I had a short break from posting until yesterday (I have been busy doing other things like writing a book – I feel like this could be a life-long task – and setting up my new blog domain. But more on that later …). I dug this out from the start of our summer holidays – hard to believe that was four weeks ago now!!
So where are we in the world? At the moment, we are in Sanary-sur-mer, a little seaside village on the Mediterranean between Marseille and Nice. I only discovered this little gem because an Australian friend of mine married a local eight years ago and we were forced (it was hard) to come visit for a week and take part in the wedding celebrations.
So I’ve been here three times now – I keep coming back. There’s a certain comfort in knowing what you can expect from a place when you have your family in tow. This seemed like the perfect first stop on our eight week summer holiday throughout France, Italy and Switzerland, because it is small enough to walk around, big enough to be spoilt for choice with restaurants and pretty enough to entice you down to the harbour for their glorious, ultra-long twilights and enchanting nocturnal markets. I am yet again gobsmacked by the French’s ability to put so much effort into detail purely for the joy of aesthetics. Joie de vivre is alive and well here!
Apart from a drastic change in temperature (the French are calling this heatwave a canicule, but in reality it’s low-mid 30s – weather we should be used to as native Brisbanites), we have had a major change of scenery. After six months of living in a six-bedroom villa in country South-West France, I must admit I found the first couple of days in our 4 x 6m cabin in a camping ground a bit of a shock! I won’t even go into detail about the “disposable sheets”! Yes that’s a real thing.
We left the Villa with a car so full I had to sacrifice taking my market trolley with us. For those of you who know how much I love the atmosphere of fresh food markets, you know how hard this would have been for me! So it took me a couple of days to “organise” a spot for everything so that our 2 week stay would be comfortable and that everything could be found relatively easily. But given how full the car was (I’m talking the kids and front seat passenger with their knees up to their chest to make room for bags at their feet!) it didn’t take us long to notice how the French deal with this problem. Small cars are the go around here (ours is half the size we had in Australia) and so in holiday season they whip out their coffre de toit. In English perhaps we call it a rooftop storage pod? It gives you an extra 400L or so of storage … and so we are onto it. We will leave this place with a coffre on our roof and happier kids – which is paramount when you are doing a 5 or 6 hour drive in a day!
Thermie came with us of course – this is a luxury when you are glamping, and when you have no oven! Let’s just say it’s been an opportunity to think differently about meals given my space and appliance restrictions. I am a self-confessed food snob and so I have a lot of trouble spending 50 euros on a meal out for the family which typically includes loads of trans fats and very little nutrition. Don’t get me wrong, I am no skinny Minnie health freak over here in the land of cheese, bread and wine, but I just can’t feed my family this rubbish – and spend so much on it! – only to see the effects of poor nutrition on my kids. Did I mention we’re in a 4x6m space for 2 weeks? Hyperactive, cranky kids are not fun to hang out with. Feeding them right is critical.
So meals have included lots of fresh cut ham and salads – I’ve found investing in a good quality mango vinegar and olive oil makes the kids LOVE any salad. The seasonal fruits at the moment (figs, apricots, peaches, raspberries and cherries) make for super tasty and quick desserts (together with 70% dark chocolate which is only 1.20 euro here!!) and of course the luscious cheeses can be added to any meal. Goats cheese on salad, blue cheese on bread or a brie with olives for a snack is almost too easy. But I have created a couple of soup recipes that the kids enjoy, which is super easy to do in the Thermie in a tiny cupboard-sized kitchen and is the easiest way to ingest a load of vegies. Given it’s winter in Australia, I figured these might come in handy for you too!!
Creamy Sweet Potato Soup (TM31)
Tonight, we’ve booked somewhere a bit special for dinner. The kids have had a day sleep and we are pumped to celebrate Bastille Day in style! We’ll be joining the thousands on the Port for fireworks at 10.30pm!
For your next night in, give this soup recipe a try – super easy and packed with 5+ vegies. And if you can, don’t forget to add a French brie … and maybe a glass of French red!
With grace and gusto,
P.S Quick tip: Dan Murphy’s in Australia sells French red wine from the Corbiere region … we highly recommend it! Great price and even better taste. Enjoy!
P.S.S I didn’t get back to talking about the new domain … I am changing the name of my blog to Kate’s Plates. It’s more work than I first thought (of course) but sometime in the next few months I hope, this will be my new writing home. It’s easier to remember, reflects what I’m writing about and is a nice nod to my passion for vintage French plates. Stay tuned! But don’t hold your breath … I don’t want to be responsible for anyone passing out!