Category: My Heart’s Home (France)

Easter Weekend in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage

For the last few years, we’ve been spending Easter weekend in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, a luxury beachside resort in the north of France. It’s just a little under five hours away from us, and it’s an absolute joy to hop in the car in the morning and be here just in time for lunch. Here’s an impression of how our day has been so far! I hope to post updates during the next three days, so stay tuned!
We started our day at 6AM, but were out the door around 8AM. Luckily, it was a smooth drive. Last year it took us twelve hours to get here. Thank goodness there was no traffic!
One of the things I always look forward to when we go to France is that first cup of coffee at a gas station (in Belgium). With a chocolatine or a croissant. Don’t judge.

on the way to France

No idea why it’s so appealing. Maybe because I know that it’s just the beginning. The beginning of days that feel like months. Hey, we know how to make the most of our time!
After our stop, it was just a few more hours before we arrived in France. Before getting to our house, we took a turn and went to look for a restaurant for lunch. We ended up in Plage Sainte-Cécile, a quiet beachside town with a few interesting looking restaurants. Brasserie La Paix was our choice. Our very, very good choice.
wine in France steak-fritesI ordered us a carafe of red wine and our standard ‘bienvenue en France’ meal. I’m not a fancy girl. I have simple tastes. Thank you, La Paix, it was perfect. Everything I was dreaming about for the last month.
With full tummies and glowing with the happiness of simple wine (me), we went for a walk at the beach. It was drizzling and gray, but who cares! We’re in France! Even Pastis agreed. Although he was probably not looking forward to three days of sitting under restaurant tables.
IMG_4116 A short while later we arrived at our charming little apartment in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the center. We are staying at Les Confidences. Very nice landlady and very comfortable little place.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageWe unpacked, fed the pooch and went for another walk… and another drink, or two.
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage ILe Touquet-Paris-PlageCold and rainy, but we were sitting under heating lamps, and again, IN FRANCE!
After some people-watching and philosphizing, we crossed the street to the bakery and bought a Tarte Tropézienne (shared by Kirstie and I) and a croissant for hubs. Oh and a baguette for breakfast tomorrow. I like my baguette slightly stale. But damn, that tarte! Worth every glorious calorie!
IMG_4146Which perhaps I made up for by taking another walk through town — a foodie paradise alright! Loads of seafood and specialty shops.
fruit market in Le Touquet-Paris-Plage jams preserves produce in France oysters Our day hasn’t ended yet. There’s still dinner coming up, right after I finish this post. Where? I’ll tell you tomorrow. We’ll also be visiting the market, which will be taking place right around the corner from us. It’s supposed to be quite something.
Le Touquet-Paris-PlageSo, that was most of our first day! Yes, I am already floating and soaring with pleasure… See you tomorrow!

Choucroute Garnie

choucroute garnieOne of the most impressive dishes I’ve eaten at Le Commerce in Autun (and a classic winter recipe of the French kitchen) was their choucroute garnie. I first had it on a cold afternoon in late February, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. The dish was substantial enough to easily serve two. Besides sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, it included three different kinds of sausage as well as a thick, succulent slice of pork belly.
Here is my version of that unforgettable dish. Not as heavy as the original, but certainly very good.

Dijon and its Mustard

dijon mustard

Mention ‘Dijon’ and some people will immediately think of mustard. Dijon is not only the capital of Burgundy, but it is also the world’s mustard capital.
The history of Dijon mustard begins in the culinary wonderland of Burgundy, France – a region known primarily for its exquisite wines. The Romans were the first to introduce mustard seeds to this fertile region and by the Middle Ages, abundant mustard plants covered the area’s hills right along with the lush grapevines.

A ‘Ridiculous’ Price to Pay

Last Saturday as hubby and I were driving to Haarlem for our lunch date (have you read the review yet?), we were talking about my experience at the recently opened Proeflokaal Bregje in Almere (read that review, too?). Was I too harsh, I asked? Was I expecting miracles for such a price? I mean, seriously. What the heck did I think I was going to get for €12,50? For three courses, that price is just plain ‘ridiculous’, so chill it there girlfriend! Right?? Well, actually, he reminded — wrong.
Let’s rewind back to a rainy August afternoon in France in 2013. Just as an example, because believe me, I could give you more. We were on our way to further explore the Médoc wine region and had agreed to stop along the way at a restaurant recommended by one of my favorite Dutch wine growers (and cheeky devil of a writer) Ilja Gort. This particular restaurant, called La Fontaine, supposedly served a pretty awesome lunch menu for the mere price of €13,00. I knew I had to check it out, not because I thought this couldn’t be done, but because it was recommended by Mr. Gort. A good lunch (with what I call ‘stick-to-the-ribs’ food) for almost next to nothing is not that uncommon in France, a country that takes its lunch breaks (and its food, but that goes without saying) very seriously.
But alas, when we arrived, on a Monday, La Fontaine was closed. Somewhat disappointed we continued on a bit further, in the direction of Pauillac, where somewhere along the way hubby pointed out a roadside restaurant. I, however, was just the slightest bit hesitant. From the outside it did not look that inviting. A little too rugged for my taste.
I did agree though, as I was hungry… and eager to get on with our wine tour. And holy heavens am I glad I did!
Brace yourself, because here it comes! Don’t mind the lesser quality photos…
The starter was succulent prawns served with a simple green salad dressed with not much more than a well-prepared citrusy and fabulously tangy mayo. Oh and there was bread. Plenty of good, chewy French bread.
French foodThen came the main: A steak perfectly grilled, sprinkled with a bit of coarse salt and served with good thick-cut chips, crunchy on the outside and piping hot. The vegetables were simple, but who’s going to bitch about vegetables when you’ve already been served the mother of steaks??
French cookingI should mention that each of us got a small pitcher of wine to go with our meal. Not crap wine. A simple, smooth merlot and a fruity rosé. Note: that’s my daughter’s ‘coca’ in the background. On holiday, she’s allowed…
French cookingThere was even dessert, mousse au chocolat, which I did not photograph (sorry) and coffee to round it all off.
And all of that for the ‘ridiculous’ price of  €15,00 per meal. €15,00!! Just  €2,50 more than what I paid at Proeflokaal Bregje (excluding the crappy Cosmo). That ‘ridiculous’ price was enough to buy me a meal at Au Poivre et Sel in Le Pian-Médoc. A meal that left me swooning. Yes, people. It is possible.
If the French can do it, why can’t we?