A Travellerspoint blog

April 2009

On to Provence!

Provence in June: From Arles to Aix

I admit it. I have a tendency to be rather obsessive compulsive. Several years ago, I started working my way around my top fantasy destinations in France (Monet's garden in Giverny, Cannes, of course Paris, --twice, and so forth). After a couple of trips, for reasons I won't go into, I digressed and took my first trip to Italy. That was addictive and I ended up making several more trips there, working my way from north (Lake Como) to south (Sorrento and the Amalfi coast). Several trips to Tuscany in between and I was badly hooked. But, a few side trips later (Morocco, Spain) and I've broken the addiction. So, I've decided to return and continue my journeys through France. Maybe it has something to do with Obama being in the White House. Maybe I'm blindly, optimistically hoping that the French don't hate us quite as much as they did now that the brash and unsophisticated Bush is nearly forgotten; like a bad diner meal we know we had but we choose not to dwell on it.

Well, even if the French still don't like Americans, I'm busy doing my internet research, brushing up on my bit of French, and planning my journey. For me, this is half the exhilaration of the entire trip. For me, the journey begins the second I decide to go and Google my first destination, my first hotel or apartment, my first foray into finding the best (and cheapest) flights.

This time, I'm going to Provence. The land of Cezanne, Van Gogh, lavender fields, Roman ruins, and cafes where you can linger as long as you like and waiters aren't rude if they ignore you for hours. Arles, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and maybe the wild and wicked Marseilles. Oui, oui.

Posted by teethetrav 14:24 Archived in France Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Majorcan Almonds: Perfect Almond Cake

Killer Almond Cake from Mallorca Spain

Almonds are the essential Majorcan ingredient. Each restaurant has its own delectable recipe for almond cake. My personal fave was the cake at La Residencia in the gorgeous Deia. I vowed to replicate it when I came home. I am making it for Easter dessert and wanted to share it. Enjoy! Yummy...141.jpg

KILLER ALMOND CAKE
From Chez Panisse
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup almond paste (look for Odense)
10 ounces unsalted butter, room temp.
6 large eggs, room temp.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven 325 degrees. Line a 10” cake pan w/ parchment paper or butter the pan and dust w/flour.
1. With an electric mixer, beat the sugar and almond paste together until the paste is finely broken up.
2. When completely mixed, add the butter and beat for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Stir in into the batter a little at a time, beating with the mixer.
4. Beat in the vanilla.
5. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking powder with a whisk or a fork.
6. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the batter.
7. Transfer the batter into the cake pan and bake for 1 hour. Check for doneness. It may take up to another 10 to 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Cool before serving. Serve plain or dust w/confectioners’ sugar or serve w/small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Posted by teethetrav 07:31 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (0)

Travel Dilemma

Guatemala or Provence

I know it's an appalling decision. But here's the problem: I want to go to Provence to towns I've never seen before --Arles, Aix-en-Provence, a few more. But a friend has organized a small group and is going to Antigua in Guatemala. I've never been to South America and the temptation is to go with this group of adventurous people to an entirely new destination. But France is pulling my heart. I can go alone and I found a small apartment where I can live and go native for a few weeks. I can bring my computer and sit at a cafe and...well, you see where this is heading.

I think I'm going to France. Now, where did I put my French dictionary???

Posted by teethetrav 08:58 Archived in Guatemala Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Pork Products

Spain and Italy

If Spain and Italy can grow healthy, wildly delicious piggies, then why o why can't we? The New York Times today (April 10) has an op-ed piece trashing America's attempts to make healthier, free-range pork products. Briefly, James E. McWilliams, a history professor, professes that there is more salmonella in free-range pigs than in caged ones that are being cultivated in the US. He melodramatically asserts that there were (YIKES!) two cases of trichina. His solution? Ya ready for this, foodies and fellow travelers? "A pork free diet."

Now, I agree with McWilliams to a point. In America pork--especially ham--is not worth swallowing. Until I began to leave the country, I thought ham was that gross pink jellied mess that came in a can (My mother was not a cook. She opened and defrosted). When I began to travel through Italy, I thought I had died and gone to pig heaven. Oh my; yum. Recently, I made my first (of many, I hope) trip to Spain. Chorizo, Iberian ham, sausages to die for. Truly. Worth the risk of trichinosis. Worth smuggling back into the US. Not that I would do such a thing.

I don't know the details of why we can't import Spanish meats or pork products. Maybe someone out there can enlighten me. But Spain is a civilized country and the Spanish love their pork. They are not dying in the streets of salmonella poisoning or other parasitic diseases. At least not that I noticed. There, pigs and sheep roam freely and graze happily (see photo--I didn't know I'd be writing this or I would have taken a pig photo; I only have sheep, but they are really cute and made sublime cheese). They appear to live happy, healthy lives until they perform the ultimate sacrifice and are mmmm cooked or merely aged until they are perfect to plate.

In this country, I will indeed live with a relatively "pork free diet." Luckily, Italian pork is imported, you know.

Posted by teethetrav 05:59 Archived in Spain Tagged food Comments (0)

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