This is Frassanelle.
We stopped for lunch at the small fishing port, Cassis, on the Mediterranean Sea, while on our way to Marseille. I had heard so much about this little port and so why not? It was a little out of our way but I think I had one of my best meals in France here at a restaurant called Le Grand Bleu. Of course, L'Ami Jean, in Paris, is still number one for me. Chevre salad of course, roasted peppers with an anchovy sauce, and my favorite, whole chilled prawns, ready to peel and dipped in an aioli sauce. Magnifique!
We arrived on a late Saturday afternoon in May to stay for a few days at a farmhouse owned by a friend's relative, named Winny. Her home is in the Bourgogne region of France, in a village called Dracy Saint Loup. The drive down from Paris was beautiful and as we got closer, all surrounding us was green gorgeous lusciousness. Beautiful fields of grass, white daisies and "les vaches blanches" (the white cows). Winny's farmhouse is at the end of a road and as I got out of the car to open the gates, what a beautiful surprise. We parked our little Citroen on the gravel drive and met our hostess while taking in her beautiful home and grounds. She has her own little lake on her land and as you walk around to the back, the beautiful garden, the outdoor dining table and lounging chairs on the gravel, the blooming wisteria, all oh so french. We spent many a moment at that outside dining table eating great french cheeses and emptying many bottles of that great region's wines. Oh take me back.
Winny and her late husband Richard bought this 400 year old farmhouse 14 years ago. They would spend about 6 months a year until Richard passed away about 10 years ago. Now Winny makes the 8 hour drive down from Delft, Holland with her 3 cats, Ippy, Chicca and Prillie. She comes at different times of the year now but her favorites are spring because of the beautiful flowers blossoming, the petit white daisies and yellow flowers you see in the lush green fields. She also loves the autumn with the low light and changing colors.
When they first bought the house 14 years ago it was made up of 4 structures, with stables and a little house that had been renovated in 1972 by the previous owner. They quickly began their own renovation which included an entire upstairs with two large bedrooms and new bathroom that Winny designed herself. The upstairs took about a year and a half to complete what with the laborers comings and goings. Think "A Year in Provence."
But her favorite room and part of the renovation is her beloved kitchen. And it truly is a dream. All around the kitchen are beautiful pots and dishes that Winny has picked up at local brocantes. She has some gorgeous big grey clay pots of 40 to 60 years that she found at flea markets here in the Bourgogne region. The range/stove is a Lacanche named after the Burgundy village of the same name. This is where she cooks some of her favorite recipes like ratatouille and her delicious tomato soup. And I can attest to that. We were treated to both on our first night there.
My favorite story about the kitchen renovation is the soapstone sink and countertop that faces out to the beautiful lake. Richard and Winny had seen a gravestone made of soapstone and approached the an who made it. He had never made a sink before as his business is just gravestones. He thought about it and accepted the challenge. And then one day a very large truck with a crane drove down her village road and hoisted the extremely heavy sink fro the truck. It then took 6 men to carry it into the kitchen and put it into place. And in the end, it cost less than a gravestone.
Winny's Tomato Soup Recipe
2 shallots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 15 oz. can of tomato puree
3 cups of vegetable bouillon or stock
2 pounds of tomatoes, chopped
Saute the shallots, garlic, and carrot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and mix together. Then add the bouillon or stock. Stir in the fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes until the carrot is soft. Once the carrot is soft, puree the soup to the consistency you like. And voila!!!
Thank you Winny for sharing your recipe and your home with us!
Stay tuned for the next blog post all about the farmhouse.