Showing posts with label La vie en France. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La vie en France. Show all posts

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Toulouse Visit 2017

It's been a week since I've arrived in France for the Summer Holiday. I spent the first week eating, drinking, visiting the fresh market, enjoying the first few days of the Summer Sale, getting a hair cut from one of my friends, and hanging out with them!

Place du Capitole de Toulouse at sunset

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A la ferme

One of the highlights of our first week in France was at a farm called Ducazaux. It was a good place for our daughter to see some farm animals, walk in their mini-forest trails where you can see some fox holes and birds nests. They also have some play areas and a small café and souvenir shop.

The entrance to the farm

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Rocamadour

(please refrain from using my pictures without my permission)

even before living in France, i have always wanted to visit Rocamadour. i have first read about it in a book called, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong. and the way the author described how wonderful a place it is made me put it in my list of must-visits.

on the way to the Tourism Office to get a map

the tourist train for the old and lazy... definitely not for us! it's quite nice on the pictures, though.

when i was still studying french, there was a tour then available to students, conducted by Alliance Francaise de Toulouse over the weekend, going to Rocamadour by bus. i couldn't go because i was four months pregnant at the time, and i knew it will be tough for me to climb and walk around the area.


religious pilgrims singing Ave Maria while marching down the street

absolutely amazing

 and so, i did not miss this other opportunity that presented itself just recently. i went with a few friends over the weekend, driving all the way from Toulouse. it was quite a short drive from here. you just have to marvel at this ancient architecture. everything was so beautiful. every corner, every turn is a marvel.

beautiful stairs, beautiful archways, beautiful sculptures, etc.

on the grand balustrade of one of the corners of the church
we were praying that it wouldn't rain. fortunately, there was only a bit of drizzle that lasted for a few short minutes. and then it was alternately sunny and cloudy all throughout the day.

Rocamadour is a lot, lot better than what pictures show you. and it has a lot of history to tell. no wonder, it is a UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site.


this winding path that leads to the Rempart de Rocamadour (the castle at the topmost area) reminds me of the path that leads to the cross of Mt. Samat in my home province.

this castle perched on top of the rocky village offers a spectacular birds-eye view of the surroundings


the place is a little bit touristic, making the souvenir shop and restaurant prices a bit higher than their worth. i wanted to buy this tender nougat at some candy shop that specializes in it, but it was too pricey for me for just a small bar of nougat. it was heaven, though, when you feel it melting in your mouth. sorry, forgot to take a picture.


there was a fee of 2 euros for the visit

the clock was chiming as i climbed these steps

beautiful view from high above the castle's tower... those who say "it's lonely at the top" have NEVER been to the top! ;)
but if you have this view to offer, the extra bit price is worth it. for lunch, we headed off to a charming little restaurant that offers a nice terasse with the view of the greens.


at the lovely terasse of Chez Anne Marie

the confit de canard was a bit too fatty and huge for me

after lunch, we headed to the opposite part of the village, towards the Hospitalet and the Grotto.


les beaux coqeulicots de printemps

one of the charming stone houses around the village

upon arrival at the Grotto, we found out that there is a schedule for entry and that the visit is guided, and lasts for 45 minutes. and it was strictly prohibited to take pictures and touch anything inside.  unfortunately, the guide does not speak English. we were given handouts in English, though. and during moments when she was not speaking at the rate of 186,000 words per second, i was able to understand and get the gist of what she is saying. although, i felt that we should have paid less because of the language issue.

it was prohibited to take pictures inside the Grotto

visiting this grotto made me think how lame it looked compared to Sagada in the Philippines, even though i have never been there. it made me wish Sagada was as well-protected and appreciated as this grotto.

we ended the tour at this corner where you have the best view of the village:

a wonderful view of the whole village

i had a wonderful time in a wonderful place with wonderful people. :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to cook aiguillette de canard

the South of France is famous for its duck. i was not so much a duck person when i was living in Asia. especially since we never usually eat duck in the Philippines. but here, i have learned to appreciate it much, much more than before.

this week, since my husband was on a week-long business trip, i was left to my own devices in the kitchen. and so, having no choice, i decided to try my hand at cooking aiguillette de canard in the same way that my husband cooks them, but with a little bit of my own personal touch.

it's actually very simple, you just buy it as it is from the supermarket, like this:

aiguillette is the sides of the duck, cut into strips

before throwing it on a non-stick pan, i like to grease it a bit with vegetable oil (i use colza oil, btw). and then just cook it on medium heat until the sides start to brown. and then you can turn it over.


put the stove on medium heat so it doesn't burn, even with just a few amount of oil.

now my husband, being french, likes it really soft and a bit bloody when you cut it. as for me, i am not yet really used to the sight of blood in food. i only tolerate it when eating at fancy restaurants, but not at home, especially if i'm the one who's cooking. so i try to cut the thickest part of the meat to see if there is no more blood oozing out. that's when i know it's done.

now for the side dish, my husband likes to use fried potatoes. i like to vary it a bit by mixing it with some carrots. and he likes to fry them with the oil from duck confit (confit de canard). if you haven't tried confit de canard, you my friend, are missing a lot, lot, lot in your life.


frying the thin slices of carrots and potatoes with duck fat from a can of confit de canard

now you can buy this duck confit either in a can or in a glass jar. i personally don't really know how to cook a duck confit. but i do know confit means to cook for a long time over low fire until it's all tender and nice. anyway, we save the fat in the duck confit can for future potato-frying, because the potatoes really taste a lot, lot better when fried in duck fat. i know it's not very healthy. but you don't eat this food every day.


some garlic bits to add flavor

when they are starting to brown, i sprinkle a generous amount of these garlic bits (Ail semoule). or you can fry them together with minced garlic. i prefer this one because they seem to be tastier. i even use them to marinate my adobo for a more garlicky taste, which i really love.

when the garlic bits start to brown, it's all ready to serve on the plate. i put a generous amount on the plate of this peppered mayonnaise, which i'm addicted to:


i am addicted to this sauce that goes well with duck, beef and pork

and don't forget the wine pairing. this Bordeaux red wine from my friend's vineyard goes perfectly well with duck:

perfect red wine pairing for aiguillette de canard

and here you have everything on the plate, ready to eat:


et voila! ca y'est, c'est fait! :)

sorry, i'm not very good with the plating yet.

also, whenever i cook something, i do the steamed version for my baby, which all go into the blender:

steamed version of aiguillette de canard for my baby's lunch

my baby is one-year old by the way. although, i think you can start giving meat to babies starting at 8 months of age. although to be sure, consult your pediatrician first.

bon appetit! :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

French fashion, selon moi

While reading a favorite fashion blog, I've come across this article about French fashion and style.

The first thing I've noticed while watching TV and observing the celebrities here in France is how they put on make-up. It's like there's nothing on their face. They don't put too much garish colors. They tend to just sculpt or highlight the features, not colorize them, which, come to think of it, really makes sense.

Juliette Binoche's easy, classy and elegant hairstyle and make-up

But then, the way they put on eye shadows, eyeliner and heavy mascara even during the day is a little bit over the top for me. Too much drama for daytime.

As for the wardrobe, they stick to the classics. Classic colors -- beige, blacks, neutrals and then they just glam it up with accessories. "They really know how to put together an outfit", as what KC Concepcion (Filipina actress who studied in France for two years) said in one interview.

Audrey Hepburn is not French but her manner of dressing and overall fashion sense is more French than American to me. It's probably why she was chosen to be an image model for Chanel. (image from magellanstraits.com)

The French tend to steer clear of loud colors and prints. They don't like to look messy. They like to keep it simple, classy and clean. I know somebody French who likes to make fun of English people for their love of floral prints. He says English people have no sense of fashion. I find it a bit true, especially when I see the queen wearing weird-looking clothes all the time that resemble something from the haberdashery than haute couture.

I used to like floral patterns in clothes and everything. A friend even once told me that I always dress like I'm going to church. But now, I find floral prints too lola-ish (grandmother-ish) because it's what the grandmothers (esp the ones in the countryside) in France like to have in their furniture, wall paper, beddings, etc., except maybe for the rich and posh lolas who remain fashionable despite their age. Come to think of it, it's the only country I know where the old people are so fashionable.


Catherine Deneuve, posh french Lola... in fairness, ang ganda pa rin nya kahit lola na.

While the word posh may have a positive connotation in certain cultures, contrarily, when French people say this word, they usually mean overly luxurious, possibly pretentious and bling-bling. Being posh is something negative to them because they usually never like to show off or brag about how much money they have. While in some countries like the US, the Philippines, etc, where being rich is gauged by how much money you spend, here in France and most rich European countries, being rich is gauged by how much money you save.

While i like some of the aspects of this wardrobe, like the studs and the colorful clogs, putting together an outfit like this, which obviously screams for attention will be a total no-no here in France where subtlety is the key. People will look at you like you're some freak from the circus. (image from breakmystyle.com). Sorry, Laureen.

But what I don't really get is why people here like to dress in the same color as the season. Like during winter, they would dress in dark drab colors and accessories, the same color as the gloomy skies and the leafless, flowerless, seemingly dead plants around. As for me, when the weather is looking drab, I like to dress more colorfully because it cheers me up.

I guess they dress in the same color as the surroundings because they are too afraid to stand out or to look too loud?

I would take the simple, clean, classy, easy elegance of French fashion and style any time, but the one thing I cannot keep away from is the vibrance and freshness of colors because life without them would be just plain boring.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Menu de Pâques (Easter Menu)

for non-french speakers: all photo captions are in English.

hier midi, on a profité le menu de pâques d'une brasserie qui s'appelle Le Bibent. on se trouve cette brasserie pratiquement au Place du Capitole de Toulouse.

the easter menu of Le Bibent, a famous brasserie of one of France's top chefs, Christian Constant


le menu q'on avait manque les rilletes de sardines indiqué dans le menu ci-dessus. mais cétait très bon quand même. et j'ai trouvé le reste des plats copieux.


Christian Constant, the chef owner of Le Bibent, posing at the entrance of the brasserie (image from ladepeche.fr)


cette brasserie est fameuse parce que le propriétaire est l'un des chefs de France qui est très célèbre. il s'appelle Christian Constant. il est l'un des chefs qui juge dans l'émission téléréalité, Top Chef.


the intricate art work on the walls and ceiling of the brasserie

mon mari m'a dit que la brasserie était totalement rénovée. je trouve les détails des murs et du plafond très complexes et très beaux.


eggs, asparagus and morilles (some kind of  expensive mushrooms) in generous serving

le premier plat était vraiment réussi. cétait très bon. j'ai aimé les morilles et les asperges spécialement.


the main dish -- roasted lamb leg and some veggies

le plat principal était très bon aussi, mais je n'aime pas trop l'agneau. néanmoins, j'ai trouvé que c'était parfaitement cuit, et j'étais heureuse de ne pas trouver le sang quand je l'ai coupé.


Basque cheese and cherry jam with a bit of salad


après le plat principal, on a mangé des frômages qui viennent de Pays Basques, une région qui se trouve dans le sud de la France et dans le nord de l'Espagne. on melange ces frômages aux confitures des cerises, avant de se mettre au pain.


raspberries beneath a creamy mixture of milk and egg yolks

malheureusement, j'étais déja plein quand le dessert est arrivé. mais, cétait un peu aigre / acide à cause de framboises, mais je l'ai aimé bien quand même.

et ca serra tout en ce moment. je vous souhaite des joyeuses pâques et passez une bonne semaine. :)




Saturday, March 16, 2013

Un Weekend Aveyronnais

one of the many, many things that i will definitely miss in France is the marché. there is nothing quite like it. as you already know, France is all about food. and all the territories have their own specialties.

this weekend, there is the Marché Aveyronnais at the Place du Capitole. we took the opportunity to go this morning since it was quite a mild winter weather we are having today.

my husband, as you know is of Aveyron origin. for those who do not know where it is, it is still in the south of France and still in the region of Midi-Pyrénées (like Toulouse) but it is a few notches higher up in the map.

image from: http://www.gite-les-pissades.fr/rieupeyroux-aveyron.html

it is a region famous for roquefort cheese (that smelly moldy blue cheese), laguiole knife (we received them as wedding gift from my parents-in-law), and the world's tallest viaduct (Millau viaduct).

we were greeted with this huge sign of a stall selling farçous upon entering the vicinity

farçous is made with eggs, and some leafy veggies that look like spinach, which they call blette in french. my mother-in-law made them last christmas (see here) and they tasted a lot, lot better than these ones.


farçous!!!

aside from farçous, you have all the different kinds of humongous bread. can you imagine the size of the oven where they were cooked?


i always say you can bludgeon somebody to death with these huge thick-crusted bread... and i know somebody whose gums bled after eating them. i'm used to them by now, though.

you can pair them with some confiture (jam) like these:


cherries and honey jam -- i just had to buy one of these because the Lola selling them was so nice. and they tasted so good.

of course, it's not a real Aveyron market without the presence of Gateaux à la brôche.


gateaux à la brôche

and i was able to see how they were made for the first time.


how to cook gateau à la brôche


we also bought something to drink.


different kinds and flavors of alcoholic beverages

hubby and his Aveyronnais friend even made me choose the wine to buy. we chose something from Marcillac. that place we visited last year when my baby was just a couple of months' old.

other stuff you will find in the market, aside from food:


some nice rustic-looking pottery

these pottery items reminded me of a present my husband's Lola in Millau gave me the first time i visited France. unfortunately, it was broken in transit when we moved from Singapore to France.


and lots of grandmother stuff like these ancient-looking tapestries.

you see a lot of stuff for sale that mostly old people will like. Aveyron has quite an aged population, like most of France's countryside. fortunately, my husband is not among this elder majority. :)


a brass band of Lolos. Aveyron, i think has one of the most number of senior population in all of France.


we bought quite a lot of good stuff for lunch. and to complete the weekend aveyronnais, we even had a guest from there -- my husband's childhood friend. he bought us a huge slice of cheese which is from the terroir of Roquefort. and also, a gateau aux noix (cake with nuts).


top left to bottom: fricandeau (paté), gateau aux noix (cake with nuts), saucisse de canard (duck saucisse), some cheese

it was quite a good meal. heavy, but really good.


the gateau aux noix was a bit dry but still delicious.

the wine that i chose was quite poivré (had some taste of pepper). i seem to like this kind of wine. it might be too strong for some. but it kinda reminds me of the wines from Chile that i used to like a lot when i was still in Singapore.


i find it quite fun that they made an acrosstics of their wine label. :)

and of course, my duck saucisse! the only ones available in the market were a bit too dry, though.


duck saucisse

bon weekend à tous! :)