Barbeyaki

Untapped Grilling and Other Addictions

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Brussels Brochante

What is This?

I am not quite sure!

I am traveling with an Interior Decorator. She lives for the Brochante. I guess that means flea market in French. Well this is my third one. First one was in Paris. Very organized. Most vendors had nice little shops or tents with their very neatly labeled and displayed stuff. Next was Isle Sur Le Sorgue in Provence. Similar, but laid out nicely on table on the streets. The vendors knew their product and were very helpful. This Brochante is in Brussels, and it is a zoo. We arrived in the rain about 11:30 am. There was stuff everywhere….on the ground, piled in wet cardboard boxes, laid out on sheets, soaking wet. There were TVs, suit cases, underwear(dirty I think)new socks,old socks,wigs,you name it. But there was also a wealth of incredible old stuff. I mean very special,cool,antiques, that you could by for five cents on the dollar.

One of the More “Organized” Vendors. Check Out This Stuff!

What was wild was when the rain would pick up and suddenly these vendors would run like crazy and grab huge plastic tarps and cover everything. When the rain would subside for even 30 seconds they would pull it all off and the browsing would begin again. And for the most part the browsing was done by going through big cardboard boxes of junk to find that one Gem.

Old Wooden Truck…..about $6.00.

At first I was a little uncomfortable with all the craziness and disorder. For those of you who know me I love order,I love neatness and cleanliness. This was not that. But I did find myself something to buy A very old, old old, sterling silver corkscrew! Got it for $20.00. I know. Kinda expensive but it is very unique………I think???

My Big Find!

So it’s official. I am a certified Antique Dealer now! By the way, here is what I really wanted to buy for the new Grandchild that’s on the way. Just had no more room in the suitcase. Pooh!

Shucks! So Cute

Tot Ziens

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The Scottish Invade Belgium

My New Scottish Friends

This is Jack and Aide (nickname for Adam). They are two of tens of thousands of Scotts that invaded Brussels on my first day in the Belgium capital. I had no idea when we jumped on the train from Aix to Brussels that there was an International Soccer match going on while I was there. And we all know the Europeans love their soccer.

This is Edgar and Adair. They were in charge of the music activities. The Scots took over Brussels’ Grand Place Square. They were yelling and screaming, dancing and singing. These are some really loyal folks to their  soccer and their country. It was very nice to see.

Here are a Small Few of Their Friends as They Began to Take Over the Square

There were  a few brave Belgium Groups in the square and fortunately it remained very civilized, but very exciting. They were hanging from the windows, walking around shirtless in frigid weather, showing off their family’s Tartan Plaid kelts.

Brave Belgium Fans

Fan of the Day! Notice the Scottish “X” Shaved on His Chest

Now Ths is One Loyal,But Stylish Dude.

Best “Murse” of the Day (Man Purse)

It was a great couple of days hanging out with Scottish people. I have to say that they may be the most friendly people on this earth. You could just stop them and ask them anything and they enjoyed sharing their culture and history with you.

Unfortunately the soccer match did not go as well as the pre game festivities did for the Scotts. After a scoreless first half the Belgium side scored two quick goals and that about did it. But I know one thing, these people enjoy life and know how to throw a party.

Best Pants of the Day!

Oh…Thanks For Taking Care of My Wife Too! Appreciate That.

Great Scott!

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Aix En Provence

After the exciting day at cooking school had concluded, we jumped in our car started our journey from Avignon to Aid de Provence. Aix is continually talked about as one of the prettiest cities in Provence.

Rude du Mirabeau…..Aix’s Champs Elysee’ at night

I guess if I was to be really honest, I prefer the small mountain top stone villages in the Luberon Valley. I thought Aix would be small based on the descriptions I had heard. But it is a fairly large city and very confusing to navigate by car. LOts of one-way streets.

But They do take the cake on Fountains.

This fountain is located at the end of Mirabeau and normally has thousands of cars,trucks,buses, all fighting for a space to drive around it.

Another Fountain At Night

Yes, there are markets here to. But certainly not on the scale or interest of Il Sur le Sorgue. Here there is great food and spice markets, lots of clothes and jewelry,linen, and soaps. On Sunday they have a beautiful fresh flower market.

Sunday Street Market

Fresh Flower Market

But if I were to be honest about what makes Aix de Provence famous, it’s the shopping. Located all behind the Rue du Mirabeau are so many small cobblestone streets and alleys that are loaded with Couture Fashion, elegant Chocolatiers, Outrageous Pastry shops, 5 Star Jewelry stores, and just about everything you can find in Paris except all together. It can be a bit of a zoo navigating all the tour groups who come form Japan, China, Eastern Europe…you name the country. They are all here spending their money on expensive stuff.

Fashion For Young and Old

But my favorite day in Aix was visiting Paul Cezanne’s studio and a wonderful Greek lunch. THe studio is about a thirty minute hike uphill form the Centre Ville. But it is worth it. Cezanne spent most of his life growing up and dying in Aix. He built this studio in the late 1800’s to provide him with a studio to paint his still life with many different arrays of light. Cezanne also wanted a studio large enough to paint very big canvases which he could not find already existing. The studio you will see below measures 50 square meters which is extremely large by the standards of the time for an artist. The surrounding gardens provided many backdrops for the artist work. It was these very gardens that ended up being his deathbed. Cezanne was completing a series of drawing of his gardener outside in the gardens. He caught a cold, followed by pneumonia painting and sketching in the cold winter rains of Aix. This is quite ironic given the fact that he purposely built this studio with a 50 square meter pane less window so he would not have to venture outside in the weather to work.

“Cezanne” Gold Medallion Line the Street On the Way to the Studio

Engraved Limestone Marking The Studio

One of The Many Actual Stills Cezanne Painted. The Studio Was Left Exactly As It Was The Day The Artist Died

A Rare Interior Shot of the Studio. Still Objects Line The Shelves. No Cameras. Oops! Sorry

Exterior Shot of the Studio

One of the Many Paths Winding Through Ceazanne’s Gardens

After a lot of walking up and down that hill, I was starving. But not for French food. I wanted Greek food and found just the spot at the bottom of the hill. THe food was terrific, inexpensive, and the Greek wine brought it all together.

Moussaka,Tabouleh, Hummus, Pita,

A Little Greek Libation

A very swell day in Aix En Provence.

C’était un grand temps

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Cooking Class In Avignon France

The La Mirande Cooking School

Well, I did it! Took my first cooking class in France. It has been a dream since I started getting into cooking as a side hobby to Barbecuing. And I think I picked a good one. The La Mirande Cooking School is one of a kind.The chef of La Mirande is François Secrétin who trained at the Feux des Iles in Britanny after which he worked in several Michelin starred restaurant such as l’Auberge de l’Atre (Burgundy) and l’Esplanade (Périgord).

The Chef

I guess the first thing I need to share with you about this day is that No One Spoke English! There were 12 of us in this class. One or two French couples and the rest were some really talented French ladies.It was a little uncomfortable at first since we didn’t know each other and we could not communicate. But soon we were best friends.

My Classmates Busy At Work

So here is what we learned to cook and bake:

1. Profiteroles

2. Thymus Gland Sweetbreads

3.Beef Tongue

4. Sole

5.Puffed Pastry Dough

6.Fish Broth ( Real fish bones from the sole we filleted)

7. Real French Buerre Blanc Sauce

8. Some of kind of fancy pants mushroom sauce

Freshly Baked Profiteroles

Thymus Gland Sweetbreads

Filleting the Sole

Puffed Pastry Shells

Fish Broth Simmering

Sautéing Some Beautiful Carrots

After Five exciting and challenging hours, alot of laughing, and believe or not….we sang French songs as we cooked. But it was finally time to enjoy what we had learned and prepared. WE all sat down at a beautifully set table covered in wine glasses which were filled with each and every course.

The Table

Then came the plating.

ePuffed Pastry Shell Stuffed with Sweetbread,Chicken,and Beef Tongue in a Mushroom Sauce

Sole in Buerre Blanc Sauce

The day ended with some very tired but inspired French Cooking Students who had been humbled by our chef. Lots of food,wine,and fun, and most of all……..new friends.

The Graduates

Oh, and did I mention that the dude that calls himself “The Worlds Most Interesting Man” had lunch with us. Turns out his wife was one of the students.

THe World’s Most Interesting Man

So that concludes my first but not my last French Cooking School. It was great. I believe I failed to tell you in the beginning that everything was cooked on a very old wood burning stove! This place is one of the best. Thanks to the Schools Director, Severine Sagnet, who took good care of my friend George and I. 

Merci Severine

One Humbled Messieur

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5 Star Provence Dining

La Bastide du Capelongue

Ok.This is it. The top of the world…..the greatest cuisine ever prepared,the most wonderful ambiance in Europe…….I can go on and on.  Las Bastide du Capelongue is located just outside of the beautiful mountaintop city of Bonnieux France. It is also located on one of the most breath taking, cliff hanging, winding roads I have ever driven. So for God’s sake…..one of you better stay sober. Save all your money,cut back on the stupid trinkets at the markets, have Quick Burger for lunch instead of a Bistro and make this Restaurant a Must!

Chef Edouard Loubet

Chef Edouard Loubet will blow your mind with taste,texture,and plating like you have never witnessed.

The Dining Room

It all started with a glass of , of course, very expensive Champagne and some delightful little treats.

Anchovie and Asparagus Puree with Polenta Fried Cheese Balls

Crazy Little Cones of Lobster Mousse Parked in a Bed of Paprika Salt

Out of This World Scallops

Herb Cart

This if the Herb Cart. It is parked right outside your table where you are able to view the live herbs that were utilized in tonight dinner. Pretty Impressive…Huh??

Oh, I forgot to mention you can stay at this place also. It’s lovely and quite expensive. So unless you are Mr. Moneybags..go for the dinner and sleep somewhere else while you dream about it.

The Grounds

Bon Appetite

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Cooking In Provence

I know it sounds like all I have talked about for almost a month is traveling and drinking……maybe a little shopping. But the truth is all I have been doing is Eating!!!!!!

I thought I would take a quick moment to show you some of the things my friend George and I whipped up in our villa. Now to preface these pictures…we are not cooks and bakers, and we are not photographers.

Roasted Poulet Covered In Herbs De Provence

Buerre Blanc Sauce with Local Mushrooms

Truffle Oil Smothered Steak, Ratatouille Made From Local Market Veggies, and Salad Covered in Raspberry Pureed Fig Balsamic

My Friend George’s Apple Tart……Completely Made From Scratch!

So as you can see I am eating. Alot more food to come. Go find your appetite.

Jusqu’alors

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La Coste France…….You know……like the Crocodile

Another day in Provence. One never gets tired of this place. From our villa in Menerbes, at least 15 beautiful hilltop villages can be reached in 15 minutes or less. But before I headed out my latest best friend Suzanne came over to give me a great massage by the pool. You probably could hear the snoring from any corner of the world.

Suzanne Awaits My Arrival

After getting every joint and muscle pounded on for an hour and a half it was time for a short jaunt to the mountain top village of La Coste, France. Another one of those breath-taking views over endless valleys and vineyards.

The Entrance to La Coste. No Cars Please!

The View From Above

The City of La Caste is where the Savannah(as in Savannah, Georgia for my International followers)College of Art and Design(SCAD). Now, you tell me! What 18 to 22 year old would not want to study in this place. I met a couple of young American students walking up the severely elavated cobblestoned streets. I ask them how they liked it. They both said it was wonderful except the hike up to the top 3 times a day.

The SCAD Art Gallery

It was time to head back to Menerbes after a quick lunch. On the way I decided to take some back roads(and I mean back roads to search out some tiny little vineyards in hopes of procuring some local wine for dinner. Well, I found one. And a family run one too!

The Last Grapes of the Season Ready for Picking

Phillipe, The Viticulteur Showing Me HIs Vats of Rouge,Blanc,and Rose

Close Up of the Nectar From Provence

You know the end of the story. I purchased 3 bottles form the family for about Euro 4.50 (about $5.75)each and they were gone that night. Got to sleep off this now and get ready for more.

Bon Nuit

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Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire en Provence

Abbaye de Saint Hilaire

Just about 150 feet form the House we are at in Mneerbes is the Abbaye de Saint Hilaire. I am not going to bore you with my unintelligent battering this time. So you fortunately get a break today. Just pictures of this beautiful old,old abbaye. And when I say old…..I mean old. Built in 1215!

The Chapel…All Limestone

The Dining Hall For the Siaters

Beautiful Arbor With Grape Vines Just Full of Grapes

A Walkway Surrounding the Courtyard

A Simple But Moving Cross

Prochain Temps

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Gordes France

Gorges France

This is the Mountain Top village of Gordes. These ancient buildings are built right smack into the mountain. The just teeter on the edge of cliffs.

The Valley Below Gordes

The only way I can describe this is 360 degree beauty! Just waking up every morning and being able to se this would be enough in life. The tiny little village is filled with very narrow cobblestone streets lined with markets of fresh produce and shops with French Soaps and Linen.

Cobblestone Streets

Produce Stand

AS I was walking through the maze of cobblestone I came upon a tiny Bistro with 2 odd looking wooden frames with a live vine growing out of them. This was a pretty smart idea. They had stapled burlap to the back of the frame forming a bag and filled the bag with soil. Then the vine was inserted into the bag and was growing just like that!!

Very Clever Idea

On the way out of Gordes, we stopped by Hotel Bastide. It is a 5 Star Hotel just hanging off the side of the mountain. What a view. On the drive back to Menerbes the landscape was gorgeous. This is the pretties area I have travled.

View From the Patio at Hotel Bastide

Lavendar Fields Throughout Provence

Now I think you understand why I am so overwhelmed with the landscape.

Bon Soir

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Menerbes France

The City of Menerbes

Perched high on this hilltop in the Luberon Mountains is the quaint city of Menerbes. Well, I should have clarified….used to be quaint. Thanks to an author named Peter Mayle and a book he wrote called “OneYear In Provence”, it is not nearly as quiet as it was. Thousands and thousands of tourist form all over the world flock to Menerbes each year just to catch a glimpse at the wonderful, yet sometimes stressful life Mr. Mayle experienced building his own home in Menerbes and the wonderful relationships he built over the one year construction process. The area is surrounded by vineyards and olive orchards. I heard through the grapevine that Mr. Mayle packed up and sold his home shortly after his book was published as he had folks sitting outside his gate staring at him. Hope he made a few books on the book.

St. Hillaire

This is where I am staying while in Provence. It is a beautiful home secluded in the woods about 3 minutes form Menerbes.

This is my kitchen where I will attempt to duplicate the food of Provence

This is the swimming pool which I will never touch…a little too cold for me.

My prize possession…….The Barbecue

THe narrow cobblestone streets of Menerbes

View form Menerbes overlooking the Luberon Valley

A typical house front in Menerbes….very sleepy

I set out to find two things in Menerbes, truffles and wine. The wines of Luberon are different than the rest of France. No Burgundy, no Bordeaux. But lots of Syrah, Medoc, Muscat and Ventoux. Very good and very inexpensive! I found a restuarant in the city that specializes in truffles. They serve lunch everyday and each menu item has truffles in it. It doesn’t matter if it is beef or eggs, it has the magnificent flavor of fresh truffles, recently dug up from the earth after being sniffed out by a dog! I heard the dogs and their owners get paid up to $2000.00 to sniff them out. Maybe I should try.

Mai On De La Truffle and The Wine……..THe name of the Restaurant

Olive oil infused with Trufles and Truffle Pate

Just a glimmer of some of the great wines

This is a gorgeous are to visit. Make sure you stay for a while. So many more tiny little villages all within 15 minutes drives. Next stop, the City of Gordes where the entire city was built into the sides of the Mountain!

Ou Revoir

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