Friday, July 25, 2014

Touraine Language Institute And Summer Shortcake Recipe~

Outstanding French Language Institute for all ages in Tours~
the heart of the Loire Valley 
Anne of Touraine Silk Scarves
Here we are in the famed Touraine Wine region...
the Garden of France~

Wine villages dot the Loire River~
In the famed Touraine wine region, an hour's train ride from Paris, is the Loire Valley of Kings with its historic castles like romantic Chenonceau.

Set amid astonishing cultural riches is the university town of Tours with its elite language school. The Institut de Touraine hosts 2,500 students each year, at every level and every age—and 40% less expensive than Paris or the Côte d'Azur. The Institute arranges everything for students in the city center within walking distance from the Institute. 

As Victor Hugo wrote, "In this world, which is so plainly the antechamber of another...the true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge"...
A special summer recipe by Jacques Arrayet, chef at

Mixed Fruit Shortcakes~


Breton shortcake biscuit: 500g flour, 300g caster sugar, 15g baking powder, 150g egg yolk, 15g fine salt, 375g butter, 5cl rum.

Rhubarb jam: 1kg peeled rhubarb, 400g sugar, juice of 1 lemon.

Opaline with candied olives: 120g white fondant, 80g glucose, 150g pitted Greek black olives, 150g water, 90g sugar.

Strawberry juice with basil: 200g strawberries, 300g water, 125g sugar, 5 basil leaves.

Garnish to serve: 30 ‘Mara des bois’ strawberries, 20 raspberries, mascarpone.


The day before: Make the Breton shortcake dough. In a mixer bowl, work the softened butter, sugar and salt, add the room temperature egg yolk and the rum, then add the flour little by little, make into a ball, then cover with cling film and leave in a cool place.

Cut the rhubarb into 3cm pieces, then put into a thick-bottomed saucepan, add the sugar and lemon juice, leave to combine for 2 hours then cook on a low heat until it reduces to a pulp. After cooking, drain in a sieve then leave in a cool place.

Make a syrup with the water, sugar and basil leaves. As soon as it boils, take it off the heat then add the strawberries and leave to poach for 1 hour (off the heat), pass the whole mixture through a conical strainer to catch the juice, then leave in a cool place.

Place the fondant and the glucose in a saucepan, cook at 155° then pour out onto lightly-oiled greaseproof paper on a board. Leave to cool, then break into pieces and grind into powder in a blender. Put to one side in a dry, air-tight box.

Make a syrup with sugar and water, bring to the boil, put in the olives, previously rinsed in warm water and cut into a small dice, simmer very slowly for 2½ hours (ideally on an electric hotplate on setting 2 or 3).

To prepare:

Roll out the biscuit dough to a 4mm thickness and cut 4 circles 10cm in diameter. Cook in an oven set at 175° until well coloured.

Drain the candied olives, and take the powder to make the opalines. On a baking tray make 7 x 4cm rectangles and bake in a 240° oven for 1 min. Take out the opalines and place them on top of the pieces of candied olives.


On a plate, place the shortcakes in the centre, put the rhubarb jam on top, place the strawberries attractively along with a quenelle of mascarpone, and then the opaline, pour the coulis around the dish and place the raspberries. 

Thank you so much for stopping by~ A short video tour of the Institute: (HERE). Happy Weekend...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Isn't It Romantic~

Tours, France 
Nearby palace hotel~Chateau Artigny~

Tours, France is called, "Le Jardin de la France" ("The Garden of France") with its residents thought to speak the purest form of their musical Romance language. This inherently rich land has been inhabited since it was part of the Roman Empire in 1st century AD.  

The Gothic cathedral on Place Jean Jaurès was a setting in Balzac's Le Curé de Tours and his Maitre Cornélius

Nearby Touraine is the gorgeous wine region (tomorrow's post) and Orléans is where Saint Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.

Tours is on the TGV lines with travel to Bordeaux in two and a half hours, to the Mediterranean coast via Avignon and from there to Barcelona, Lyon, Strasbourg and Lille. It's under an hour from Tours to Paris by TGV. 

A short drive from Tours out in the countryside is the 65-acre hotel... 
Château d'Artigny with formal gardens, 56 bedrooms, and over 20,000 bottles of wine in the cellars...Golf, horse riding, cooking classes, balloon rides, helicopter tours, kayaking on the Loire, visits to the Loire Valley Châteaux, and wine tours and tasting can be facilitated by the hotel. A short video tour of the hotel: (HERE). 

Isn't It Romantic: (HERE)....Thank you for stopping by...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Romantic Provence Getaway~

Château de Berne is a chic Relais and Châteaux country estate nestled into the verdant Provence hillside that has produced excellent wines for 300-years. A short tour: (HERE). The estate's wines were poured at the wedding of the Prince of Monaco...

In this Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region key towns include Saint-Tropez, Fréjus, Saint-Raphaël, Hyères, La Seyne-sur-Mer, and Brignoles--where Angelina and Brad own and operate an organic wine estate. 

The well-appointed guest rooms feature fireplaces, scenic forest, vineyard, and garden views, and total peace. The on site restaurants present delicious healthy Provencal cuisine created from herbs and produce from the on-site kitchen garden and orchard. 

Indulge in restorative spa treatments, go for a swim, play tennis, hike, bike, or attend a wine tasting…

Château de Berne's stunningly beautiful surroundings make this an ideal setting for a wedding, for reunions, and other special family events. 

Wishing you prosperity and peace. Thank you for stopping by~

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Peter Mayle's "The Vintage Caper"~

Peter Mayle’s "The Vintage Caper" is a rollicking heist that kicks-off in an exclusive Hollywood Hills enclave as entertainment lawyer, Danny Roth, prepares to leave for lunch at The Ivy in Beverly Hills...

After he boasts in a LA Times interview about his elite Bordeaux collection, which is insured for $3M, thieves seize 500-bottles of his rare world-class labels... 

Roth high-pressures claim agent, Elena Morales, for a quick settlement. In turn, she hires her former love interest, Sam Levitt, to investigate the crime. 

Levitt, a wine connoisseur and lawyer who lives at Chateau Marmont on Sunset Blvd., follows the trail to France where he teams up with elegant Sophie Costes--an expert in Bordeaux wines.

They trace the stolen goods to high-powered Marseilles billionaire wine collector, Francis Reboul. Levitt decides to not law enforcement, but plans to steal the haul back himself--despite being within cautionary eye-sight of the notorious French prison, Château d'If. 

If you are a wine-loving Francophile you'll enjoy this French romp mainly set in the ancient city of Marseilles: (HERE). 

Here's to your abundance and prosperity. Thank you for stopping by~ 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Visit Russel Crowe's "A Good Year" Winery Film Location~

A beautiful setting and a little adventure to the Father/Daughter
owned real-life winery used as film location in "A Good Year"...
I loved the film, didn't you? Who couldn't?!

All organic in the Côtes du Lubéron A.O.C.  

Father-Daughter winemaking team...

The Romans produced wine in the Lubéron before 124 B.C., though few wine lovers could have pointed to the region on a map. That is, until Ridley Scott adapted Peter Mayle's bestselling book into his film, A Good Year”...starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard...

The above 17th century acclaimed Chateau la Canorguein winery in Bonnieux  was the film's main setting, and on many Francophile's "Bucket List"...A wee problem is that they have no website...and speak little English. To the rescue: "The Lubéron Experience" (HERE).

In real life, the certified organic wine estate of master winemaker, Jean-Pierre, has has been in the family for 200-years, and run with daughter, Nathalie Margan...

Built in the footprint of an ancient Roman villa, their estate nestles in the sunshiny Lubéron noted for its perched villages, lavender and poppy fields, hiking and biking, art and antiques, music and foodie culture. 

Did Mayle Ruin or Enrich The Lubéron?

Some say the former London-NYC advertising honcho ruined Provence after he left his ad career, renovated his 200-year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron, then wrote about his experience in his 1989 "A Year in Provence" 5 million+ copies bestseller. Hordes descended waving maps and asking, "Parlay you English?"

His 20+year hit-list followed: Chasing Cezanne, Acquired Tastes, Anything Considered, Hotel Pastis, A Dog's Life, Up The Agency, Toujours Provence, then Encore Provence; and French Lessons. His 2006-2014 works included: Provence A-Z; The Vintage Caper; A Paris-Bordeaux Wine Caper; The Marseille Caper; and The Corsican Caper--where the protagonist negotiates with mercenaries and the Corsican mob. Provence in Ten Easy Lessons was also published in 2014. 

Previous celebs in these parts included: Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, Camus and Pagnol. They didn't ruin the Lubéron and neither did Monsieur Mayle, who is the BFF a nation's tourism board ever had. 

He's enriched millions with insights into France's cultural, historic richness, and charming quirks...Even when he and The Mrs. were forced to move far up into hills to escape over-eager fans. A short interview: (HERE). 

Thank you for stopping by~ From "A Good Year" (HERE). Salud!