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

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Languedoc Discovery in France and a Zucchini Tart

The plan was to spend some time touring with Nutmeg’s parents in early October. The original thought was to explore parts of Hungary and Poland. Then the reality of fitting four people, one dog and luggage into a car settled the holiday plans. Nutmeg made a decision on behalf of the group that a two hour drive was the limit, and booked a guest villa at Domaine du Cayrat located just a few kilometres from Pezenas in the Languedoc Roussillon region.

Jacques welcomed the group, he had stocked the fridge with some chilled wine and provisions for breakfast. It did not stop there, the next morning he arrived with fresh bread and apricot jam “fait à la maison”. Perfect!

Now the hard part, getting four people to agree what to explore in an area that is currently 27,376 (sq) km – Impossible! The region has something for every taste, age and interest. There are sandy beaches, port towns, vineyards galore, medieval villages and modern cities. Given the breadth of the region, Nutmeg has divided their visit into three separate posts: a bit of history, the food and wine, and the not to be missed see sights.

Regional Flag

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Get Dressed for a Diner en Blanc

Nutmeg believes that the celebration of Halloween is perfect timing for this post.

Trust the French to come up with an annual event that is sophisticated, classy, a bit rebellious and a whole lot of fun. Diner en Blanc started in 1988, when a group of 100 friends got together for a reunion in the Bois de Boulogne. The story is that François Pasquier instructed everyone to wear white in order to recognize each other. This was a brilliant idea, given those were the days before fancy cell phones, text messaging, Facebook and Twitter.

Beautiful Tables

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A Gourmand Christmas in France

Xmas tree

Finally, Saffron got her wish! For years, she has tried to convince Ginger and Nutmeg to travel to Chamonix for Christmas.  Of course that sounds outrageous and decadent, but long ago Nutmeg decided that travel at Christmas time is highly over-rated; crowded airports, busy roads, surly border guards, heavy clothing, excess baggage – you get the idea.  This year, Ginger and Nutmeg really had no good excuse to say no, as Chamonix is an easy 5 hour drive from Aix en Provence.  So they gladly accepted the invitation.

Then the plans had to change, Nutmeg flew to England for a rather sad family event, to celebrate the life of a very special lady.  The game plan was to fly back to Marseille and drive with Ginger and Jade to Chamonix.  So Nutmeg had packed one small carry on bag, with the essentials for a two day trip to the UK.  However, Mother Nature had another plan, she covered the UK in a solid coating of the heavy white stuff and 6cm was enough to shutdown the country.  The news channels and other media outlets had a Christmas gift like no other; 24/7 “emergency” coverage of a winter “disaster”.   The roads were like skating rinks, trains and buses crawled to destinations on highly reduced schedules, major airports were shutdown for days leaving stranded travellers camped out at Heathrow, as flights were cancelled.

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