Tag Archives: azure

Reading Winter Sunshine

Reading winter sunshine, Paris, France

The night I returned home from three months in Paris I had a dream: I was arriving back in Paris and I said, “I’m back, I’m finally back.”
That winter I woke up in the evening, my roommates were gone for the break and I kept one room warm in the top of the house. Mine was the only light in the neighborhood. I would be awake the whole night, depressed, and during the day I’d sleep and I’d dream, “I’m back, I’m finally back.” I didn’t see daylight for a week.
But things got better, as they do, and I met a girl who I’d known for a year. We secretly danced in the dark under trees. We fell asleep tangled in her bed and then I’d dream about being in Paris, being back, finally back.
I’m sure I studied around this time because I remember walking to German class in the snow and swearing at it for visiting Seattle in March. I took the class because I’d met a German in Paris and schemed to go back and woo her with my painful conjugation of simple verbs. But the scheme faded as the snow melted and I kept waking up tangled with the girl on white sheets, waking from the Paris dream again and again.
I had the same dream, warmer, later in the Spring, after we fought about nothing and I walked home alone, looking up at the trees drip in the rain. We had fought about the world: I thought it was incurably sick, while she was more optimistic, and I slept alone, tangled in sheets in my warm room.
Despite her optimism, we stayed together through the summer. At her cabin we swam in fresh water. I pulled myself up the ladder to lay on the dock in the sun, the boards scratching my chest. We swung in a hammock and slept there together in coins of sunlight, and I dreamed of Paris.
In winter I woke up, untangled, alone, in Paris, I was back, finally back. I descended dark stairs to a wet, stony street and walked in the rain on a bridge. I wandered the Left Bank until I found a hotel and carried my things up dark steps to the desk. A young man smiled and motioned down the hall. I walked down the hall and stopped at a door, behind which she waited, asleep, tangled in white sheets.


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Filed under Europe, France, Paris, Stories, Travel

Snow on the olive farm

by Mike

Azure and I, picking olives, noticed that the sky was getting dark up the valley. We asked Margarite, “Is it going to rain?”
“No, it won’t rain,” she said.
We didn’t really believe her, so we kept working. But the darkness grew and we were startled to feel an icy wind flee down the valley in front of the cloud.

Down to Nice

We looked up and saw that the darkness had crossed a ridge and was heading for us and whether it was rain, it was serious. Claude screamed orders to get the full olive caisses up and we scrambled to move our equipment inside, protected, and to get the olives out of the cold. Then it hit – snow rioted through the orchard and the temperature must have dropped 25 degrees.

Claude shivering

There was a lot of confusion but we eventually got everything moved in and spent the rest of the day wide-eyed at the snow falling just 30 minutes from Nice.

Of course Margarite was right – no rain.

Where to?


Filed under Europe, France, Photography, Stories, The Olive Farm, Travel

My Birthday: A typical day for food

by Azure

My birthday was a typical day here at the chateau. I got up and started working on our painting project in the morning. At around 1pm we stopped for lunch. Since it got sunny last week, we have been having lunches out on the back patio under the columns. Mike made a tomato sauce (tomato, red pepper, eggplant, zucchini) with an egg in it over pasta and we had a mache salad with beets, kiwi and tomatoes.

For the “special” birthday dinner, we started with Kir Royals on the patio with creme fraiche and smoked salmon and caviar (caviar is pretty normal here, cheap and easy to find). Even though it was just the six of us, we still ate in the fireplace room, since I love it so much.


Mike made a chicken caccitore with potatoes and I made an unsuccessful Oeufs a la Neige (Eggs in snow?). The neige turned into a baked pancake when it should have been a fluffy snowy thing that sits in english cream. Luckily, Linda had made a walnut and chocolate flat-cake, so we put that in the creme. I drank Negrita and coke all night, the others had their choice of red or white wine.


After dinner, we talked by the fire and I got some beautiful soaps and some stiff french linens from everyone. Mike got me treats, popcorn, the Negrita and coke and some mache seeds for taking home. It was a lovely day to add to the list of lovely days here. It feels like everyday is my birthday!


Filed under Chateau St. Julien L'Ars, Europe, France

Brocciu three: Only one mystery solved

Cyrus and Patty wait patiently while the supplies are bought at the cheese farm.

by Azure

After the first attempt at making brocciu failed, Mike called the farm to get more supplies for my birthday. Do you want to good news or the bad news first, he asked me after he got off the phone.

It turns out, the milk they had given us was pure, unpasteurized, whole goats milk. Which, on another note explains some things about the bowel movements that were happening on the days when I thought I was drinking 2%. The good news was that they had all the supplies, so Patty drove Linda, Cryus, Mike and I to go get more milk and petite lait.

It was 6pm when we arrived and she happily gave us all that we needed for only 3 euros. This time I got enough for two more trials, one slow cooked and the other faster cooked. She filled the buckets we had brought and sent us on our way.

When we got back to the chateau we realized that we had forgotten the fresh milk. Linda, Mike and I piled back into the car and drove back out to interrupt their dinner and retrieve the milk for brocciu.

After dinner, around 11pm, we started the first trial. This one was slow cooked. I added less salt this time and the proportions were perfect. It got hotter and hotter and finally when the bubbles parted we waited longer and sure enough the brocciu arrived! I scooped in out and put it in my little pot and couldn’t wait to taste it. I got a little spoonful and put it in my mouth and it was so so bad. It tasted just like curdled milk. I had to spit it back into the pot.

Try number two, we figured we had overcooked it time before, but being almost 1am by this time, I had to heat it quickly. It went faster this time, I didn’t spend as much time watching it. I feel like I am getting to know the milk, so I don’t need to. Anyway, when it heater up, I didn’t want it to sit in there too long again, so I turned off the burner as soon as it split, but the brocciu never arrived at all. It was just foam! Again I was so disappointed.

Perhaps it is actually really difficult to make brocciu like people have been telling us. Mike could see that I was getting really down. He told me that when Phillipe had asked how many times Mike thought it would take us to get it right, Mike had answered 10. That made me feel a little better, but I am just not good at this whole persistence thing. That’s Mike’s department. I guess I need to learn that too. I’m counting down though, only seven more tries until I eat the sweet brocciu.


Filed under Chateau St. Julien L'Ars, Corsica, Europe, France, Stories, Travel

Azure in the grass


by Mike

It was a take-your-pants-off-and-use-them-as-a-pillow kind of day on the lawn.

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Filed under Chateau St. Julien L'Ars, Europe, France, Photography

Brocciu two


by Azure

I attempted my first unassisted batch of brocciu today in the kitchen of the chateau. Everyone else had gone to the brocante (a big flea market) in Chauveny and Mike and I stayed back to have a leisurely lunch and make the brocciu.

Patty had introduced us to her cheese man who is impossible to get near at the Chauveny market, but parks his cheese van by the Abbey on Fridays and is available for chatting. We had asked him for some “petite lait”, pronounced “petite lay” which, coincidentally, Patty would also love to receive from the cheese man, though not for the purposes of making brocciu.

He brought us two buckets of it to the market (for free) and told us where to go to get the fresh milk. We went to the farm and asked for some fresh milk and they brought us 2 liters for 2.50 euros. A cheap project!

When I started the process today, it looked like everything was going well. I figured out the temperature conversions and did everything right on schedule. We figured out that at the exact same moment that the pot boils, the brocciu arrives. We watched and watched and it started to smell like cake, just as it should. It arrived. The foam on top began to part and we turned off the flame and I dipped my ladle in the pot to scoop it out and there was nothing there. What happened to the brocciu????

We had done everything right, I checked and rechecked the proportions and couldn’t figure it out. The tough part was that I could see the brocciu in the pot, but every time I tried to scoop it out, it went through the holes. I then realized that the woman, instead of giving us fresh-from-the-udder goat milk had given us normal drinking milk. Sure enough, I took a sniff and it was so mild. I drank a little and tasted normal, 2% or maybe even fat free.

Mike said that he hadn’t thought it would go smoothly the first time. I was disappointed, but with the discovery of the wrong milk, I was relieved that it wasn’t human error. I could at least have hope that I could still make brocciu given the correct ingredients.

I have decided to try again. I’ll have Mike call the farm ahead of time and ask for all the correct ingredients. I am determined to get this right before leaving here, so I can be confident that I know how to make it. Stay tuned for its arrival.


Filed under Chateau St. Julien L'Ars, Corsica, Europe, France, Photography, Stories

Quickies of l’Arc de Triomphe


by Mike

There’s gotta be a business in this: go out, take some photos, head to a cafe with wifi and upload over coffee.


Filed under Europe, France, Paris, Photography