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Landmarks mark our return

There are advantages in returning to the same place when traveling on vacation.  As long as the landmarks remain in place, it’s easier to find your destination.  GPS will only get you so far!  That was precisely the case when I returned to La Pitchoune for a recent culinary tour.

Ahh, there’s the SuperU sign which means the short-cut is just to the right.  Oh and there’s the Édith Piaf sign at the next round-about.  I was almost to La Pitchoune (the former home of Julia and Paul Child) and ready to begin my two weeks of culinary bliss.

I arrived a day early to assist Kathie with last minute preparations.  Our guests were to arrive the next afternoon.  Not having a chance to eat in Paris during my two-hour layover, by the early evening I was starving.

The local pizzeria seemed to be the perfect place to go for take-out – a Mouansoise (Tomate, Fromage, Aubergine, Parmesan, Persillade, Origan) and a Provencale (Tomate, Fromage, Tomates Fraiches, Mozzarella, Basilic).  Pizza in France, you ask?  Why yes, in these parts, Italy is less than an hour away.

Arriving back La Pitchoune, we uncorked a bottle of Provencale red and enjoyed a relaxing evening while catching up on the news since my trip back in February.  (I was there for a truffle hunt.)

Early Sunday morning we decided to make the short trip to Plascassier to one of the local boulangeries for coffee and a pastry instead of going all the way to Valbonne.  (See, Valbonne was another 5 minute drive and I couldn’t wait.)

It never fails, every-time I arrive at a boulangerie, it’s always so difficult deciding which pastry(ies) to choose.  Should I go with the classic croissant or try the Pain Suisse this time; or one of each?  The dough of the “suisse” is similar to brioche, but rolled flat and folded over chocolate bits before baked.  It’s decedent and delicious with a cup of café.  (The Pain Suisse won out this time!)

Before departing the boulangerie we picked up our daily baguette and a small fougasse to enjoy with our aperitifs that evening.

By Sunday afternoon we were off to pick up our guests, but not before a quick trip back to the airport to have the GPS reset.  See, I was fiddling with it earlier in the day and somehow switched it back to German.  I was driving a BMW after all.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to switch it back to English.  I can sing in German, but mind you, attempting to understand directions in that language was out of the question.

After the quick trip to the airport we made our way along the Promenade des Anglais with Nice on our left and the Côte d’Azur on our right.  From the Promenade we turned left and headed up the hill at the SNCF sign.  It only took us two trips around the block before deciding it was probably better to just park in the garage.  It would be easier than attempting to find a spot and then parallel park on the street.  Me and parallel parking in France is not a good mix.

Donning our bright green “Cooking with Friends in France” aprons, we greeted our culinary guests with a kiss on each cheek, grabbed their bags, loaded up the car and headed back to La Pitchoune.

After settling into the comforts of our home away from home, it wasn’t long before we were enjoying aperitifs in front of the fireplace.  On this night our tray included french radishes, smeared with butter and dipped in fleur de sel, olives from the property that were brined, pistachios, and chèvre “roll-ups” (for lack of a better description).  They were bite-size pieces of goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto and sprinkled with various dried herbs or seeds.

Later in the evening, for our welcome dinner, we enjoyed marinated bone-less pork chops, tiny potatoes (Les Grenailles) and sautéed purple beans.  For dessert it was baked Canadian Gris apples (perfect apples as our guests were from Canada) with a saffron sauce and crème fraîche.

It was an early bed-time for each of us, as it would be a busy next day with a trip back to Nice (the Brocante market is every Monday) followed by an afternoon cooking class and dinner.