December 5, 2011

Calgary White Hat Welcome Home

Calgary White Hat Welcome Home

Ginger, Nutmeg, and Jade recently arrived back in Calgary after their “Year in Provence”. Ginger insisted that he had to return to North America for several commitments. Although, he did admit that returning in the month of November was dubious. The two ladies agreed to come back reluctantly, but only after Ginger promised that they would return to France next summer. Nutmeg was thrilled that there was no snow on the ground for their arrival. Jade was happy to get out of her travel kennel. She was not too fussed about where she was, as long as the food kept coming at regular intervals. Ginger was probably the most excited as the NHL hockey season was underway and his regular “old boys” league were still playing on a weekly basis. (more…)

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November 28, 2011

To Market To Market With An Expert in Provence

To Market To Market With An Expert in Provence

The small city of Martigues is located at the point where the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Etang de Berre meet. Sometimes referred to as the Provençale Venice, Martigues is attractive. There is a series of small canals, tiny pedestrian-only streets and attractive cafes. Thursday is market day in Martigues, and that is where Ginger and Nutmeg met up with Ghyslaine and her husband Jacques. Aside from being a lovely couple, they run a successful company focused on top quality cooking classes. Appropriately named, La Cuisine Mèditerranéenne de Ghylaine, is focused on traditional cooking and techniques from the region. (more…)

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November 21, 2011

Dabir the Saluki Fastest Dog in Provence

Dabir the Saluki Fastest Dog in Provence

Insult to injury is what I would call this post. First of all Ginger and Nutmeg leave me alone for two nights, while they go to a fancy hotel. Apparently, the hotel would not accept Black Labradors, and that is the story that Nutmeg is sticking to. Then, they went hiking in the reputedly beautiful Gorges du Verdon (allegedly as I was not there). Then the worst part! They had lunch with the fastest dog in France, Dabir a Saluki, in Banon. (more…)

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November 14, 2011

Henry Ferrier an Artist for Life

Henry Ferrier an Artist for Life

One of the greatest pleasures Nutmeg had during the months in Provence was being introduced to Henry Ferrier and his lovely wife Annick Brunet. This is one energetic couple; Henry is an artist, writer and philosopher, Annick has been in politics, film and continues to be an enthusiastic volunteer. The first time Ginger and Nutmeg met Henry, he recited a riddle: What happens if you toss a buttered piece of toast in the air? It lands on the buttered side What happens if you toss a cat in the air? It lands on its’ feet What happens if you place a buttered piece of toast on a cat’s back and throw it in the air? It stays aloft deciding which side to fall upon (more…)

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November 11, 2011

11th day 11th Month the Time for Remembrance

11th day 11th Month the Time for Remembrance

Just try typing 11/11/2011 in your web browser and see what results you get, in this case a mere 14,490,000,000.  There are volumes of prophesies regarding the significance of the date.  Numerologists and astrologists have published tomes on the subject and the demise of the world as we know it.  Bored? You could spend hours on this subject. This post has nothing to do with that. November 11, 1918 was the official end of World War I. It was at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” when the Armistice was officially signed with Germany, agreeing to the end of hostilities. In France, Armistice Day is a national holiday to celebrate the country’s role in the allied victory, of this Great Patriotic War. The French population suffered tremendously during the First World War. Almost every town has a memorial to recognize the lives lost in battle.  The French use the blue cornflower or Bleuet as a symbol to commemorate the sacrifices, the blue reminiscent of the uniforms worn by soldiers. The following poem was written by Guillaume Apollinaire (his adopted name), his reflections of youth and conflict. (more…)

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November 7, 2011

A Visit to Eygalières a Village in Provence

A Visit to Eygalières a Village in Provence

I could tell that Nutmeg would not have time to write this post, as they were busy packing bags, boxes, sporting goods and the car. I travel much lighter than they do, Ginger had cleaned my kennel, so I was ready for the voyage back to Calgary.  With the two of them distracted, I thought that I would take this opportunity to share with you a few of my favourite things about the village of Eygalières. (more…)

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October 31, 2011

One Very Scary Post for Halloween

One Very Scary Post for Halloween

For Nutmeg this is a terrifying blog post, so it is fitting that it arrives just in time for Halloween. Ginger and Nutmeg left Calgary on September 30, 2010. Nutmeg has quite happily not set foot on Canadian soil for 13 months. What is so scary?  They are headed back to Calgary in the darkest, coldest month of the year! Here are some fun statistics from their time abroad: 35,000 Kilometers driven in the trusty car by Ginger 15,000 Roundabouts 8,000 Photos documenting the year 5,000 Toll booths 395  Number of days since Nutmeg has been in Canada 395 Wine bottles consumed more or less 150 Number of times Nutmeg went to a market 150+ Bike rides 50+ Churches visited 35+ Hikes 18 Ski days at new resorts 15 Gap T-shirts 13 Provencal deserts at Christmas time 8+ Concerts 4 Ferry rides: to Corsica and Sardinia 4 Pairs of runners 3 Masks from the Venice Carnival 5 Cooking lessons 5 Countries Visited:France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, UK 2 Jars Cherry Jam by Ginger 4 New pieces of art 2 Gym memberships 1 Mountain bikes 2 Pairs of Hiking boots 1 Wedding 1 Opera – Aida 1 Kayak trip 1 Trip to the Grand Prix in Monaco 1 Trip to Paris 1 Market bag 0 Number of sessions with a personal trainer     TOTAL PRICELESS It has been a fantastic time, hardly captured in the numbers above.  Ginger and Nutmeg have made some new friends and improved their French a bit. So as a send off before they leave G&N will share a pot-luck (“Buffet Canadien”) with the neighbours. Nutmeg can hardly wait to get back to Calgary to dig out her woolly sweaters and visit her dentist! Do not despair; Nutmeg has prepared another 12 months of posts, yet to come on their trip. That way she can continue to feel like she is living abroad. When the grim, endless days of Canadian winter show up there are always the photos in the galleries to keep Nutmeg going (a few specific galleries are below). Market Images Fabulous Firenze Eygalières Views Corisca As Ginger and Nutmeg fly across the Atlantic eating questionable airline food, they would like to leave you with this warming recipe. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!! Print Squash (Pumpkin) Soup Recipe type: Soup Prep time:  10 mins Cook time:  35 mins Total time:  45 mins Serves: 4   This soup is very easy to make. Their friend Sassafras made it for dinner after a big ski day in Chamonix. Roasting the squash takes a bit more time but adds a more flavour. Ingredients 4 Cups Butternut Squash (in France you can use Courge), peeled and diced 3 Cups Chicken Stock 1 Cup Onion, chopped 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil 1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin 1 Teaspoon Ground Fennel Seeds ½ Teaspoon Chili Flakes ¼ Cup Sour Cream ¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped Salt and Pepper, to taste Instructions Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) Toss the diced squash in olive oil, put on a baking sheet and top with a little salt and pepper Bake for about 20 minutes until the squash softens, check occasionally While the squash is cooking, heat some olive oil in a heavy stock pan on the stove top Add the chopped onion and cook until translucent (about 3 minutes) Add the coriander, cumin, fennel and chili flakes and cook for about a minute to sweat the spices Add the chicken stock and cooked squash Allow the pot to simmer for 10-15 minutes Put the soup in a blender, until smooth Share the soup evenly in bowls, garnish with sour cream and cilantro 3.2.2499   Follow @twitter

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October 24, 2011

A Day in Brittany Without Leaving Aix en Provence

A Day in Brittany Without Leaving Aix en Provence

Ginger and Nutmeg have a dear friend in Aix en Provence who is a proud Breton by origin. Although, Delphine has lived in the south of France for a number of years, she stays close to her roots by running a delightful crêperie in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, called Crêpes Cidre & Compagnie. One hot day in August, Ginger and Nutmeg had a crêpe-making lesson from the expert, and a brief introduction to another culture. Here, are a few ABCs in order to better appreciate the natives of northwestern France. (more…)

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October 17, 2011

Craving a Seafood Curry Bowl

Craving a Seafood Curry Bowl

France is without question a country of fabulous food, great variety in local cuisine and easy access to fresh produce.  However, France is not known for Asian cooking and Nutmeg has had the odd craving for a little curry. One of Nutmeg’s favourite restaurants is the Crazyweed Kitchen (click to see previous blog post) in Canmore. Her friend Hot Chili also loves the restaurant and has accused Nutmeg of always ordering the same thing off the menu.  That is not 100% correct, but it is true that the Seafood Curry Bowl that is on their menu is one of Nutmeg’s all-time favorites. This delicious dish is almost a stew, perfectly seasoned and wonderful anytime of the year. Ginger and Nutmeg are currently living 8049 kilometers from Canmore, so a visit to the restaurant is not possible at present. As a result Nutmeg has taken matters into her own hands and made her variation of the Seafood Curry Bowl using local ingredients. This recipe has been tested on Ginger a few times, and even served at a dinner party to rave reviews. Print Seafood Curry Bowl Recipe type: Main Dish Cuisine: Asian Prep time:  15 mins Cook time:  20 mins Total time:  35 mins Serves: 2-3   This is a really easy dish full of color and flavours. Try experimenting with the fish and spicing to your taste. Serve with Basmati rice and a great wine. The recipe usually makes enough for two plus leaf-overs for lunch. Ingredients 2 Tablespoons Olive or Canola Oil 1 Can (200ml) Light Coconut Milk 1 Can (250ml) Crushed Tomatoes 1 Fillet (250-300ml) White Fish, de-boned and cut in bite size chunks 8 Large Shrimp, shelled and de-veined 8 Large Scallops, cleaned 2 Medium Carrots, cleaned and chopped 1 Medium Onion, diced 2 Large handfuls Spinach Leaves 2 Teaspoons (or to taste) Chili Sauce 2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed 1 Tablespoon Cumin, dry powder 1 Tablespoon Mild Curry, powder 1 Tablespoon Coriander, dry powder Salt and Pepper, to taste Instructions Heat oil is a heavy bottomed stock pot Add onion, carrot, garlic and cook until the onion is soft and the carrots are starting to brown (about 5 minutes) Add cumin, curry and coriander, cook for about 1 minute to let the spices sweat Add crushed tomatoes, chili sauce and coconut milk, mix well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes Add the spinach, fish, shrimp and scallops, cook until the seafood is cooked about 5 minutes 3.2.2499  

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October 10, 2011

Provence Kitchen Essentials

Provence Kitchen Essentials

Ginger and Nutmeg have discovered that within France, Provence is the land of abundance.  There is lots of sunshine, almost never ending wind, at times constant rain, olive groves, vineyards, orchards and endless markets.  One could be overwhelmed by the array of choices and local flavours. Nutmeg’s very practical side has decided that given the array of local choices it is best to narrow the selection and the following are her thoughts on the essentials in a Provençal kitchen: Fleur de Sel Literally translated as “Flower of salt”.  Fleur de Sel is the top layer of sea salt, it is hand-harvested before it sinks to the bottom of the salt pans. Traditional Fleur de sel in France is collected off the coast of Brittany, Ginger and Nutmeg are many hours from there, but the good news is there is lots also produced in Camargue (part of Provence). The salt appears to be slightly pinkish grey as some sand is collected in the process of harvesting.  The salt is flaky in texture, and has natural potassium, calcium, magnesium, copper and iodine that occur within it. Each container is carefully packaged with a cork top and is signed by the salt-raker who harvested it. Fleur de Sel  is named largely from the aroma of violet that develops as the salt dries. Herbs de Provence and Olive Oil Herbes de Provence is a traditional blend of highly aromatic herbs that grow mostly wild in the hills of southern France in the summer months. The herbs are used both fresh and dried.  Typical herbs include (quantities may vary);  Bay leaf, chervil, oregano, thyme, fennel, rosemary, savory, tarragon, mint, and marjoram. Sometimes for the tourist crowd orange zest or lavender are included.  As a practice the herbs are used to infuse the flavour in grilled foods such as fish or meat.  Often the herbs can be found in stews and or mixed with olive oil to infuse the flavors.  On a recent hikes we literally felt like we were walking in a jar of “Herbes de Provence” as they grow wild through-out the region. Jams and Jellies The French are not big breakfast eaters, they love a cafe (usually just a shot of expresso) and a little bit of fresh baguette or maybe des viennoiseries (pastries…croissants, pain au chocolate, strudels etc) with some jam/jelly.  In general, French bread is fantastic it is baked several times a day, and literally can go stale in between. In the morning, there is nothing better than a bit of jam on your pain. The jam is often homemade, full of sugar and outrageously delicious. Ginger and Nutmeg have been treated to plum, peach, fig, cherry, peach-melon, pear and apricot all fait à la maison – delicious on bread and even better with chèvre. There are of course many other things required for a true French kitchen but these are just some of the basics.  It helps to have one of these in your back yard. A bientot! Follow @twitter

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