Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Steel Balls Under a Desert Sun

I like to play pétanque. Most of the time it's for fun, but on occasion I compete. This past Sunday I competed in the Palm Desert Open pétanque tournament (a stone's throw from the fabled Palm Springs).

My two French teammates and I all wore the jersey from "La Boule Tropezienne" -- the Saint Tropez pétanque club. I first received my jersey unexpectedly. I had beaten my cousin Didou in a friendly, if a bit serious game of pétanque while visiting family in St Tropez. That night at dinner, the extended family gathered round the table, Didou presented his personal club shirt to me with great ceremony. To say I was honored is an understatement. I honestly don't think I've ever had a polo shirt I cherish more. To be able to wear it as my team shirt in this tournament in the desert was a thrill on its own.

We played for almost 8 hours strait under the hot desert sun. Though at times we struggled against the fierce competition, we won every game we played. That is until in the early evening, playing in the final with all the other teams and spectators watching, we just couldn't quite muster what it took to beat the champions.

Exhausted, dusty, with aching feet, we were still quite pleased with our second place finish and the intense competition and fellowship we experienced.

And of course, there's no question that we we're the best dressed team on the courts.

A la prochaine,

Le Capitaine 

Monday, March 9, 2015

When it comes to wines...

I believe one should always have a chilled bottle of rosé on hand, because it's an essential paring to any sunny day.
One should also always have a serviceable bottle of chilled French white wine in the ice box, just to be ready for those moments when a white wine is called for, either by the food or the company.
And one should never be without a chilled bottle of champagne or an exceptional crémant, because you never know when good news will hit at which point you'll need to celebrate. 
Of course, no house should be without, at a minimum, a small selection of delectable French reds, as an absence of them is for all intents culturally criminal in many circles.
Can I offer you a glass? 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

La Vie Rustic

Georgeanne Brennan's new store La Vie Rustic, is now open. 

Think of it as a quasi-secret French village store. The kind that would open only when Madame was in the mood, is stocked with magical treasures sourced from the land the old fashion way, by hand, and is known mostly to the locals and those few tourists that stumble upon it. 

It's the type of place that would sit in the old barn on the ground floor of a 700 year old village house located in an off-the-beaten-path town settled before the Romans dropped in for an extended visit in the hinterlands of Provence. 

Well, it reminds me of a place like that.

The difference of course is La Vie Rustic lives on the internet, so it's open 24 hours a day. 

The difference is much of what she has for sale she made herself, comes from her garden, or is made under her supervision.

The difference is Madame in this case is the fabulous Georgeanne Brennan, so a bit of old Provence magic is included with every order.

The shelves are still being stocked so I strongly recommend you sign up for her newsletter (more like a personal note) that way you'll know when something new arrives... before it sells out.

But in the meantime, peruse. Take your time, nobody is in a hurry here.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A culinary trip through time from Paris to Provence

I recently had the opportunity to write an article for Gastonomique En Vogue magazine about the memoir slash cookbook Paris to Provence.  I don't do these types of articles very often, but...

Some of Sara Remington's beautiful images which are included in the book. (L-R) Charcuterie Plate on page 118, Boy in car on page 15 and Strawberries in Red Wine on page 66 of the book Paris to Provence.

I've been a fan of Georgeanne Brennan for years and consider myself privileged to be able to call her a friend, and so when she asked if I'd take a look at her daughter's manuscript for a book she'd been working on I said I'd be honored to.  And I was.

When Georgeanne's daughter Ethel sent over the manuscript, which included photographs by co-writer and photographer Sara Remington, I was hooked. In reading the manuscript I was struck time and again at some of the similarities in our experiences as children vacationing in France. Of course having recipes of childhood favorite dishes was a nice bonus! I told them the book was beautiful and gave them a quote to use for publicity that ended up on the back cover.

And when, just after the book was released Gastronomique En Vogue asked if I'd write a review, well, all I could think of was that good works by great people should be supported!

Please do give the article a read and let me know what you think...

bon apetit
Le Capitaine

Friday, March 22, 2013

France & Moi

Did a fun interview in the France & Moi series with the delightful Jaqueline Brown of The French Village Diaries. 

France & Moi - The French Village Diaries

Very best,
Le Capitaine

Friday, October 26, 2012

A vermouth above all others

A couple years ago, while sitting at the bar of a small restaurant called Rocker Oysterfeller’s in the tiny town of Valley Ford about forty five minutes’ drive north of San Francisco, I drank what at the time was the best Negroni I’d ever had. It had a smokiness, complexity, depth and hint of burnt orange that just took things to a whole other level.

To ensure that it wasn’t a fluke, a few months later I went back to Rocker Oysterfeller’s and ordered another one, and sure enough it was spectacular.

Now a Negroni is just not that complicated – equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. OK, some people prefer a little more gin and a little less Campari and vermouth, but this is the basic recipe. Wait, I forgot, you need to add your choice of orange slice or strip orange peel. But here’s my point, this means the only real big variables here are the gin and the vermouth, because there’s only one Campari. And what was different here was not the gin.

So, I asked the barmaid, who also happened to be the owner of the restaurant, which by the way is surprisingly good for being in the middle of a beautiful nowhere, what made her Negroni so good. She smiled, as knowing barmaids are wont to do, and said “It’s the vermouth. I use the best there is.” And proceeded to show me a slightly over sized,  kind of fat bottle with an old fashion looking label. Stuff was called “Antica Formula.” I had a 3 second glimpse, and it was gone.

Shortly after that life got in the way. Homes were packed and unpacked. Jobs were changed. Latitudes shifted. You get the idea.

Then, while looking at some bottles of wine at a Whole Foods, what do I see but that slightly over sized,  kind of fat bottle with the old fashion label. Oh yes, this was coming home with me!

Antica Formula is now my house standard. It is, hands down, the best vermouth I've ever had and a spectacular mixer.

Antica Formula’s distributor describes it as follows:
Antica Formula is a red vermouth made from an original recipe by Antonio Benedetto Carpano, the man credited with creating modern vermouth in Turin in 1786. Carpano originally developed vermouth by mixing herbs with a base wine and then sweetening it by adding spirit. His new drink proved so popular that soon his shop had to stay open 24 hours a day to satisfy demand.
Carpano had been inspired by a German aromatised wine and was a fan of German poetry. As a result, he named his new product after the German word for wormwood, wermut, which was frequently used to flavour wine at the time.
Antica Formula is richer and more complex than most red vermouths and will make an excellent Bronx, Manhattan or Negroni.

And there you have it.

Le Capitaine

Friday, September 14, 2012

Part 2

And here's Part 2 of the Author Showcase interview.


Le Capitaine