Friday, April 23, 2010

Asparagus? It Must Be Spring

Sunday, one of those beautiful Provencal spring days.  Our village had a festival---Fête de l'Asperge.
  The Place Aux Plantanes was bustling with local producers,
 olive oils,
freshly baked breads
(Joe talking with the baker)
 and asparagus. 
The covered fields in our area are producing white, green and purple asparagus, so freshly picked that the flavors of spring burst forth.
Local restaurants tempted us with asparagus laden foods----
Lisa M's with her wonderful salad menu and my selection,

and asparagus omelets freshly made by Le Versoise
As the people sat with friends in the Place for lunch, an accordionist added lively music and those around him enjoyed joining in the festivities.
One gentlemen set up his purple covered table along with his bottle of wine on his terrasse to watch over the festivities.
But to me, the most fun of the day came late in the afternoon when local cooks arrived with their asparagus creations.  
Waiting to be judged or putting on the last finishing touches

the chefs anxiously watch as their creations are tasted by a panel of judges.
Each dish was carefully observed, tasted, and savored before the scores were recorded.
Along with our mayor, Marc Poulon, and another gentleman (who must have been important as he was in a suit!), Lisa Muncan of our innovative local restaurant, Lisa M and Jérome Nuile of the two star Le Castellas in Collias, enjoyed tasting each creation.
Alas, only three winners------and as I took so many pictures, my camera died, therefore, no pictures of those winners.

Next year, if you are visiting us in spring, don't miss Vers Pont du Gard's Fête de l'Asperge.  We will meet you for lunch.

Thank you, Eva and all your helpers, who put on such a delightful fête.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Where, Oh, Where?

As many of you know, in Colorado I have an entire wall of enclosed storage for my large serving items, dishware, glasses, and things and foods I love to use for cooking and entertaining.  When we bought our home here, the kitchen had a very old sink of unknown character  We had to add everything.  Very simply, I have a minimal area, not an American kitchen.

In our kitchen this is my open area to store things.  I do not have large serving bowls, platters, or trays even though in the summer in the courtyard we have had 15 for dinner.  Everything is used to serve.

Yesterday, a beautiful Spring morning, we ambled through the countryside, visited Medieval villages where you might be able to get one car thru the passages, and discovered a brocante (flea market).  Now, brocantes are like magnets---they pull us in.  I know there must be that perfect treasure.  It  was waiting for us---two wooden bookcases to place our many books.  Alas, someone had already acquired that treasure.  However, on a table with a very eager gentleman, a soup tureen which would be perfect for vegetables, salads, soup, even a plant.  Yes, very multipurpose.  And only---

I knew it was for us, as did that eager gentleman (I know his wife had told him not to bring any of "that" junk home!)  Before we realized it, we had bought that tureen...

and a few more things for the bargain price of 10 Euros.

Eight soup plates, twelve dinner plates, two small casseroles were now ours.  Ah, but that was not all,

there are twelve more plates, not quit the same pattern.  Twenty-four people will be able to join us for dinner and the eager gentleman and his wife are happy.
Our dilemma, where will this new dinnerware find a home?  Ah, brocantes, you never know what you will need!
Á la prochaine,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just Smile

In the last hour, we welcomed Spring. 

The weather today is gorgeous and the open windows are letting the warmth in. 

We walked out of town to make the acquaintance of a delightfully curious donkey.  Look carefully to see his donkey window in the fence with a comfortable place to rest his neck.  Alas, I am sure he was expecting a carrot, however, we just had fresh grasses.

Entering the village, drums sounded in the distance along with a gaggle of children's voices  The park was alive with children all in colorful costumes.  Soon a line formed and a parade through the village began.

Inquiring as to the occasion, I was told it was a celebration to rid the troubles of winter and to welcome the warm spring.  What fun to see all the little ones from the Vers School in their many costumes of medieval maidens, knights, and of course, brides and football (soccer players) enjoying this spring day.

As we enjoyed the sound of laughter and tambourines, we were a welcome target for glitter and confetti.

And one last taste of spring from the morning market.........

Á bientôt, 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A good, professional haircut

Pruning is complete!  We all say that with a sigh of relief---especially Amy.  With her editing the American edition of the French wine book she works with, tasting hundreds of wines and reviewing each for this year's edition, and pruning all of their vineyards, the beginning of her year has been busy.
For those of you who knew we were coming to prune, here is the process.

The vines, after being picked last fall, reveal that they really have had a bad hair day.  The tendrils cling to the wires supporting them and the canes intertwine along these wires and amongst other canes to create a maze of growth.

Molly and I went along and pre-trimmed the vines leaving the vine looking like it had a fresh, spring butch hair cut.  The canes are thrown into one row in order that Matt can mulch them.

And following us came the real pruners---Joe, Amy, Axel (our neighbor), Matt and Billy who did he final trimming.  The buds on the vines are ready to burst with some warm weather and the fresh cuts dripped clear liquid sap.

 The final pruning needs many decisions.  There should be only six healthy shoots remaining, if possible the shoot should be the lowest on the branch in order to make it stronger, and it should be cut on the third bud up from the stem.

The vines are now just the bones of what will be.  They march row after row in the fields waiting for the warmth of the sun.  Meanwhile, the yellow of the dandelions shines in each row.

 And the little abandoned house in the vineyard is alive with forsy(n)thia.

I hope that the sun is warming your earth and that you all had a wonderful Easter/Passover.