Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Picture Of The Day: Curious

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So sorry for disrupting your grazing!
The end of another perfect day in the Auvergne, France


Saturday Is Market Day In Issoire, Auvergne

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Saturday is always market day in Issoire, a charming old town here in the Auvergne region of France
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Walking through the town's narrow streets to shop for produce and other merchandise remains one of the great pleasures of summers here.
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Many of the products are locally sourced, such as this honey.
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This merchant is at the market every time we come here
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and her strawberries are the best.
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So are her red currants.
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Abricots for jam or tarts.
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Ripe, flat peaches
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Choosing a melon is science: "Do you want to eat it today or tomorrow?" she asked.
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The average size of a red leaf salad at the market
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I loved this old man in his old-fashioned cart, selling his own produce.
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Rattes: the best potatoes for roasting
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Organic potatoes and onions
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The best saucissons at the market
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Smoked, herbed, with blueberries, bleu d'Auvergne or St. Nectaire cheese, to list just a few.
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Let's not forget the smoked ham
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Rotisserie chickens  to take home for lunch
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Pain Payet, just one of the kinds of bread available at one of the Issoire bakeries
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The crust is the best
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But the pain a l'ancienne can't be beat.
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Clafouti aux cerises...
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or brioches feuilletées, it all looks great.
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A new stall this year sold micro greens.  I took coriander and radish greens, which really added something salads.
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The same vendor also sold edible flowers.
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These blooms, however, where for the garden.
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Micro breweries are a thing even here in the Auvergne.
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Instead of a rotisserie chicken, one can also purchase live chickens at the Issoire market.
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or ducks, if one has a farm.

The freshness and the taste of the produce is so inspiring that I can't wait to get back to my kitchen to start cooking.  Sending greetings from my Auvergne kitchen back to Brooklyn, dear Readers.

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Zucchini tarte with onions, potatoes and goat cheese.
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Clafouti aux cerises
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Poulet au citron with coriander micro greens


Monday, July 10, 2017

Of Sunflowers, Daisies And Busy Days In the Auvergne, France

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A sunny day in the Auvergne with the Chaîne des Puys in the distance
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Usson,  named one of the most beautiful villages of France, under a cloudy sky
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Fields of sunflowers in full bloom near Usson
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I really meant to post immediately after arriving in France, I really did, but the days here have a different rhythm than back home in Brooklyn and they seem to pass by quicker than back home.

The last week-and-a-half has been filled with getting our old stone house in the Auvergne ready for family and this summer's guests, which means lots of dusting, working in the garden to do battle with weeds that have grown with impunity for the past few months, and fixing all sorts of little (and not so little) things that have broken since we were here last.

The weather has been alternating from scorching heat to rainy and cold, so that my husband and I made a fire in the wood burning stove to keep warm in the house. But no matter if sun or rain, the landscape of the Auvergne is always stunning.
At this moment, the sunflowers are in full bloom, and the sight never gets old.

Stay tuned for photos of our first market visit, and of a big project on the house that was completed
in our first week here.
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The 1866 stone farmhouse in the Auvergne, which has brought my family back to France
 for the past forty-five years.

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The daisies in front of the house are particularly beautiful this year.
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Evening light and a curious neighbor



Saturday, July 01, 2017

Impressions Of Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Sunny Amsterdam
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Boating on one of the smaller canals.
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Bicycles, hollyhock and three doors
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One of the small shopping streets in the center of town.
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Boat house maintenance
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Bikes, bikes everywhere
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Amsterdam's flower market
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More blooms
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Large Amaryllis bulbs
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and tulip bulbs, too
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The Rijksmuseum
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Guards protecting Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch
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The Holy Family, Boxwood statue by Jan van Doorne
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Dolls house of Petronella Dunois, circa 1676. Untitled

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Replica of ships
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Day trip to Zaanse Schans
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Old windmills
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A family of swans in the Dutch countryside
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Rijsttafel at restaurant Blauw

Amsterdam is a delight and every time I visit, I fall in love with the City more.  What is there not to like?  Picturesque canals, beautiful old buildings, great museums, lots of small, cheap restaurants, and  cafés everywhere.  Add to that the fact that almost everyone bicycles or takes public transportation, and you have an inner-city that has almost no more car traffic, which makes it incredibly walkable.
The Dutch are amazingly friendly and welcoming and all speak fluent English, which makes it so easy to find ones way around town.

My last visit to Amsterdam was quite a few years ago, when my kids were small.  Mr. Pardon Me and I had rented a houseboat in the Joordan section for a week and explored the city with both kids in tow.  This time,  my husband and I rented a lovely apartment near the Rijksmuseum and the Vondelpark.
We stayed five days, which was too short to explore everything the City has to offer, but just as in Oslo the week before, we gave it a good try.  We visited the Rijksmuseum twice, explored the
Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum,  the Rembrand House, and saw a Banksy exhibit at the Moco Museum.

We visited several markets, including the flower market, which was my favorite by far.  Stalls and stalls of the freshest flowers for just a few Euros made me want to buy a bouquet of each.
In between, we walked for miles, admiring the old canal houses, the charming house boats, and dreaming of moving here.

One morning,  we got up early and took a bus out of town to Zaanse Schans to see several still-working windmills, which were beautiful, but since the place was over-run by hordes of tourists that were spilling out of huge bus tours, we did not stay long and made our way back into Amsterdam.

Both Mr. Pardon Me and I had been looking forward to eating Indonesian food during our visit and had checked out several restaurants that serve rijsttafel. Oh, it is so good! During our stay, we tried three different Indonesian places. Blauw was my favorite, but Kartika was excellent as well.  We also enjoyed a meal at Nooch, an Asian-fusion place that was quite good.
And with a glass of Prosecco and fresh draft beer at 4 Euros on average, we took full advantage.

Amsterdam is such a lively, happy place and its citizens truly enjoy an enviable quality of life.  Next time, I think we need to stay longer.

Our next stop is France and our family 's home in the Auvergne. Stay tuned.
And to all my friends back in Brooklyn, have a  wonderful long week-end.

When you arrive in Lyon, France and see a rainbow in the sky. How perfect is that?

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