Thursday, July 21, 2011

Being French in Hawaii!

Dear Readers:  I'm now in my eleventh month of recovery from that horrible fall I took in Dijon last August 20.  It's an anniversary I do wish I didn't have to face, but I can say with certainty that today I am much better than I was a year ago next month!

Thanks to my own initiative and a drive to get back into my French travels, I sought out and found a physical therapist whom I believe to be sainted!  Ryan has a doctorate degree from Portland and this young man has taken me from wheelchair confinement four and a half months ago to walking without any sort of assistance.  Currently we meet twice weekly and he works out the kinks and puts me through a rigorous aquatic therapy.  This latter treatment has meant improvement in my gait and I'm now walking for longer periods with less of a "hitch" in my stride.  Ryan is getting married in just four weeks, and I'm currently spending time in my thinking mode trying to find just the perfect gift for this soon-to-be married couple.  I owe him so much.

We are currently planning a return to Paris next fall (that is 2012) and by then I should be fully healed and ready to spend hours each day and night walking the historic avenues of this fabulous city on the Seine.  We'll rent an apartment and stay from two to three months.  I should have a lot of posting to do then!  We will take the train to Dijon to see our dear friends the Blondeaus and also from there we will take the train to Aix en Provence where we'll hire a car and drive to Lourmarin to see our dear friend and artist, Lilian Marco and hopefully the Bennets of Canada will be visiting their villa.  Until then, I'll be day dreaming about all the wonderful vistas, historical sites and delicious foods of Paris and beyond.  By the way, I must say that Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" (for all you francophiles) is a must see!  We've seen it twice now.  The opening sequence is about a three minute take of walks through Paris.  Fabulous!

When we last visited our friends in Paris, they invited us to their apartment to enjoy a meal with them and their parents.  The meal was a well-known french/swiss meal called raclette.  We were so inspired by this meal and the conversations it inspired, we immediately found a website (Williams Sonoma in the U.S.) where we could purchase the raclette grill.  If you want to get the history or see a picture of a raclette:

Our raclette is like the one pictured.  It has eight small nonstick pans as well as a grill top, if you wish to heat up and/or grill foods.  A nice rectangle of raclette cheese (a special extra creamy cheese that is buttery and delicious and melts superbly) is placed into a small pan and put under the heating element.  When the cheese is fully melted and begins to brown a bit around the edge, it's ready to serve.  I prepare trays of rolled cold meats such as ham, prosciutto and salami, small boiled potatoes, and grilled vegetables--however, you can use any type of food you enjoy and then smother it with this delicious cheese.  Also served are the tiny french pickles and onions and for the pre-dinner hors de oeuvres, I generally buy a nice terrine or some rich duck paté it with some french bread and some radishes with butter.  Very french indeed!  We also go to our sommelier and order french white and red wines and a nice cremant or champagne.

We hosted our first party last year and our guests have been asking when the next will be.  Since we are both so terribly homesick for France and our friends there, and because our friend April has returned from her two-year nanny stint with a french family in Paris, we've decided that on July 30, we will host such a party in April's honor.  She is missing her french family, friends and Paris, so she's very excited to attend.  We'll have slightly more than our eight small pans will accommodate, but we will manage.  We'll take a few pictures and I'll post them.