May 26, 2019 Calisson d’Aix a Sweet Almond Candy for a Queen of Provence

Calisson is a specialty candy from Aix en Provence made with almonds. There are several versions of the story surrounding how, and when this sweet treat was first made.

The French are certain the invention was theirs. It may have been as early as 1473 in honour of the King, Roi René’s second wedding, or later on as production, trade and development expanded. The first story involves a bride who was to be queen. She appeared dour, possibly unhappy with her lot in life. The tale whether true, or not, is that she smiled when she tasted candies.

Calissons d'Aix

Tags: , , , ,

November 25, 2018 Claufoutis aux Cerises Recipe for When Life Gives You a Bowl of Cherries

Spring starts early in the south of France. Nutmeg was shocked to learn that the cherries on the neighbours’ tree would be ready to eat by the middle of May!! Under perfect conditions, local BC cherries only start arriving in Calgary farmers markets in mid-July. Sure enough the white flowering trees quickly turned to producing the luscious red fruit, and all of a sudden the orchards were laden with produce. The problem with cherries is you can only eat so many before they start spoiling.

Cherry SeasonThe cherry is a stone fruit within the Prunus species, related to plums and apricots. As a fruit, the cherry has been consumed for millenniums, with references even in Roman times. There are numerous varieties of cherries globally. However, the most commonly known strains in North America are the wild cherry (or sweet cherry) and the sour cherry. The red pigment in cherries is called anthocyanin, and it has been shown to provide some pain relief and reduce inflammation.


Tags: , , , ,

November 12, 2017 Provence’s Olives Start to Finish

Ginger has long loved olives, for their salty taste.  Nutmeg’s appreciation for olives has been acquired in recent years and certainly more so after spending time in Provence.  The olive tree is probably as old as the earth and may have even been one of the plants in the “Garden of Eden”. The Olive Story will give you more details on olives if you are interested. Nutmeg is fascinated by the olive, for its history, the tiny spring buds, the widespread use in Mediterranean cooking and of course because they taste fabulous. The following post is a photo expose and a new favourite recipe in honour of the olive.

Market Olives

Tags: , , , , ,

November 5, 2017 Aioli On Fridays in Provence

Aioli is the name of a garlic mayonnaise.  Aioli is also a traditional Provencal dish that was typically served on Fridays.  The classic dish le grand “Aïoli” Provençal is served with salted cod and potatoes. A meal suitable for the days of penance. Practised cooks would methodically re-hydrate the cod and transform it back into an edible protein. The preparation of the traditional ingredients requires time to soak and desalinate the cod. This process involves removing the excess salt, cutting the cod in pieces, and soaking in fresh water for up to 15 hours (changing the water 2-3 times). Once the salt is removed the fish is poached gently in a pot with milk and water. The cod should not boil as it becomes rubbery. Interested yet?

Aioli Provencal

You should be!

Tags: , , ,

August 20, 2017 Sweet Memories in an Apricot Tart

Apricots will always remind Nutmeg of her grandmother, Charlotte.

Market Apricots in Provence via @GingerandNutmeg

Nutmeg never asked if her grandmother liked to cook, it was just assumed that she did as her Hungarian lineage prevailed in hearty meals and traditional sweets. It was not unusual for Charlotte to spend an entire day preparing for a meal. The group would gather around her formal table, set with family china, polished silverware and sparkling crystal to enjoy Charlotte’s paprika chicken, beef goulash, stuffed peppers, gnocchi and other classics.

Tags: , , , , ,

May 14, 2017 Marseille Bouillabaisse a Provencal Classic

What is your favourite fish soup?

Residents of Marseille are adamant that French fishermen eked basic sustenance from their unsightly leftover fish bits concocted this fish broth/soup/stew on the shores of the now sprawling metropolis. The name for this dish is derived from two actions bouillir (to boil) and abaisser (to reduce or simmer). However, in the intense world of “Iron-chef” gastronomy the origins of bouillabaisse are up for debate.

Fishing in Marseille

Tags: , , , ,

November 13, 2016 Panade aux Pommes Not Your Classic Apple Pie

Ginger and Nutmeg hosted a July 4th dinner party while in Provence, in honour of their US friends.  The menu included traditional and non-standard elements.  Although the intent was to celebrate the US holiday, the menu might be considered a melange of Mexican, American, and French.

Tags: , , , , , ,

July 5, 2015 The Art of Provencal Tables

The joys of easy entertaining:

  • Simple food
  • Great flavours
  • Easy laughter
  • And not too many dishes

Doesn’t that sound perfect?

If you want to enjoy your guests and not waste a whole day cooking, keep reading.

Provencal Table

Tags: , , , , ,

July 27, 2014 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.

Almond Tree in Flower

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.

Tags: , , , ,

June 1, 2014 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.

Classic Lunch

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.

Tags: , , , , , ,