I am so happy to announce that my new website, a love song for France, is now live! At ‘The French Life’ I will be taking you on a journey into discovering all things French: from places to people! And yes…I will still be writing plenty of recipes to keep you inspired in the kitchen! I really hope to see you there!
I am so excited to announce that I am working on a new website — one that has been brewing in my head for the last ten years. Yes, it took me that long to realize that my true passion and calling is France. As much as I enjoy all the other facets of my career (the writing about subjects other than France, the editing and translating), I would now like to focus my journalistic endeavors on the subject I love most — France! And what an endless source of inspiration that is! The French Life will be my creative outlet. I will write about travel, food (yes, you can still expect plenty of recipes from me!), wine, interesting products, books, art, beauty, fashion, interior design, music, events, people, and more. I am hoping to inspire you with my words and images. Because to me, that is my biggest reward.
In the coming months, you can also expect to see more France-related journalism. The last few press trips to France have resulted in a series of articles that will be published both here in the Netherlands and in the UK.
In the meantime, I hope to see you on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages where I will keep you up-to-date with how things are developing. I am looking forward to having you join me on this new adventure!
When En Route editor Andy Arnts asked if I was interested in going on a press trip to Bergerac, it didn’t take long for me to say ‘yes’. I love the city and am there every summer during our vacations in Duras, which, as you may know by now, is “my heart’s home”. You can imagine my surprise when I reread the mail he sent me and discovered that the press trip would also take us to… Duras! In case, you don’t know, by the way, I am the culinary columnist for En Route.
The trip, which was organized by Vins de Bergerac & Duras and Business France, featured wine, food and culture. We (I had the pleasure of being in the company of Renée Salome from Winelife, Loethe Olthuis from the Volkskrant and Marjolein Schipper from De Telegraaf) had the chance to taste fantastic Bergerac wines (I am especially in love with the wines from Château Bélingard, and Laurent, the owner is just about the most charming person you will ever meet), dine at Michelin-starred restaurants such as Les Fresques at Château des Vigiers and La Tour des Vents, and visit beautiful places such as the château and tower of French philosopher Michel Montaigne and Château de Monbazillac. Being in Duras again (just weeks before our vacation) was also fantastic. One afternoon, we visited the Maison des Vins and had a lovely walk through the Berticot vineyards. We were in the village late at night though, so it was pretty much deserted, but we did get treated to a spectacular light show at the château!
We stayed at the beautiful Château les Merles where I also got a chance to interview the gracious owners Jan van Grinsven and his wife José as part of an assignment for an awesome magazine (more on that in due course). I can tell you, however, that I pitched the magazine just days before my departure and got the ‘go-ahead’ the same day! Mr. Van Grinsven was a joy to talk to. He is truly an example of someone who isn’t afraid of chasing dreams. Oh, and I really enjoyed hopping on one of the golf carts with him and seeing both his abundant potager (which is used by the on-site restaurant) and his favorite spot overlooking the vineyards!
Now I know this may all sound idyllic (and that I may even make you slightly jealous), but believe me, press trips are not all-expense paid vacations — they are work, and the workdays are long (but lots of fun)! Every sip of wine, every bite of food and every place is carefully analyzed. I made notes, took video, recorded explanations, took pictures, posted extensively on social media… and then came home and spent the next two weeks organizing all the material, doing further research and writing.
But this is the best job ever. I can definitely say that my work involves a lot of ‘pinch me’ moments!
Here are some pictures. You can find more on Instagram.
Savory tarts are easy to make, versatile and tasty. With a roll of puff pastry, some cream or cheese and a few bits and pieces from your fridge, you are well on your way to a quick and satisfying dinner.
Yesterday I made a tart with crème fraîche and smoked salmon which we really enjoyed. I added a touch of piment d’Espelette for a little ‘kick’. Serve it with a simple green salad and a buttery Chardonnay.
Salmon Tart with Crème fraîche, Dill & Piment d’Espelette
1 roll of puff pastry (40x 24cm)
225g crème fraîche
100g quality smoked salmon (I used the sustainable one from Fish Tales — LOVE their products!)
6 small sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1 tsp piment d’Espelette
Preheat the oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Unroll the puff pastry and place it on the baking tray. Spread the crème fraîche over the surface of the pastry, leaving an edge free all around. Tear the salmon in pieces and arrange over the tart. Scatter with the dill and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle with the piment d’Espelette. Bake the tart for approx. 25 minutes until golden brown. So delicious!