Saturday, June 27, 2009

July 2009

Ever felt like you walked into a fairyland. I get that feeling everyday when I walk to the mailbox. We have planted lavender next to the walkway, and it has taken over. Who knew it would get so large. On warm sunny days, hundreds of butterflies visit the lavender (and bees too). So as I walk through the lavender, they take to the air and are flying all around me. What a glorious way to start a day. It has to make you smile. Colors of orange, yellow and white are breezing by and around my head. They flutter waiting to land again on the flowers. And the smell of lavender lingers too,since I have brushed it when I passed by. It is summer at its best.

Update on the butterflies ( papillons), July 22nd. We had them for the month of June and part of July, but most are gone now. Not sure why or where they have gone. There still must be nectar in the lavender, because the bees are still there. It was fun while it lasted.

Keith worked the first couple weeks of the month. The first week in July was extremely hot. It was in the 90's. I really feel for sorry for anyone trying to ride a bike in that heat. He was in the Loire Valley that week. But he did his job and was glad to return home. The week after was a tour here in the Cote D'Or, a tour he prefers. When he is here, he comes home on Monday and Tuesday night to sleep in his own bed.

Some tour information about Keith's job, bike tours for DuVine. They do not ride all that much each day, the hardest day is 30km (about 18-20 miles). The tour starts Sunday (afternoon) and ends on Thursday night. Friday morning the clients are taken to the train station to meet their trains. They do have some climbs, so it is not all flat. However, it is fairly relaxing with stops to taste wine. They ride, eat, and taste wine.

On one of the days, (Thursday here in the Cote D'Or) they picnic in the vineyards. Keith, my husband, enjoys preparing the picnic!! It is usually food from the market, but he actually made a potato salad (made with vinaigrette) for the last picnic. He also has put together other salads such as endive salad or a beet salad. He has not cooked much in the 39 years of marriage, but maybe he has started on something new. Just maybe I can get him to make dinner (or will that take another 39 years)??

The 4-14 Fete in Dijon was the weekend of July 11th and 12th. American chefs and musicians came over here to Dijon to showcase next to French chefs and musicians. Patrick Fitzsimmons from Vermont (a musician) was here to play for the 4-14 Fete. A friend of his who lives in Dijon invited the Burgundy Friends group to hear him play Thursday (July 9th) evening at her place. He plays guitar and sings in a folk style manner and writes almost all of his music. We all enjoyed his concert immensely and maybe (hopefully) he will be back next year to play again. As for the fete (festival) there were booths all around the "Les Halles" (indoor market building) with chefs and products (cooking related). The pastry chef from the White House was here. For 3.00 euros, you could taste what the chef's had prepared. So we sampled a little. I went for the Michelin Star chefs, and why not. If I was spending 3 euros for a taste, it had better be a good one. And it was. This was the first year of the festival, and it may be scheduled again for next year (if funding is found). A friend of ours, Alex M. had the idea for this festival and put it into action. He lives in Dijon.

Bill Yosses (glasses) White House Chef
An other chef preparing food at the Fete
Even Baseball was featured...with batting cage

I went out west in France to visit with a high school friend. Her and her family had rented a large farmhouse in Brtitany region. We met up in Bayeux where they had toured the beaches for the day. After we met in Bayeux on Tuesday evening, we had dinner before driving to the farmhouse (something over an hour drive). Wed was a relaxing day. Weather a little iffy in the morning as we went to the market, but all cleared up by afternoon. The market was an outdoor street market, with everything from fresh vegetables to live rabbits and chickens, to ready to wear cloths to needles and thread. Found some wonderful fresh tomatoes for dinner. We had lunch in town and dinner at the farm that evening. I left on Thursday. It was some time for me to spend with my friend and also to meet and get to know her family. It was a great couple of days, and wonderful to see an old friend again.

I took lots of pictures while I was there, even of the goat, cows and pigs on the farm. But alas, my camera was stolen (it was just the point and shoot camera), so I have no photos to share from this trip. This happen!!

Crime has been on the rise here in France, and yet, for the most part, it is pick pockets and theft that are the big problem. Even in Paris, I have never been afraid of anything but theft, so I try to watch my purse. This may have been on the train from Paris to Dijon, where there were compartments. There were just two of us in the compartment, we had even talked, and trusting me, I went to the bathroom and left my bag (cloths and camera) on the seat. Live and learn. But why not leave me my PHOTOS.

A friend here had a huge party on Sunday the 19th. It was with a military (WWII) theme. It was a riot. He had decorated his whole yard for the day with military paraphernalia. There were maybe 70 people there. Many came in costume. He served military fare for dinner, SoS (creamed beef on toast), creamed corn, his chili and guess what SPAM. Where in the world did he get enough SPAM to feed a crowd? Let me tell you, they do not sell SPAM here in France. There was other food too. What time and effort he had put into this party. It was great. Although we did not dress up, many guests were in cotume. Maybe next year.

Keith has had cycling depravation for weeks. The tours really do not give him a work out. He likes to ride about 70km per day, so 20km just does not cut it. So Monday (July 21st) morning at 7am, he hopped a train with his bike fully loaded for camping and took off for the Alsace and the Vogues mountains. He called on Tuesday evening and said he had done 158 km. Not that is with all his camping gear!! in the mountains!! I think he is getting the exercise he wanted.

Here is the difference between us:

Keith on a bike:
Me on a bike:

Anyone watcing the Tour de France. I try to keep up with it almost daily. It has been interesting this year. I think team Astana will have 1 or 2 in the top 3 spots. Can Lance Armstrong hang on to 2nd place. Contador will take first, barring any major problems. Just when you think he is too old (Lance), On Tuesday the 21st he did not get in the break (where Contador and Kloden were) and was 35 seconds behind on a mountain climb, when he decided to catch up to the break. Wow, it tooksome power to do that. France really does not want him to win, but is fascinated with his every move.

I have been working on a huge project, but I can not tell you about it yet. You will just have to wait a little longer until it is finished. But a lot of my time has been going into this project this last month.

And so ends another month in France.

Recipe of the Month

This is a easy and good summer snack or starter. Very easy to make


  • 1 medium endive
  • 2 oz blue cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup broken salted pecans


  1. Pull of leaves of the endive and arrange on a tray
  2. Break up Roquefort (blue cheese)
  3. Carefully mix nuts, honey and blue cheese Do not mix too much, blue cheese can color it and make it a dark color
  4. Put a small teaspoon full on each leaf
  5. Serve

Friday, June 26, 2009

June 2009

Ah oui, another month has almost passed. Our wedding anniversary is the 27th of June. It has been 39 years, and we are still married. Keith takes off for the Loire Valley on Saturday the 27th for another guiding trip, so he will not be here (there will be 12 clients, the biggest group for him so far).

We went out to dinner on Thursday evening to celebrate, to a little restaurant we like in Fixin, the Clos Napoleon. We found that it had changed owners, chef and menus, but it was still very good.

I will go back and start at the beginning of the month. Our friend Chris from London came for a week, the first week of June. The weather was fantastic the whole week. We toured and tasted wine. On Tuesday we went down to the wine region just west of Macon. On the way, we stopped at Cluny and had lunch. Cluny was, at one time, the largest church in the world. Unfortunately, most of it has been destroyed (many houses in the city are built with stone from the church). We took a brief tour after lunch to see some of the remnants of the church. Cluny was started by the Benedictines, 910 AD. Cluny even owned the chateau here in Gevrey for a period of time.

Cluny Tower
pillar ruins
Floor plan -from Wikipedia

[More information at website : ]

After lunch we meandered along with hilly roads. The country side is beautiful. I had not visited this area before, Keith had with his bike and last year when he was guiding tours.

Stopped to take a photo of a menhir. What is a menhir, glad you asked. They are tall massive stones that are standing upright (size varies, this one..hmm 15-20 feet). There are many in France and also Germany and of course Britian, and there is no conclusive answer on the origin. Maybe part of the religion of the druids?; territory markers?; part of a calendar?; who knows. Some found alone like this one, others found in groups. Interesting though and it makes one ponder "how did they get it upright"? The cross on the top was added many hundreds of years (well actually thousands of years) after this stone was erected.

A little further on, near the village of Pouilly we stopped at Solutre (village and bluff have the same name). This is a famous bluff here in France (Burgundy) because of all the fossils that have been found. Massive amount of bones are at the base of the bluff.

Solutre from a distance
Another View


The discoverer and first investigator of the site, Adrien Arcelin, tried to explain the mass of horse bones revealed during the 19th century excavations by describing hunters driving herds of up to 600 animals at a time over the edge of the rock. This concept of Solutre as a ‘horse-jump’ site found favour in the late 1800s and was upheld even as late as the 1950s. However, in 1956 Jean Combier re-interpreted Solutre as a place to which hunters periodically returned to kill horses which were passing through the valley during their seasonal migrations.

More information at :

Finding a place to stay was another thing all together. We had not made any reservations ahead of time, thinking it would be easy to find a place. We had struck out at 4 places (no one home/place closed up). Finally we were in Fuissé (the B&B there did not answer when we rang the bell) and I saw a sign for degustation (wine tasting). It was hot and late in the afternoon and I said we were stopping there to taste some wine (that was one of the reasons for going to this area).

All is well that ends well.


Not only did we have a nice tasting, the woman knew the owner of the B&B and called her on her cell phone. We had a rooms for the night. Yeah!

It was a lovely B&B, Bergerie de Fuissé. Out in front there is a huge garden with chairs to sit on and enjoy the view of the vineyards. The place is large..a list of common rooms for the Bread and Breakfast include; a large game room with fire place, a small TV room, a reading room with fireplace, and a kitchenette area with a stocked refrigerator. In addition to all these inside rooms there is a large courtyard, part of it covered. When we came back from dinner, the owner had candles lit all around the courtyard. It was very pretty, and a beautiful warm evening. So we sat down and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Breakfast was served in a glass room that looked out on the chicken yard. We had a great time that morning having our breakfast and watching the chickens. She even served a glass of Cremant for breakfast. Chris and I indulged, Keith our trusty driver did not. I did get some chicken photos though.

Mr Rooster
Handsome Dude

On the way back, in a nearby village we stopped at a small goat cheese farm that Keith had visited last year when he was guiding for the barge tours. Of course we bought some great cheese.

That afternoon we stopped in Cormartin. Here we visited the Chateau de Cormartin. The existing building was started in 1605. It used the foundations of a fortified castle built by Henri du Ble in 1280. It is a very ornate chateau and there are some beautiful gardens.

Keith going to visit Cormatin

Friday Chirs and I went to Vezelay. It is a long drive (almost 2 hours), but a nice little village built on top of a hill. It is known for its’ church, St Mary Magdalene. It is said that the relics of Mary Magdalene are at the church and therefore it is one of the churches visited by the pilgrims on the way to St Jacques de Compostello. St. Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade at Vézelay in 1146. (St Benard is highly regarded here in Burgundy, since he was born in a village that is now a suburb of Dijon (Fontaine les Dijon). He also established the Abbey de Fontaney.

At the alter of Mary Magdalene.

On Sunday we (Chris and I, Keith was off to work another tour) went over and watched Ohtar (Marie Therese’s horse) do a cross-country run. Marie Therese has moved Ohtar to a different stable in Seurre. Although she liked Clemancey, Christophe was going more for dressage, no cross country and little jumping. Ohtar loves jumping and cross country. Tough decision, but she finally moved Ohtar in May. Ohtar did well on Sunday,and placed. All were very pleased.

On the 13th and 14th of the month, winegrowers from the Cote D’Or who belong to an organization called Independent Vignerons had “Portes Ouvert” (Open House) for tasting their wines. I take pottery from Christine and her husband is a winegrower. So she had a pottery display (with students pottery too), and her husband had a table for wine tasting. I help set up on Friday, but forgot to take a photo!!

I went over on Saturday and threw some pots as a demonstration. What fun.

On Sunday, Marie Therese, Keith and I set out and tasted some wine at some of the other places (there were 25 vignerons on the list). Keith found a real nice place in the Haute Cote. Some very nice wine. Also tried a place in Marsannay-la-Côte, looking for some Rosé from Marsannay (first AOC for Rosé). And we found some, a very Rosé nice too.

Not all wine is great though. We did stop at another place. First of all there was a brochure that speaks to the wine tasting along with the list of wines to taste at each vignerons place.

We arrive and the woman says they do not do wine tastings on Sundays!!?!?! Marie Therese or Keith stated they thought that we were going to be able to taste wine! Oh, she considered, maybe she has some open bottles in the other room. She disappears and returns with a few bottles. We did taste, but were not at all impressed with the wine. Maybe her attitude carries over into the wine. Didn't she even read her own advertising?

Speaking of wine, Keith has found another vignerons in Savigny les Beaunes. They make Sparkling Red Burgundy. Keith said he remembers this 40 years ago. So he bought some.

We had the photoclub picnic also this month. Last 2 years it has rained. This year it was nice. We had the picnic in Chambouef (just up the hill from Gevrey).

The Genealogy club also had two outings this month. One on the geology of Gevrey-Chambertin and the other to the Dijon Library. For the geology tour we walked though some of the vines looking at the rock formations and the difference from one location to another. [ Note website for Genealogy, Histoire et Patrimoine Gevrey Chambertin , it is in french: ]

At the library we got to see a collection that is not open to the public. These are books from the 11th and 12th century. The books from the Abbey de Citeaux had some wonderful drawings. She said a scribe could copy a page every 20 minutes. This of course did not include the embelishments, that was done by a different monk.

Renovated Room
Illustrated OLD Book

As always, the 21st of June is the national night for music. I went to a concert on Saturday night, the 20th however. It was the chorale group from Gevrey (Albasso) and my old chorale group from Epernay singing in the old church at Couchey. It was really a good concert and I got to see a lot of friends from Epernay after the concert (always a glass of wine after).

I think, all in all, it has been a very informative month. I loaded you down with information on historical sites, hope you enjoyed some of the information.

And of course there are a few more days. On Tuesday night the 30th, Christine is having a BBQ for all her pottery students and families. Keith will not be here, but she expects 20+ persons. Should be a fun night.

UPCOMING FOR JULY...Check out 4-14 Fete Dijon

and a trip to Normandy to see a good friend.


Rice Salad

This is an easy recipe that I threw together one evening.


  • 1 package Uncle Ben's Express Lemon and Rosemary Rice
  • 1/2 cup zucchini -diced
  • 1/3 cup carrots -diced
  • 1/4 Red Bell Pepper -diced
  • 1/2 Red Onion - chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 full teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard


    1. Put rice packet into the microwave as directed on the package

    2. When done, add the rice to a bowl

    3. Toss with a fork to separate all the rice

    4. Mix vinaigrette and add to rice

    5. Add all of the diced vegetables

    6. Add salt and pepper

    7. Put into the refrigerator for about 1 hour to let flavors blend

Just before serving, do a taste check for salt and pepper. Also if a little dry (rice has absorbed all of the vinaigrette) add a dash of olive oil and mix.

Add a few sprigs of parsley on top to finish

Add other veggies that you like, peas maybe or cucumber? Try it.

As always, if you try the recipe, give me comments -good or bad. I cook by taste, and sometimes hard to list exact amounts!!