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!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Resilience On Brittany's Emerald Coast~

Château Hôtel Du Colombier  in Saint-Malo~
The novel’s cover image of Saint-Malo especially caught my eye as
my French-American son loves this historic port city
on the Emerald Coast of Brittany~

The Ports of Saint-Malo and Brest in western Brittany, France
were Axis held in WWII and key
to supplying the Allied Forces efforts to retake France~

Saint-Malo is the key setting in Doerr's dazzling bestseller~ 
Our family French friend was staying with her parents in the port city of Brest
where the fiercest battle in WWII took place~
Brest before bombing by both Allied and Axis forces for possession
of the port~

Prize-winning author, Anthony Doerr, spent 10-years researching and writing his epic bestseller that I’ve relished reading more than any other book since Seabiscuit…

All The Light We Cannot See develops via alternating brief chapters that tell the story of the two main characters who come together in Saint-Malo:

Werner is an orphaned German boy who at 15 seizes the chance to break free of what would otherwise become a life of forced labor in the coal mine where his father died. His genius self-study in radio technology makes him a valuable asset to Hitler Youth that they seize by promise of an education and advance. 

As Goebbels said—it was the harnessing of radio that allowed the Nazis to seize power.  

Marie-Laure is a blind Parisian girl who must flee the security of familiar surroundings when the blitz begins and she and her father seek safety in the 6-story home of a reclusive relative in the old walled port city of Saint-Malo as Paris falls.

This is where the 90-lb. cashmere and pearls wearing French friend of my grandmother and aunt inserts herself into my reading of Doerr's bestseller, and long after her death. 

During WWII Miss Colburn and her young son stayed with her parents and sisters in their Brest, France villa while her American diplomat husband was engaged in war activities. 

When Hitler’s troops invaded their town, the family were lined-up in straight-back chairs before their fireplace to be questioned. As family paintings, silver, jewelry, antiques, wines and the fruit and vegetables from their orchard and garden—were marched out the door, and their young housekeepers were abused--Miss Colburn sprang to her feet and spit on the leader. She was promptly dragged off to jail…

Her high-ranking husband won her release. Decades later she'd tell stories including when events took a far worse turn…

August 1944 saw the fiercest fighting of WWII on French soil as Allied Forces battled to recapture the two heavily fortified strategic ports held by the Axis powers--and key to the ability to deliver the 26,000 tons of daily supplies needed to retake France. 

Brest was destroyed. While just north in Doerr’s setting of Saint-Malo…of 1050 buildings only 182 remained standing--all damaged.

Surrender to the Allied forces came in Saint-Malo on 19 September 1944. A newsreel shows the destruction of Brest: (HERE).

Today, I vividly picture my beloved Celtic grandmother, darling French-German-aunt, and dear Miss Colburn of Brittany, and me, sipping wine, listening to French music, laughing and tearing-up over stories that Miss Colburn invariably gave a Happy Ending... 

Edith Piaf penned her "La Vie En Rose" at a Paris cafe as a post-WWII anthem to renewed spirit and hope: (HERE). Thank you for stopping by~

Friday, July 18, 2014

Provence As Muse~

Where to stay in Aix-en-Provence: 
Le Clos  Des  Freres  Gris

Le Clos Des Freres Gris in Aix-en-Provence
Château La Coste winery in Aix-en-Provence...

“Find something you’re tremendously interested in and stay passionate about it”
~Julia Child
“The Tenth Muse...My Life In Food” is a must read by famed Food editor, Judith Jones, who as a young assistant rescued Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" manuscript from the slush-pile...

As a freshly minted Bennington grad, Jones sailed steerage to post-WWII Paris. Once there, despite not having money, a job, or prospects, she recognized this was where she was meant to be. 

For a time she lived in shady digs, creatively preparing the little food she had, and pairing it with cheap wine. She met a Frenchman. Their long, happy life together was based on the pleasures of shared tastes. 

Later, as a Knopf food editor--Jones helped shape and name Julia Child’s, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”--and sequential books by MFK Fisher and James Beard. The three famed chefs' shared love of Provence recently became the basis of a book by Fisher’s nephew.
A world class winery to visit in the Coteaux D’ Aix-en-Provence is the 250-acre, organic wine producer--Château La Coste minutes north of Aix. 

The winery offers a DNA-altering feast of modern art and architecture, plus gorgeous nature, respectfully developed by Irish multi-billionaire, Paddy McKillen. Like his other properties that include Claridges, The Connaught, and The Berkeley in London, plus retail spots in Place Vendome in Paris—his Provence vineyard is First Cabin all the way. Summer movie and bar-be-que nights add extra dash...

Centered around a 1682 villa of rose pink--contemporary buildings were designed by celebrated French architect Jean Nouvel. 

The winery Art Centre designed by Tadao Ando overlooks vineyards and features a top-notch organic café. Allow a half-day to tour the state-of-the-art processing facility and cellar, to enjoy a tasting and the wine shop, and to stroll the five art trail pavilions by globally acclaimed architects and featuring dozens of sculptures by the world’s most renowned living artists. 

A luxury 29-room hotel is under construction on the grounds.

Elegant Eggplant Side For Grilled Fish~

Serves 4. 


3 cups of eggplant chunks
4 T quality green olive oil
1 organic lemon
1 garlic clove
1 tsp cumin seeds
Sea salt


Pre-heat the oven grill. Placed the 3-cups of eggplant chunks in a oven-proof baking dish. Peel the garlic clove and crush it over a bowl. Grate ¼ of lemon rind into the bowl then cut it in half, squeeze the juice and add 2 tsp to the bowl along with the olive oil, the cumin and the salt. Pour over the eggplant and toss together until all the eggplant is coated. 

Cook about 30 minutes, turn often, until the eggplant is soft enough to mash.

Remove from the oven, mash the eggplant to serve as a side with grilled fish. Or, serve cold on toasted baguette slices with an aperitif.

Adele's "Baby It's You" with Burt Bacharach on piano: (HERE). Thank you so much for stopping by~

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mystical French Spiritual Vortex Spots~

Abbaye St-Martin du Canigou near Vernet-les-Bains
#3 on map of France below~

Mont Saint-Michel is located at #1. Mont Saint Odile at #2. And
Abbaye St-Martin du Canigou at #3...Just noticed this today...!
#1 Mont Saint-Michel half-mile off the Normandy coast...
#2 Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey in the Vosges Mountains in Alsace 
The entire Uni-verse (which means "one song") is created by and saturated with intelligent vibrating electromagnetic light—the strongest of the four physics forces...  

Whether a horse, flower, snowflake, drop of water, blade of grass, human being, or bird; String Physics proves that everything in the physical realm is made up of electromagnetic light... 

There are healing, integrating, sacred energies that elevate and empower. And stressful, dissonant energies, some even deliberately manufactured--that can damage from the DNA level. A riveting discussion: (HERE). Positive healing 528hz energy: (HERE). 

There are many natural high-spiritual energy spots in France. Mont Saint-Michel for example. The island abbey dedicated to the arch-angel St. Michael was constructed off Normandy over a period of five centuries beginning in 1017...

Two other sites of highly beneficial energy together with Mont Saint-Michel form a spiritual pyramid over France: 

The celebrated Abbaye St-Martin du Canigou near the border of Spain was constructed in 1009. Visitors can take a taxi-shuttle or make a 30-minute climb to the top of the triangular promontory at 3,600 feet. An especially popular time to do so is for Easter Mass. Information: (HERE). A short example of their beautiful concerts: (HERE).

Mont Sainte-Odile Abbey is another pilgrimage site of concentrated positive spiritual energy. The nunnery was founded in approximately 690 on a Vosges mountain range peak in the Alsace region of France. 

On another spiritual French note, Brittany France is a Celtic nation with horoscope signs based on Tree symbols. To read yours go to Youtube and type in "Celtic Horoscope sign" and your birth date. Compilation of Enya music: (HERE). Thank you so much for stopping by~