Back to Provence

Late April is a bit too early but this year I had some pretty nice weather and could enjoy my mum's amazing wisteria , Lilac , iris and lily of the valley .   DSCN0930 (Large).JPG

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First trial run with the walker ...we are off to the marche !  My mum is still very skinny but I plan to put some fat on her body this time and do some cooking as always !DSCN0981 (Large).JPG

These were the cutest pet pigs !DSCN0986 (Large).JPG

The white wisteria on the "place de la mairie" main square .DSCN0987 (Large).JPG

I am making Pascal's grand mother's baby goat stew recipe ...a family tradition in the spring . I know my brother in law will appreciate as he too grew up with this .DSCN0970 (Large).JPG

I gave the recipe in a blog post in Provence a couple of years ago ...you can make this recipe with veal as it has a mild flavor as well . Now it has to simmer for an hour or more before I can finish the sauce with an egg yolk and cream just before to serve ....DSCN0977 (Large).JPG


My County in the Cote du Rhone area use to be just vine fields and wineries everywhere but the big wine crisis changed the landscape . When the price of French wines dropped drastically a lot of small wine makers saw their income slashed again and again .... a lot of them had to find a way to make ends meet . This one decided to change career . He and his wife removed all the vines and planted grass to feed some cheeps ,  trained for a year and are now making cheep's milk cheeses  and "yogurts"  my ultimate favorites. They are called "caille" and they do not use the same starter as a culture . It makes the yogurt very mild with zero acidity and extremely light like a fluffy milk . I could not find it anywhere but in Biarritz near Spain but now I can buy these at the market or at the farm for 0.60E each . Top with some crunchy sugar and a bit of whipping cream !DSCN0989 (Large).JPG

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Le "Chateau de Rochegude" a Relais and Chateaux hotel and restaurant just a few miles from my home town is a great place to stay in Provence , hidden in a quaint little village , quiet and close to everything at the same time . Perfect to explore the northern part of Provence , the Drome Provencale that I love so much . Less tourists and beautiful landscapes ! DSCN0998 (Large).JPG

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They are hosting a vintage car gathering today , the occasion for me to see some friends who have come from all over the south .DSCN1024 (Large).JPG

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Today we are celebrating my mum's cousin  100th Birthday ! She is still living in her home with the help of her daughters . I get to see my entire family this time and enjoy some fabulous Choux a la creme ! DSCN1035 (Large).JPG

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Mum making my favorites : Vietnamese fried rolls ....nobody makes them better than her ! Eat with lettuce , mint , fish sauce and rice.DSCN0931 (Large).JPG

Bringing back some very special souvenirs ; 3 vases in raku that my mum made DSCN1068 (Large).JPG

Now back in San Diego , I get to practice my Ikebana and make some flowers arrangements in those special vases  ! 1610932_10200333027605185_868294500195871707_n.jpg


01:46 Posted by Marielle Giai in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Le 14 juillet a San Diego

This year the entire neighborhood joined us in a big Bastille Day Celebration !

Every business decorated and had some French offerings : from a French menu to a special on French manicure , cheeses , wines ... It was a great success and we plan on growing the event even more next year with some French Movies at the outdoor theater " Cinema under the Stars" and more artists along the streets .

We hope you will be able to join us again and " Be French for a Day "

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Our little Photo "booth" was fun and people really play with it and dress the part !

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DSC_3568 - Copy (Large).JPGAlice , Yvonne and Marielle

photo 5.JPGThe cutest little girl of the day !


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Liz showing her paintings ! ElizabethWFineArt.com

DSC_3506 (Large).JPGYvonne selling her photography  www.yaphotos.net

DSC_3510 (Large).JPGLisa and her stained glass www.VerreDesigns.com

DSC_3511 (Large).JPGDana and her silk scarves, pillows  www.danamosser.com

DSC_3512 (Large).JPGAshley and her pottery

DSC_3513 (Large).JPGIris and her jewelry

DSCN1167 (Large).JPGSome of the watercolor cards that Barbra did specially for the day

DSCN1143 (Large).JPGButtons made specially for us by Alice .

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DSCN1164 (Large).JPGPetit "Cadeau surprise" ...little gift bags with purchase :)

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DSC_3522 (Large).JPGPeople were following the French flags from business to business .

DSC_3523 (Large).JPGFrench menu at Brooklyn Girl : The sweat breads and Duck a l'orange my favorites!

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The celebration even spread all the way to the West Lewis street !


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DSC_3514 - Copy (Large).JPGSomebody told us " You look so French" I guess it is easy when you are !

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22:14 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Lyon the capital of gastronomie in France

I had not been in Lyon for over 25 years but this year I will lay over on my way to Provence ... I have been dreaming about a REAL Quenelle de Lyon for way too long !

Many world famous chefs , 3 stars Michelin Restaurants , Paul Bocuse school ...but I am not after some fancy food in a high end decor but old fashion Lyon rustic food !

First I am renting a "Velove " ( the response to the "Velibre" in Paris ) to get around this not so big city ....plus I know I will need to burn some calories today ! To get into an appetite ...nothing like going to the market : The famous covered "Halles Bocuse "

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My favorite cheese ...never seen in the US : a creamy  Saint Felicien

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How about a cheese shaped like France  ! DSCN0819 (Large).JPG

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Escargots ready to go...DSCN0821 (Large).JPG

Pate en croute  with black trufflesDSCN0822 (Large).JPG

Famous chicken from Bresse, Guinea fowl , pigeons ...DSCN0826 (Large).JPG

Specialty Quenelles : with squid ink , fish or crayfish . Now I am shopping and taking some home ! I have tried to make some quenelles here in San Diego from scratch without any success and cannot wait to get my hands on these delicate "dumplings" . When you cook them in a creamy white sauce "nantua"  ( with more crayfish )  they fluff like a small souffle ! DSCN0815 (Large).JPG

The cheese stand was amazing but the charcuterie stand is not shabby either ! Do not mix saussisson sec and saussisson de Lyon: one is a dry salami , the other is fresh like a large sausage . This is what I came for too .DSCN0823 (Large).JPG

I guess everything is good with truffles but I will stick to the classic pistachio . Just simmer the saussisson slowly for 45mns and serve with steamed potatoes ...DSCN0824 (Large).JPG

Bulots are some of my favorites too...a sea snail delicious with some aioli .DSCN0825 (Large).JPG

A few Bulots and Oursins will do it as an appetizer today . The sea urchins are from Bretagne and despite being smaller than our local San Diegan monsters , they have a very similar delicate and flowery flavor ...eat French style with a good fresh baguette and sweet butter to mop the shell ! DSCN0830 (Large).JPG

I cannot help drool just looking at the pastries ...DSCN0828 (Large).JPG

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Time for lunch ! Chez Paul ...DSCN0835 (Large).JPG

In Lyon we do not call these Bistro or Cafe but Bouchon ... it all about meat , heavy , creamy delicious rustic food ! DSCN0836 (Large).JPG

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It's about the food but also a convivial atmosphere , sharing your table with other guests ...talking to the owner . At "Chez Paul"  they serve the appetizers family style ...you pass around big salad bowls with head pate , beat salad , lentils salad, more cured meat and more pate ....I am pacing myself ... Next is my piece de resistance : Blood sausage with mash potato and apple puree ....French blood sausages are not like any I've had made by German or here in the US ....they are the creamiest texture , sweet mild flavor and crunchy outside ...a must try next time you are in France !DSCN0838 (Large).JPG

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I take a bite of the saussisson de Lyon ....miss the pistachios and move to the cheese platter , then "fromage frais" a very fresh goat cheese served with fresh herbs , cannot resist having seconds of "faisselle" a fresh cottage cheese like but much more smooth and light topped with a big ladle of creme fraiche before it is desert : a large platter of Creme caramel ( custard flan in caramel sauce ) , a couple of plums cooked in red wine to help digest and I am done ! 25 Euros for the menu ...I am full !DSCN0842 (Large).JPG

Place des Terreaux  square is classified as Worl Heritage site by Unesco . It is in the center of Lyon on the Presqu'ile in between the 2 rivers : The Rhone and the Saone L'Hotel de Ville ( Lyon main city hall ) built in 1672DSCN0849 (Large).JPG

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Fontaine Bartholdi DSCN0851 (Large).JPG

In the former benedictine convent is the Musee des Beaux ArtsDSCN0844 (Large).JPG

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L'eglise Saint BonaventureDSCN0853 (Large).JPG

On top of the hill stand the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere looking more like a fortress than a cathedral . It took 24 years to built and was only finished in 1884 .DSCN0854 (Large).JPG

You should walk and wonder in the streets of the Vieux Lyon well known for its Renaissance architecture , but I only have one day so I am back on my bike ... DSCN0852 (Large).JPG

Cannot be in Lyon and not stop at Francois Pralus . His famous Praluline created by his father celebrate its 60th anniversary this year . It is a "simple" brioche mixed with a lot and I mean a lot of pralines !! DSCN0855 (Large).JPG

Not that I am already hungry ...but I step inside to buy THE famous Praluline . I am told that they are sold out but a new batch fresh from the oven is coming out in 15mns ...and I should stay to wait inline ...but I need to lock my bike so by the time I step out , lock my Velove ...the line is out the door already and by the time I make it back inside ...there are just a few Praluline left  ! This is a highly coveted brioche and totally worth the fight I can tell you that now !

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The brasserie Georges, an institution near the Gare Perrache ; the place you go in a hurry before to catch a train or to savor a classic choucroute garnie on a  late night...I plan to come back for desert tonight . I want an Omelette Norvegienne flambee table side tonight ! So few restaurants still serve this incredible dessert ...DSCN0861 (Large).JPG

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The new Quartier de la Confluence with its hip restaurants and shops DSCN0865 (Large).JPG

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My bike for the day with all my goodies from the market DSCN0876 (Large).JPG

Traditional house boat along the Saone river . This previously industrial area is being rehabilitated now so people can enjoy the river banks.DSCN0877 (Large).JPG

What a contrast with the old boats !DSCN0880 (Large).JPG

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The Saone on the left , The Rhone on the right and in the middle the brand new Musee  des confluences looking like a floating crystal cloud of steel and glass . DSCN0889 (Large).JPG

The confluence where the 2 rivers become one .DSCN0891 (Large).JPG

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All this biking around the city all day helped me work an appetite again ! I've heard of this bouchon hidden in a tiny street ... One last feast of creamy goodness before to get back to my Mediterranean diet of Olive oil and tomatoes tomorrow .DSCN0908 (Large).JPG

Advertising their "Famous Quenelle " ...this is it ! DSCN0909 (Large).JPG

Love the quaint authentic decor  !DSCN0910 (Large).JPG

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I am sharing this meal with my cousin's daughter Amandine and her boyfriend Cedric.DSCN0915 (Large).JPG

First some of the most delicious foie gras on a frisee salad .DSCN0916 (Large).JPG

A dream come true ! This is THE quenelle de Lyon at its perfection !DSCN0919 (Large).JPG

Sweet breads in a morel cream sauce , crispy and creamy on the inside DSCN0920 (Large).JPG

And a Baba au Rhum to top it off ! I have not forgotten about the Omelette Norvegienne but there is no way I can eat anything else right now !!! The most incredible thing is that I will digest like a charm everything I ate today  ...when I can have such a stomach ache eating nothing special in San Diego . I am not sure what it is but there is something about the food in France that not only taste better but process better . DSCN0921 (Large).JPGTomorrow I head down to Provence by train with a cool bag full of more great Lyon food to cook at home . My Mediterranean diet will wait a few more days !

02:26 Posted by Marielle Giai in Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Mother's Day,

A special fragrance for a sweet Mom by Fragonard. "Maman cherie" is the very essence of tenderness...

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21:13 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |

Plastic dishes : melamine plates are dish washer safe !

These melamine dishes will go from the patio to your dinning room as they look and feel like real ceramic ! Plus they are dishwasher safe ! Perfect to entertain , near a pool or on a boat as well...DSCN5613 [1280x768].JPG

Benidorm pattern on Mimosa yellow tablecloth

DSCN5614 [1280x768].JPGMix and match : Benidorm pattern and Provence solid blue

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DSCN5615 [1280x768].JPGProvence solid blue , yellow and Benidorm bowl

DSCN5622 [1280x768].JPGSeville pattern


DSCN5634 [1280x768].JPGMalaga red pattern mixed with Provence solid yellow, clear glasses, Fayence yellow tablecloth



DSCN5617 [1280x768].JPGMalaga blue pattern , Mimosa yellow tablecloth


21:12 Posted by Marielle Giai in Plastic plates and dishes | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |


Easter inspirations...

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00:26 Posted by Marielle Giai | Permalink | Comments (0) |  Facebook |