Friday, February 25, 2011

Cochonnerie - What a Cheeky little Pig!

Whenever I go shopping at "Gargantua" I am in for a long wait. Our local butcher Gilles Diglé who runs this shop is extremely popular, not only because of his excellent meat and sausages but also because he gives great advice on how to prepare different cuts of meat and always has a nice word for everybody.
Today while I was waiting to buy one of Gilles' specialities, olive oil marinated lamb (more on that in a post to come) I saw a little "cochonnerie" I couldn't resist showing you - what a cheeky little pig!
Much as I tried, I couldn't find an English translation for the delightful French word "cochonnerie". My dictionary lists it as "mess" but that doesn't at all cover the double sense of the word that plays with cochon (pig) and the dirty little tricks little piggies sometimes are up to.....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

L'Estaque - Sea, Art and Sun...

The plan was to hold up our yearly tradition and visit the "Oursinade", the Sea Urchin Festival in Carry le Rouet. Except now that sea urchins have become an almost endangered species Carry has renamed its popular feast "Festival des Fruits de Mer" (Seafood Festival) and, when we were just starting to drive there it started pouring. So no open air seafood extravaganza! But then we remembered having ripped out an article about a museum close by, so off we went to L'Estaque.
L'Estaque is a small and not exactly beautiful fishing-port north east of Marseille's City center and its claim to fame is that Cézanne discovered l'Estaque in 1864 and came back again and again to paint the view across the Gulf of Marseille. Later Renoir, Derain, Braque and Dufy came to L'Estaque and a now almost forgotten Marseille artist: Adolphe Monticelli, whose work was greatly admired by van Gogh and Cézanne.

The Monticelli Foundation is not all that easy to find, it is almost hidden outside of L'Estaque, but once there it is easy to see what attracted the artists all that time ago - even now that  L'Estaque has become Marseille's 16th arrondissement the views are still spectacular and some of the best views across the sea -"La grande Bleue" - are from inside the museum.
Inside the Museum
Adolphe Monticelli
View from the museum across the "la grande Bleue"

And guess what? Just as we were leaving the museum the sun came out! So we hotfooted it to Carry le Rouet and got to eat some real good seafood after all! We shared an excellent "Daube aux Poulpes" (octopuss) and some stuffed mussels and left the sea urchins to those who absolutely had to eat them...

Delicious Octopuss Stew

And just to show you how nice the day turned out here are some more photos

Picknick by the Sea
Oysters on the Beach
Urchins, Frites and Wine of course

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

It is Loto season in Provence - what is generally known as Bingo is called Loto here and is very poular during the winter months. The local Lion's Club usually kicks off the season on the first weekend in January and then it is - in no particular order - the Cat's Lovers Loto, the Firefighter's Loto,  the Loto of the staff of the local Hospital, the Bridge Club's Loto etc., etc.
Yesterday it was the turn of the Rotary Club of Vaison la Romaine whose Valentine's Day Loto is always extremely popular. "Love means winning together" is their slogan and their prizes are not to be sniffed at: a romantic trip worth 1000 Euros, a laptop, a big flat-screen TV, a wheel barrow full of wine bottles (after all we are in Côte du Rhône country here) and, to top it all, yesterday they even had two scooters to be won!
Most of these prizes are donated by local businesses and the money made through these Lotos are invested in local causes - student scholarships, soup kitchens etc.
There is much work involved - starting from going around town asking for prizes, printing and distributing flyers and posters, putting up chairs and tables in the townhall, providing refreshments and last but not least, cleaning up afterwards. All the members and their partners are busily working to make the annual Loto a success.
This year my girlsfriends Thérèse, Elizabeth, Annie-France and Babeth and I were in charge of providing 150 sandwiches:
Thérèse and Elizabeth cutting the Baguettes

Annie-France and Babeth: filling the Sandwiches

French Classic: Jambon-Fromage
Ham and Cheese Sandwich

We had real fun working together, and even more fun at the Loto, although none of us won a prize. But as the saying goes: Lucky at cards, unlucky in Love, and I know which I prefer....

No Luck playing....

Happy Valentine's to all of you!