying jazz at the many clubs. This is not the typical seedy part of town, but the entertainment district for all to enjoy. It is buzzing from late afternoon into the early morning hours. Fourteenth century buildings and small cobblestone streets offer apartment living and city getaways for people living in the suburbs.
Switzerland has a fantastic transport system, not only can you tour the city by tram, but you can also take restaurant trams enjoying lunch as you go. In a very short time you can be in the Pre-alps or even in the Alps. Steamboats take you on slow lazy cruises along the villa-lined lake with the alps looming in the background, and during the Föhn (warm air coming from over the alps from the south) seem to be touchable. The contrast of the countryside is stunning as you very quickly go from this alluring city to the peaceful awesome views of the green rolling hills to the alps. Travel by train along transparent blue glass like waters of the many lakes. Buy tickets at ticket machine before boarding or from one of the kiosks. Tickets are sold for the day or multiple trips, or tickets that offer you all forms of transportation.
Zürich is as complex as the Swiss themselves – a reflexion of the Swiss personality. Complex, reserved, conservative, hesitant, precise and even reluctant and yet there is an underlying energy, bursts of excitement and curiosity. These traits create an innovative and courteous place that typifies the city and the people who live here. It is stunningly beautiful.
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 Vance. 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.
Vance and St Jennet are easily reached and are a nice side trip. Vance 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.
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 du 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