16th century Annonciade couvent in Bordeaux used to collect the egg yolks from the wine makers who had used the egg whites to clarify the wine (some say to seal they used the egg whites to seal the barrel but that makes less sense). The legend likes to add that they collected extra vanilla, rum and sugar shipped back from the Caribbean, and added flour and milk. It's all very romantic, and one can envision nuns in their habits looking for the spices to be scavenged from the spice storage in Chartons (now the modern art museum). However, there are some key issues with the story.
After a year of partial confinement in the French countryside, we looked forward being at sea as much as possible. Luck was on our side when friends told us they were going to Sardinia and accommodation in their same residence was available, at friend's discounted rate. Sardinia / Sardenga is an island south of the French island of Corsica. It is often thought of being filled with yachts belonging to the rich and famous. It's so much more, the natural landscapes and seemingly endless supply of beaches make it a nature lovers paradise.
e time to go...when the oak leaves are changing color and the air is cool and crisp. This part of South-West France has some of the most impressive seasonal landscapes. Sarlat-la-Caneda, a stunning medieval village in the Périgord Noir of Dordogne is a great place to stop if you're visiting the area. This town is full of half timbered homes, stone buildings with the classic pitched roofs, and plenty of culinary delights!
Short history of sugar in Europe and the New World with links to sources to learn more.
pilgrimages towards St. Jacques de Compostela. With it's cathedral from the 12th century and beautiful brickwork, Rieux-Volvestres charm will surprise every traveler that arrives here on purpose...or by just getting lost along secondary roads boarded by the many corn and sunflowers fields.
While oyster cultivation has been occurring in our area of SW France for millennia and is a massive industry on the West Coast of France in general (France accounts for 60% of all oysters eaten in Europe, if they get the chance to leave the country). The Bassin (bay) is a large producer but mostly known for being the largest producer of baby oysters, or spat, which are then sent all over France.
Bordeaux is a great city to visit - it's a lovely, smaller version of Paris (much of Paris was designed after it's 18th century design), but many come to learn more about the wine culture of Bordeaux. If you only have one day, there is plenty to explore in town. I'd invite you to spend at least two, because visiting a producer outside of town is a must, be it the famous Chateau Pape Clement which is accessible by public transport or the intimate, family owned producer of Chateau Beard la Chapelle in the hills near Saint Emilion.
When you first meet Caroline ALIX, or Caro, in her charming restaurant 'Caro&Co located under the stone arcades in the countryside village of Bazas, you see a charming and sociable chef. The warmth she puts into creating her colorful and seasonal plates is expressed with seasonal vegetables and local meats, sometimes with a hint of those South African roots. Maybe the most unique dish you can try is a beautiful bobotie (spiced mince gratin from South Africa) or maybe a chilled tumeric and carrot soup.
Finally, the day has come (June 9), when Americans are allowed back into France with proof of vaccination and a negative PCR covid test. Here are some things to know before you book your flight :
ArcachonRoute Du Cap FerretAvenue Nord Du PhareVillage Ostréicole de l'Herbe Where do you go to get away from it all? One of the great escapes for someone living in Bordeaux, or Gironde as a whole, is a trip to the Atlantic Coast. One of my favorite places is Cap Ferret, a peninsula that offers both... Continue Reading →
A culinary tour is one of the best ways to see a new place, learn a bit of history and understand more of the culture. It's a multisensory journey...if you are looking for something a bit different, off the beaten path? find that countryside cottage or villa in the vines to cook your locally sourced products to enjoy that farm-to-table style life. If you should want to visit coastal oyster farms or the inland caviar farms...
From Bordeaux you can take a non-stop flight on multiple airlines, generally for under 50 EURO round-trip if you are flexible date-wise. I flew Volotea this time, which has a lot of great priced flights from Bordeaux....If not, find a tour. Mine, naturally, was food focused, light hearted and really fun. It was around three hours long and took you into the belly of Naples...Take a ferry from Naples to any of the Islands, Capri is beautiful but I spent to many summers only seeing that island, so on this trip I decided to go to Procida
It was written by the chef Francois Pierre or 'La Varenne', in his book 'Le Cuisinier Francois'? Nothing worthy of mentioning had been written since Taillevents' 12th century cookbook, but this new book was filled with exciting revelations since the incredible influence of Italian haute-cuisine in France, thanks to Catherine de Medici.
If you're looking for a pretty location to go with kids to visit a family owned goat farm, see historic castles, centuries old ruins, and meet a confiture artisan métier...look no further than Prechac in Gironde.
...best way to see the real France and during these covid times a great way to have fun, avoid large groups of people and support smaller communities. Captieux has a lake, Lac de Taste, incredible farms like La Ferme des Filles, is home to one of the most Northern bull rings, and is where the delectable 'puits d'amour' pastry is from! Besides selling incredible produce from seasonal vegetables to eggs on-site, La Ferme des Filles has gites to rent, will eventually run educational events (when covid allows), and offers a lovely large area for your children to roam and meet goats, sheep and chickens...
...after flying over water to see this barren island in the middle of nowhere, with clear skies, we were all excited about our adventure...the apartment we stayed at on the North Coast. It was a perfect escape from the world. What is great about Lanzarote, most everything you'll want to see is outside and the wind blows year round so it's fresh air all the time. It is a rough, moon-like landscape due to a large volcanic eruption almost three-hundred years ago (smaller one since). It's not a tropical island, but it has its own wild beauty.
Gironde has so many beautiful places to visit, some of my favorite (especially in the summer months) are the Langon market (Friday), Verdelais, and Saint-Croix-du-Months. Ira of Lost in Bordeaux came with me a few weeks ago and her talents created a really fun video of some of my favorite places. I wanted to share the addresses and a few more if you should end up that way! A day trip from Bordeaux in Southeast Gironde / Discovering the Southwest of France - YouTube
Reunion Island is an actively volcanic island, which has a fascinating history. When first discovered there was very little animal life and had never been inhabited...while the origins of vanilla are Central and South American, prior attempts to grow the beans in Europe always failed. The natural pollinators were a special species of bees that didn't live in Europe, but this was not known at the time. A slave, a young boy by the name of Edmund Albias, created the hand pollination method and completely transformed the vanilla industry.
You might wonder how to tell the good saffron from the bad safflower, why some threads costing three times as much as other 'saffron'. Well, as with many expensive food items, besides the quality, you also have to question the authenticity. It takes at least 100,000-200,000 threads of saffron to make a kilo, which sells for anywhere from 3,000-6,000 EURO. It's the most expensive spice in the world...During the pandemic of bubonic plague a war ensued called the 'Saffron War', it was so valued as a cure for the suffering that stocks in Europe were depleted and more was ordered from the East.
When I was visiting Libourne a few months ago, I realized I needed to know more and knew just the person to ask - Jennifer Poe of 'My Bordeaux Tours', who is an experienced local tour guide and American expat living in Bordeaux. She is the blogger behind 'American Mom in Bordeaux' and has worked with multiple river cruise companies offering tours to their clients. Libourne has a lot to offer any visitor from walking along the port, wandering through the old bastide section of town, a lovely fine arts museum and exploring it's variety of stores, cafes and restaurants. Especially on market days, Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings - this town is alive and vibrant - not just around the holidays.