Monday, January 9, 2012

Off to a great start

Yes, I am a liiiitle bit behind in my posting but it seems like I am not the only one who is taking her sweet time dipping into 2012. And yet I certainly have nothing to complain about as the year started with a bang. Well, the pop of a champagne cork to be more precise. We were invited out to lunch with our friends in the country for the day of the 1st. Thank goodness our friends are so generous with us and that we are now smart enough to just say, "Why thank you, we'd be delighted." 

We clinked our coupes outside, each turning to let the sun give its first bisou de l'année on our cheeks. Talk about an air kiss! How could you not be conscious of having good fortune under such circumstances? We almost, almost could have had lunch on the patio.

Ah, but not quite and some things deserve one's full attention. Oh yes, indeedy. Chef Remi had volunteered to bring the entrée and as we had been decidedly low-key on the cooking front throughout the holidays, I knew that the stops would be pulled out. And yet nothing could have prepared me for the insanely delicious and yet very simple dish that he whipped up. A lobster gratin with mushrooms and hearts of palm in a champagne cream sauce, each served in its own little bowl to keep it piping hot. I immediately declared it the best thing that I had eaten this year but of course, under the circumstances, that wasn't saying much now was it?

How happy we all were. The Pic St. Loup was flowing as was the discussion of who, this week at least, was looking to be the likely winner of next years' elections. Time taken to eat well and just enjoy that we had somehow made it to another year! As you can see, a certain furry creature was well-positioned to take full advantage of our open-hearts. 

For the main course, we devoured a gigot d'agneau that had been roasted for several hours until it was falling off the bone. We all took seconds. If it had been physically possible, I would have taken thirds.

There is that moment after a French lunch, that turning point where either everyone decides to go for a walk in a desperate effort to digest or take the express train to Napville. As on this particular afternoon it seemed to be the latter, I took my little camera in hand and followed by my trusty pupper, let the light lead me around the garden by the nose.

Yes, I know. How many times am I going to publish photos of this view? As long as it continues to make me so happy, I suppose. But really? The curve of the pines, the glisten of the olive grove, the monstrosity of the Chateau des Baux in the background...only in Provence.

A tiny moon was rising as if the champagne cork had taken flight and had become trapped in the stratosphere. The greens started to glow golden, the rough reds relaxed into a softened clay. How lovely to have these moments alone, save for Ben sniffing furiously behind me, all while knowing that friends and my honey were so near.

It was my time. To look and listen, waiting for the whispers of where this new year will take me.


  1. A lovely post Heather. beautifully written. I can picture you there, celebrating the new year in style, with your chéri and your friends -- and what a view from the garden! You and I think alike. I would promptly go for a walk with my dog after such a meal... Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  2. Thank you Veronique! I know that I sound like a broken record by posting so much on visits to their house--but it is just too wonderful not to! :) And your comment totally gave me the image of the two of us strolling along someplace like Pike Place market together!

  3. The dish Remi made with lobster and champagne cream sauce sounds like heaven, he'll have to share his recipe. Sounds like you all had a great start to the New Year, lunch with close friends...perfect! Here's hoping your year keeps going in the same fashion!


  4. Debra, Remi is one of those frustrating cooks who just makes it up as he goes along and it comes out perfect! I'll ask though...

  5. Loving this new camera of yours and the beautifully clear and bright photographs you are taking. Such an amazing light!

    And oh my goodness - I swear they are my floor tiles in that picture of the dining room with the adorable Ben. I know that mine were imported from France in 1971 - they must be from the same factory!

    What a meal....drooling at the thought of the lobster in its gentle bath of rich heavenly perfection....Virginia xx

  6. Virginia, at times I actually love the time difference between us. Such as this, tonight just as I am getting ready for sleep to have such a nice surprise from you. Yes, in terms of the renovation of their house, it totall could be possible. Do you want me to ask them if they have the source for the tiles to confirm? They are, with all honesty, the most beautiful "contemporary" (as in of this century) that I have seen here.

    And hooray! At least I now know what your entree will be when you come to visit! :)

  7. Beautiful post! Delicious and heavenly tranquil, unforgettable moments to cherish and be grateful for.
    And you called Remi's masterpiece a simple dish? Your writing and images are so vivid I could feel the aroma at my corner of the planet.
    The very best Heather to you in a New Year which started in such a perfect way.

  8. Okay, first things first, he cooks too?! I mean my honey cooks. In fact, he cooks dinner most nights. But a lobster bisque would definitely be taking it up quite a few notches....

    Anyway, it sounds heavenly. I will never tire of these views.

    And speaking of photos and landscapes and artists.... (we were, weren't we?) I didn't want you to miss my profile of one of our favorite artists:

  9. Fabulous post - has it all! The view from the pool is sensational.

  10. Oh Natalie, you are totally right. It seemed mighty simple to me in the "no use of cryogenics" way. No sous vide, no gold-flecked crackers kind of way (this is France after all). But he just makes it look sooo easy! :)

    Judith, your article was amazing!!! Absolutely a true portrait of a man that would be a challenge to make a portrait of if for any other reason in that he is so damn prolific! I loved it. Merci! Et bisous à ton pupper!

  11. Thanks Deborah, we were typing at the same time, I love that. And yes, I have floated in that pool and I can promise that it is heavenly!

  12. Ah! A rising moon that just might be a champagne cork. What a lovely way to start the year - sounds like it is taking you in a delightful direction, indeed!

  13. Could almost smell the delights from Paris.....sounds and looks like a lovely day spent with friends. Cheers to the New Year!!
    Carla x

  14. Heather what a wonderful post!! Love the way you write your posts! You made me dreamy today!!

  15. Thank you Jeanne, Carla and Greet for your kind words! Three beautiful and insanely talented ladies...

  16. Happy New Year Heather, your celebration lunch with your friends looks and sounds gorgeous and delicious and what a beautiful location. I am definitely with you and Veronique, may I join you for a walk with the dogs.

  17. Oooh! Sounds like you had the loveliest time! Happy 2012!!

    ~ Clare x

  18. IAM!What a lovely gathering......and you said you and Mister Remi arenot FABULOUS cooks!WRONG!!!!!!!!!I think in your spare time you should open up your own little BISTRO!Ben can greet and I will spin around the kitchen in velvet and linen and cause confusion!We can put the ITALIAN on the expresso BAR!VA BENE??We must 2012.xxxxxx

  19. Dash, of course you are always welcome and I bet that our puppers would get along like house 'a fire. Hope that you are well!

    Clare, right back at you pretty one!

    And you are so silly La Contessa. I can just imagine it. Except that no one would get served anything as we would be too busy chatting and drinking wine! And I don't where you got that idea in your noggin'. Remi is an AWESOME cook. Me? Good with comfort and fusion food but BASIC. :)

  20. I missed your reply to my note. Yes please, do ask them about the floor tiles! I am sure they are the same. When a bank valuer came to our house he got so excited that he dropped to his knees and screeched that they were some amazing French floor tiles - they don't normally get so emotional.
    But I didn't write down the name he gave them, sadly, and have been trying to work out what they are ever since.
    We found them hidden underneath layers of old carpet - and there is not a day when I am not in awe of their quiet beauty.
    Will spend the rest of 2012 looking forward to that entree in Jan next year! Yummo! Virginia x


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