February 11, 2013

Clementine Gourmet a New Colour in Palm Desert

Clementine Gourmet a New Colour in Palm Desert

Tangerine walls, a bold statement in a landscape dotted by countless malls and chain restaurants. If you have spent any time in Mediterranean Europe, you could be forgiven for thinking you left Southern California at the parking lot the moment you enter Clementine Gourmet Marketplace & Cafe. It is a relatively new Mecca of fresh food, robust espresso and persuasive treats.   (more…)

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February 4, 2013

Vide Grenier in France

Vide Grenier in France

Garage sale? – are you selling your garage? Nutmeg loves the fact that the French language is descriptive in nature. Vide grenier literally translates into “empty attic”, in other words, a chance to rid your attic of used stuff. Now does that not make sense? In France, as in North America, the vide grenier season begins in April and runs well through October.  In some villages, there may even be more than one sale in a year – multiple occasions to empty that attic…   (more…)

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January 28, 2013

Blessed Almonds Sign of Spring in Provence

Blessed Almonds Sign of Spring in Provence

Early in the year in southern France, the almond tree is the first to bloom. The small white or pale pink flowers typically appear on the trees in February. A welcome sign that spring may be close at hand in Provence. The almond tree is small; at full maturity it may reach a height of 10 meters, with a trunk diameter of 30 centimeters.  The trees typically start bearing fruit after about 5 years.  The almond is technically a fruit, not a nut, from the same family as the plum or cherry (Prunus).  This decidedly old tree has been a part of different cultures and human nutrition for eons. There are several mentions of almonds in the bible. It is believed that growth in almond tree cultivation closely followed human migration near Mediterranean shores.  Despite the fact that the almond tree is native to warm European climates, the large majority of global yield is now US based, in California, at 45% of world production. (more…)

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January 21, 2013

35 Hours at La Poste in France

35 Hours at La Poste in France

The official workweek in France is 35 hours. Then there is vacation time consisting of, 11 statutory holidays (jours fériés) and 5 weeks of personal vacation time.  Minimum retirement age is currently 60, it will move to 62 in 2018. Does that sound like paradise? Think again. (more…)

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January 14, 2013

Vallée du Jabron in Haute Provence

Vallée du Jabron in Haute Provence

In a country such as France with a rich, complex history and endless stunning vistas, one is hard pressed to pick a favourite place. A friend suggested to Ginger and Nutmeg that a drive through the Haute Provence Vallée du Jabron, is well worth the effort.  Nutmeg would like to thank their friend for the suggestion, as the valley is remarkable.  The route starts just outside Sisteron (see photo below) and heads westward along the D946 through tiny hamlets.  The following description, translated from the official website, is a beautiful portrayal of the valley: From the Durance to the Luberon, from Mont Ventoux to Sisteron lives between the moon and the stars the Jabron Valley. Giono is the mountain, the land of shepherds, lavender, olive trees … A Kingdom of silence, a land of lights, of stars … A valley where one finds the will to live. (more…)

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January 7, 2013

Marseille Provence 2013 European Cultural Capital

Marseille Provence 2013 European Cultural Capital

August 2012 was scorching in Provence; late summer on the Mediterranean coast meant daytime temperatures of 35C. Summer crowds sweltered in the breathless, port of Marseille as they waited in queues for ferries to the nearby L’archipel du Frioul. The normally beautiful city skyline was filled with busy construction cranes. Drivers and pedestrians were equally frustrated with each other, as they crawled through gridlock, a maze of diversions, temporary hoarding and restricted views. Nutmeg had booked a few nights in the port city. Ginger was speechless. (more…)

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December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Ginger and Nutmeg wish you all a very happy holiday season. Thanks for reading! Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun Now the jingle hop has begun Jingle bell jingle bell jingle bell rock Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square In the frosty air What a bright time it’s the right time To rock the night away Jingle bell time is a swell time To go gliding in a one-horse sleigh Giddy-up jingle horse pick up your feet Jingle around the clock Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet That’s the jingle bell That’s the jingle bell That’s the jingle bell rock MERRY CHRISTMAS!  

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December 17, 2012

Scents of Christmas Sweet Citrus Tart

Scents of Christmas Sweet Citrus Tart

Close your eyes. Is there a particular aroma or flavour that instantly evokes Christmas in your mind? * ** *** **** Cloves Cinnamon Mulled wine Rum eggnog Smoky log fires Fresh Pine bows Warm chestnuts Buttery shortbread Striped candy canes Oven Roasted turkey Warm cranberry sauce Fresh baked gingerbread What About Florida Citrus? (more…)

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December 10, 2012

Greener Grass Transhumance in Provence

Greener Grass Transhumance in Provence

The bi-annual movement of livestock between valleys and higher alpine pastures is a definitive marker of the changing seasons.  Transhumance comes from Latin roots, trans ‘across‘ and humus ‘ground‘.  There are forms of transhumance on almost every continent, which vary in timing, cultural influences and distances travelled.  The practice of flock herding and nomadic migration has occurred naturally for centuries as a way to transfer livestock from one grazing ground to another. In order to escape, from heat (summer) or cold (winter) depending on the direction of the movement. (more…)

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December 3, 2012

Languedoc Food and Wines

Languedoc Food and Wines

It would be impossible to describe in any significant detail, the unique culinary treasures of the Languedoc region in a single blog post. Nutmeg has decided to take you on a little driving tour to share a few Languedoc food and wine highlights. The Étang de Thau is a natural seawater lagoon. The lake is about 20 km long and relatively narrow at 8 km wide, it separated by a sand bar from the Mediterranean Sea. The Étang de Thau joins the Canal du Rhone at Sète and the Canal du Midi at Agde. The lagoon is a valuable water body for the production of shellfish in France, including oysters and mussels. The oysters and mussels grow in farms, in the waters of the Étang, once harvested; they are marketed as Bouzigues Oysters. The mistake that Ginger and Nutmeg made was to go to the village of Bouzigues on a Sunday at lunch time, with no reservation. There was not a parking space to be had, and the restaurants were full. The group had to return to Meze to find a roadside restaurant, the shellfish was delicious and the white wine a perfect match. (more…)

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