Archive for October, 2012

Quince crumble with orange and ginger..and bistrot flavor.

Quinces are bistro food…either in the form of jams and jellies or simmering on the stove for a compote or in the oven as a side dish. In season, freshly picked from the garden, on the market, they are on all the bistro menus for as long as the season lasts. And a crumble says it all. Comfort, warmth, flavor, senses, laughter, friends, cosiness, delicious.. a few words to capture a quince…and  a bistrot.

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Boil the seeds and inner core along with the dice of quince – it flavors the mixture ant thickens the syrup.
  • Replace the ginger with cinnamon if you don’t like ginger.
  • Make smaller ramequins of crumble and serve as part of a plate of three dessert.
  • Use apple with quince.

..whipped cream, slice of orange and a ramequin of crumble..

..ingredients..

..Bistro flavor..

Life is a ratatouille, a blanquette, a bourguignon. It is a tartelette, a crumble, a millefeuille… life is a bistrot. No Michelin star restaurant, or any well known chef or trendy novelty or brocante can capture French life like le bistro. It is the place  we  go for our lunch or dinner because it feels like home. It is the place we go for our café, because that is where our friends are.

..bistrot at Coin Perdu..

We depend on the chef of le bistro to entice us with le plat du jour, or better yet, le menu du jour, where we sit back with a carafe of house wine and wait for our entrée et plat, or plat et dessert. The menu for the day mostly consists of either a starter and main course OR main course and dessert. Of course written on the blackboard, since the menu of the day follows the season! So never trust a bistrot without a blackboard!

.. plat du jour at Coin Perdu…

Bistrot life is just in my blood I guess. I love my coffee and croissant. Freshly squeezed orange juice. Pierrot gourmand. I love the simple French home kitchen where life is about family, friends and food. Around a bistrot table, discussion is always about the food. Of course other subjects are touched, but the food is always an obvious point of discussion…”is it delicious, or not so good today? Too much salt on the salmon? Too little butter in the sauce? Is the housewine good with the bourguignon? Is this year’s November Beaujolais better than last year..?”

..also called café des artistes..

I love the typically bistrot serviette, which speaks of the simplicity, but warmth of the French home kitchen. Simplicity doesn’t mean uninteresting or plain or boring, on the contrary. The French kitchen is filled with the exiting freshness of each season, whether it is in setting the table or making a soup or serving a Paris-brest. Frou-frou is left to the stage at Moulin rouge..in the bistro kitchen the soul is naked and simple..honest and true.

..des serviettes de mon bistrot..

I love La place, where a bistrot is always nestled between tables and chairs, people and fountains, pigeons and dogs of all colors. It is a place where the placid passing by of the morning makes way for the clutter of knives and forks, the clinking of glasses and loud chatter of happy eaters at midday.

..and outside we’ll find la place du café..

Some of my most favorite Bistrot books, which I know almost by heart from reading them again and again. They can be found on amazon.fr.

..Esprit bistrot..

..”Lotte de Bretagne piquée au chorizo, risotto façon paella”-Bruno Doucet à La Regalade

et bistro L’Ami Jean..

..Bistrots de chefs à Paris..

..Cyril Bourlois – bistrot  Aux vieux comptoir..

..Simplement bistrot- Yves Camdeborde..

..La tarte fine aux pommes – Yves Camdeborde

..Bistrot; autour et avec les recettes du Paul Bert – Bertrand Auboyneau et François Siumon..

..l’cailler du bistrot et une serveuse..

..Un café à la campagne – Christophe Lefébure..

..to the left: Chez Baudy à Giverny, where American artists gathered at the turn of the XIX and XXth centuriesto be in the presence of Monet..and ancient cafés to the right..


Ambiance – Champignons d’Octobre.

Armed with my camera and macro lens, my boots and hat, I headed for the woods.

Goal?

But…champignons of course!!

..my favorite hat..

Note: I’m not a mushroom expert, except when it comes to eating them, in which case I do have a strong opinion. So I may be wrong in my classification of these mushrooms. It is very difficult to identify them, since some are so close in appearance and character. See the end of the post for the sources I tapped into. The photos are of course my own.

..Entoloma lividum - toxic, under leaves

.. Hypholoma fasciculare – a poisonous mushroom, very common, grows on dead wood..

..Polypore feutré (Inonotus cuticularis)- a parasite that live on the damaged parts of live trees..

..armillaria gallica – toxic, grows on dead branches and leaves

..dacrymyces microsporus -grows on dead branches and tree trunks..

..Clavaire etroite – common on dead leaves and rotting wood..

..Russules Maculée – common under leaves on alcalic soil..

Sources:

I will soon  have to go back into the woods, because I haven’ captured even half of what is still out there; And some of my photos didn’t turn out good enough which I’ll have to redo. So, until such time…

♥ don’t eat mushrooms which haven’t been identified by an expert..

♥ keep unidentified mushrooms apart for the others..

♥ clean your hands after touching a strange mushroom..

♥ don’t forget your camera..

à bientôt!

Ronelle


Autumn in Amsterdam..and a lamb tajine.

Once again, a great time spent on my feet. This time round I spent my days leisurely strolling around. Gone are the days I fly on my feet and hyperventilate to catch all museum doors open. Now I simply enjoy the different culture which I find myself in for a few days, the different lifestyle and the habits of the pedestrian passing me by, and I fall in with each moment as it presents itself. And I still have a lot of fun..like getting lost.

I thought I knew Amsterdam by now, but I got so lost this time I almost ended up in Antwerpen! I walked for 2 hours before admitting I am lost and then spent almost another 2 to get out of my predicament and to some familiar ground. I have a good sense of direction(usually) and very  rarely use a map and I have (usually) some great experiences with getting a bit  lost. Unfortunately this wasn’t one of those occasions where one falls upon treasures on your lost road, on the contrary, it was a bit challenging. Maybe because it started getting dark and the streets I wandered started getting empty, or maybe because I saw so many black dogs lying outside the doors, or could it be the barred doors and windows I passed? With a dead phone battery and a very fertile imagination I continued walking. When I saw a young woman with a black Doberman on a leash, I decided this was my saving line..I followed her, not having the slightest idea where she was going, but I hoped if something happened, maybe she would unleash that black dog. I also had the good hope that she would get me to a less scarier corner. It worked.  Following her brought me back to where I could at least see the church tower and I started breathing easier again.

By that time, my feet burned from wearing winter shoes my feet aren’t used to yet, I was hungry and thirsty and exhausted from visualizing the end of my life. A tiny Turkish eating corner and its beautiful young owner with her long dark black hair came to my rescue. I plonked my tired body into one of her chairs and ordered a chicken tajine with yellow rice and dried fruits and beetroot and a large glass of mint tea. That was the best meal I’ve ever had and I could see a future ahead of me again!

So, in commemoration of that wonderful reviving tajine, here is my version of it…delicious if I may say so myself..or maybe it lies in the memory..

..Tajine d’agneau(lamb tajine)..

Une pincée de fleur de sel:

  • Use whichever meat you prefer, just adjust the cooking time. White meat like chicken cooks quicker than red meat like lamb and beef.
  • ALWAYS brown your pieces of meat before making a stewing dish..it enhances flavor.
  • Don’t drown your meat with liquid when braising. Adding a little liquid thorough the cooking time makes for a more flavorful and thicker, caramelized sauce.
  • Add fruits towards the end if you want whole pieces of fruit in your meal. Adding them earlier will break up the fruit and thicken and naturally sweeten the sauce
  • A tajine served the next day is even better in flavor. Just add a little water to reheat because the sauce thickens when standing.

Everybody knows Amsterdam for its tulips and canals and of course bicycles. And so, like all tourists, I also took some typical touristy shots, depicting Amsterdam in its daily habit. Of course there is much more to a buzzing city like Amsterdam apart from its colorful dress code. There is its poverty and illness, its age and constructional city problems, the crime and simply mean people, as I’ve had the misfortune of discovering.

..My soup bench and the surprise element..

But there is also the surprise element like when I was taken aback by a young man, staggering towards me and my soup on a bench(above). With a half empty bottle in his one hand and a full one in the other, he asked me in Dutch for a cigarette; I shook my head and pulled up my shoulders, suggesting I don’t understand. He switched to English and again I shrugged my shoulders. Being convinced he would understand no word of French, I answered him and satisfied with myself, I turned my attention to my soup. In perfect French, he addressed me again and even paid me an askew compliment, while holding out his hand to me in greeting.  I almost swallowed my soup cup. What are the odds of a street bum speaking 3 languages fluently? Of course I had to take his sweaty hand in acknowledgement of him checkmating me in my own game.

..Pompadour chocolates and coffee..

I frequently stopped r for so,something to drink, which would be either a coffee or freshly squeezed orange juice. And it hit me how the little coffee shops differ so immensely from ours here in France. It could be anything from only one tiny table to a single wooden bench or a row of cushions. This is  what I wanted to capture.

..Royal bagels and muffins..

..Greenwoods, with everything and anything..

..A single bench at LEF..

..Cushions and blankies at Kaldi..

..So many, many more coffee shops to choose from..

I skipped on museums this time, but I visited many an art gallery..some highly expensive, some interesting and some plain boring. But there is sure something for everyone. And with capturing a little of the art here in Amsterdam, I couldn’t resist being a little kitschy in introducing a bicycle sweeping by in front of my lens…now that was fun!

Of course Amsterdam isn’t Amsterdam without its bulbs. I carried somewhat heavy on my plastic bag all the way back to Coin Perdu, where they await their planting. Bulbs, bulbs and bulbs..will they grow?

..Bulbs and bulbs and bulbs..

Too soon I had to say goodbye to my new friends and head back home. But there is always the prospect of seeing them again..I wonder what experiences will await me then..

..dear friends..

..à bientôt..

Ronelle


A fairytale French wedding.

When asked which is her favorite princess in a fairytale, Marinell always says Belle, from Beauty and the beast. On 15 September she really was Belle and she had her handsome blue eyed prince and her castle..and they danced in the sunset on “La vie en rose”, their own fairytale.

..Chateau du Doux..

(photo: Lisa Allen photography Toulouse)

..on the staircase in the chateau..

(photo: Lisa Allen photography Toulouse)

..in the library of the chateau..

(photo: Lisa Allen photography Toulouse)

Both the bride and groom wanted a traditional wedding, from the word go. The challenge was to incorporate the traditions of three different cultures. As time passed and planning was done step by step(mostly by themselves), it all naturally fell into place. The finished result was a good and fun mix of 3 cultures and even the hands that helped stretched over continents; friends and family from SA to Australia, friends and family from the UK and of courseall those good friends from France. Everyboldy pitched in happily… preparing salds for the Friday evening’s barbecue, roaming the forest for ferns and moss and branches, loading and unloading tables and chairs and pots and urns, stripping leaves from ferns for confetti, arranging flowers, setting tables, folding napkins, sweeping floors, making coffees, taxying people from the airport…and finally we all sat down together for dinner in a candle lit room, surrounded by happy chat and laughter. This is exactly how I wanted their day to end. Happy.

..flowers in the church of Le Pescher..

..”supposed” to be singing..

..signing..

..confetti made of Ferns we picked in our forest at Coin Perdu and many hands helped strip the leaves..

..confetti-time..

..Now where are you off to..?

..Resting on the bridge after walking with everybody through the little village of Le Pescher..

Like every mother, I was highly excited about this wedding of our first daughter.And like every mother, a little afraid too: of the costs, of not staying out of it( very hard!), of not being able to help them live their dream, of not being able to make the day only joyous and happy.To keep the costs down we did everything ourselves and worked quite hard, I did indeed succeed in staying out of it(sometimes), and it was a beautiful joyous and happy day on which they truly lived their dream by saying “I do”

..Striped paper straws for old fashioned coke bottles,  mailbox for letters, signing the guestbook, pouring oil into torches, lanterns and chandelles..

..Flowers, urns  and sitting corners in the garden..

Pampilles(crystals), hanging from tree branches – to find your seat..

..some fun in the garden..

..Twirling ladies..

(photo: Lisa Allen photography Toulouse)

..A first dance to Edith Piaf’s “La vie en rose”..

..Two pretty smiles..

(photo: W van Wyk)

..the dining room is ready..

..table decorations: moss and ferns and foliage from our forest at Coin Perdu; hydrangeas and grey foliage from the garden with accents of chardon and Chrysanthemum and camomiles among lanterns and some silver for sparkle.

..Entering for dinner..

(photo: Lisa Allen photography Toulouse)

..Bon appetit et bonne nuit!..

à bientôt!

Ronelle

***Photos: All images Ronelle van Wyk, unless otherwise stated.

***I have just recently started a Facebook page, which I call Café des artistes. It is an extension of my three blogs and on it I do exactly what one would do in a café around coffee..talk about art and life and food and photography..if you are interested in some of these short snippets, you can find my link in the sidebar to join. You will also find more photos of the wedding on my facebook page..as always, Ronelle


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