Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annecy - The Market (9/30)

Wishful thinking pup!!!


Je T'aime Les Légumes

...and I was horrified when I bought my first chicken in England and the scaly bit of the legs were left on...

You can't really tell in this photo, but the beet root in the right hand corner is the size of a brain!

Purple beans? C'est bon!

Richard Belzer (Law & Order SVU) in disguise?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Annecy (9/30)

Located 22 miles south of Geneva, Annecy is a well preserved, gorgeous Medieval city.

The Palais de l'Isle (old prison), was built in the 12th century. It is the symbol of the town and is most photographed image of Annecy.

Annecy is twinned with:
* Bayreuth, Bavaria, Germany

* Cheltenham, United Kingdom

* Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia

* Venice, Italy
It is a very stylish city with many fashionable shops and restaurants. We spotted a Subway in Annecy. We had a few when I lived in England, but I wouldn't have expected to find them in France. I was curious to know if they used the same bread as in the US (they do in the UK), or if the French would demand firmer baguettes in which they were more accustomed to. However, I was not curious enough to actually find out. We also spotted a McDonalds. Not pictured - for obvious reasons.

I couldn't resist stuffing my pockets with left over bread from lunch to take back to the moorhen that I had made friends with earlier that morning. In the process, attracted two swans and some ducks. Hey, when away from home, do as the tourists will do!

For more information on Annecy, please click the following link:

Je T'aime: My First Macaron (9/29)

This was my very first macaron, and if I'm honest, the iridescent lavender flecks on the top also added to appeal of a blue colored bite sized treat. The blue macaron, as I had hoped, turned out to be violet... and violet perfection it was: not too perfumey, yet not too sweet. It was absolutely divine. The meringue part was nice and light - crunchy on the outside and chewy in the inside, and the filling more like a mousse texture. It has almost been a month now since I put that little blue dream of a confection in my mouth, and I remember it like it was 5 minutes ago. It was a perfect introduction to the macaron, and set the bar high. I am only wishing that I could have one right now... sigh...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Je T'aime: Perrier Menthe (9/29)

Perrier Menthe is a brilliantly colored, very refreshing drink that is popular in cafes and bars across France. It is a mixture of Perrier (or any sparkling water / soda water) mixed with Mint Syrup. I would guess the ratio is about 7 (water) to 1 (syrup).

Yes, I was apprehensive at first to try something that had the potential of tasting like chilled carbonated mouthwash, but first sip aside, it was actually very enjoyable. I've been to France several times before, but this was a first for me. Served with a stirrer, you get to mix it up a bit again before drinking. This is a good idea as I found the syrup to settle, and the bottom did taste a bit like mouthwash. Next time I would probably have a few intermittent stirs.

We had originally stopped for a thé citron - but with the sun shining so warmly, I am glad to have opted for a more refreshing, quintessentially French drink.

Talloires: Heaven in the Alps (9/29)

After lunch we headed off to Talloires, a small town and commune of the Haute-Savoie département. A popular tourist spot, it has also been referred to as "most romantic village" in France. It is a beautiful town, and was sunny and warm that afternoon - which sent us quickly looking for liquid refreshments. We found a quaint little bar in which J was excited to discover offered Wi-Fi (pronounced Wee-Fee, of course).
Enter the Perrier Menthe, which completely quenched my thirst.

Afterwards we had a look around the boutique of L'Auberge du Pere Bise. This is a very well known, very upscale Hotel and Restaurant. Much to the dismay of the boutique girl (and much to the amusement of my sister-in-law), I opted to buy one Macaron. This was an extreme faux pas, but at 60 cents euro a piece, I was only curious enough to try one of the blue ones in case they tasted of lake scum. I can happily report that they did not, and I returned to buy an entire bag.
This was a narrow house that took my fancy. Not only did it have fantastic views in all direction, but porches on each floor! Now I have to admit, I have sort of an obsession with porches and my knees go weak at the thought of Charleston's historic section. On a hot day, this house would be a dream. Just open the windows and I would imagine that you'd have a fantastic breeze.
The entire area was full of hang gliders. We noticed about 10 in one area, all with different color gliders. It looked like the sky was raining Crayola drops!
With the Alpine mountains in the backdrop, and the town sitting on a lake, you can see why this is THE ideal tourist spot.
The water was so blue and clear, it looked as though the boats were floating on air.
For more information on L'Auberge du Pere Bise, please click the link to their website:
Tél. : +33 (0)4 50 60 72 01 - Fax : +33 (0)4 50 60 73 05

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lunch at Châlet la Pricaz (9/29)

Our first full day there, we drove into the mountains to have lunch at this lovely restaurant with breathtaking views of the lake. The restaurant was Châlet la Pricaz and is located in Forclaz, which offers these stunning views of Lac d'Annecy:
The most popular dish that day seemed to be the Tartiflette: a Savoyard gratin consisting of potatoes, cheese, and some kind of meat such as bacon. Traditionally, the cheese in tartiflette is Reblochon*, and it is believe that the dish was launched in the 1980's by the Reblochon trade union in an attempt to increase sales of the cheese.
Châlet la Pricaz's presentation was brilliant, a simple piece of wood, with the dish of baked gratin, a sealed jar with nicely dressed salad greens, and a couple slices of jambon fumé de Savoie that were the best I've ever tasted: nice and thick with an earthly smoked flavor.

This was our first official "proper" meal out in France, and I was not disappointed. The presentation, coupled with the flavors and view created a perfect afternoon in France that I will always cherish. It will definitely go down as one of my all time favorite food memories.
Now I'm not sure if it is traditional of all tartiflette, this one was topped with thinly sliced bread. Here is a close up for you to enjoy... in the upcoming months, I will try to perfect my own version and will post the results when I do.

J opted for the meat platter: Again, I was so struck by the simple presentation: luscious meats, massive cornichons, and a dab of butter - all served on a plank of wood! While J's parents and I opted for a nice bottle of Apremont, J opted for a local brew:

* Reblochon is a nutty tasting, soft washed-rind cheese French cheese from the Alps region of Savoie, made from raw cow's milk. The cow breeds best for producing the milk needed for this cheese are the Abondance, Tarentaise and the Montbéliard. The owners of Châlet la Pricaz make their own Reblochon nearby from the milk of their Tarine cows. (photos of the cows to be added to this posting in the upcoming week)

For more info (including a menu and more photos) of Châlet la Pricaz, please click the following link:

Our Menu Choices:

Me: Gratin de la ferme, jambon fumé de Savoie, salade de saison 18.00€

J: Ecorce de charcuterie, confiture d’oignon jaune paille, beurre de ferme 16.00€

Chalet La Pricaz Restaurant avec vue panoramique sur le Lac d' Annecy depuis le Col de la Forclaz

Tèl: Fax:

Le Gite - Chalet Rosiers, Verthier (09/29)

Our gite was in a villaged called Verthier. Verthier a tiny village at the southern end of Lake Annecy. The gite was just up the road from the chapel in the center of this photo, and as far as the house on the righ: anyone that has grapes growing on the side of their house is alright by me!
This was the place that we called home our first week. It was a lovely Alpine style building with fabulous views of the mountains and a portion of Lac Annecy. We even had the comfort of Sky News!
Verthier proved to be the perfect location - private and away from heavy traffic, yet close enough to civilization and great mountain walks.

Je T'aime: French Lizard (9/29)

The first full morning we were in France, we stopped to have a coffee and were joined by this interesting lizard. Poor thing had lost it's tail pretty high up, then it looks like it wasn't healing properly and it sprouted two. Needless to say, I found it way more fascinating than I should have...

Italian Film Festival in Annecy (9/29)

Annecy Cinéma Italien 2008
Rendez-vous du 30 septembre au 7 octobre pour la 26e édition !

Bonlieu Scène Nationale1, rue Jean Jaurès74007
AnnecyTél. 04 50 33 44 11 - Télécopie 04 50 33 44 34

MIA: We're on Our Way (9/27-9/28)

I am always a nervous traveler: once I get to destination I'm fine, but getting there is a bit of a mess. The hardest part is the fact that the older I get, the more afraid I am of flying, then pair that with leaving little Harry: we have such a routine together that I miss him terribly when I'm away. Usually on travel day, I wake up early feeling as though someone has beaten me in the stomach. This morning was no different: I woke up early, feeling horrible, only to find an unwelcome visitor in my pool:

Yes, I know, he barley looks larger than a worm, but it's still a snake. All of this seemed to unlikely to be a coincidence, and I was certain that it was a sign that we shouldn't travel.

Luckily, we had a fantastic driver on the way to TPA, who recommended a place to eat in Miami to help pass some of our 4 hour + lay over. By the time we got to MIA, I was absolutely drooling for some Cuban food and set off to find La Carreta. Our driver had really talked it up, so I was completely disappointed when I saw that it was a cafeteria style diner and not the luxurious, sit down establishment that I had envisioned. Once over my disappointment and the slightly off putting photos on the wall of their menu, we pressed on. First glimpse of their ropa vieja and all prejudice had vanished: it looked divine! It is honestly one of my favorite dishes and La Carreta certainly did it proud. The place was absolutely packed with what appeared to be locals and several pilots and flight crew - which is always a good sign. The staff were friendly and I will look forward to the opportunity to have another extended visit to MIA. The portions were huge, so it was lucky that J had only ordered a Cuban Sandwich and was able to help out...

After returning home, a friend at work who is from Miami said that La Carreta is actually a popular restaurant, with several locations around Miami.

With lovely food filled bellies, we headed back to our terminal for a few pre-flight-nerve-calming drinks. Just after the security check was part of the AIDS quilt. I had never seen it in person before, but it was quite profound. The most overwhelming square that caught my eye was all brown with a black and white framed photo of a dog in the center. It was a photo of the man-that-died's dog that he had left behind. Strangely enough I didn't get a photo of that square, but here is a glimpse of what I did see:
After that, we moved on to the Sam Adams Brewhouse and heard that sad news that Paul Newman had passed away. Sadly, I'm more familiar with his food products than I am his work in films. Several excellent Gin and Tonics later - and one spotting of a woman who looked very much like the lady in the 1997 BT advert whom cheerfully squealed "we're going to Mex-EEE-co" - i was ready to take on that horrendous flight.

Horrendous it was, and I will spare you the details but it was all worthwhile as I was in FRANCE! My favorite place in the world - and I was going to experience different parts that I had never been to before.

Our first official day consisted of a 6 hour drive to Annecy, stopping for a cheerful lunch at the Autogrill. The long, uncomfortable flight was completely worth it once I laid eyes on this automotive gem:

Yes, my friends, you are seeing this correctly: it is a Bon Jovi addition VW! I have heard of their existence, my sister-in-law had one (not by choice, might I stress) in the late '90s. This spotting made my trip worthwhile on day one. I had seen all I needed to see and didn't mind if my trip had to end. That was until we got to our gite and I saw the view:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bon Soir!

We're back. After two fantastic, action packed weeks in France, we arrived home late last night and it was back to work bright and early today. Over the past two weeks I took over 1,000 photos. I will be sorting them out this week then will be posting about my adventures in France (and the divine foods I ate) next weekend.

Until then... Bon Soir!