excursions, vol. 7: mourchon winery

45 minutes from Avignon is a small town called Seguret. Between Seguret and Mont Ventoux lies Mourchon. (You can find their wine all over the US, and I recommend it! Especially the rosé…!) Once a year, they have a picnic for their fans. My host father, Raynald, is a contractor, and he built the house and the production facility there. We drove up, got the picnic out of the car, walked around a corner, and entered heaven.

Mourchon 13 juillet
Mourchon 13 juillet
Mourchon 13 juillet
Mourchon 13 juillet
As dusk fell, people mingled while live music played. We crashed some friends’ picnic (but we did add our own food to the mix, so it wasn’t so greedy!)
Mourchon 13 juillet
And it even merits a sunset picture…
Mourchon 13 juillet

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the french pantry

My host mother Hélène prepares the most wonderful, simple dinners. Too hot to turn on the stove? A big Salade Niçoise appears. Need a bit of protein? Let’s have Oeufs en Cocotte, or simply put out slices of ham with the lovely heirloom tomato salad. All that’s left in the house is pasta and a single, lonesome tomato? Add a bunch of herbs, an unholy amount of garlic, and a generous glop of olive oil and you’ve got a “pistou” for your noodles.

Almost every dinner, there’s a tomato-heavy salad and fruit for dessert (side note: they salt and pepper their cantaloupe, and it’s great). They don’t drink every night, and when they do, they pour small amounts of rosé over ice cubes. They don’t snack between meals.

So, my take-home of all this is twofold. On the level of practices, I’m eager to make the weekly farmer’s market near me a part of my routine so I can replicate the beautiful salads and dessert fruits that I’ve become used to.

The second bit is more of an observation. Here are five things that are always in Hélène’s pantry that are rarely in mine (a peek in my pantry reveals a million kinds of beans, chipotles in adobo, and canned-tomato variations… I guess it’s obvious how much we make chili-ish meals!)

– Canned green beans
– Canned, high-quality tuna (and its cousin, tinned sardines)
– Chives, which she keeps chopped up in the freezer and adds to EVERYTHING – when’s the last time I used a chive?!
– Eggs (OK, I have those too, but I don’t use them as wisely)
– A selection of cheeses and fruits for dessert purposes (funny, both of these might be a snack in the US)

And bonus,
– “L’eau qui pique” – Sparkling water

dinners this week vol. 2: a great combination

This week, we had an amazing dinner double-up that I don’t want to forget. On the first night, we made this amazing recipe.

Lentil-Curry-Bowls-6
Photo credit: Pinch of Yum

The recipe for the cilantro-cashew sauce made way too much, but the sauce was delicious. I thought, what could we make that would use this? So we made falafel and pita.

pita-still-articleLarge
Photo credit: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

I had previously tried a different pita recipe, but this one really fluffed up better to make more expansive pockets. We served it with homemade harissa, lettuce with lime squeezed over it, peppers and cucumbers. And, of course, the cilantro-cashew sauce!

PS. The living room just got an upgrade… new post soon!

bacon pancakes

bacon pancakes_above

I have been wondering for a while if savory pancakes were a good idea, so yesterday I tested it out! We used Bisquick batter and added crumbled bacon we had cooked to the pancakes while they cooked. I have always liked bacon and syrup together, so this was totally yummy in my book. We’ll definitely be doing it again soon! Have you ever made savory pancakes?