Thursday, March 29, 2012


{Our view}

     So remember a few posts ago when I said we were in the market for a nice picnic? Oh and also if we were gonna do it, we were gonna do it right, with great food and nice flatware etc.. ? Well, throw that all out the window. Last night Shaun returned home from practice at around 7pm and we made the quick decision to head down to eat dinner at the beach. We grabbed the closest blanket we could find at the house, drove-thru KFC ( I know, the horror...) and did just that, ate at the beach licking our fingers clean since they seem to have an aversion to giving napkins out at KFC. It was really warm yesterday so a light sweatshirt at the end of the night was barely needed and there was no breeze so the water was like glass. We were initially worried when we arrived at the little 'island' when the sign said it was closing at 8 but then we took a look around and realized that there was no way to 'close' the island so we took the gamble. Turns out, we were not alone as we saw a few people doing as we were (minus the KFC). Funny story though, there was a man with a camera set up on a tripod (real professional looking) taking pictures of the sunset and capturing the multiple colors of the sky. So as we just settle in and really dig into our KFC, he comes over and asks us if we would walk over to the other cliff so he could take a picture of our silhouette in the sunset. (I swear this stuff happens to us all the time, not the sunset pictures thing but we definitely have randoms talking to us a lot, asking for directions, help etc.). So after agreeing to do it and him telling us we had to hustle to capture the right lighting, we walked over to the other cliff and posed for a few minutes all the while he yelled out "don't move", and my personal favorite "a little more to your left" Mind you Shaun was already 6 inches from the cliff's edge. I secretly think he was hoping to capture Shaun falling off the cliff. Shaun secretly thought he wanted to steal our KFC, you can see where Shaun's priorities were. Oh to be in the mind of a man. Anyways, we exchanged e-mails and he promised to send us the picture, still nothing yet but I am hoping he will since it was a pretty great picture. We probably spent a little more than an hour eating, talking and enjoying the view. It made me re-think the whole planning process. Sometimes spur of the moment things turn out to be the best. If I could only adopt that philosophy more often...and have napkins in my purse at all times.

Then things got hairy.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

Saint-Tropez and Port Grimaud

{Port in Saint-Tropez}
     We are truly blessed with beautiful beaches all along the coastline here in the Cote d'azur. And while we most often go to the beaches in our city, we sometimes like to change things up and head a bit further down the coast. Experience a little 'strange' if you will. So with the warm weather and free weekend, we decided to head to Saint-Tropez for the day. Often associated with Brigitte Bardot and the infamous Paris Hilton's horrible table dancing, Saint-Tropez is a beautiful little beach town where the famous flock to in the summer and call it their 'home base' for their jet setting lifestyle. While I am sure it is fun to be sprayed down by Champagne half naked on the beach while dancing to that Euro-trance they like so much here, I tend to enjoy the more calm time in Saint-Tropez, the off-season. (It's a shame because I think I might of wasted all my good 'table dancing' days on Atlanta. Just think, I could of saved those up and been uber cool rubbing elbows with celebrities in Saint-Tropez). Regardless of when you go, the sherbet colors of the buildings, the beautiful yachts and the small boutiques will not disappoint. We strolled through the port and admired some of the mega-yachts then ordered a sandwich to go and ate on the wall overlooking the water all the while, enjoying the view. If partying and rubbing elbows is your thing, make sure to go in the summer but if you want to enjoy Saint-Tropez for it's non-partying self, I suggest going in the spring when it is warm enough but still not too crowded. Just make sure you order the tarte tropezienne, it is worth every empty calorie...and then some.

{Our view while chowing down}

{Tarte Tropezienne...brioche bread with pastry cream filling, powdered sugar....incredible}

     After Saint-Tropez, we drove to the other side of the Golf of Saint-Tropez to a little city called Port Grimaud. I honestly had never heard of it until our trusty friend/local guide Marie told us about it a few weeks ago. Often referred to as a little french Venice, Port Grimaud is a little seaside town built right on the water with canals used instead of streets. We walked pretty much the entire area in 30 minutes so it's small but what an amazing little area none the less. Since it was towards the end of our day, we didn't take the water taxi tour of the area but I definitely plan to do that next time. And there will be a next time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Galettes Bretonnes

  This will come as no surprise when I say, different regions specialize in different foods. That's a no-brainer. I know personally I don't go to the south expecting the best clam chowder around nor do I go out to California and expect to find the the most delicious jambalaya there is. Sure, there are spots where you can find good variations or interpretations but most of the time, the authentic version just tastes better. With that regards, France is no different. And by luck, or not by luck depends if you are the 'packer' in the family, we have lived in pretty much every region there is in France, oh besides the east. And to be honest with you, I hear it is beautiful but cold so you can have that. So a nice little perk of being nomads, is we have been able to try out most of the regional specialties, and while we like most, we always seem to fall back on the 'Galettes Bretonnes' or salty crepes. From 2005-2007 we spent 2 seasons up in the Brittany region of France, which is the north-west of France. This particular area is known for its seafood (it's on the coast), butter cookies and salty crepes, hence the name Galettes Bretonnes. Oh, and it is also known for it's crappy weather but since moving to the south, I have completely forgotten how grey it is up there.  Ok, I'm off track again. Galettes Bretonnes or Crepes Salee are buckwheat crepes filled with....well, frankly you can put whatever your heart desires in them. Think of it as a burrito in which the fillings are limitless. Witnessing our love of these crepes first hand, our lovely friends and teammates The Struncs offered us a Krampouz (an electric crepe maker) when the season came to a close. I like to think of it as an offering for us being these totally awesome people that they couldn't live without. More probable, it was an early wedding gift that was only a few months away. Hmmm, whatever. While we keep in touch with The Struncs, I am sure they wonder at times if we still use the Krampouz. Well let me tell you Nico and Marlene, we use the crap out of that thing. Not only do we make crepes, but we use it as a skillet, quesadilla maker, sandwich press, you name it, we do it. It is funny though, we only use it to make the crepes salee and never once have we made crepes sucre. Must be the Bretonne left over in us. While there are places that offer these types of crepes here in the south, at $7 a pop for one with minimal fillings, I would rather make them at home and be creative. Oh, did I also mention the fact that Shaun eats at least do the math. And it is the type of food that you can replicate. It tastes just as good as if you were sitting in a Bretagne bistro in a sweater with the heater on while it lightly mists outside for the 10th day in a June. So Nico and Marl, thanks a bunch for the Krampouz, we have put many miles on it and it has made the list of things we can't live without.

The Krampouz


Batter...I don't make my own, I buy the boxed mix where all you have to do is add water. I know, sacrilegious.

Filling..we used potatoes, ham, creme fraiche and cheese.

It took me years to figure out how to do it with out ripping the crepe, I am now a master.

Round 1 out of 4 completed...good thing we are active with the way we eat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Presqu'il du Gaou

{Pin marks the spot}
    For a few weeks now, all I have thought about (ok, not all but mostly)  has been going on a picnic. I don't know why that is. Actually, I take that back. I blame Pinterest. I have found myself wanting to do a lot of things that I never thought twice of before and when I really think hard, all roads lead back to Pinterest. So either damn you or thank you Pinterest, still up in the air of which to do. But back to picnics... I've never really been the picnic type. Sure, we have taken food to the beach with us before but I am not talking about that kind of picnic. I am talking about the full on basket, little tablecloth, cute flatware kind of picnic. So in my usual 'obsessive compulsive' ways, I have tirelessly thought of where the best place to have a picnic is near us. My thinking is, I am not going to waste this idea on a 'semi-cool' place, it has to be all or nothing. So alas, while taking a walk down near the beach, I found the perfect place. It is called Presqu'il du Gaou and it meets all the my criteria (which I won't bore you with what they are). About 4 miles from our house, it is a little island connected to the mainland by a teeny bridge of about 15 yards or so. So really it is an 'almost island' which is what 'presqu'il' translates to in english, wow, those French are smart. On one side of the 'island', you have jagged cliffs that face the Mediterannean and lead down to little coves of crystal clear water. And on the other side, it is more of a lagoon feel with calm shallow crystal clear water. There is nothing on the 'island' itself, just paths and a few little trails off the beaten path. Since it is pretty small, you can see every nook and cranny in under an hour, which just so happens to be the length of Shaun's attention span, so we're golden. So now that I have found 'the place', we just have to wait for these winds to die down a bit so I am not eating equal parts my hair and food. And as you can see below, there are many places to choose from.

Here are some photos of the Mediterannean side

Lagoon side

The 'island' itself

These are my two 'potential' spots...can't really go wrong with either, huh?

Monday, March 19, 2012

And the madness has begun...

     Having watched 4 straight days of basketball, I can officially say, its "March Madness" in our household. And I am not complaining. I am sure most people would roll their eyes if we told them we stayed up to watch all the games this past weekend, but we love it. (Oh by the way U.S., thanks for springing forward an hour, it makes watching the late games a little easier.)  But these are the times that we look forward to, it gives us a little taste of home or familiarity that is needed every so often over here. No cricket, no World Championship Darts (although I am a huge fan of all the boozing and dancing that goes on at those things) and no spring training games on our SKY cable (British cable). Just straight college basketball. And they even use our US commentators which might not seem like such a big deal but let me break it down for you. We all know how annoying it is to hear Madonna and her faux British accent, right?  Well imagine that you have to listen to her for 6 hours... straight. You can't really pin point what is so annoying about it ( ummmm, she was born in Michigan), but it just doesn't sound right.  Well, SKY likes to use their own commentators in their studio for most sports. It works for some sports but for basketball, not so much. Maybe it's the accent or the phrases or the fact that they are not on site so they are a few seconds behind but in any case, it's not pretty. Believe me, I am not bashing just the English, it would be just as ugly if Jim Nantz did a English Premiership game (soccer) or the above mentioned darts. This ugliness goes both ways people so don't feel slighted UK. I have yet to hear an American use the words boot and pitch with out sounding like, for a lack of a better word, a douche. It's funny but the little things like that make a huge difference for us over here. And something good like that, goes a long way. So needless to say, we were on cloud 9. Factor in the good weather, some BBQ, spinach- artichoke dip, blueberry muffins and that awesome Duke loss, and we were pretty close to heaven. Now, we will use this week to catch up on all the sleep we missed just to do it all over again next weekend. Here's hoping next weekend will be just as crazy. Ahhhh, the life of living abroad.

{Spinach artichoke dip}
{Ridiculously good Blueberry Muffins, I used this recipe. I said ridiculously good, right?}
{Getting the patio 'spring' ready. Twinkle lights, check. Flowers, check}

{Got some use out of this bad boy this weekend}

Friday, March 16, 2012

Time flies...

     Everyone knows the expression 'time flies when you're having fun'. Well, 11 years ago on St. Patty's day, a girl who recently moved to Atlanta met up with a boy who was in his senior season at Georgia Tech. They met up at a bar to hang out (Gordon Biersch to be exact). It wasn't a date since she brought her entire team and he brought what seemed like his entire Tech basketball team, some football players and a few baseball players as back up in case it didn't go well. The night went well. There were multiple fishbowls drank, lots of laughs and many memories made that night (oh how I miss the old Buckhead). They took a gamble 5 months later staying together as he went overseas to continue playing basketball while she remained in the states playing soccer. They figured that if it was meant to be, it was meant to be. A few years later, she joined him in Europe. He introduced her to a few things: a lifestyle that she most likely would of never experienced if it weren't for him, being a die-hard anything New England fan (still rock a Yankees hat-sorry) and the 'infamous green bean'. She introduced him to a few things as well: not being a picky eater anymore, Carne Asada burritos and going out of his comfort zone. As she sits and writes this 11 years later, it amazes her how fast the time has gone by and how very well those 3,916 nights that followed that first St. Patty's Day have gone. Guess they were right, time really can fly, still not sold on pigs though...