April 1, 2013

The Man behind the Vine at Grgich Hills Estate

The Man behind the Vine at Grgich Hills Estate

“Did you know that nutmeg is used in cookies in Croatia”? That was near the end of a two-hour discussion with the man who turned the wine world on its head. Miljenko “Mike” Grgich turns ninety on this day April 1, 2013. He describes his life as happy, blessed and filled with opportunity. It was that attitude that carried him through his early days in a remote Croatian village, through a period of communist threats, to West Germany and then eventually to California. (more…)

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March 25, 2013

Remarkable Gardens – Jardins Remarquable in France

Remarkable Gardens – Jardins Remarquable in France

In May 2003, the label Jardin Remarquable (Remarkable Garden) was created, to celebrate and document the magnificent gardens of France. A Jardin Remarquable, is one that meets the established criteria; integration in the site, interesting blend of vegetation, quality of the location, engaging use of plants and where applicable provides historical interest. (more…)

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March 18, 2013

How to Publish a Book

How to Publish a Book

Have you dreamed about being an actor? Meeting a president? Marrying a pilot? Living in Italy? Maybe you still have those daydreams… (more…)

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March 11, 2013

Incredible Malpasset Dam in Provence

Incredible Malpasset Dam in Provence

Nutmeg has a friend who is interested in really big construction projects. He had previously visited the site of the Malpasset Dam outside Fréjus and recommended a visit to the site as an interesting road-trip. The Malpasset Dam was an enormous initiative completed in 1954. It collapsed less than five years later, on December 2, 1959. The dam on the Reyan River was arched in design, or more technically a double curvature with a variable radius.  The dam height was 60 meters, 6.78 meters at the foundation and the length of the crest was 223 meters.   The history of the dam is a bit unclear as some reports have work starting in 1941, possibly early planning that was very likely disrupted by World War II. In 1946, there were geological and hydrological studies undertaken. There is now some question about the quality of the engineering studies, due to lack of proper funding. Construction work on the dam started in April 1952, the work was halted a few times due to labour strikes. The final cost of the project in 1955 dollars was 580 million francs. The statistics are all below: (more…)

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March 4, 2013

Date Farming ABCs in California

Date Farming ABCs in California

Often Nutmeg’s most intriguing encounters start at the market and end in a DATE! …a date plantation in Indio, California. (more…)

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February 25, 2013

Coffee and Cookies

Coffee and Cookies

Nutmeg loves her coffee. It is a sad morning for Nutmeg AND a difficult day for Ginger if there is no morning coffee. (more…)

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February 18, 2013

Cruising El Paseo in Palm Desert

Cruising El Paseo in Palm Desert

El Paseo in Palm Desert, California gets high marks from well-heeled fashionistas for its array of retail stores. Like “sister” streets around the world iconic, exclusive, name-brand boutiques grace the roadway where gleaming automobiles some more expensive than the average house, are parked close by. It is so customary to see fancy cars that a roaring motor is hardly extraordinary – until there are 300 of them! (more…)

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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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