Blog Archives

Eat this, not that

Nut trees by the canal

I was going to save this blog post until later in the year, closer to Christmas, with an appropriate title, something like “Chestnuts roasting”. We were walking home along the Canal-du-Midi and noticed all of these nuts on the ground. Gravity had been our friend because the shells had broken open when they hit the sidewalk and spilled their prizes before us: chestnuts. We knew that’s what they were because they had that familiar deep glossy brown shine that we had seen roasting in huge flat pans at food festivals all over Europe in the fall. The French word for brown is marron, which is typically the same word they use for these treats.   Eagerly we picked up as many as we could see, dropped them into our ever-present backpacks and took them home for cooking. Bill dutifully scored each nut individually to keep them from exploding when heated, spread them out on a cookie sheet, and placed them in the oven until the smell alone said that they were ready. Then he tasted one…. Read the rest of this entry

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The dilemma

Somebody’s waiting for her dinner

You wouldn’t think that making a decision about having fish and chips would be so difficult. After all, when we’re in Great Britain, it’s one of our favorite meals. Nothing goes better with a pint of real ale, sitting in a cozy pub by the fire than a traditional beer-battered North Sea cod accompanied by crispy, hand-cut fries. And there’s the problem; that all takes place in the UK. This may sound stereotypical but when we’re in Germany we have sausages and beer; in Italy it’s pasta and pizza; in Ireland we enjoy potato stew and soda bread; in Spain there are cured meats and paella. Every country has its specialties and they know how to do them right. So here we are in a country where we cannot go without our daily ration of just-baked baguettes, a choice from hundreds of types of cheeses, and wines that are produced from the grapes that are grown a stone’s throw from our front door. So why the dilemma? Read the rest of this entry

Blanket of what ?

Bubbly bottles of blanquette

Sometimes I mishear things. It’s not that I’m going deaf; it’s more about concentrating on every single word that someone is saying in French which opens up multiple opportunities for misunderstandings. Last Saturday at the market we saw a friend who asked us what we were doing that evening because she was fixing a blanquette de veau (veal in cream sauce) and would love us to join her and several neighbors for dinner. We were definitely not going to turn down a wonderful chance like that especially when it meant we’d get to spend some time with people we hadn’t see in a while. On the walk home, Bill and I discussed what wines we should take and we settled on some bottles of Blanquette de Limoux. After all, if dinner was going to be a blanquette why not accompany it with a few glasses of blanquette? Read the rest of this entry

Football, fresh fruits, flowers and fêtes

The fountain filled with fruit and vegetables

We’d have to try pretty hard to be bored around here, especially on weekends. On Saturdays, even if we don’t really need any fresh fruits and vegetables we still walk to the market just because it’s such an entertaining event. It’s colorful, lively, convivial and we always run into people that we know who want to stop for a chat over a coffee or a glass of wine at one of the many sidewalk cafés that surround the square where the market is held. The marble fountain there, completed in 1771, is typically filled with cascading falls but during last week’s Fresh Attitude festival the water was replaced by many of the fruits and vegetables normally on sale at the booths that jam the square. But that isn’t the only colorful spot in town. Read the rest of this entry

Lisbon’s custard and beer tarts

What’s for breakfast?

If someone says, “Let’s go to Portugal!”, you probably think of Lisbon but our first stop was Porto since there’s a direct flight from Carcassonne that put us there in an hour and a half. It is truly what our next door neighbor here described as vibrante that we might call “lively” with a sense of excitement that we both felt when we arrived at the airport and especially once we were settled into our holiday rental apartment right in the middle of the tourist section. As much as we enjoyed our days there, we eventually had to move south to the nation’s capital, Lisbon, and then an hour and a half west to Evora, our true goal for this trip to visit the friends who had invited us there. Read the rest of this entry

Walk this way

The tour starts here

Ah, the sacrifices we make for our friends and family. First, we moved to the south of France just so that they would have an excuse to visit Europe. Once we got settled here in Carcassonne we had to check out all of the various things there are to see and do in our new hometown. Restaurants seemed like a natural starting point, so we’ve been visiting a new one every week with friends, Sally and Larry, so that we could make recommendations. After more than a year, we were only scratching the surface of activities so we’ve stepped up our efforts. We took a half-day walking tour of the lower part of town that still retains part of its walls from the 1200’s. We figured that hearing the history while looking at 17th century buildings would be interesting. Did I mention that we were drinking wine and eating chocolate while on this tour? Read the rest of this entry

Lots of thyme

Village of Aragon, France

When our neighbors suggested that they pick us up on Sunday to take a trip to Aragon, instantly visions of courtly love, chivalry, and Camelot sprang to mind. After all, it was Catherine of Aragon who was King Henry VIII’s first queen and in her eyes maintained that position despite the rise and fall of others after her. While our destination shared that Queen’s name, we were only traveling about 20 minutes north of Carcassonne instead of 2 hours south into Spain where the Kingdom of Aragon was located and to where Catherine could trace her family roots. Read the rest of this entry

Renestance

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Tales of a Brit who moved to Hauts-de-France

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

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Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

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