November 25, 2013

Provence Unlimited Inspiration for Photography

Provence Unlimited Inspiration for Photography

It was a lazy afternoon in Provence, under a scalding sun, seated on a suspended terrace in the village of Ansouis. As she sat drinking in the pastoral vineyard views, Nutmeg understood why this might be Andrew Squires’ favourite French expression. Ça depend … it depends. Andrew was born in the United Kingdom. His artistic leanings emerged early on as he experimented with both drawing and painting. He discovered photography as an artistic medium, and a magnetic force pulled him to Arles for les Rencontres d’Arles an annual photography festival that was founded in 1970. What does forgiveness mean to you? He has lived in Provence permanently for a couple decades, and he considers it home. He took a few minutes over lunch, and a pitcher of local rosé to tell Nutmeg a little more about his passion for the region and photography. Enjoy his photos as you read this blog post. (more…)

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November 18, 2013

Beaune’s Carnival the Ventes des vins

Beaune’s Carnival the Ventes des vins

Barely 9:30am 15 glasses sampled and suddenly flaky, cheese pastries looked quite appealing. Blood-red stains were visible in every direction and the lighting under the curved ceiling was at best dim. Ginger and Nutmeg were at the Cuverie des Hospices de Beaune, the wine cellars, for the first degustation of the weekend, with 44 wines available for tasting from the 2012 harvest. (more…)

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November 11, 2013

Jean Moulin Brave or Reckless

Jean Moulin Brave or Reckless

Ginger and Nutmeg are children born in the early 1960’s, sheltered from the difficulties of the two World Wars; they did not recognize the name Jean Moulin, when they arrived in France. Sure, their school history classes covered the wars in some detail. They have grandparents and parents who were certainly impacted by the hardships of those dark, uncertain days. On Nutmeg’s paternal side, the whole family was uprooted, and they relocated to a foreign land. The scarcity of food and other products from that time has instilled a steady habit of reuse, recycle and do not waste. (more…)

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November 4, 2013

A-Z for Beaune’s Legacy of Wine and Charity

A-Z for Beaune’s Legacy of Wine and Charity

The Gallo-Romans should be thanked for introducing grapevines to Burgundy, now part of France. Religious orders of monks dedicated years of effort to clear heavily forested land and rid rocky soil of stones. A reputation of fine wine production was established by the 14C and continues… (more…)

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September 30, 2013

The Vagabond International a Unique Travel Company

The Vagabond International a Unique Travel Company

Nutmeg received an email regarding a trip to Ireland although she was extremely tempted by the itinerary, the tour dates could not work into their schedule. The proposed trip, designed for a small group of travellers is a bespoke, crafted experience combining some of southern Ireland’s famous historical sites with rock climbing and sea kayaking. Nutmeg was intrigued she reached out to Mary Baskin an accomplished interior designer to understand more about her story and the company. In her own words… (more…)

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September 2, 2013

Abbey of Montmajour Welcomes Christian Lacroix

Abbey of Montmajour Welcomes Christian Lacroix

The stonemasons never showed up. • Monday morning in Provence • South of France • Forecast for a cobalt blue sky and 28C • There must be a national holiday soon Who could blame them? (more…)

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June 10, 2013

Marseille France All Dressed Up

Marseille France All Dressed Up

The maze of construction hoarding is gone. Vehicle congestion is a mere shadow of its former chaos. As Cultural Capital of the year, Marseille is ready to welcome the world this summer. The exact value of total funds dispensed for urban infrastructure projects, new artistic exhibition space, and other enhancement work would require a forensic accountant. The results of this massive undertaking are changing Marseille’s scruffy image and vastly improving the previously underwhelming waterfront. Here are some of the highlights: (more…)

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April 22, 2013

What Happened To The Baguette

What Happened To The Baguette

The iconic vision of a French man or woman walking home with their baguette in hand is neither a myth nor a creation of the department in charge of French tourism. The classic baguette, long, thin, and crusty, remains an excellent carrier for fresh jam in the morning, or for soaking up tasty sauces at dinner. Although, French daily bread consumption per person has declined significantly from the early 1900s to about 120 grams, from as high as 900 grams, the mighty loaf still remains a vital part of the national diet. Despite the decline, that still is a lot of bread, over 23 million baguettes a day (8 billion a year) for 65 million people. Music to Nutmeg’s ears, by law bakeries in France, are not allowed to use preservatives in any bread. This means that boulangeries must bake several times a day, so their customers can always find a fresh loaf. The name baguette first appeared around 1890, although it seems that a long, thin loaf was made well before that time. A law established in March 1919 forbade the employment of bread and pastry workers between the hours of 10pm and 4am. The ordinary baguette is a simple mixture of all-purpose flour, water, salt and yeast. The dough once it has risen, is formed in a long length by hand, scored on the diagonal and baked in a hot (400F) deck oven. Steam injection, during baking, is the key to the crusty exterior. The size of baguette is not regulated, but mostly it falls between 65-70cm (25-27 inches) long and 6cm (2.5 inches) wide. The price of bread has not been government controlled since 1978. However, the combination of strong market competition and active consumer associations, ensures that what one pays for a regular baguette is fairly consistent. So here is the problem, the huge growth in large-scale grocery stores and multiple store bakery chains has created a highly competitive market place. The small, local boulangerie gets squeezed from all sides; “Goliath” grocery stores, rising wheat prices and fickle consumers. Today, consumers expect a wide variety of choices: sourdough, fibre, multi-grain, organic (bio), bran, rye etc.   The classic baguette remains on the bakers’ shelves as it would be suicidal for a boulangerie not to offer it among their inventory. So nothing has happened to the baguette, it still remains remarkably part of the culture in France, the quality might just not be what it used to be; however, there are lots of choices. [tfb username=’GingerandNutmeg’ count=’true’ lang=’en’ theme=’light’]

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April 8, 2013

Provence the Land of Lavender

Provence the Land of Lavender

Nutmeg has been fortunate enough to visit France several times. One year Ginger and Nutmeg joined some friends on a cycling trip through Provence.  That was the beginning of their “love-affair” with the region. However, on all the previous trips the fields of lavender had already been harvested, it was too late in the season. This time Nutmeg was determined to see the flowering fields. The lavender plant is actually part of the mint family, and there are some 39 varieties.  The plants love the dry, sandy, rocky soil that is typical of the Vaucluse region of Provence.  Lavender flowers come in many colours, they can be blue (almost indigo), purple, violet, even pink or white varieties exist. It is a relatively easy plant to grow, as it requires minimal care. (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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