Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Birthday To My French Son~

Château d'Ussé in the Loire Valley belonged to a great friend of, Charles Perrault, the French author of classics like “Cinderella”--and who penned "La Belle au bois dormant" in 1696 at his friend's castle, which in 1959 Disney released as  “Sleeping Beauty”...

At 14, I dreamt of my own Once Upon a Time. Like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella I wished for my own husband, home, and baby. 

Three years later when I was 17, on a dark and rainy early Saint Patrick’s Day morning...my tall, dark, handsome, and kind husband and I sped down a deserted LA freeway to the Emergency Room where I was raced on a gurney rounding corners on two wheels as in a TV medical drama, and into an elevator to the surgery floor where my beautiful son was born via an emergency C-Section operation.

When I gazed at this magical little being--my head was swimming with an immense sense of awe and responsibility and my heart nearly exploded with love and wonder for this miracle. My son. Two magic words to me for most of my life. 

After his father died tragically, our son traveled with his school on a summer trip to Europe and then returned the following year to study French in Aix-en-Provence. Before I knew it he was off to college...where following his graduation ceremony he gave me a painting he made of a Provence hillside with a mother and child--my most prized possession.

Rob left the day after graduation for summer in Italy where he made a beeline for Assisi...to visit the Cathedral of the namesake of his boy’s college prep. Then he was off to graduate school in Paris. 

He became a French citizen and remained living in Europe while I live in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He’s traveled all over the US, Europe, to Saint Petersburg Russia, Japan, South America and Greece. He’s skied in California, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium, at least. He’s biked in Brittany, has been a rock climber, and lives by faith, responsibility, and love of life. He's competent and knowledgeable about so much. 

Each of our individual births as the person we are is a probability greater than all of the stars in the Universe. It is an incredibly rare gift that you are here as you. Vastly rarer that all the money on earth; rarer than jewels. 

Only my son knows what will fulfill his life on earth. He made mind just by being him. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day Birthday, Rob. May all your dreams come true: (HERE).

Monday, March 16, 2015

How Paris And Hollywood Make Life More Beautiful For People~

Cinderella first sprang to life from the verdant 17th-century French mind of Charles Perrault--whose desire was to make life beautiful for people. Disney's first genius as an artist and innovative animator, was to spot Perrault's French tales, and comprehend their universal appeal...

Centuries and continents apart, Walt Disney and Charles Perrault shared the desire to lift humanity. Perrault was an attorney and the erudite manager of the French King’s projects that included designing tapestries, writing poems, and saving the Tuileries Gardens--which he insured were opened for the public to enjoy, rather than strictly held for Royal use. 

In the later 1660s, before America was even a nation, Perrault wrote the non-fiction La Peinture to honor the King's first official painter, Charles Le Brun. He advised Louis XIV to include thirty-nine fountains in the gardens of Versailles each to represent one of the Aesop fables--and then he produced a guidebook to enlighten the public. And when Perrault became a member of the influential Académie Française, he had the ceremony opened to the people for the very first time. 

Decades later, at nearly 70-years old he created the new literary genre of Fairy Tale, based on his re-writing earlier folk tales; and in 1697 published The Tales of Mother Goose that included: The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood. Little Red Riding Hood. Blue Beard. Puss in Boots. The Fairies. And Cinderella

Perrault’s Fairy Tales were instant hits from which future versions were created, including Disney’s films that have delighted generations around the globe.

Charles Perrault died in Paris in 1703. His desire to make life beautiful for people lives on today...312 years later... including in the newly released 2015 Disney film based on his original tale...

In this latest update Cate Blanchett plays the mean Stepmother to Lily James' perfect Cinderella. Helena Bonham Carter is her Fairy Godmother--and Richard Madden her Prince. Trailer: (HERE). French version: "So This Is Love": (HERE).

Recipes for movie nights: (HERE). Thank you for dropping by!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Adieu Demoiselles. Bonjour Mesdames~

Coco Chanel was addressed ‘mademoiselle’ her entire life. After her death her powerhouse corporation created 'Mademoiselle' perfume to conjure everything lithe, alluring, and fetchingly French. Think 'mademoiselle' and visions of ballerinas pirouetting through flowery springtime fields might pop into your head; or stylishly brought-up Parisians in white gloves.

‘Mademoiselle’ magazine (published 1935-2001) cohered an ideal by pairing chic models on the cover with brainiac stories by elite scribes inside like: Truman Capote, William Faulkner, James Baldwin, Flannery O'Connor, Paul Theroux, Barbara Kingsolver, and many others.

Then the French government declared the use of 'mademoiselle' c'est fini on all official counts: If men are solely addressed as ‘monsieur’ not indicating marital status--a woman should not be forced to declare herself ‘married’ or ‘a young virgin’ as they open bank accounts, vote, apply for everything from medical school to a visa, buy real estate, seek personal or professional services, or shop online.

And French feminists insist the form forces females to regard their individual selves as property of fathers or husbands--instead of as their own person. And that it’s particularly gratuitous when more than half of French children are born to unmarried parents.

Still, mademoiselle is a pretty word evocative of a lovelier, more graceful world. So adieu to a delicate portion of that...

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Eternal Sunshine of Pristine Cuisine~

Andreas Caminada is the #1 chef in Switzerland. His Michelin 3-star, Gault et Millau 19-point restaurant ranks #42 amongst the World’s 50 Best! Methinks that "Stick it way out in the remote Swiss countryside and they will come" is a marketing concept you won't find in Harvard Business School. Yet, that's why it's called, The Go To strategy ;)

Raised in a small Swiss mountain village--and inspired by his mother’s cooking he later apprenticed alongside the world’s top chefs in Michelin-starred restaurants. Gault et Millau named him Chef of the Year in 2008.

Andreas Caminada's home, restaurant and boutique hotel (above) are housed in his century-old fairytale castle--Schloss Schauenstein--set in the tiny Swiss Alps village of Fürstenau, population 9, an hour from the jet-set ski resort of Klosters. He speaks on his philosophy: (HERE). 

Simply put, he creates cuisine based on what is simple, fresh and light, and starts with the best quality, purest, local and seasonal ingredients. Then serves his creations with excellent Swiss wines.

Take the train through Alpine forests and enchanting towns to Fürstenau where the old castle stands against a fresh mountain backdrop awaiting your arrival: (HERE). Tour of the Swiss Alps: (HERE). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Theme: (HERE). Thanks so much for stopping by. To your Successful Week!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes Recipe~

It's incredibly impressive that a tiny nation like Switzerland--with a population equal to NYC, is so uber-scientifically advanced that it's now smashing protons at twice the speed of its earlier Large Hadron Collider experiments. Who else on the planet does that? No one. And like I always say, if you're smashing protons, experience should allow you to do it twice as fast as your previous efforts. ;) 

My science projects tend to things like making Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes and determining the shortest distance from where I am to a luxury chalet stay in Verbier, Switzerland: (HERE). 

Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes

By Josie Le Balch  


3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel or regular lemon peel
1 8-ounce container chilled crème fraîche*


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter eight 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, and pinch of salt in medium bowl to blend. Combine milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl; whisk until blended. Add flour mixture to yolk mixture and whisk custard until blended. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar to whites and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into custard. Fold remaining whites into custard in 2 additions (custard will be slightly runny).

Divide custard equally among prepared ramekins. Place ramekins in large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake custard cakes until golden brown and set on top (custard cakes will be slightly soft in center), about 27 minutes. Chill custard cakes uncovered until cold, at least 4 hours, then cover and keep refrigerated. DO AHEAD: Custard cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Using electric mixer, beat crème fraîche in medium bowl until softly whipped. Run a small knife around each custard cake to loosen. Invert them onto separate plates, adding a dollop of crème fraîche before serving.

Very Happy Weekend...thanks so much for stopping by. Uptown Girl: (HERE).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Elegant And Easy Leek and Swiss Chard Tart~

Photo credit: Jeff Sarpa
In the 1960s, the upscale Swiss resort of Gstaad was referred to as The Place by insiders like La Liz, Grace Kelly, Slim Aarons, David Niven, Roger Moore, and Brigitte Bardot who were often up to mischief. As in The Tomahawk Caper.

Grace Kelly and Alec Guinness were filming The Swan, when he was given a tomahawk and paid a porter to slip it into co-star Grace Kelly’s bed. Years later, it cropped-up beneath his own covers one night in London. Once when Princess Grace was traveling the U.S. on a poetry tour, Guinness had it snuck into her bed. Then while in Hollywood to accept an honorary Oscar, Guinness found the hackett between his own sheets. On Kelly’s following tour of England he had it pop-up in her suitcase. And so it went, with neither of them ever speaking about it, but then, Alec Guinness referred to Grace as Miss Enigma. 

One of Grace's favorite places for outdoor capers was in Gstaad, a 6-hour drive from her Royal Palace in Monaco. With its pine-scented mountain air, soft snowflakes falling, and fires glowing at night...The Place is where the legend of the Tomahawk Caper lives on, 31-years after she's been gone...

Leek and Swiss Chard Tart~
BON APPÉTIT October 1999
Makes 8 servings

This tart received highest ratings on Epicurious, and is what one would find on a chic menu in Gstaad. Perhaps a kitchen caper is in your near future?...


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
2 tablespoons butter
3 large leeks coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 1/2 cups of Swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg


Roll out pastry on floured work surface to 12-inch square. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Fold under; crimp edges. Cover; chill.

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; cook until leeks are very tender but not brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add chard; saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 425°F. Whisk cream and next 5 ingredients in large bowl. Mix in cooled leek mixture. Pour filling into crust.

Bake tart 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake until filling is puffed and just set in center, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes.

Henry Mancini's charming Summer in Gstaad: (HERE). Thanks so much for stopping by!