Madame has been enjoying her camera again…..

The crab apple tree in the dead of winter – Bastide les Amis, Luberon, Provence


Bird house in a walnut tree – Bastide les Amis, Luberon.

The old Mill at Les Taillades in the Luberon.

A Renard – not to be confused with the other Renards in Roussillon. Seen at the entrance to the butcher in Oppede, Luberon. Interesting choice of animal in the butchery!

Menerbes in the icy winter

With the frost outside, a biting wind and the occasional snow flurry, January 2013 has given Provence what December 2012 did not – a real winter! While not as hectic as across the ditch in the UK, nevertheless icy roads and frozen pipes create a challenging time. Especially for ex-pats from the Southern Hemisphere. We watch the Aussie Open at 35 degrees with a degree of envy.

However, we do enjoy these times. DVDs, TV movies, saved up boxed sets, painting, writing, reading, catching up with friends who like us are all too busy in the season and, of course, preparing the inside of our properties for the rental season.

One of the delights of this time is a dish : Raclette is also a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland. The Raclette cheese round is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates; the term raclette derives from the French word racler, meaning “to scrape,” a reference to the fact that the melted cheese must be scraped from the unmelted part of the cheese onto the plate.

Traditionally the melting happens or happened in front of an open fire with the big piece of cheese facing the heat. One then regularly scrapes off the melting side. It is accompanied by small firm potatoes (Bintje, Charlotte or Raclette varieties),gherkins (or cornichons in the local supermarket) pickled onions, and dried meat, such as ham (jambon cru).

In the Swiss canton of Valais, raclette is typically served with tea or other warm beverages. Another popular option is to serve raclette with white wine, such as the traditional Savoy Wine or a Riesling. Here we serve the ubiquitous rose! Local tradition cautions that other drinks – water for example – will cause the cheese to harden in the stomach, leading to indigestion. A very sensible tradition!

Raclette Bastide les Amis style:


Getting ready and using the grill to warm the plates.


Ready for action and the cheese is warming nicely.Note that in this version, Madame has popped in a few greens – not traditional but a bit healthier.

A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, to heat slices of raclette cheese in. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and charcuterie.. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The accent in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours. French and other European supermarkets generally stock both the grill apparatus and ready-sliced cheese and charcuterie selections, especially around Christmas. Restaurants also provide raclette evenings for parties of diners.

Historical Sources – Wikipedia.

Erica’s best: A fire at Bastide les Amis, Menerbes.

Sunset in the Luberon, Provence

With all the world on his shoulders, this Basset hound was seen at the Menerbes Truffle Festival

Last week we had a quick snowfall coupled with bitterly cold wind and frost.


A simply stunning picture by Madame of the crab apple tree at Bastide les Amis, Menerbes, Luberon.

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