Borgers with No Borders.

our lives, our loves — through our earthly adventures.

Archive for the tag “Coolness”

Snippets of Nice (Part 3)

We head into the town center, park our car, walk up the dark stairway … and voila!  You are greeted with a buzzling, terra-cotta-colored town center, palm-trees and all.  I could live here, I thought.  Surely less crowded than Paris, a permanent view of the seaside, probably more friendly people, and lower-stress levels I assume.

And when I feel I am beginning to look pale and sick … what couldn’t be more inviting than this?

Well, a bit rocky and probably painful, if you ask me — but heck, beggars can’t be choosers, right?  Or … if you don’t have the license or the right to bare it, perhaps we could settle for a walk.

And when you’re tired and worn out, go slow and visit the brocante (flea market) — which will surely do more than just arouse your curiosity.  It has everything — from clothes, to jewelry, to silver cutlery, to vintage Louis Vuitton bags.  And while you’re shopping, errrr — resting your feet, there’s even enough groove to cheer you on.

Just a warning to would-be tourists to Nice or anywhere else in Paris:  When you want a photo taken near  a performer, a statue-look-alike, or any of such artists along the streets — it is common courtesy to drop a coin in their hat.  If you don’t … be ready to take the screaming that will follow after you press your camera’s shutter!

We enjoyed a whole afternoon just walking along the narrow streets with laundry lines criss-crossing old homes that seemed to each have their own stories to tell.  The shops were homey and quaint … and these items were the ones that blew me away.  Salt … and soap.  In every conceivable flavor, aroma, and color.

On this day, I knew, that if one day my life should flash before me — it would surely be worth watching.

Sinking in the South of France: Nice, Part 2

As if our 4-hour lunch followed by a 2-hour nap was not enough … life kicked in once again at cocktail time!  Whoa!  Isn’t this just the perfect vacation ever?

Hubby woke me up and literally pulled me out of bed to make sure I do not miss a beat with the action in the kitchen.  Starting with this:

… and this:

Yep.  That’s my dream kitchen in the background — with my dream stainless steel drawers, stainless steel cupboards, and that massive industrial stove!  If that kind of equipment doesn’t make you a great chef, I don’t know what will!  I could easily see myself setting up camp in that kitchen anytime!

And you know what else was shining in this stainless steel splendor?  This thingamajig, which was roasting a cuchon. Indoors.  Wooooooooooooow, right?

So, the indispensable champagne glasses started to clink while le cuchon was cooking.  (Wait.  Do you see that uber long nail-looking thing on the left side of the awesome grill — just waiting for a kebab to happen???)  Wooooooooooow again, right?

A roquette salad (picked from their garden!) with freshly carved pata negra (in case you missed it, check out picture #1 again!), artichokes, and those crunchy flower-shaped tomatoes from Italy called “Merenda’s.”  Some very baby carrots on the side of le cuchon … and roasted potatoes drizzled with garlic.  One bite and again, I thought I had died and went to heaven.  🙂

How can such simple cooking result in a meal that is one you will remember forever?  Someone once said that along with a Chef’s ability to put flavors and textures together, is his successful choice of using only the best quality ingredients.  I couldn’t agree more.  When you have the best quality of pork, carrots, potatoes, … down to the best grain of salt, butter, and olive oil — there will be very little reason to fail.

Truly, simple home cooking … at its best!

A Weekend in Burgundy & Port Lesney

burgundy

Our first weekend of work and play, sans kids.  Final destination was to spend a day with an old friend of DH who was turning 50:  a 2-star Michelin chef, super cool, headband-cum-leather-pants-sporting dude who shoots with the conventional film loaded on his 21-year-old Nikon.  He does not own an email address, does not work a computer, runs one of THE best restaurants in Nice which does not accept credit cards, does not have a phone, does not take reservations.  No menu, you eat what he finds in the market each morning.  Epitome of simplifying life.  Cool, right?

But before we reach the final destination, a quaint and beautiful chateau in Port Lesney, we take the opportunity to visit Burgundy.  But of course!  Vineyards, wine-tasting, picturesque scenes.  Home-cooked Escargot and Beef Coq au Vin for dinner, ending with a taste of their local cheese.  Yumm begins.

vineyards-burgundy

While in the area, we visited the Hospices de Beaune, also known as the “Palace for the Poor.”  Founded in 1440 by Nicolas Rolin, to house the poor and the needy.  A spectacular showcase of French architecture in the 15th Century!

beaune

Then, we finish off the 425 kilometer drive at our destination:  Chateau de Germigney, Port Lesney.  We join the birthday celebrant and his 20 some guests at a typical bistro just “down the road.”  An even yumm-ier lunch:  Frog Legs and Oysters to start, a huge beautifully-stuffed fowl, and the most mouth-watering dessert I have yet tasted:  a Paris-Brest.  A nice light pastry with whipped cream, with subtle hints of crunchy caramel and almonds.

The afternoon was then spent visiting another historical place — a castle built in the 1500’s, where a “village” was formed within its walls to produce salt.  The architecture of the building looked almost “modern” — a sign of a creator born way before his time.  The “village” was contained in a semi-circle lay out, with the Director’s house smack in the center.  Imagine living in a structure like so:

thanks to master liv for helping me edit this photo!

thanks to master liv for helping me edit this photo!

Dinner was the clincher:  a 7-course meal that necessitated 4 cigarette breaks, and 4 hours of emptying each plate of exquisite dishes prepared with such care and love.  Did I mention the matching wines as well?  Truly an evening of fine taste.  (I must add that those ciggie breaks had to be taken in the adjacent terrace, amidst the winds of winter, with frozen fingers, a cocktail dress, and only a pashmina to throw around my shoulders.)

Oh… it was a tough weekend indeed.  Especially when we had to eventually retire in a room that looked like this.

chateaux-de-germigney

Life is certainly beginning to brighten up on this side of the world (despite the temperatures at -5 degrees)!

Weekend Rating:  9.5 out of 10. (Also because I managed to find my way home!  DH had to continue driving down to Cannes for business, so I had to take the TGV from Dijon to Paris.  I alight at Gare de Lyon, armed with my “metro instructions” all memorized, only to find out that Line Number 1 was “out of order.”  Panic… NOT!  Because I never leave home without my Metro map!  I figured a reroute and skipped all the way home, proud to be slowly developing into a more learned Anglophone.  Yay for me!)

One last P.S.

Can’t leave this post without a picture of  the loo.  I mean… how bloody cool is that?  How much french-ier can a french loo be?

chateaux-bathroom

Jason Mraz: 9.0 points!

Coolness on the Richter Scale:  9.0 for Jason Mraz.

In his very early thirties, this Virginia-born singer-songwriter is Mr. Cool, both in my daughter’s books and mine.  He is one of those boys that a mother wouldn’t mind having her daughter bring home one day.  He looks like a simple boy-next-door who loves to sing, play with his words, babble… and  be actually good at it!

He is so cool… that my DD actually searched the internet and found that he would be conveniently staging a concert in Paris on September 24!  She begged, cajoled, pleaded and bribed to get me to buy the tickets … which I eventually succumbed to (after watching his videos that were just conveniently showing in every TV set we had at home!).  Unfortunately, by the time I succumbed, the tickets were sold out.  What was originally selling on his site for EU23 per person had now sky-rocketed to EU109 on other internet ticketing sites.

DH and I thought it might be a nice event for her to look forward to, along with the move to Paris… so we closed our eyes and bought it.  Two tickets for mother and daughter to enjoy a happy hip hot concert of Mraz.

Then, the bad news.  DD’s first school field trip just got scheduled smack into the concert date.  The school is going on a field trip to Cote d’ Azur on the French Riviera for 3 days.  Brainless choice, right?  School comes first, as my Mother always said.  So daughter is bumming because she can’t be in two places at one time.  Mother is bumming even more because… what the hell do I do with those tickets now?  It’s not like I can peddle them on the streets on concert day.  In French? … Nahhh. I can’t ask DH to watch it with me … unless I trick him and say it’s a concert of Johnny Hallyday.  And even if he miraculously agrees, what are we to do with my little 4-year old?

I even tried to sell the tickets back to the vendor, tried to resell it through a Ticketing Site (GetMeIn) … no luck.  So if anyone is in Paris and just happens to be free on the 24th of September, give me a ring.

So… Let’s add some salt on the wound and dream about what we will be missing…

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