Arrival Festival D’Abrivado in Provence

At the mouth of the Petit-Rhône in the Camargue, you find the seaside town of Saintes Maries de la Mer.  It is located right on the Mediterranean Sea, with a lovely long beach and wild surf.  The town was built between the 9th and 12th centuries and was a strategically important location for defense against pirate attacks.  The church (Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer) is unique in both structure and height, as it is much taller than the surrounding buildings. The roof of the church at one time, served as a watchtower. Even to this day, the church is a site for Gypsy pilgrimages.  Gypsies come from all over Europe every May 24th to come to pray to Saint Sara and usually leave an offering of cloth from their clothes for her to protect them through the coming year.

This town in the heart of the Camargue, is home to black cows, white horses, red rice, and the recognizable Fleur de Sel.  The region has a strong tradition of bull rearing and herding that dates back to the late 1800’s when Folco Baroncelli a descendant of a Florentine family settled in the Camargue.  His passion for bulls moved him to become a manadier and in 1895 he founded the “Manado Santenco” in Saintes Maries de la Mer.  In 1909, he established the “Nacioun Gardiano” and was very active in the development and promotion of the Camargue bull-run.

Ginger and Nutmeg were invited to the very unique Festival D’Abrivado, which is held in Saintes Maries de la Mer every November 10th and 11th.  Here are the fast facts:

  • 6 km of beach riding
  • 11 teams of riders
  • 44 bulls
  • 2000 horses
  • 15,000 spectators

Festival d'Abrivado

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Calgary’s Coup the food is so good you forget it is vegetarian

Poor Ginger he is a good Albertan boy and essentially refuses to try anything that resembles a purely vegetarian focused restaurant.  Only once, in the last decade, has he acquiesced and tried dinner at The Coup on 17th Avenue in Calgary – he complained the whole time about being too hot and did not like the organic wine…..  Needless to say Nutmeg has decided that he is not worth the effort, so she only goes to this restaurant with her girlfriends.  Yes! The food is good enough to forget (or remember) that is is pure vegetarian and really healthy. Continue reading

Calgary’s Holy Grill The Holy Grail of Hashbrowns

Most of you who know Nutmeg, already understand that french fries, chicken wings, chips, onion rings, Cheezies and Kraft dinner do not factor into her diet much if at all.  The odd fry, one or two onion rings and that is definitely Nutmeg’s limit.  Ginger on the other hand loves ALL of it!

The Holy Grill, is located right across from Mountain Equipment Coop on 10th Avenue in Calgary.  It has been a restaurant for a while although the name has changed a few times.  It is definitely not fancy and the drill is quite straightforward.  There is no table service so you need to make a decision, place your order at the counter, find a seat and wait for your name to be called and then pick up your meal.  They do breakfast and lunch only.

The breakfast menu includes the traditional (to your specifications – Nutmeg is particular and it was perfect),  the Bennies (variations on eggs benedict) and a variety of breakfast sandwiches (paninis and “Mcmuffins”). The lunch menu is basically a selection of paninis and burgers, with enough choice to satisfy most palates. The food is good, fresh and made to order.  The hash browns however are the “holy grail”  they are the perfect balance of crisp, with a hint of grease and a the right salt balance.  The best part is of course they are gluten free for those of you who have concerns.  The coffee is mediocre and definitely not highly promoted.

Some of the other real positives with the Holy Grill are they have some patio space out back that on a sunny day, would be perfect (Ginger and Nutmeg were there on a rainy day).  There is free parking in adjacent lot so you do not need to pay the Calgary Parking Authority a dime :-).

Bottom line? The Holy Grill is definitely the holy grail of hash browns – Nutmeg did not even share with Ginger!


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A Perfect July Dinner

Oregano and his lovely wife hosted a great dinner party this week.   For once, the Calgary weather cooperated and it was truly a perfect July evening.  Hot Chili and the ski guy arrived just before Nutmeg and Ginger. The menu was outstanding, feel free to copy parts or all for your next party as long as  you make sure to invite Nutmeg and credit Oregano.

Here is the line-up:

  1. Starter: seasonal antipasto: citrus shrimp, cheese, grapes, blackberries, olives….
  2. Main: mixed peppers – grilled to perfection, lightly seasoned halibut on the grill, grilled portabello mushrooms
  3. Side: cannellini beans, cooked in the pressure cooker (Oregano’s favorite cooking method) and spiced with oregano – served slightly chilled
  4. Garnish: “signature” lemon marmalade
  5. Desert: vanilla bean ice cream, ruby red grapefruit segments soaked in pink champagne  and garnished with fresh mint
  6. Beverages: red, white and pink ….in copious quantities

All around a fantastic evening; great company, great food and lots of laughs.  However, Ginger would like to complain about his sluggish condition today.

Nutmeg would like thank Oregano for the secret marmalade recipe.

Market Series Green Mango Salad

Have you ever had an interview, and after an hour they have tested your ability to answer probing questions like:

  • Describe a situation when you had to report bad news to a client  (So sorry, too bad so sad…)
  • Why are you the right candidate for the job? (Don’t you know who I am?)
  • What are your weaknesses?  (Like I am really going to tell you…)
  • Describe your greatest accomplishment and why it is significant (Getting paid)

Then out of left field they throw in the wild card question, you know the interview is almost over at this point. What fruit would you use to describe you and why?  Nutmeg was able to answer that one without hesitation.  Without a doubt, her answer is the mango, it grows in warm, frost-free climates, it has a unique flavor, very sweet when ripe and it is widely used in tropical and Asian cuisine.

There are many kinds of mangoes and the growing season varies around the globe.  In May and June, the North American grocery stores are filled with produce from Mexico including the Champagne or Ataulfo variety.  The Alphonso, which grows in India, is considered the global premium variety.  The total world-wide production of mangoes is 33 million tons, India produces almost 50% at 13 million tons, followed by China then Mexico.

Mangoes are a great source of Vitamins A, C and E, although you should not eat the peel it contains urushiol, the same chemical as poison ivy. The best way to eat a mango is to cut out the juicy fruit and enjoy.  Other options are of course smoothies, salsa, gelato, belininis etc.. One of Nutmeg’s absolute favourite recipies is actually green mangoes salad here is the recipe:

Green Mango Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Ginger and Nutmeg had this salad many times in Vietnam, it is also considered a Thai salad. It really does not matter, it is a delicious summer salad. This salad is not hard to make but does require some chopping. A few notes: A bottle of Fish sauce will last a lifetime You can play with the level of "heat" to your taste You can use green papaya instead of mango Instead of chopped peanuts you can use cashews.

  • 2 Green (not ripe) Mangoes, peeled and julienned
  • 2 Small Carrots, julienned
  • 1 Cup Bean Sprouts, washed
  • 1 - 2 Teaspoons (to your taste) Hot Chilies, crushed
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Mint, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Thai Basil, chopped (or regular basil)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Palm Sugar
  1. Mix the mango, carrot, bean sprouts, chili, green onion, cilantro, mint, basil in a large bowl
  2. Mix fish sauce, lime juice and sugar in a small bowl
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve garnished with the nuts


SIDE NOTE:  Nutmeg did not get the job so you may want to prepare a better answer for your next interview.

Ginger and Nutmeg are back

We took a little break to redesign the look and feel of the blog.

So what is new?:

  • Gallery – will be a collection of photos
  • Links – a few of our favorite URLs
  • Places – posts related to travel and our adventures
  • Recipes – new post format with formatted recipes you can print
  • More search capability
  • The Seafood Challenge in “bite-size” pieces
  • Facebook – very soon you can follow us on Facebook at Ginger and Nutmeg

Thanks for reading our blog, more great stuff to come.


Where are Ginger and Nutmeg

Where is Nutmeg?

She is very busy, Ginger is just about finished his time away from home, so Nutmeg has been preparing his “To Do” list.  Besides that, she has been working with a team to improve your reading experience and enjoyment.  Very soon you can expect a great new look, a printable recipe format and improved search capability.  You can still expect the ongoing restaurant reviews, recipes and fun travel stuff.  In addition, to all that Nutmeg is working on a Market Series for the summer and starting a series called the France Chronicles.

Ginger will be completing his To Do List.  😉

Thanks for the continued support and stay tuned.

Hot World Cup Fever and Cool Green Buildings

Finally!!! The NHL hockey season is over in JUNE!  Nutmeg is a fan a couple times a year, if the Calgary Flames ever show any spark and when the Montreal Canadiens make a play for the cup, like they did this year.  So hockey is done for at least 2 months and the greasy, long-haired, unshaven players can work on their golf games.

So what is a sports fan to do?  Turn up the South African heat and watch the FIFA World Cup Soccer 2010.  FIFA = Federation Internationale de Football Association (Nutmeg did not know).  For the next 30 days, 32 teams will battle it out for the title.  Ladies: these guys are athletes, fit, hot and worth watching.  There is tons of cool stuff on the FIFA site so check it out.

However, what Nutmeg really likes is all of the great looking ecofriendly stadiums.  You can read the full article and see the photos in Inhabitat.

So what could be better Hot World Cup fever and really Cool sustainable green stadiums?


Coffee it’s an art at Caffe Artigiano

It is not every day that Starbucks gets run out of town… OK not exactly out of town. Nutmeg is pretty certain that their lease on 3rd Street SW in Calgary was up and it may have been an under-performing location, so they have closed up shop and Subway is going in.  Caffe Artigiano has certainly not missed the competition.  On a recent Wednesday afternoon Nutmeg was a bit early for her meeting with Cilantro, so popped in for a latte. Their signature latte is the Spanish Latte with a touch of condensed milk – heaven in a cup!  At 2:30pm there was barely a seat to be had in the place and a line up at least 20 deep.  These guys have perfected the system, you order and pay as normal at the till and your order comes up on a print out (in order) at the barista end.  Unlike Starbucks: no yelling, no call backs, no cups out of order – do you honestly care what the person ahead of you in line is ordering?

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Kaffa Coffee and Salsa House – It is Quirky

Some of you may think that Nutmeg is quick to form an opinion and in many cases you might be on the mark.  The truth is the case of Kaffa Coffee and Salsa House in Marda Loop (Calgary SW) she has tried to find the nugget in this place over several visits.  It has certainly been around for a long time, the parking is good and free (you have to pay just down the block), they have a sunny patio and the coffee is hot.  Continue reading