Footsteps of Cézanne

Got off to a bit of a slow start as we managed through the jetlag of a 9 hour time difference.  Enjoyed fruit and yogurt on the patio for breakfast.  Later, we’d have  salad nicoise and ceasar for lunch and then dinner at a Corsican restaurant, Le Contrepoint (  The restaurant was busy and we hadn’t made reservations, so we felt lucky to snag a table in the cozy dining room.  I opted for the corsican beef tartare – with tomatoes and paprika, Paul got a fondue with potatoes and cured pork and then we had a chilled rose to go along with it.

Cézanne live and worked in Aix and the Provence region. Many of his works were inspired by the landscape here. His last workshop has been preserved with many of the objects featured in numerous still life paintings.

On our way!!

Headed to Marseilles and Provence via DC and Brussels.  Weather is clear, flights are on time…   And we made it to Aix – cheers!!

We got settled in to our basement apartment on the Cours Mirabeau, took a short nap, and then went out to explore our surroundings.  Our location was ideal – the main thoroughfare dividing the old city from the seriously old city.  There were picturesque cafes and alleys any way you went.  We later learned that Aix is the “city of 1000 fountains” – a bit of hyperbole as there are really on 111.  The do seem to be at every corner and roundabout.

No question we’re in the land of rose – were a good bottle can be had from the grocery for 7-9 euro.

Cheese Bar House-made Quick Pickles

Pickled Vegetables – restaurant quantity

  • 4 heads of cauliflower
  • 5 lbs of carrots
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 4 yellow bell peppers
  • 2 heads of celery
  • 10 red jalapenos
  • 4 lbs of zucchini

Pickling Brine (1/3 version in parentheses)     If you cut the brine to a third of the recipe, it will be enough for 4 jars of vegetables –  2 x 32 oz and 2 24 oz jars)

  • 3 quarts of Champagne vinegar  (4 cups)
  • 2 cups White Distilled vinegar (2/3 cup)
  • 2 cups water (2/3 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp salt (2 tsp)
  • 6 cups sugar (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup mustard seeds (4 tsp)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds (2/3 tsp)
  • 2 tsp peppercorns (2/3 tsp)
  • 10 allspice berries (4-5 berries)
  • 2 dried red chilies, broken in half (sub crushed red pepper)
  • 2 bay leafs (1 small leaf)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (2/3 tsp)

Chop vegetables.  Heat water, vinegar, salt, sugar and spices to boiling.  Remove from heat, let steep for 20 minutes.  Strain over vegetables.  Cool and chill overnight.


City of Angels

Enjoyed a quick trip back to the old ‘hood this week.  Very nostalgic.  I didn’t get out on the beach because I got there after dark, but I drove through PDR and Westchester.  So happy to see not much has changed!

Enjoyed seeing Larry and Shannon again – plus the campus was as beautiful as ever.  Had a nice long lunch with Lili at Shiki over in Studio City.  I even enjoyed the traffic!!  

Walls Walla onion rings

Once a year – and once is enough – we end up at Burgerville for the onion rings..  and usually a milkshake.  The big sweet onions make amazing fried goodness!!  

So the day went like this:  breakfast at Toast – can’t go wrong with the Big Ass Sandwich, some time tending the garden, the OK City finals of American Ninja Warrior, pickup party at Colene Clemens, a stop at a new winery that’s been in the list forever – Domaine Serene, the Burgerville and home.  

Picked up some awesome rosé at DS!  They had a classic car show on for the evening so we took a peak at some amazing modern and vintage cars – the Spyder 918 belonged to the owners son at a price of @ $850k!  Damn!  And it was one of three!!  

Orcas Island 25k – wait, what??

I must have been hypnotized..  Paul was talking about this race that’s so popular you enter a lottery to get in and then I was looking at the web site and there were only 4 spots left and then I reached for a credit card and signed up!  Really??

And THEN I read the FAQs..   My decision was clearly driven by scarcity – 4 spots, must act now! – and not common sense.  The good news is I’ll have 6 hrs to go just under 16 miles – and given the 4450 ft of elevation gain, I may need every minute of it!!

Two-tomato Quiche

Not that there are 2 tomatoes in it, but rather two types of tomato – both from our garden. Onion, spinach, feta, and early girl and chocolate cherry tomatoes on top.

More planning for our trip to southern France – we have an all-day private winery tour and then 2-day city passes to explore Aix and the surrounding area.  There have been wildfires near Marseilles this week, so hopeful that’s not an issue by the time we get there.  Looking forward to an adventure!

City Pass:

Wine Tour:

Luberon Villages Tour:


Blossom End Rot and Powdery Mildew

Thanks to our 2 years worth of experience growing squash in Oregon, we recognized and addressed the powdery mildew on our patty pan plants immediately!   Whew – that crisis averted!  Now there’s the blossom end rot nonsense to worry about..  It looks like we’ll basically lose all of the first fruit from our roma plant and some from the heirloom plant as a result.  Apparently it was caused by abnormally cool temps that hit right when the plant was starting to fruit and there’s really nothing to be done about it.  We have more, healthy fruit coming along – sad to see how much we would have had..