Tapenade from Opio on the French Riviera : 3oz $9.00

DSC00655 [Desktop Resolution].JPGDelicious in sandwiches , on bread with a slice of tomato and goat cheese....or in  a stew like my favorite recipe : "Lapin / rabbit or chicken" a la tapenade ! Recipe follow...

18:39 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


White peaches in lemon verbena syrup / yellow peaches in lavender honey syrup

Peaches are in season right now and so delicious ! This is a very easy recipe that makes a fantastic fresh summer desert .....

For 4 to 6 white peaches :

Boil some water and pour over the peaches . Let stand a few minutes. Strain and peal . Cut the peaches in quaters.

In 80cl of water , disolve on medium heat about 200 grs of sugar ( more or less depending on how sweet the peaches are )  .Take to a boil for a few minutes and ad a bunch of fresh lemon verbena leaves ( I grow my own , but you can find some at Hillcrest Farmers market). Let stand covered to infuse the verbena . Remove the leaves and gently put the peaches quaters into that syrup . Simmer for 10-15 mns until peaches are poached. Ad some new fesh verbena leaves and cool down in the fridge . Serve very cold with some syrup and some leaves .

This recipe can be done also with yellow peaches . Instead  of sugar , I use lavender honey in the same proportions and ad long zests of citrus fruits ( grapefruit, orange and lemon ) witch I serve with the fruits . The mix of lavender honey and zests is fantastic .

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Voila !! Thanks Pierre for an other great recipe :)


05:14 Posted by Marielle Giai in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Lanterns by Plemmie

Beautiful lanterns  made by our friend , local artist Plemmie

She paints and decorate them by hand and can personalize or do any special order for your special event ,wedding , baby shower...

These lanterns all come with LED lights that will bring charm to your patio, child's room or table center.

Prices from $35 to $50 for the ones in stock at

Maison en Provence


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23:13 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Roasted apricots with lavender honey


DSC_4867 [Desktop Resolution].JPGIt is apricot season ! One of my favorite way to eat them is simply roasted....the twist ??  Some lavender honey  ! Place the apricots cut side up in an earthenware baking dish. Sprinkle with some lavender flowers( very little or it could be too pungent) . If your apricots are not too sweet ad some sugar ( 2-4 tbs) . Bake in the owen 350F . When they start to soften and releasing their juice ad some lavender honey ( up to your taste about 4 tbs) and a couple of tablespoons of sweet wine ( Muscat de Beaumes de Venise ...this one is my favorite because it's so close to my home town in Provence) Finish to roast until a bit brown. Serve still warm with some fresh made whipped cream or panacotta gelato. Personally I serve them with some home made lavender honey ice cream and almond "tuiles" a traditional cookie shaped like a roof tile . This recipe will transport you to Provence !

04:30 Posted by Marielle Giai in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


My Japanese heritage...

I met Japanese Designer Yukari Nishiyama in Tokyo last fall at a family friend's dinner....she and her mother Hiroko design and make beautiful gowns out of vintage silk kimonos witch they brought for me to try on after dinner.....what a fun night we've had doing a mini fashion show in this old traditional Japanese house !

I left Japan with a dress , a jacket , a blouse AND a clutch !!


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Yukari and I holding a furoshiki wrapping my dress 


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Hiroko and I  wearing one of their  beautiful gown


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I wanted to take them all...how to decide ?? But this will be the one ...


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Trying on a wedding kimono before Yukari will transform it into an evening dress.

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I wore this jacket in Tokyo one night and was surprise that a lady in full traditional  kimono went up to me to chat and make sure I was aware that  this was the inside of a men's kimono and that is was rare to have such design inside a kimono ( people in Japan do not engage in conversation like here ...specially not to strangers in the street .That jacket must be really special ! )

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Wearing my blouse this Thanksgiving !


I loved my new friend Yukari's unique purses so much , I wanted to share with my clients and decided to import her clutches made from vintage silk brocade kimono belts ( Obi ) . I hope you will love and appreciate her work as much as I do ...

Here are some of the purses we just received !


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I know it may sound like a strange fit for our little french store but it is part of my heritage as some of you may already know that I am   half French - half Japanese !

I  got my 5'11 figure from my French dad of course  and his freckles !


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On the left my french grand father Cesar Combe in front of the family cafe


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Me in hills and my dad 25 years ago ....


But my mum is 100% Japanese ....

Growing up it was a bit bizarre and totally normal at the same time for me to have a mix of Provencal and Japanese decor in our home  or  to eat ratatouille for lunch and sashimi for dinner!! I knew of course that my grand parents were japanese but it became more real after I went to Japan for the first time 6 years ago and met my Japanese cousin still leaving in the family's house in Yokosuka south of Tokyo . I had not seen any photos of him  before or even some of my grand parents when they were young ... going through the family photo albums in Japan was an emotional moment , a discovery  of my roots and an appreciation for the journey my grand parents took so long ago  .

It all started because Monsieur Gustave Carpentier, a french banker  living in Japan, met and married Saku Kaneko : my grand father's sister ! When Mr Gustave Carpentier retired , the family moved back to the south of France where he bought a farm and was planning to make some wine  . In Japan a recession was hitting people very hard at that time and in 1922 my grand father Kakuji Kaneko and his wife Fuji Okamoto  decided to move to Provence as well to take care of Mr Carpentier's farm and winery . My family was some of the very first Japanese settlers in France . They tried as much as possible to blend in and to integrate their new country . My mum and all of her brothers were born in France and unfortunately they never learn Japanese but my mum learned to cook and make ikebana flower arrangements and she passed it down to me as well .

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Mr Carpentier seating on the bench with his daughter ( his wife is the 3rd back right )


img265 [800x600].jpgMy grand father , his nephew , my grand mother and their fist daugter Saki

in Provence soon after they had moved


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My grand father 



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His sister


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Photos in my cousin's family album


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The whole family : 

Toshi , Georges , Saki , my grand parents , Pierre and in front my mum Suzanne



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My mum at 5 years old in a school play ....so cute !



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 Here with my mum and grand mother


img166 (Large).jpgWith my grand mother and Masako my mum's japanese friend . Masako was a student in Aix en Provence at the time and became very close to my mum . She still is ...and became friend with the Okamoto family in Japan where she leaves in Yokosuka as well.

DSC12204 [800x600].jpgIn the family home in Yokosuka .Masamichi Okamoto  my cousin, Masako next to him is translating for us . 

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In front of the giant Buddha of Kamakura .

My grand mother's last trip to Japan to visit her brother ( Masamichi's grand father ) .



DSC02804 (Large).JPGSame place ...some 40 years later . Us with Masako , Masmichi's wife and kids


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A [800x600].jpgWith Masamich and his wife Yasuko last fall...I can see the family genes !!


DSC_2043 [1280x768].JPGTo witness the sunrise over magestic Mont Fuji was our dream and we did it !



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With my mun a few years ago


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in 2007 Japanese Prince Hitachi ( Masahito ) , current Emperor Akihito's younger brother and his wife Princess Hitachi ( Hanako ) wanted during their visit in Provence to meet my family !     It even was on Japanese TV !! On the left my oldest uncle Toshi and his wife , the Prince and his wife and far right one of Mr Carpentier's daughter Aimee . Behind her , my mum and on her left an other of Mr Carpentier's daugter Renee with her daugter . Left are my cousins Francoise       ( Toshi's daugter ) and Alain ( Pierre's son ) 



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My mum making a black truffle omelette for lunch ....



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And sushis for dinner !













15:31 Posted by Marielle Giai in Obi purses /my Japanese heritage | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


"Clafoutis aux cerises " or traditional french cherry cake.

It is cherry season again !! Time to make some cherry cake or as we say "clafoutis" in Provence. This is a very simple recipe that sure will delect eveybody.


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For 6 people and a round baking dish about 10" diameter  2 " deep :

Butter the botton of the mold .Then fill it up with enough cherries to cover the mold entirely and almost have a partial second layer of fruits ( you'll need almost 2 pounds of fruits ) .Pit the cherries carefully !!

Cover the fruits with a batter made with :

2 eggs lightly beaten , 200ml of whipping cream,

50grs of grounded almonds ( about 4 tablespoons ) available at Trader Joes . Ralph and Whole foods also sell almond meal

75grs of self rising flour  ( about 4 tablespoons ) , 40 grs of melted butter , 75 to 100 grs of sugar depending on how sweet or not the cherries are ( 4 to 6 tbs ) , vanilla ( extract or beans) and a dash of a good dark rhum .

( please note that the tablespoons measurements are really approximative....my mum said a couple of soup spoons = 2 tbs ??  I measure in grams not in tbs.....measuring in grams will give you the perfect result and you won't take the chance to have  a cake to heavy in flour ....)

Sprinkle with some coarse crystallized sugar and a few sliced almonds .Bake at 350F for about 30 to 40 mns ( until knife comes out clean and cake is golden brown )

Serve with some panacotta ice cream or vanilla ice cream. I think that cake is best eaten a few hours after it's done ...almost still a bit warm so I try to make it late afternoon if we'll have it for dinner. It gets a bit soggy the next day with the moisture of the fruits.


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22:20 Posted by Marielle Giai in Recipes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |