Indulging in Pavlova

I don’t get homesick often.  But when it does arrive, it is a gentle creeping in, riding in on the back of clouds that blow in from the Atlantic.

Pounding the rain-soaked footpaths of the Rue de Rivoli this morning had me dreaming of Oz, of balmy summer evenings sipping champagne by the harbour, oohing and aahing at fireworks  in the company of friends.

I’m off to toast those friends from afar and indulge in a slice of oh-so-Australian summer tradition, Pavlova.

Happy Australia Day.

BERRY PAVLOVA
4 egg whites
2 cups castor sugar
2 tsp white vinegar
4 tbsp boiling water
4 tsp cornflour (maizena)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp vanilla essence

FRESH WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
1 500 ml thickened whipping cream (crème fermière)
Icing sugar to taste

BERRIES
500gms fresh berries, when in season (or in winter – frozen ‘cocktail de fruits rouges)
1 tsp castor sugar sprinkled onto berries and lightly tossed

Preheat oven to 200C. Line a 30cm (12in) tray with baking paper and draw a 20cm circle on the paper. Place the sugar, boiling water, vinegar and egg whites into a large bowl. Beat until mixture is stiff enough to hold it’s own peaks. Sift the cornflour and baking powder into the bowl, then add the vanilla and fold in lightly.

Pile the meringue onto the baking tray within the circle.  Place into the oven and reduce the heat to 150C for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat further to 100C for an hour longer. After that, turn off the oven and leave the Pavlova in the oven overnight to dry out.

To serve, top the Pavlova with the whipped cream and the berries.

Escape to the winter grey of the Calvados

There’s no escaping the grey in France during winter. 

From October through till April, everywhere you look,  cloud lingers low and there’s a dampness in the air.   The sun makes the rarest of appearances, her warm glow tucked away, out of sight.  People wrap up heavy to match the sombre colour of the skyline. 

Not someone to be bothered by winter, I embrace it.  My favourite season came like a built-in wardrobe with coats and chunky scarves, gloves, pink cheeks that glow when everyone returns to the warm air from the chill outside.  Hot chocolates and vin chaud, cider and galettes.

It also happens to be the time when I most prefer the ocean.  And when it all comes together like a Saturday trifecta, there’s only one thing to do.  Jump in the car and head to the Calvados.  Unlike the summer rush, it’s mostly void of tourists. With the exception of a few cars making their return to the UK, there are no crowds lounging about the harbour, no long waits to get into one of the quaint, fisherman restaurants.  The waters are calm, the beaches littered with pebbles and shells waiting to be collected by pint-sized fingers.

The grey slate buildings blend perfectly with the sky, the ocean, the lunch, and the quiet harbour.  It’s a little corner of heaven, and my favourite escape.

A little French Christmas chocolate cheer

As the saying goes, the best things in life aren’t free.  Whoever thought up that line never finished it off properly. I’m a firm believer that should have done have been ‘the best things in life aren’t free, they’re chocolate’. 

In France, chocolate is an art all to itself, and there is no time more ideal to discover it than during the festive season when the creations of the master designers adorn the windows and leave me drooling for more.

Wishing everyone much Happiness for the holidays.

Sunday Love

 

I adore Sundays for all the cliché reasons you see on the cosy television ads.  I love sleeping late and waking up in crispy white sheets with the sun peeping through the windows, children coming in to snuggle under the covers before the bouncing and giggles start.  I love the coffee that slowly pulls me from the last of my dreams so that I can pull on some clothes.  I love that the Sunday market will cover the square in front of the buildings above, abundant in fresh fruits, cheeses, and crunchy warm baguettes that are ripped apart as we’ve barely taken possession.  I love the life and the energy that comes on that square before the buzz goes quiet and all retreat indoors for a lunch en famille.  Wrapped up on the sofa’s, newspapers will be read from front cover to back before an afternoon stroll or bike ride will complete the day. I could easily live a lifetime of Sundays.

Mille et Une Epices – Polaroid card set no.3

Summer loving

Sun-day in Versailles

It’s been such a fabulous weekend.  Finishing off with a Sunday in the gardens of the Chateau in Versailles where the sun sparkled like stars on the water.  During the course of the weekend we also managed to discover a  wonderful Thai restaurant tucked away in a lively little street of Paris (details soon) – so good that I’m ready to make the claim that I haven’t enjoyed a meal quite that delicious in a long time.  Yum! 

Here are a couple of pics from Versailles. Hope everyone had a great weekend too!