Blog Archives

What did we buy?

Charcoal or spinach?

With the luxury of an open-air farmers’ market three days a week being about a 15-minute walk from our front door, our refrigerator is typically full of a variety of fruits and vegetables that we’ll use within the next few days. Occasionally we’ll be following a recipe that either asks for something that isn’t in season or specifies a frozen ingredient. That was the case when Bill was making a quiche Florentine and the cookbook author recommended chopped spinach from the grocer’s freezer section. We could have picked up some beautiful dark green leaves at the market but then that would have involved guessing about how much to buy, then chopping and cooking it. The ready-to-go version seemed to make much more sense until we opened the package and out poured what appeared to me to be green charcoal briquettes. Bill’s impression was a little more “earthy” since they reminded him of “road apples”, especially after the horse had consumed large quantities of fresh grass.What did we buy? Read the rest of this entry

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Ugly potatoes

An ad for “ugly” potatoes & apples

Food is always a topic of conversation, especially in a country that is world famous for its cuisine. We can walk to the open air market on the main square in town 3 days a week and have our pick from fruits and vegetables grown locally or from Spain only 2 hours south. If we need something from further afield or perhaps an item that isn’t in season in this hemisphere, there are plenty of supermarkets that we can easily get to on foot or by a short bus ride that offer products from around the world. We get their weekly advertisements either through the mailbox or online so that we can see at a glance what’s being featured. It was one of those ads that caught my eye when I saw a word that I recognized “moche” but never expected to see mentioned along with food: ugly. Read the rest of this entry

Serendipitous Strasbourg

Half-timbered buildings in La Petite France

We went to Strasbourg with the primary goal of seeing the Christmas market and if you read last Sunday’s blog post you will know that we succeeded far beyond our expectations. Not only did this “Capital of Christmas” have one market to commemorate the original one from 1570, there were 10 other sites around town, all celebrating the season. I’d read that the European Parliament chose to meet in Strasbourg because after the end of WWII it was seen as a symbol of reconciliation so important to this new Union. In the process of shopping our way around through the various encampments of vendors in wooden huts in locations around the city we also got to see monuments and other popular sites of the European mecca. Read the rest of this entry

On the border of Christmas markets

Welcome to the Christmas markets of Strasbourg

When we moved to France in 2016 it was the year of our 30th anniversary. Well before we knew that we’d be living overseas we came up with a variety of possibilities for celebrating that happy occasion. We’d had lots of fun on cruises so a transatlantic crossing, sailing from California to Hawaii, Greek Island hopping, and a big friends and family reunion cruise all made it to the list. Since we had rented European castles together with friends a few times, having a big Downton Abbey style party somewhere in the countryside with friends from both sides of the Atlantic sounded great. So did rail trips, especially if they took us to wine destinations like Bordeaux or Cognac where we had not yet been. What about combining cruising and the train with a trip on the Rhine river, returning on the tracks running beside it? If we waited until December we could fly over for the Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets) in Germany and  les marchés de Noël in France. So many choices. Read the rest of this entry

Christmas magic in Carcassonne

Christmas magic from the city’s website

Our neighbor is from Paris and is used to, I’m sure, some really stellar events. After all, growing up in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower has to be pretty impressive yet she remains unjaded. Having moved to Carcassonne for love, her perspective on the world is very down to earth. As an example, for someone who can’t eat dairy products nor gluten she proclaims “but I can eat all of the fruits, vegetables, and meat that I want” and adds “and I’m fond of the local wine”. We can identify with that positive attitude! It didn’t surprise us then, when she told us that although we’d recently returned from Strasbourg, site of Europe’s first Christmas market in 1570, we would still find the festivities in Carcassonne mignon, or in our translated word “cute”.  She was right. Read the rest of this entry

Day trip to Narbonne

Canal de la Robine to the Mediterranean

Before we settled on Carcassonne as our new hometown, we made of list of other French cities that seemed to match our tally of criteria. We were looking for a market town that also had grocery stores we could visit when the market wasn’t open and a population of around 50,000 people. A train station was a must-have as was a river, canal or seaside to walk along. That initial list had 16 entries, a few of which had a check mark beside every requirement. One of those is just a 30-minute train ride east towards the Mediterranean Sea: Narbonne. 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

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