Sea Urchins. It’s What’s for Dinner .

YES.  Sea Urchins.

It’s what was for dinner.

This is a meal from a couple of months ago when I was living in Southern France.  We decided to try something new.  Live on the wild side.  Sea Urchins are a delicacy because of the effort it takes to collect them and the edible percentage per each sea urchin is rather small.  Have no fear, however, this was not all we dined on.

There was bread.  Lots of fresh bread.

AND.  Figs.

Beautiful figs.

These figs were picked off trees right outside where we were staying.  I don’t think I ever ate as much fresh fruit {off the tree fresh} as I did in France.

Diced and thrown into a hot skillet.  Add cloves.  Orange juice.  And other desirable spices.

The result will knock your socks off.

When everything becomes hot and bubbly perfection has been reached.  PROCEED to spread on fresh baguette or eat straight with a spoon.

But back to the prickly side of things.

Getting to the inside of a sea urchin was a more challenging endeavor then expected.

The edible parts of the sea urchin are located on the sides so you can’t just cut right in.  Their is a special tool just for this purpose but with nothing but scissors on hand we very carefully cut around the small circular opening on the urchin.  Once cut this small piece can be pulled out and the urchin drained.

After this we were able to cut the urchin open and in two.

The part of the sea urchin that you eat is commonly known as roe but is actually the organ of the urchin that produces the roe, or gonads.  They are small and light red in color.

Normally rinsed to remove any unwanted internal parts we put them in a bowl of freshly squeezed orange juice.  Slightly salty in flavor with the essence of the sea.

Whether you go home today and make a delicious hot fig spread or serve your family a plate of sea urchin gonads..

I wish you the best of luck.

Happy Holidays

Goodbye Dear France

You have been my home for these past

three months.

I have woken up in an ancient stone village every morning looking out my window to see the fog rolling over your mountainside…

I have walked through your valleys, down your dirt paths, and into your vineyards… I am more then positive nothing will ever top your grapes..

This has been a wonderful experience that I will never forget.  Tomorrow I set off back home.

Au revoir mon amour

Avignon ~ Palais des Papes

Avignon

Avignon is a beautiful city.  I couldn’t wait to visit after driving by its very medieval stone wall on many occasions.  The main attraction here is the Palais des Papes or the Popes Palace.  It was so surreal to see buildings, furniture, and artwork from the 1200’s and 1300’s.

Artist Miquel Barcelo had his work on exhibition all over the city.  Including an incredibly large elephant sculpture right outside the Palace.

On its trunk

I don’t think the merry-go-round art is the same in the States…

These paintings on the ceiling were over 700 years old {!}

Some of Miquel Barcelo’s work:

Very primitive.  An interesting comparison to its surroundings.

Lets Take a Stroll Through Versailles

Or in my case a quick ~ 4 hour stroll.

Making it through the palace and grounds {!}

Getting their early on a Saturday morning the crowds weren’t that bad. I don’t want to imagine what summer is like…

Japanese artist Takashi Murakami had his work on exhibit all over the place.  At first I was a bit taken aback but came to really enjoy the contrast of old and new, rendered and shiny plastic, finding everything quite playful.

The one below was my all-time favorite

Every room had its own matching furniture set.  Color patterns and all.  The one thing I wish I had been able to do while visiting here is see all the private passages going through out the palace.  The exploring little kid in me peeking out.

The gardens were absolutely.  take your breath away.  stunning.

I felt like I was in a painting.

The soundtrack for Marie Antoinette was constantly playing in the back of my head.  I swear I recognized some spots..

This was my last day in Paris…  We weren’t even able to walk back through the gardens to the entrance, we had to take a tram then speed-walk to the train station.  If you were ever wondering what visiting Versailles would be like with your backpack (and by that I mean suitcase) I don’t recommend finding out.

Catacombs

Welcome to the Paris Catacombs

I know my post of things more spooky is a bit late.  But does it ever really get old?  While in Paris I decided to go with a group to visit some of the old catacombs…After walking down a spiral staircase that felt like it would never end, we emerged into an underground tunnel…

It was very dark, very cold, and very damp

With very old dates, some from the 1500’s {!}

It was through one more dimly lit doorway…

and then we emerged into this

Millions upon millions upon millions of bones.  It was so hard to tell yourself that these were real.  I think we see so much violence in todays world that it felt like these were just props.

The bones were stacked from floor to ceiling on both sides of the narrow passageway.

Hope you had a lovely Halloween weekend !

Arc de Triomphe

Sorry about the absence. {!}

Time is flying by and I can’t seem to catch up.  Can you believe I’ve already been here for two months?  Crazy.  Here is a group of photographs from the rest of my afternoon in Paris after the Pompidou.  A whirl wind of metro rides, modern art museums, extremely long avenues, the chanselise, over priced stores, window shopping, and the arc de triomphe.

A magical afternoon.

Paris – Luxembourg Gardens & the Pompidou

Day Three

I woke up early on my third day in Paris and ventured out to the Luxembourg Gardens.  It was about a five minute walk from the hotel and so peaceful in the morning.  At lunchtime is a different story but it was absolutely lovely to stroll through the dewed over plants and think about the upcoming day while sitting quietly on a bench.

After the gardens we walked over to the Pompidou museum.

This was a very neat building, constructed inside-out.  With all the pipes, tubes, and over all plumbing on the outside.  Filled with modern art of all sorts on the inside.

 

Felt like going up a roller coaster

 

 

 

 

 

Part Two ~ Paris Fashion Week & the Eiffel Tower

After the Louvre

We walked in search of a random street side cafe

Finding one, wine was ordered 😉

Along with fresh salads… anchovies on the side

Goat cheese toast {!}

After lunch we walked past Notre Dame and the lock installation on the nearby bridge

After a 2 & 1/2 hour joy ride on the metro through Paris [grumble]  We found the last show for Paris Fashion week.

This was not my idea, I was dragged along.  I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, it was very neat to see all these things I only normally experience in magazines.

BUT…..

These are what my lovely feet were donning.

[comfy, tourist, I’m walking the city shoes]

And this was what EVERYONE else was sporting.  To say the least, I stuck out a bit.

After escaping from all the fur coats and fifty inch heels I ventured over to the Eiffel Tower.  First timer. 🙂

When the hour changed the whole monument went up in sparkles.

What a magical moment.

Paris ~ Day Two

The Louvre

Day two in Paris.  Overcast.  Grey.  I walked over to the Louvre to meet my class.

 

To all my fam all over the world.  I am posting a couple pics of myself in this magical city just for you.

The Louvre.  This museum is big.  A museum of epic proportions.

 

 

~ Inside ~

This place was so beautiful I don’t even think I can write an explanation for how I felt while experiencing it.  To be in a place so old, so full of history.  To see things I’ve only ever studied in books.  My roommate and I had one goal while we were here.  To find the Raft of Medusa.  Our search for this painting, and taking in what we saw on the way, took up the entire morning.  Give me a good two weeks and I might have this place covered.

So.

Sit down.

Get comfy.

And I will take you through some of my favorite parts of the Louvre.

 

Venus de Milo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you find the Mona Lisa [?]  …Look really hard..

 

[sigh]  …  so beautiful

Another fav.  The Death of Sardanapolis

 

 

Hope you enjoyed the stroll through time.  Part II is next.

Paris ~ Day One

I feel like I have been so absent here.  A couple days ago I returned from a week long excursion to Paris.  It was a fabulous week of people, food, places, lots of walking and NO sleep.

I took a bus up to Avignon then a train from Avignon to Paris.  I emerged from the train station and out onto the streets of paris around 7:30 in the evening … and the view took my breath away.  All of the streets came to a point on their way to greet me and the perspective allowed me to see so much all at once.  We walked to the hotel from the station – a 30 minute walk – and I only wiped out once with all my luggage.  face first.  But totally played it off like nothing happened, maybe nobody even noticed…..

Our hotel had a fabulous location, 5 minutes from Notre Dame, AND this was the glorious view from the room.  Hold back your jealousy, very Paris-esque, I know.

The next morning we walked to the BNF – Bibliotheque Nationale de France – we had a meeting there to see some rare prints behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I couldn’t take any pictures but we were led to a back room filled with books.  Old books.  Really old books.  There we were shown real Rembrandt and Goya prints, along with some other artists.  These were the bees knees.  No glass, the actual prints right in front of your eyes.  It was SO cool.

My theme for the week in Paris was definitely taking a picture in every mirror in every museum or other place of great importance.  I didn’t even realize this till going back through all the photos.  I’m sure when I look back I will appreciate having done this.

 

Dinner that night was at a little cafe we walked upon.  Wine, water, bread….. steak tartar.  Not mine, by the way, but the girl next to me ordered it.  Raw egg on top and all.  She said it was really good, but I don’t think it’s my cup of tea.

I ordered a smoked salmon and avocado salad with a lemon dressing.

Now that’s more like it.

😉