Monday, July 28, 2014

Aix-en-Provence's Secret Fountain Of Beauty And Youth~

       Madly in love with Aix~

Aix-en-Provence amplifies being splendidly alive...

Dating back to the ancient Romans, Aix holds the ethos of excellence in arts and effervescent humanity imparted by its Good King Rene who rode with Joan of Arc--and is thought to be the emblem of the Renaissance: “Rene’s essence”… 

Another name synonymous with Aix is that of native and life-long artist, Paul Cezanne: L’Atelier de Cézanne

A factor in imparting the golden glow to Aix were the Bibémus Quarries, and now a public park in honor of Cézanne, which the artist obsessively painted from 1895 to 1904. In operation from the time of the Roman Empire, the rock was used extensively in the construction of Aix’s 17th and 18th century buildings. 

At the heart of the City of Fountains is Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix-en-Provence on the leafy Cours Mirabeau—one of France’s most beloved strolling boulevards. 

The original church--founded by Saint Maximinus who arrived in Provence with Mary Magdalene—was constructed over an Apollo temple on the old Roman route--Via Aurelia

The Cathedral was re-built from the 12th through the 19th century and thus a pastiche of Romanesque, Gothic and Neo-Gothic elements, and with Roman columns as part of the baptistery that dates from the 6th-century church. 

Another must visit temple is a gastromic one, and yet, not for its cuisine. Les Deux Garçons, also on the famed Cours, might rightly be said to be resting a bit lazily on its laurels—yet, quelle laurels. Enjoy an aperitif and soak up the spiritual atmosphere of every artist, singer, writer, star or famous politician who arrived here from 1792 …

Aix-en-Provence Ratatouille~ 

Why are French women so vibrantly slim, attractive and healthy-looking at every age? You are what you eat is the inescapable truth. The cuisine of Aix reflects that in this classic dish prepared from freshest Farmer’s Market ingredients.  

An enduring symbol for me was my grandmother's French friend, Miss Colburn. Married to an American diplomat, even at age 90 she was one of the most charming, beautiful women I ever met. Her irrepressible joie de vivre was a treasure. Delightfully outfitted each day in cashmere and pearls, she remains the ever witty symbol of all that's best in France for me. She ate healthily, laughed always, and loved French wine...


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 unpeeled large eggplant diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil 
4 ounces goat, diced 


Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add eggplant, green bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, zucchini and basil. Sauté 5 minutes. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, stir occasionally, about 25 minutes. Uncover simmer until juice thickens, stir occasionally, about 10 minutes. Mix in vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper. Can make ahead and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread ratatouille in 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes.

An excellent short video on Aix: (HERE). Thank you so much for stopping by...To your fantastic week!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

San Francisco Awash With Billionaire Dough~

Which country/city is truly the richest in the world, today? London, Paris, San Francisco, Monaco? Do the charts tell the whole story?

Monaco might be the second smallest state in the world, but it’s obsessively, obscenely rich--compared, that is, to discrete Paris--population 2.3M and the most visited city on earth. 

Postage stamp Monaco's population is 37,500 with more Millionaires by far than anywhere on earth and with a land mass of a mere 500-acres...

Despite that. my former hometown of San Francisco—the Sister City of Paris—with a relatively tiny major city 837K population is bursting with billionaires.  

In fact, per capital, San Francisco is leaps ahead of Billionaire-ing compared with the rest of the globe. SVP:

London’s population is 8-million, nearly 10-fold the population of The City By The Bay…with a "mere" 72 Billionaires to San Francisco’s 42...ahem...

And on it goes with the measuring, calculating, sprinting to some invisible, elusive Richie-Rich finish line awash in derivatives shorts that keeps getting dimmer as it pirouettes on into the sunset... 

I am a bit concerned about Paris. The people are scarfing McDos and the President zips to trysts on a scooter. If France is a woman...maybe she should try to woo Monaco back...

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~