Autumn in Provence- Through an Open Door

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. Joseph Campbell

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I adore this image from my most recent autumnal visit to Provence. It draws you in, wondering what could be on the other side of that passageway.

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It’s Friday and I am contemplating the doors that have both opened and closed in my life while sifting through photos and I am grateful for both.

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I am always curious about what is on the other side of colorful doors like this with grand adornments.

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When a door closes it can be very sad.  It’s like we are being pushed forward even though we might not feel ready; it’s times like these that faith and hope get us through.

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And just like that a window opens and things are better than you could have ever imagined.  I think this little kitty agrees!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend, hug someone you love today!

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Autumn in Provence~A Trip to the Market

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Provencal markets are truly a magical place for food lovers.

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Gorgeous seasonal vegetables were relying only on their vivid color to entice buyers.

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Stunning eggplants begging to come home and become something wonderful on your plate!

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I adore the vegetables artfully displayed in sturdy baskets.

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Freshly picked thyme and bay leaves perched in this precious, red riding hood basket.

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The markets of Provence have much more to offer foodies besides just produce.

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Freshly made sausage is always a good bet to go along with a cheese and wine picnic perhaps?

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Nuts and dried fruits as far as the eye can see.

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And prepared foods like roasted chicken or this enormous copper pan loaded to the brim with Paella, just look at the size of those shrimp!

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Markets are bursting with jams, tapenades and spreads along with clothing, table linens, soaps and lavender. All in all a truly lovely way to spend a few hours and we did!

Travel with me next autumn! Two seats are available for

A Taste of Provence September 7-14th 2019

Reach out today for more information!

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Autumn in Provence~Sunflowers and Van Gogh

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I was at Trader Joes this morning gathering supplies for my classes this week, French Foods of the Normandy Coast and 4 Course French Menu at the Arboretum on Saturday and I noticed the gorgeous sunflowers for sale.

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They reminded me of the lovely sunflowers I enjoyed while touring my A Taste of Provence group in September. Sunflowers are such a happy flower!

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So big and bold, they almost don’t look real.

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The Provencal sunflowers surely inspired Vincent Van Gogh to paint this vase chalked full.  This particular painting was done while he lived in Arles, not far from our base in Saint Remy.

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One of the most interesting places we visited this year was the Van Gogh Clinic.  Van Gogh checked himself in and spent the last year of his life here in Saint Remy.

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He was very prolific and painted some of his most well-known pieces here, including Starry Night and Irises.  This is a look at the beautiful interior garden that inspired Van Gogh and many other residents.

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This is such a beautiful view of the outdoor garden at the clinic, also a source of inspiration to the artists here.

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I thought this was such an interesting arrangement I came across while traveling in the area. The sunflowers standing so tall and proud!

Have a happy day!

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Autumn in Provence- A Visit to the Fig Farm

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September in Provence is glorious.  I recently heard someone say that autumn in Provence is what springtime is to Paris and I wholeheartedly agree.  The crowds are gone but the temperate beauty remains.  I will be sharing some of my favorite moments from travel with my 2018 group in the coming weeks.  I hope you will stay tuned and enjoy!

Welcome to the fig farm.

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Meet Frances who is a passionate fig farmer.

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He welcomed us with open arms to his farm.  Not only does Frances grow many varieties of figs here, his wife creates flavor-packed jams and condiments on sale in their tasting room. Frances is truly happy when visitors have tasted every last one of her concoction!

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Look at this beauty, so ripe it’s falling off the tree. Locals pull up and buy fresh figs by the flat.

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Frances was eager for us to taste his figs. So many figs!

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Frances is definitely a fig expert.  Both of his children live in the United States; he confessed that when he flies over the pond for a visit, figs are always on his mind.  He enjoys visiting fig farms all over the US, learning about new varieties and adding them to his orchard collection.

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There is nothing technical about drying figs, just lay them out on a rack and let the sun do the work.

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The farm was a quaint location to enjoy a picnic of market goodies curated from the Saint Remy morning market.

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Definitely a great way to spend a few hours!

Travel with me in 2019, for all the details, CLICK HERE!

Feel like a fun night out?  Join me Tonight!  Thursday at Toulouse for a Provencal Happy Hour

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Dinner Party~Flavors from a Provençal Market

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I am thrilled to say that you are invited to a fall dinner party featuring flavors from the markets of Provence.  I’ve only been back from the heart of Provence a few days and my soul is bursting with inspiration I will soon share with guests of this magnificent event.

I have partnered with Lauren Palmer from The Art of Living Beautifully who will open her stunning home for the evening and Tracie Miller and Marcie Heneham from Unique Unique Designs who will  be styling  this glorious event.

The evening will begin with cocktails and nibbles and then a short program; I’ll share more about the menu and of course fabulous Provence! Tracie and Marcie will give you plenty of inspiration for tablescaping and centerpieces sure to inspire you for the upcoming entertaining season.

After our short program we will invite our guests to sit for a wonderful meal including wine pairings that have been graciously donated by Andy Doyle of McKinney Wine Merchant. I am particularly excited to share the splendid dessert planned for you.

I look forward to seeing you there!  Don’t delay, only a few tickets remain.

For Tickets CLICK

Dinner Party 4

 

 

Apple Tart

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Making an apple tart is so easy you could have one for dessert tonight!

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Start with Granny Smith apples.

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Core and slice the apples.

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Roll the crust out to eliminate creases.

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Arrange the apples in 3 rows.

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Sprinkle with sugar.

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Dot with butter and Bake!

Enjoy!

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Apple Tart

1 sheet puff pastry

4 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thin

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On lightly floured surface roll puff pastry slightly to eliminate creases and to form a rectangle.  Place the crust onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Spread out apples in three rows.  Sprinkle the apples with sugar and dot with butter. Fold edges of the crust up to create the border.  Bake the tart for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.  Allow to cool before slicing to serve.

Love Apples?  How About Hard Cider and Calvados?  Then register TODAY for:

The Foods of the Normandy Coast, 2 Day French Workshop-Thursday-Friday October 25th and 26th 10:30-2:00

Join me for a truly unique culinary event as we travel to Normandy for some of the most delectable food on earth.  In Normandy they cook with the 4 C’s; cider, calvados, crème and camembert. We will explore these ingredients as we prepare some of the most iconic, mouthwatering dishes full of love and flavor.

This 2-day workshop is immersion style and we cook side by side. Each day we will prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner and a sweet along with a snack or two!  Wine will be served and a cheese course each day for an authentic French dining experience.  Dinner portions will be packed up to-go.

In addition to this fabulous menu, we will prepare classic, slow fermenting French Bread and European Style Butter to be enjoyed with our meals each day.

For those that want to arrive 30 minutes early on the second day, I will demonstrate the fabulous perfected Saint Eve from Bayeux to be enjoyed by all! And just for fun, we will prepare and taste the Normandy, a cocktail that is all the rage in NYC!

This course promises to improve your overall kitchen skills; French cooking is the gold standard and expertise acquired will last a lifetime.  Be a part of the fun! Limited enrollment, Fee $189.00

Day 1 Our day will begin with time honored baking skills.  Using an old fashioned French recipe, we will prepare French Boule and amaze your taste buds with European Style Butter, both to be eaten during our class.  The perfect start to our days together will be sumptuous Oeufs Cocotte.  For a luxurious snack we will prepare Caramelized Apples and Calvados over Camembert.  For lunch we will have gorgeous Tartine topped with avocado, ham, tomatoes and Balsamic Reduction served French style with a Green Salad. For dinner, Chicken Normandy with Potatoes, Onions and Apple Cider is a classic slow roasted dish with a rich complex sauce as only the French can do!   For dessert each guest will prepare an Apple in Filo and Calvados served with Carmel Sauce, my favorite Normandy bites as pretty as it is tasty!

Day 2 Arrive 30 minutes early for a demonstration on the perfected Saint Eve of Bayeux, a truly unique treat that offers creamy, crunchy, chocolaty goodness in every bite.  We will start our day with moist and dense Apple Cake.   For an irresistible snack we will make Apple Bacon Gruyere Madeleines.  We will prepare a composed lunch of White Fish Meuniere served alongside pretty Vegetable Gratin and creamy Brie Potatoes Dauphinoise.  For a lovely take home dinner we will prepare hearty Spicy Sausage and Lentil Soup and a fabulous Normandy Salad with apples, cherries, walnuts and creamy cheese. For a beautiful finish to our day we will make Apple Soufflé with Calvados Sauce.

 

ATOP Video and the Making!

Did you ever have one of those work days so stellar that you will never forget it as long as you live?

Welcome to one of mine!

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I invited a few of my travelers, most of whom have been with me on multiple trips, to share in the experience of making a film.

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In fact, to share some of their experiences while traveling with A Taste of Paris, to France.

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We sipped some of my favorite French sparkling wines…

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…and nibbled on French goodies like Chocolate Madeleines, Raspberry and Mint Chocolate Macarons.

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In a flash, the party was over and the real work begins.

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Hours spent combing through video from my most recent trip, searching for the very best shots.

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4:00 am calls from my colleague in Paris to insure we were capturing the best of the city in video content she was taking and sending via the amazing internet.

Listening to music for just the right French sound and by the way after a bit it all sound alike!

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And testing the patience of filmmaker, Shane Reitzammer owner of CinemaStory Productions for many weeks to create something really special; a tool for people considering travel with A Taste of Paris and me!

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Thank you to these special ladies and to all my travelers for helping to bring my dream to life!

Click here to watch!

Click here for information on A Taste of Paris travel.

European Garden in my Silverplate Punchbowl

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I generally keep 3 large white orchids in my silver-plate punch bowl  year round.  This summer has been exceptionally hot and the orchids did not fare very well.  I decided to brighten things up a bit by creating a European garden.

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I’ll reuse the punchbowl for my garden because the scale will create a lot of impact.

To get started, collect a variety of plants. Choose 1 tall plant, 1 that will drape down and a flowering plant. My container is large so 6 plants are needed to fill it up.  Going with varying shades of green and textures will give my arrangement a lot of interest.

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To construct the garden, first pop a plastic liner in the bottom of the container.  This will protect it and your tabletop from leeks.

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Add the tallest plant first towards the back of the arrangement.

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Continue to add plants until you have a balanced garden.

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Use crumpled paper or even better, foil to boost plants if needed and to hold them in place.

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Fill in all of the blank spaces with a variety of moss.

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This will bring the whole arrangement together and give you a cohesive European garden.

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I just love it!  It is like a little bit of the outdoors right in my living room!

If you don’t already have a silver punch bowl, I thought you might like this one! It is an upside down pineapple.  SHOP NOW

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Peppered Cashews and a Final Nod the the Past

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I’ve been looking back through the last few years of travel, sharing comments made by previous ATOP travelers.  I hope you have enjoyed getting to know this fabulous group of people.

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I knew A Taste of Paris™ would have a personal impact on travelers.  Immersing in the French way of life, and exploring this country through its food, alters your point of view.  The part of this experience I did not expect, was the gift these incredible travelers would give me in return.  Each of their stories is a precious gift. Intimate moments and the meeting of hearts around a table, have become invaluable treasures to me.

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“Why did I choose A Taste of Paris/Champagne? Paris has always been on my bucket list. I haven’t been to Paris since I was a young girl.”

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“Paris is a beautiful city filled with wonderful culinary experiences as well wonderful historical and cultural venues.” 

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“And to add Champagne, my favorite drink to the mix was a no brainer. Sipping wonderful French champagne and seeing the beautiful countryside was an incredible experience.” 

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“Also traveling with a “seasoned” American Chef who was able to escort us and  provide her insights of France was a great add!” Zorianna Spies

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Thank you Zorianna, you are always so full of life and fun!  It was a pleasure to share the experience with you.

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Nothing goes better with Champagne than my peppered cashews.  Make a quick batch and pop open a bottle of bubbles this weekend!

Travel to France with me in 2019 and make some delicious memories of your own!

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Peppered Cashews

1 pound raw cashew nuts

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a chef’s pan melt butter and stir in all seasonings.  Mix well.  Toss in nuts.  Spread nuts on a baking sheet and cook for 10-15 minutes until nuts are beginning to brown.  Serve warm.

Cheese Truffles, Oh My!

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“After my first ATOP trip to Paris and the champagne region, meeting food artisans;

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I could not wait to go to Provence where we get to meet the farmers and local producers!” Tonni Callan

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Cultivating relationships with French food artisans is something I take very seriously.  I have been working for decades to find the very best experiences France has to offer!

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I am excited too, Tonni, about taking my Provence 2018 group to meet the farmers and producers of fine foods and wines of the region.

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A Taste of Provence is a bit more relaxed pace.  Unlike Paris, people tend to take their time and get to know one another.

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We may even get to milk the goats before seeing how this creamy tart cheese is made.

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I was inspired to create my recipe for Goat Cheese Truffles by a visit to a cheese cave in Saint Remy-de-Provence.

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I’ll be taking my travelers here to enjoy local wine, some of these luscious morsels and the beautiful cave. Saint Remy, nicknamed the jewel of Provence, will be our home for a week.

There is still time to register for travel with me to Provence in 2019!

And meanwhile, make some of these beautiful treats to enjoy with a bottle of rosé this weekend!

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Goat Cheese Truffles 3 Varieties

Base

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

6 ounce package fresh chevre

Prepare base mixture by combining cheeses and mixing well. Split mixture evenly into 3 small bowls. Proceed with each recipe below.

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Paprika Goat Cheese Truffles

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 clove garlic, pressed

3 tablespoons paprika, divided.

To one of the small bowls of cheese mix onion powder, garlic and ¼ teaspoon paprika and mix well. Shape scant teaspoon sized amounts of cheese into balls.  Place remaining paprika in a shallow dish and roll each cheese ball into the paprika coating all surfaces

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Herbed Goat Cheese Truffles

½ teaspoon herbs de Provence

¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley divided

To one of the small bowls of cheese mix herbs and ½ teaspoon parsley and mix well. Shape scant teaspoon sized amounts of cheese into balls.  Place remaining parsley in a shallow dish and roll each cheese ball into the parsley coating all surfaces.

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Lavender Goat Cheese Truffles

¼ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon creamed honey

¼ cup crushed lavender

To one of the small bowls of cheese mix onion powder and honey and mix well. Shape scant teaspoon sized amounts of cheese into balls.  Place lavender in a shallow dish and roll each cheese ball into the parsley coating all surfaces.

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