Three days to go & more recipes


Right now I’m in bed. I have just said goodbye and goodnight to 15 lovely people who traveled quite far to be here. The last few days we’ve spent our time together cooking, eating, sharing stories and laughter in my kitchen and at our big table in the harvest room. That’s what we do here at 1 rue de Loudenne. Cook, eat and enjoy. And drink good wine of course.

Last week I was in Paris, at Colette, in a very different setting, cooking the same recipes, offering the same wine and some of the same mood to those who cared for it. It was strangely rewarding. Waking up at 5 in the morning to bake chocolate cake or orange cake in a typical tiny Parisian kitchen, then heading to the Palais Royal, where our friends from Verjus, Braden and Laura, generously lent us their kitchen to prepare quails, ducks and celeriac soup. Then we somehow moved it all to Colette where we applied the final touches.
It was, quite literally, a moveable feast.

The occasion was of course the publication of my new cookbook, French Country Cooking. It’s only coming out on the 25th but this was an “avant premiere” and I must admit that I was a little nervous. To cook for over 50 people every day, to showcase my new book that I’ve put so much love and effort into. Every day I got the chance to meet so many readers of the blog and at the end of it all we had an official book signing where I met the most wonderful people.

All this had made me think of my book in a slightly different way. And not just my book, any cookbook. They are all, in their own way, moveable feasts. To think that in the coming weeks, people all over the world will be receiving my book in their mail, picking up a copy at their local bookstore, flicking through it and most importantly, cooking from it. This Christmas somebody’s feast will be made from my book and I must say that it’s quite a privilege and one that I never expected.

Over the last year I have talked a lot about the story of the house we live in, which is also partly the story of the book. I have, however, always said that the most important thing in a cookbook are the recipes, that they come to life in someone’s kitchen, end up on someone’s plate, bring people together at the table. Any table. People and Food.

Right now we are entering the final hours before the official publication day, Tuesday the 25th of October. Which means this is the last chance to preorder it and get our little notebook.




Anyone who preorders the book before October 25th will get a special, pocket-sized notebook for keeping notes and planning meals.

To receive the notebook all you have to do is sign up here and provide proof that you have preordered French Country Cooking. The many who have already preordered the book are of course also eligible for the notebook.

French Country Cooking‘ available for preorder at:

Barnes & Noble

And for Canada





Here are 2 recipes from my new cookbook ‘French Country Cooking’

Comté, Ham, and Walnut Feuilleté
Serves 2

If I were teaching at a French cooking school, this dish would be on the curriculum;
it’s the perfect crowd-pleaser, and it uses so many wonderful French ingredients.
Take the best cheese and ham you can find. Make a velvety béchamel sauce. Add
some moist, tender walnuts just out of the shell. Wrap everything in puff pastry, one
of the most agreeable inventions of French cuisine, and bake it. I knew you’d like it.

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon / 35 g unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
fine sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
1 cup / 250 ml whole milk
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup / 50 g walnuts, chopped
8 ounces / 230 g frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard
2/3 cup / 100 g grated comté cheese
5 ounces / 150 g sliced ham
1 large egg yolk

Preheat the oven to 400 F/200 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until the mixture thickens. Add the nutmeg, season with salt and pepper, and gradually whisk in the milk and simmer, whisking until thickened, up to 5 minutes. Set the béchamel sauce aside to cool.

In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook until slightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the walnuts and cook for 1 minute more.

Cut the puff pastry into two 9 x 5-inch / 23 x 12.5 cm rectangles. Place one rectangle of pastry on the lined baking sheet. Spread ½ teaspoon of the mustard in a thin layer over the pastry. Spread with one-third of the béchamel sauce, half of the cheese, half of the ham, and half of the walnut mixture. Repeat the layering. Finish with a layer of béchamel sauce and top with the second pastry rectangle. Seal to the bottom rectangle by pinching together the edges of the pastry.

Beat the egg yolk with a little water and use it to glaze the top with a pastry brush. Using a knife, cut a little round hole in the middle of the pastry to let the steam escape. You can decorate the top with cut pieces of puff pastry (leaves, for example) or lightly score a diamond pattern on top.

Bake the feuilleté in the oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice and serve hot.





Roast Chicken with Chestnuts and Cabbage

I have a few staple roast chicken recipes that I use all the time. One is simple, with
thyme and lemon; another one is rich, with a lot of crème fraîche and delicious
herbs. I didn’t really need a third one, but I came up with this recipe because I was
looking for something festive, almost like a pheasant or guinea hen—which means
chestnuts, my favorite. Finally, I needed a way to use up all that cabbage that my husband
keeps growing and buying (because he says it’s the most photogenic vegetable
in the world). This chicken dish is the answer.

For the chicken
1 whole chicken (3 ½ pounds/1.5 kg)
4 tablespoons / 60 g salted butter
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 small onion, halved
1 bay leaf
8 peeled cooked chestnuts (bottled or vacuum-packed)

For the cabbage
1 head savoy cabbage (dark green leaves discarded), cut into 1-inch / 2.5 cm strips
20 ounces / 570 g peeled
cooked chestnuts (bottled or vacuum-packed)
5 tablespoons / 75 g unsalted butter
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup / 80 ml chicken stock
1/3 cup / 80 ml dry white wine

Roast the chicken. Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Rub the chicken with the salted butter and season generously both inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the garlic cloves, thyme, onion halves, bay leaf, and chestnuts in the cavity. Put the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 50 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a big plate; it will not be fully cooked just yet and will be returned to the oven later, so leave the oven on but increase the temperature to 400 F / 200 C.

Make the cabbage. Keep all the fat and juices in the roasting pan and add the cabbage, chestnuts, and 4 tablespoons / 60 g of the unsalted butter. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything together. Return to the oven and roast for 10 minutes.

Pour in the stock and wine and stir to combine. Brush the chicken with the remaining 1 tablespoon / 15 g butter to gloss the skin and return to the pan. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.

Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before serving with the cabbage and chestnuts.


2 More recipes from my new cookbook


This week the kids started school again*. Again. Strangely enough they were happy about it and so was I. Not because the house is quieter (and besides it’s not really that quiet with a 2-year-old and a newborn and loads of dogs), not because I’ve grown tired of summer and am now longing for autumn colors and mushrooms and chilly morning walks. Not because I need an excuse to buy a winter coat or because I’ve had too many tomatoes or because Christmas can’t come soon enough.

When I write this blog the words leave my head and I never really meet them again. I don’t reread my old blog posts for some reason. This means I may often repeat myself or even worse, contradict myself. There is no fact checking department in my brain. What’s happening then and there just falls onto the page or into the pot and then I move on until I have a new feeling or recipe to share. Even if it’s sometimes and old familiar feeling or the same exact feeling I had at the same exact time the year before.

I have this feeling that last year around the same time I wrote that everything was perfect. That this was the best season of all. That’s how I feel now, the glow of summer is still on my cheeks and the cheeks of my children. The tomato plants in the garden may be slowly winding down but they still have a few good crates of fruits left in them. The figs are out in force this week, the pumpkins are on the horizon. The weather is still great.

In other words: there is a lot to be happy about. But for me, this year, there is an added sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. Around the same time last year our pop-up restaurant here at 1 rue de Loudenne was in its final days, early in September we closed the doors for the last time, the little team went their separate ways. All that was left were recipes and memories and stories badly arranged in my head. Soon they got restless and cramped up there (I have a rather small head) and found their way onto the page – although not as soon as my editor would have liked (deadlines are not my forte). It’s all been coming to life, piece by piece, recipe by recipe over the course of the last year. But this summer things went silent. It was the period when the book is out of your hands, there is nothing more you can do, only wait. I’m not good at waiting.

As I am writing this I’m anxiously waiting for a first copy that’s ready (my editor says it’s stunning – her words) and was sent to me yesterday. Now it’s 5 o’clock and I think it won’t come today, a little disappointing but tomorrow it’s Friday and maybe that’s an even better day to receive it. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

The question is, can I have Champagne tonight as consolation or do I have to wait for tomorrow’s celebration?

The book is coming out on October 25th, which is a little bit further away than tomorrow night I admit, and so I wanted to share two more recipes from the book that I think are very appropriate for this magical season of late summer, early fall.

Soon the last tomato will leave the stage, a stage already filling with gorgeous apples. Right now is the rare, beautiful season when we can enjoy them both.

*The kids may be happy about going back to school because with all the chores their father gives them in the summer in the vegetable garden, with the dogs and puppies and in our monstrously big house – school may seem like a vacation – at least that’s my theory 🙂





Tomato Gazpacho
serves 4 to 6

For the last two years we have been growing our own tomatoes in the little vegetable garden down the road from our house. We have experimented with several different varieties: small cherry tomatoes for my veal stew and for casual bruschetta, ripe green and yellow tomatoes that are great in salads. But my favorite is the deep red, meaty, coeur de boeuf that tastes so much better than anything you can buy in stores. I love slicing a big juicy one, giving it a generous glug of good olive oil, sprinkling it with fleur de sel, and savoring it. They also make excellent gazpacho. While I used to make gazpacho with cucumbers and peppers in addition to the tomatoes, when you have really, really good tomatoes, you don’t need anything more, only a little bread for substance and some garlic to spice everything up.

½ cup / 120 ml heavy cream
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
12 thin slices baguette
fine sea salt

1 ½ cups / 115 g crumbled stale white bread
2 pounds / 900 g very ripe tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2/3 cup / 150 ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon piment d’espelette or mild chile powder, for serving

MAKE THE GARNISH. In a small bowl, whisk together the cream and minced garlic. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, pass the cream through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the garlic to release all its flavor.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the slices of bread until golden, about 30 seconds per side. Drain the croutons on a paper towel. Season with salt.

MAKE THE SOUP. Soak the bread in a bowl of cool water for 10 minutes, then drain, and squeeze out as much water as possible.

In a large bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, garlic cloves, olive oil, and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Purée the mixture, preferably using an immersion blender, until you have a smooth and velvety mixture. Pass the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.






If you didn’t read my last post, or have simply forgotten, we are offering a cute little kitchen notebook to those of you who already have or will order the cookbook before it comes out next month. I have noticed during the workshops that people like writing down their own notes and explanations and experiences with the recipes and while I have nothing against writing in the cookbook itself, sometimes you just need more space. Besides, it’s neater.

Anyone who preorders the book before October 25th will get a special, pocket-sized notebook for keeping notes and planning meals.

To receive the notebook all you have to do is sign up here and provide proof that you have preordered French Country Cooking. The many who have already preordered the book are of course also eligible for the notebook.

French Country Cooking‘ available for preorder at:

Barnes & Noble

And for Canada



Baked Apples with Spéculoos
serves 8

Spéculoos are simple, tasty, spiced cookies you can find almost everywhere in various versions and different levels of quality. I’ve always liked to play around with them, include them in tarts and desserts. They go very well with pears, apples, and plums; in summer I like to make a plum tart with a spéculoos-crusted base. In the months leading up to Christmas, we have so many apples around the house that I like to put them to use, often in tarts but also on their own, which I find is a chic way to serve them. This is a humble, uncomplicated dessert, perfect for the days before Christmas, when you have no time to make an elaborate recipe but are aching for a little sweet something to round off a meal.

8 apples
6 ½ tablespoons / 90 g unsalted butter
8 spéculoos cookies
¼ cup / 50 g sugar

Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C.

Slice off the top part of the apples, making a little “hat,” and core the apples, leaving a little of the bottom intact. Put the apples in a baking dish and stick about 1 teaspoon of butter into the center of each. Crumble a spéculoos cookie into each one and divide the remaining butter among the apples, dabbing it on top of the cookie. Sprinkle the sugar over the apples and top the apples with their “hats.”

Transfer the dish to the oven and bake until the apples are golden and tender, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


2 recipes from my new cookbook


Around two years ago I was walking the streets of Toulouse after a wonderful meal: the local Cassoulet and some heavenly desserts. We had invited my aunt, Francine, who more than anyone inspired me to start cooking and I was in high spirits as I walked the streets of the “pink” city in the beautiful afternoon light. Then came the blow. One phone call from my banker telling me that the loan everybody had told me we would get, wouldn’t be coming after all. It was complicated, it had gone fairly smoothly through the system but stopped at the top. But he wished me a great weekend. I still remember the street I stood in, the pretty rose-colored patina of the house next to me, the joyful sounds of my children walking ahead of us. The worried look on my husband’s face.

We had found the house of our dreams, and through the kindness of the man selling us the house we had already spent precious moments there, made little visits, had picnics. The kids had been scared by the ghosts, the bat and the cat. We had peeled off some wallpaper, found an old gramophone, we had danced in that house. And now it might never be ours. After an hour of some anger, some frustration, we got optimistic again. That house would always become ours, one way or the other. Then we had pizza. I even had spritz. And I don’t like spritz that much.

1 rue de Loudenne was always more than just a house to us, even more than a home. It is an idea, a project, one that will keep evolving. I knew from the first day I set foot in it that this house could only lead to good things. It has, wonderful workshops, countless family meals and moments, a long list of beautiful feasts with people we care about. That crazy pop-up ‘family restaurant’ we did last summer.

And last but not least …
… the cookbook I wrote last year.





I had already written one cookbook but I was overflowing with ideas for new recipes and eager to include some classic ones. Oddur said the other day “that’s a good recipe I think”. I looked at him and answered “they are all good recipes”. And I mean it. Why would they ever have gotten in there if I didn’t think that. I just love this book so much, in some ways it was harder to make than the first one, we were after all, renovating a house at the same time, and raising a little girl, uh-hum and a few other kids.

The pop-up family ‘restaurant’, what an adventure. We assembled a very curious team, we had so much fun. Perhaps most meaningful of all, I think the guests who came loved it. At least I was satisfied. We set out to do something, sort of impossible, and at the end it all my goal was this: a restaurant I would have liked to have gone to and been happy I did. I think we managed that.




‘French Country Cooking’ is my new love and I can’t wait to have her in my hands in a few weeks. The best feeling is that for better or for worse, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Like I say somewhere in the book, it’s the cookbook that wrote itself, these are the recipes I love and the memories I treasure.

October 25th can’t come soon enough so I can share it all with you.

I’m so excited about this book and of course I want as many of you as possible to have it … which means, at least in most cases, to buy it. I think that’s what any creator wants, for people to enjoy what he has made. So we came up with this little incentive, for those of you who are as impatient as I am. Anyone who preorders the book before October 25th will get a special, pocket-sized notebook for keeping notes and planning meals.

To receive the notebook all you have to do is sign up here and provide proof that you have preordered French Country Cooking. The many who have already preordered the book are of course also eligible for the notebook.

I’m very happy with this idea of a little kitchen notebook, in fact I can’t wait to have a few of them myself, very useful in the kitchen these little books. This time we had a French illustrator help us with a few images and one of them will be on the notebook, a Smooth Fox Terrier – of course.

French Country Cooking‘ available for preorder at:

Barnes & Noble



We decided to share two recipes from the book, something light and easy that everybody would like. By the way, the book is divided into several sections and these two I’m sharing come from Goûter (the special snack time in the afternoon for children of all ages) and Staff Meals (inspired from our moments before or after service last summer).

All I can say is that I’m waiting very anxiously for this book and I hope that at least some of you are a little bit excited too.

Mimi xx


Mimolette and Comté Mac and Cheese
Serves 6 to 8

This section of the book turned out to be a who’s who of comfort food—and it wouldn’t be complete without the king of comfort foods: mac and cheese. As a kid in Hong Kong, I remember reading about this exciting dish and desperately wanting to try it. I also remember my disappointment when, having coaxed my mother or some nanny into buying a ready-made version, I realized that maybe it wasn’t the best food in the world after all. But all that is relative. You reap as you sow. I still believe in the power of mac and cheese when it is done right. With just enough glorious, pungent cheese, it can still be, on a good day, the best food that a little girl ever dreamed existed.

1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, halved
5 tablespoons/60 g unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups / 600 ml whole milk
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of piment d’espelette or mild chile powder
1 pound/500 g dried small penne or macaroni pasta
10 ounces/300 g mimolette cheese, grated (about 2 2/3 cups)
5 ounces/150 g comté cheese, grated (about 1 1/3 cups)

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter a large ovenproof skillet.
2.Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
3.In a food processor, pulse the bread crumbs with the garlic and 1 tablespoon / 15 g of the butter.
4.In a medium skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons / 45 g butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Immediately whisk in the milk, little by little, and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, nutmeg, and piment d’Espelette and season with salt and pepper.
5.Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook to al dente according to the package directions.
6.Whisk half of each cheese into the sauce. When the pasta is al dente, drain and mix the pasta into the sauce in the pan until well combined along with the rest of the grated cheese.
7.Pour the pasta mixture into the buttered ovenproof skillet. Scatter the breadcrumb mixture all over the dish and transfer to the oven. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.




Fig and Pistachio Cake
Serves 6

This is my garden party cake, the one I’d make if the Queen of England ever came to visit. She’d have to come in fig season, of course, and we’d have tea and a slice each of this moist cake. We would sit there and discuss our dogs and she would comment that fox terriers have a terrible reputation and that, in her opinion, corgis are a much more interesting breed. She’s the Queen so I wouldn’t argue with that; afterwards we’d just stick to the weather and have more cake.

1 1/3 cups/200 g unsalted pistachios, plus more for garnish
8 tablespoons/120 g unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
¾ cup / 150 g sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 large egg whites pinch of fine sea salt
½ cup / 120 ml heavy cream
¼ cup / 60 ml mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons honey, plus more for drizzling
2 tablespoons orange flower water
10 small fresh figs, quartered

1.Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.
2.In a food processor, combine the pistachios, butter, ½ cup/100 g of the sugar, and the vanilla and pulse for a minute or until you get a smooth paste. Add the egg yolks, one by one, and pulse until well combined. Transfer the pistachio mixture to a large bowl.
3.Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites, and when the mixture starts to foam, add the salt. Continue to whip on high-speed, gradually adding the remaining ¼ cup/50 g sugar, until the whites hold stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the pistachio mixture.
4.Grease an 8-inch/20 cm cake pan with butter. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool completely.
5.Using an electric mixer, whip together the heavy cream, mascarpone, honey, and orange flower water until the cream holds stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.
6.Spread the cream on top of the cooled cake and arrange the quartered figs on top. Crush some pistachios and scatter all over. Finish with a drizzle of honey to gloss it up. Serve immediately.




Workshops 2017


Today is the very first day of the summer holidays. The kids finished school on Friday. The last dinner of the last workshop until fall was on Friday night. When I came down to the kitchen the following morning I could still smell the barbecue from the night before, the ashes were still in the fireplace – even some unwashed glasses waiting their turn. I walked into the big dining room, the one we sometimes call the “harvest room”, with copper pots on the walls, a table with lemons and Champagne, a table in the corner filled with cognacs and armagnacs. In the middle of the room is a huge dining table, one that fits up to 18 people (if they like each other – and they always do). There were still some corks on the table, a stack of breads that were slowly going stale. In the middle of the table, as always, there was an abundance of fruits and vegetables, flowers and candles. As I was gathering the last items to bring back with me into the kitchen I couldn’t help but think of all the people who have sat at that table in the last year, a group so miscellanioussly from all over – in terms of geography, profession and age.

This year we’ve had Brazilian, Turkish, Italian, German, Austrian, Chinese,French, Persian, English, Israeli, Polish, Swiss, Croatian and of course Canadian and American people.

There has been dancing on tables, photography contests, singing, dancing, friendships have been forged, tears shed. There has been Champagne and great wine tastings. Most of all there has been good food and good times.

And I have been led to believe that everybody has been either satisfied or very satisfied. We’ve even had quite a few people return.


Next year

I had planned to announce new dates in the fall like we did last year but lately I’ve been getting so many emails asking me for dates in 2017, people (everybody seems to be more organised than I am) want to plan ahead, which I understand, and so we’re announcing early this year.

In 2017 there will be fewer workshops than this year and while I have really enjoyed this experience and will continue to do so, I think 2017 will be the last year we do so many workshops. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that doing one thing, even a thing you love, often prevents you from doing another. And we have big plans. In the future we want to make more books, we have so many projects waiting for us, which is exciting but it all requires time. One of the things we are planning to start next summer and continue in force in 2018 is to help with the revival of our village, a farmers market once a month in our garage (it used to be a stable for donkeys). It was that or a spa and a farmers market is more us 🙂

I hope to gather the best producers in the region, we’ll have music, food stands, oyster men and winemakers. It will be beautiful.

But let’s get back to the workshops.
We decided to make a few changes for next year although the format of the workshops will be similar.

The workshops will all be 3 days.

Many of them will be more specific, we thought it made sense to gather like-minded people with similar interests so they could focus on what interests them.

We have also realised that people who come here really love wine and therefore every class will have more amazing wines and winetastings. My husband (and our sommelier) has been going overboard with good wines anyway and we need for it all to make sense.


So here are the dates and themes of 2017:


“The Spring workshop”, April 5-7

The first workshop of the year. A classic setup of cooking together all day and having lunch and dinner together. We’ll visit an asparagus farm, focus heavily on spring vegetables such as fava beans, artichokes, chard, asparagus etc. We’ll have wine tastings in the house, perhaps with an emphasis on white wine. This workshop will be very light on meat and suitable for vegetarians.

“The Antiques workshop”, April 26-28

Twice a year Bordeaux goes “brocantes” mad when the biannual antiques fair comes to town. Quinconces (the biggest square in Europe – well so they tell me) fills up with hundreds of tents of all sorts of antiques and various pretty objects. We’ll go there early in the morning one of the days and spend all day together in Bordeaux. We’ll visit some of my favorite Bordeaux addresses (most to do with chocolate, food or wine) and have lunch and dinner in very special places in Bordeaux. The other two days we’ll stay closer to home, cook together like we always do but each of the days we’ll visit local antiques stores for additional inspiration and finds. The food will be highly influenced by the “brocantes” mood.


“The early Summer workshop”, May 10-12

As classic at it gets, we’ll do it how we’ve been doing it for the last two years, meet in the mornings, cook lunch, have it together, drink a little too much … then start again for dinner. A proven formula for success.

“The photography workshop”, May 31-June 2

After 2 years of half resisting, of giving little tips and presiding over the very popular “photo survivor”, my husband will finally relent and do a full-on 3 day photography course. Every day will have a special theme, there will be field trips of course and at least a big part of it will revolve around food photography. This is where I would use the words food styling if me husband would let me. He will also give a class on retouching, color corrections etc. We will of course also cook together and have meals every day as we do in the regular workshops.



“The wine enthusiast’s workshop” June 14-16

This is where we will go overboard with wine tastings and pairings, we’ll have winemaker guests, visit Châteaux and have a guest sommelier with us the whole time. Read: FUN! We’ll have a fair amount of Bordeaux but also explore wine from other regions in France and even a little from other countries.
Needless to say there will also be cooking and dining as usual.

“The “sweet” workshop 28 – 30

A woman or man cannot live on sweets alone (or can they?) so we’ll cook some good savory things but this is where we go crazy with desserts. I’ve always wanted to do a class where we rush through the mains and end up having three desserts per meal.


“The special summer and Bastille day workshop” 12-14

Another dream has been to do a very “outdoorsy” workshop, al fresco dinners every night, barbecue on the beach and fireworks on Bastille day. During the day we’ll go cycling in the vineyards and have lavish picnics among the vines.


“The fall workshop” 27-29

Another “classic” workshop where we stick to the proven format of cooking and eating all day. Seasonality of course comes into it with this being one of the richest seasons of all, we might visit markets and even pop by a wine harvest if the time is right but mostly we stick to our format.


“The harvest and foraging workshop” 11-13

This workshop will be a little more physical than most, waking up early to hunt for mushrooms, bringing them home, cooking and cleaning. We’ll visit pumpking farmers and a beautiful chicken farm, we’ll go fishing in the morning and if the stars align we’ll participate in on of the harvests that are happening all around us this time of year.

“The second wine enthusiast’s workshop” 25-27

Like in June we will go overboard with wine tastings and parings, have winemaker guests, visit Châteaux and have a guest sommelier with us the whole time. This time the emphasis is firmly on Bordeaux wine, white but mainly reds and some Sauternes. Big wines – big fun.
Needless to say there will also be cooking and dining as usual.

All workshops are 3 days and the price is 2.000 euros per person. Should someone not drink at all they can be excused from paying the 500 euro wine supplement.

As before we will be very happy to recommend accommodation near my house, we have a good list and good contacts.

I will also be more than happy to answer any question regarding logistics and the best way to get here.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon,

Mimi xx

For all bookings and further information please contact
[email protected]

Additionally if any of you can get together a group of 6 people I can arrange something outside the published dates for you, if the dates and stars align.


Two sundays without you (part II)


June 5

I had opted for Allegra’s neat and tidy, but albeit very small Fiat over my husband’s “hard to get into”, “hard to get out of” Land Rover that has no music, no air-condition and is always filled with dogs, vegetables and numerous kids. On sunny days like this one it’s a fantasy world of dog hair and dust flying through the air, perfectly backlit and almost pretty. Almost. We were comfortably trailing the Land Rover on what promised to be a spectacularly beautiful Sunday, following a week of less spectacular, rainy days. Hudson and Mia had opted to stay at home but the rest of us were in for a long-awaited treat. We were headed for the “Château of Women” an indescribably beautiful wine-making property that has been run by women of the same family for over 500 years. This deserves and explanation.





In 1581 a man with big dreams and an even bigger appetite for gambling laid out the plans for a magnificent château in Médoc. It all started well, the outhouses and servants quarters were fit for kings, the gardens, the gate. Then the money ran out and the cherry on top, the château itself never got built. So the women in the family, like women do, found the best solution, modified the servants quarters into a most beautiful château and have been running the property ever since, one woman succeeding another. I guess they decided that after that original fiasco, no gamblers (read men) should interfere with château business.





So why where we going there in search of a feast on a beautiful Sunday morning? That also deserves an explanation. Some years ago we were invited for lunch at château Lafon-Rochet, a grand cru in the St-Estèphe appellation. It’s the “yellow château” we had been seeing for years as we drove by on our way to Pauillac and it turned out that the young manager, Basile Tesseron, whose family owns the château was married to another young estate manager, Bérangère, whose family owns château Larrivaux, the “château of women”. On that first visit the splendors of Lafon-Rochet were enough for our appetites but on a subsequent visit Basile took us to his wife’s property, only a 5 minutes drive away. Unlike Lafon-Rochet, which is proudly perched on one of the hills of St-Estèphe, plain for all who drive by to see (if only for the yellow color), château Larrivaux is a hidden gem, a bend in the road, a dreamy place hidden from plain sight, guarded by a small forest. When Basile took us there for the first time we could see the excitement in his face, it feel to him to show us the property, Bérangère was hard at work in the winery.





“I fell in love with my wife twice” he said. “First when I met her and the second time was when she took me here”. “I had spent much of my childhood only a few miles away but I never knew of this magical place until I fell in love with its owner”.

He fell in love twice and I guess I fell in love as well, once at least. It the kind of place movie producers only dream of or, more likely, have to dream up and produce for their movies so the rest of us can simply dream. We always hope that these magical places exist for real, that they’re not only in the movies – and when we find them…

Bérangère and I had talked about cooking together with our families at her château forever. But timing was never on our side. We have a big family. They have three boys, very auspicious considering they have one boy roughly the same age as each of our three youngest daughters. All very Jane Austen. And recently we’ve both been pregnant.

But we decided to give it a go, before we’d be too caught up in baby duties, to have a wonderful feast of two families coming together on a Sunday in their beloved Médoc.

And we all do love Médoc. Basile and Bérangère, me and Oddur, we all truly believe in this region, its beauty, its specialness. We all want to do something exciting here, whether it is to make fabulous wine, write cookbooks, or do just about anything to help people discover this place. But first: Lunch!

The menu was up to Bérangère and the other women of Larrivaux, her mother Sabine and her mother’s sister Armelle. I did make one request though. We needed to include Basile’s grandmother’s recipe for pancake cake. Yes you read right – gâteau de crêpes. We’d had it recently at a dinner at Lafon-Rochet in May and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It’s the most simple, most unusual dessert you can imagine.





There were lots of tidbits, pâtés, tomato salads , more tomato salads but it all got serious when Bérangère’s mother brought out the family’s cheese beignets (fritters). They were delicious. Next was the “veal bread” in other words meatloaf, with two types of tomato sauce – very Italian, but somehow also very Médocain. We started with a lovely Champagne form a very small producer (so many good ones these days), no sugar added, no sugar needed. Then we moved on to the wine. The Larrivaux. It’s quite special and unusual for Médoc, more Merlot than Cabernet Sauvignon which usually only happens on the right bank (St-Emilion, Pomerol). Château Larrivaux has a unique clay soil, more suited for growing Merlot and may be the only place in Médoc where that’s the case. It’s a delicious wine and I’ll be drinking it for years to come with fond memories in my heart.

So another perfect Sunday with equally perfect mishaps, on this dry day Louise stepped into a wet hole (the only one on the estate) leaving her ballerinas fit for a pig stie. Oddur, typically, forgot to charge his battery so he sent Thorir and Allegra to get a fresh one. They, equally typically, couldn’t find their way back so we would have had to wait for them until lunch got cold if, most typically of all, lunch hadn’t been so behind schedule that they arrived right on time.





As I mentioned earlier we were both pregnant that day, Bérangère and I. Both due in June. That wonderful day at the château of women, having a lunch together we both knew what we were expecting. We were both expecting boys.

As I am writing this, they are both born, there will be no more lunches without them. I hope they will be friends, Lucian and Till. We’ll have many more feasts together and maybe even weddings. Who knows?

Because Bérangère and Basile only have sons it seems that the line of women is destined to be broken one day. Larrivaux will be run by a man. In a way it seems oddly modern, breaking traditions by finally giving a man a chance. Bérangère told me she hopes that her sons will have the good fortune when they take over the château to at least have strong wifes to guide them. I suppose some things are just too important to be left entirely to men. Maybe one of them will even be my daughter.

Time will tell.

A few days later, Lucian, I was bumping about in your father’s Land Rover on my way to the clinic. Hair and dust orbiting around me, every whack feeling strong enough to push you out. And then you came.

Lucian, this is where your story begins…






Cheese fritters/ Beignets from my grandmother

1/4 liter/ 1 cup of water
40 g/ 3 tablespoons butter
1 pinch of salt
150 g/ 1 & ¼ cup flour
100 g/ 1 cup grated cheese (Emmental county or type)
4 eggs, separated
Vegetable oil, for frying

Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg whites till stiff peaks and set aside.
Bring the water to a boil, add the butter and salt and stir until melted.
Add the flour in one go and stir.
Add the egg yolks one by one, stirring continuously, then fold in the egg whites, followed by the grated cheese.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 170°C/ 330°F.
Using 2 teaspoons, shape little balls (about the size of a walnut) and fry them until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Beignets au fromage de ma grand-mère

1/4 de litre d’eau
40 gr de beurre
1 pincée de sel
150 gr de farine
100 gr de fromage rapé ( type comté ou emmental )
4 oeufs

Fair bouillir l’eau avec le beurre et le sel
Ajouter la farine.
Ajouter un à un les jaunes d’oeufs puis les blancs battus en neige, puis le fromage râpé.

Chauffer l’huile d’une friteuse à 170°C
Faire à l’aide de 2 petites cuillères des tas de pâte à beignet et les plonger dans la friteuse jusqu’à l’obtention d’une belle coloration dorée.

Ces beignets au fromage ont vraiment bercé mon enfance à LARRIVAUX, nous en avions tous les week ends!!!


Veal and basil meatloaf

1.2 kg/ 2 & ¾ pound of minced veal
3 slices of stale bread
1 small can of tomato paste (concentrate)/ 140 g/ 5 ounces
1 egg
1 bunch of fresh basil
60 ml/¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 210°C/ 410°F.

In a food processor, combine the minced veal, tomato paste, bread, salt, pepper and olive oil and mix everything together.
Add the basil and the egg, pulse a few more times.

Spoon the mixture into a rectangular cake pan and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool and unmold into a serving plate.

Tip: You can serve this veal meatloaf with a tomato sauce or freshly diced tomatoes and olive oil. It’s a family favourite for picnics.

Pain de veau au basilic

1,2 kg de veau haché
3 tranches de pain de mie
1 boite de concentré de tomate de taille moyenne/ 140 g
1 oeuf entier
1 bouquet de basilic
huile d’olive

Mélanger et mixer le veau haché, le concentré de tomate, le pain de mie, sel poivre et huile d’olive.
Ajouter le bouquet de basilic et l’oeuf entier.
Mixer à nouveau.

Dans un plat à cake mettre la préparation, puis faire cuire environ 40 minutes à 210°C.

Laisser refroidir.
On peut le servir avec un coulis de tomates ou un concassé de tomates fraiches et huile d’olive.

Quel bonheur de partager ce pain de veau au basilic lors de nos pique-niques!


Pancake cake

1/2 liter/ 2 cups milk
125 g/ 2/3 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons of plain flour
1 sachet (7 g/ approx 1 teaspoon) of vanilla sugar
Confectionner’s sugar

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and the egg yolks until you get smooth paste.
Heat the milk in a saucepan and add the butter. Stir until melted. Set aside and leave to cool.
Pour the milk mixture into the egg and flour paste. Whisk until smooth.
In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold in to the batter – make sure to leave the egg white ‘lumps’ in the batter (they will make the pancakes extra fluffy).

Heat the frying pan (non-stick pancake pan) and melt ½ teaspoon butter. Pour enough batter to cover the pan and cook on a medium heat on one side only. Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle each pancake with a dash of vanilla sugar and a dash of confectionner’s sugar. Repeat this step and continue to stack them one on top of each other. For the last pancake, place it brown side on top.

Gâteau de crêpes

1/2 litre de lait
125 gr de sucre
6 oeufs
125 g beurre doux
4 cuillère à soupe de farine
1 sachet de sucre vanillé
Du sucre en poudre

Mélanger la farine et les jaunes d’oeuf
Faire fondre le beurre dans le lait.
Laisser tiédir le lait et l’incorporer au mélange farine oeuf.
Battre les blancs en neige et les incorporer grossièrement à la pâte.
Il doit rester des grumeaux de blancs en neige dans la pâte.
Enduire la poêle à crêpe d’un mélange beurre/huile et commencer à faire les crêpes en les faisant cuire que d’un seul coté.
Superposer chaque crêpes les unes sur les autres en les saupoudrant entre chacune de mélange sucre vanillé/sucre en poudre.
Retourner la dernière crêpe coté cuit vers le gâteau.

Two Sundays without you (part I)


“I shall always think of you and feel about you the way it was that Fourth of July day three years ago when you met me at the boat, and we went out on the cafe on the river and had a drink and later went on top of the tall building, and all the strangeness and the glory and the power of life and of the city was below.”

Thomas Wolfe in his final letter to Maxwell Perkins

Is it possible to have a memory of something that happened before we were even born? And is it possible to remember someone before they were born? Lucian and I had many moments together before his birth on the 8th of June. He lived in my body but even more in my mind and my imagination. In the last weeks before his birth I was consumed by one thought. This would be my last pregnancy and looking around me, at my beautiful family they would be the people he would grow up with. Our house would be his magic world, filled with puppies and flowers and delicious food. As his arrival approached these thoughts intensified, everything seemed so calm and clear.

Lucian, I will always remember you before you could be remembered. This is who we were before you were born and this is how I would like you to remember the days before you could remember.

This is your world before you could live in it.






May 15

The seeds for this glorious Sunday had been planted 10 day earlier when Allegra and Francesco gave Oddur his birthday present. They were more than seeds actually, a whole olive tree that sat in its black plastic pot for 10 days, relentlessly attacked by puppies who tried their best to destroy it. Fortunately olive trees are tough and the tree survived until we had time to do what we had decided, which was to have a meal together in the garden next time the weather was good and then plant the tree after lunch. It felt like the hottest day of summer (so far), and may have been for real. The dogs searched lethargically for shadows to lie in and the kids thought it best to steal all my winter hats (I guess they couldn’t find the summer ones) to protect themselves from the sun. Allegra loves making italian vegetable fritters and we love eating them so she and Francesco started out in the “potager” cutting some sage and roses for the table. Francesco stayed with us for a month this spring and helped take care of the garden. Oddur called him “giardiniere bravo” and I guess he lived up to that billing. To me he was and is just one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.






In March I was invited to Provence and stayed at the Couvent des Minimes where I had a wonderful almond-flaked cod served on a bed of artichoke and almond purée cooked by the fantastic chef Jérôme Roy. It was so delicious I ordered it two nights in a row. I had recreated it for one of my workshops to rave reviews and wanted to have it again as soon as possible and of course to share it with you. That day we had no fresh artichokes and I guess I was feeling a bit lazy so we used frozen artichokes which I rarely do. It turns out it was a good thing because now that I am finally posting this artichokes are slowly going out of season and the frozen ones work perfectly as a substitute. For dessert I couldn’t think of anything better than Véronique Courrian’s lemon tart which has already featured on this blog some years ago but is so good and so simple that it deserves to be here twice. We were having such a good time that we almost forgot the tart in the oven, burning it slightly but in all honesty, that’s how I prefer it – generously caramelized.

After lunch Francesco planted the olive tree or rather made an attempt at it. He dug a little hole is more accurate. His shovel was just to weak for our stubborn, hard and dry clay soil. The tree would be planted a few days later but at least the place had been chosen and marked.

This was right in the middle of artichoke season and the most beautiful artichoke fields I have ever seen are at our friends vegetable farm, about half an hour’s drive from our house. What better activity on a Sunday than to visit an artichoke farm? Next to the artichoke farm is a strawberry farm, also owned by friends and mid-May is peak time for strawberries in Médoc. It was where I took Audrey for a visit when she was just a few days old two years ago and it felt wonderful to revisit, with a mouth filled with freshly picked strawberries, flanked by my girls in (strawberry stained) summer dresses.

Of course we got overly enthusiastic with our artichoke cutting and cut two baskets worth, a problem solved the next day with stuffed artichokes for all. This time there was no shortage of artichokes.

I would like to pretend there was something wrong with that Sunday, a little detail, an unpleasant incident but I’m afraid there wasn’t anything negative to say about the whole thing. It was all one big perfect perfection (well, apart from the frozen artichokes). Which, I admit, can be boring, especially to read about. That’s why we need the mess, and bad weather and unfortunate incidents of everyday life.

But when you are waiting for a baby boy, and you’re getting a little tired of it all and impatience creeps in. A perfect day is much-needed.

… to be continued (on Wednesday)






Workshops 2016 – 2017

Just a quick message here at the end to let you know that we still have some availability for Autumn and Winter workshops. September is impossibly full and so is the second October workshop. I still might have some space in the wine tasting class at the beginning of October though, due to some people moving their dates.

We have some limited availability in both November classes and December is not yet full.

And speaking of the future I announced the 2016 dates in September last year and that seemed perfect. I have, however, been getting a large number of emails requesting dates for 2017 from people who (admirably I must say) like to plan ahead. So I’m considering announcing the dates very soon and we have a lot of new things to introduce next year.

Mimi xx

ps: The dress I am wearing is by 1 et 1 font 3. Louise and Gaïa’s dresses by Marie-Puce. xx



Sage fritters

Approx 20 sage leaves

300 g/ 2 & 1/2 cups plain flour
125 ml/ 1/2 cup of ice-cold beer (to make a sticky thick batter – not too liquid not too thick, it should coat the sage leaves)
1 teaspoon of sugar

Sift the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk in the beer until combined and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Take the batter out of the fridge and add the salt. Mix well.

Heat the vegetable oil on a medium heat in a saucepan and test with a drop of batter. If the batter immediately floats up golden brown then it’s ready for frying. Dip the sage leaves in the batter and fry them in hot vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and season lightly with salt. Serve immediately.


Pan-fried almond cod with almond artichoke purée
(inspired by Jérôme Roy’s dish at Le Couvent des Minimes in Provence)

For 4 people

150 g/ 1/3 pound x 4 cod fillets
1 kg/ 2 pounds approx. chopped large artichoke hearts
60 ml/ ¼ cup heavy cream
60 ml/ ¼ cup milk
90 g/ ¾ cup almond flour
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces/ 230 g slivered almonds, toasted
A dash of piment d’Espelette
A dash of plain flour
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
A bunch of chives, finely chopped

Cook the artichoke hearts in a large pot of salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain the pot and transfer the artichoke hearts to a blender (I use my magimix). Pour the cream and milk , add the almond flour and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a saucepan and re-heat just before serving.

Dredge the cod fillets in the flour and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/320°F

Place slivered almonds on a baking tray and toast them for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan with olive oil on a medium to high heat and fry the cod (by batch if necessary) for about a minute and a half on each side. Transfer to the baking tray and continue to cook in the oven for 6 minutes.

Place the pureed artichoke hearts in the center of the plate, followed by the cod on top. Scatter the slivered almonds and finely chopped chives on top. Season with a dash of fleur de sel and piment d’Espelette. Drizzle with olive oil just before serving.


Asparagus and Roquefort tart

8 ounces/ 230 g puff pastry
6 tablepoons of crème fraîche
200 g/ 7 ounces approx. Roquefort cheese
Approx 10 white asparagus, peeled and halved, ends trimmed
A drizzle of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F

Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangular shape and place on the parchment paper covered baking tray. Fold the edges, about 1 cm. Spread the crème fraîche all over the pastry, place the peeled and halved asparagus all over (see photos). Crumble the Roquefort cheese and scatter on top if the asparagus and add a drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until puffy, sizzling and golden brown.


Stuffed artichokes

Serves 4

4 large artichokes
120 g/1 & ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
130 g/ 1 & ½ cup grated Pecorino
2 cloves garlic, minced
80 ml/ 1 /3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
A dash of piment d’Espelette
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F

In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, ground garlic, grated Pecorino, olive oil, chopped parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim the bottom of each artichoke and cut the top spiky tips with kitchen scissors. Separate the leaves to open up the artichokes. Place the artichoke in a large deep pan and pour water  ¾ high. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes on a medium heat. Take out the artichokes and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.

When the artichokes have cooled down, stuff the filling mixture between all the leaves.

Place the artichokes in a large and deep baking dish. Fill the dish with 3 cm/ 1 inch of the reserved cooking liquid. Cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Serve immediately.


Véronique’s lemon tart

For this recipe, please click on this link.


The Right Thing To Do


This is my husband’s annual blogpost, enjoy!

Mimi x

On a typical night in our house, Mimi will leave the kitchen after dinner and not return. She will ask me when I’m coming to bed and though I have every intention of coming early I usually come late. My duties in this house start earlier, end later than everybody else’s in the family and while this sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. These extra hours are spent on a special duty, in the service of dogs. It’s tempting to paint a picture of myself as the lord of the dogs, a master of small things. In reality it is, at best, an entertaining circus of which I have limited control. We have dogs that can never meet, dogs that can sometimes meet but not when the females are in season (and someone is always in season) or not too many at once. That’s not even mentioning the puppies who need extra care and the eccentric gourmands that like to socialize, but just not when they eat. It’s complicated.

There are rules to follow, like not having too many terriers, or at least not too many males. But I don’t follow any of them. When I’m finally in bed Mimi will sometimes ask me why I give myself such chores to do. If it wouldn’t be simpler to have slightly fewer dogs. And it would, of course.

But why, why indeed …




The Weatherman

Sometimes the best lines come from otherwise forgettable films. Like the Weatherman with Nicolas Cage. Not a bad movie, but hardly up there with the classics. It has Michael Caine in it which automatically makes it worth watching and one of the things his character says to his adult son is this:

“To get anything of value you have to sacrifice. The harder thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing. Nothing that has meaning is easy. Easy doesn’t enter into grown-up life.”

I only saw that movie once but that stuck with me and I repeat it to my children all the time. Very young people tend to think that things should happen by themselves and often we don’t appreciate the value of what we’re doing until much later. When I was a young boy in Iceland I wanted to be a veterinarian and I thought the best way to achieve that would be to spend the summer on my uncle’s farm. Once there I quickly realized that my job had very little to do with nursing lambs and puppies and everything to do with boring chores. My days started with shoveling bullshit and ended with collecting rocks into piles in a place so vast that it would have taken me a hundred summers to finish the job. Still, I found a way to tolerate it, making the best possible piles of bullshit and rocks.

It wasn’t fun but it was the right thing to do.




The man who loved radishes

Our children are fortunate. They have a mother who is a fabulous cook and as a result they eat fabulous food every day. They may not realise how fortunate they are now but one day they will (actually I think they already do). I wasn’t that keen of vegetables as a kid, a few I loved, many I liked, others I loathed. One of my grandmothers let me skip all the vegetables if I wanted, the other one tried to force me to eat a suspicious blend from a can. I do remember that I loved the salad bar at Pizza Hut. Later, going to vegetarian restaurants only meant something ranging from totally fine to nothing special. Various stews in Indian disguise, all OK, none great.

When I moved to France vegetables to me were pleasant distractions, or preludes to the all important piece of protein that had to follow and dominate. In Paris we lived next door to a market and since fruits and vegetables look great on a table and I’ve always had a penchant for creating still lifes we bought more than we needed. Which also meant we ate more of them than I had planned. Slowly I fell in love with vegetables and while many chefs and many greens played a part I give credit mainly to two people. My wife (who you know intimately through this blog) and Alain Passard.

He is of course a 3-star chef and in my opinion, beyond his 3 stars, simply the finest chef in the world. The first dish I ever had at his restaurant Arpège, was a salad – with radishes. At the price they charged I was expecting a surprise and I got it. The salad was just a salad. But a glorious one. We went there every year for my birthday, Mimi even interviewed him once (the man is not short on confidence by the way) and I took his portrait. When she asked him why he didn’t have more restaurants than one he simply answered “I am one man, I can not be in several places at once”. Others could learn from that. Sacrifice.

The story of Alain Passard is something like this: He rose through the ranks at the restaurant of his mentor and finally bought it. When he had claimed 3 Michelin stars in his own right he announced that rather than resting on his laurels and churn out more of the same, he would now follow his heart and introduce a new menu dominated by vegetables. Critics were surprised, the competition laughed. He kept his three stars. With vegetables. Mind you, grands crus vegetables from his own orchards.

It can’t have been easy.

But it was the right thing to do.




Eat your vegetables

For the last two years my wife (and in a small way myself) has been hosting wonderful cooking workshops here in our home in Médoc. The first lunch is often vegetarian and always delicious. People don’t even notice that it’s vegetarian. When I bring up the fact they seem surprised. If someone told me tomorrow that I could never eat meat again that would be fine. 10 years ago I would have felt different. In reality I don’t think I’ll ever willingly give up meat but I find myself gravitating towards the greens. They’re just so damn good. Blanched asparagus with olive oil and lemon. Radishes and Champagne with butter (I didn’t say vegan). Mimi’s red salad. Endive tartlets. Mushroom carpaccio. Anything with fava beans. Anything with chard. Tomatoes, pumpkins, onions. Gazpacho, oh la la.

We have a puppy now who’s a special little bugger. He’s very energetic and very stubborn. And a little bit aggressive. He’s called John Ray after the Dunhill designer (long story). He’s on the cover of Mimi’s new book and he looks adorable there. I cook a lot for the dogs. Rice, liver, meat leftovers, carrots, green beans etc. I notice that out of all the pups he kept leaving out the vegetables and only eating the meat. So I stopped giving him meat and only coated the vegetables in broth. Now he loves vegetables.

It was the right thing to do.




The one who got away

In February we had a litter (or rather Dick and Jeanie had) of 5 very beautiful Smooth Fox Terrier puppies. 2 girls, 3 boys. I meant to keep a girl but in the end we kept a boy, just because he reminded me of his grandfather Humfri. One girl, Willow, went to Switzerland to the kindest family imaginable. They proved themselves worthy in every way you could possibly hope. The father, a Sicilian, shook my hand almost with tears in his eyes when they left and said he hadn’t stopped crying since he lost his other dog in November. Willow, you lucked out!

Irving is going to NY in late May, John Ray is staying here but Helmut, the sweetest of all is still without a family.

Which leaves us with Arden. She was perhaps the prettiest of the litter, split face, black and white and the most outgoing character, everybody’s favorite little girl. Mimi and I had gone to Paris in January and upon the recommendation of a friend had decided to spend some of our precious, Parisian hours of liberty at Verjus, a restaurant in the Palais Royal. We had known about Verjus for some time, but never been. We used to go to the same spot when it was another restaurant, Alfred, but had never been back. Our friend, Sarah from Colette, practically made us go. We had the greatest evening. Starting with a Champagne from a small producer (I can’t remember which – it was that good) and simply enjoying every bite of every course and every wine pairing (and much of Mimi’s wine too, she is pregnant after all) it was the perfect date night, and we don’t have many of those.

Soon after we were contacted by Braden and Laura, the proprietors of Verjus who had just lost their dog and wanted to try to fill the void left by his departure. So we arranged a trip down to Médoc and in a very improvised manner I suggested they might cook something to share on the blog. Braden brought his own nettle and carefully sourced Reblochon and before Mimi’s crème fraîche chicken, treated us to a delicious potato salad (see recipe). It was one of those charmed days, warm, sunny, windy. Magical. Meeting old friends for the first time if that makes sense. I though they’d pick a boy, I thought I could keep Arden a bit longer. They sent pictures for the train ride to Paris. They send regular photos from her adventures as resident restaurant dog of Verjus. Tonight, as I was writing this post Hudson brought in the mail (his parents are very good at ignoring the mail box) and in tonight’s batch was a letter from Arden. 5 photos and essay in her own words. And very funny too.

Giving up Arden was hard.

It was the right thing to do.




The boy who wore a blazer

My son Hudson really likes dressing up. He tricked me into buying him a suit on a recent trip to NY and every chance he gets he puts on formal wear. He buttons every shirt up to the top. I don’t believe in spoiling children and I try hard to make them understand the value of things. One thing I believe in is buying better, often more expensive things, respecting them, maintaining them and preserving them. I like to tell him that someone made his jacket with pride so he should wear it with pride and treat it with care. The tweed he’s wearing used to belong to his older brother Þórir, he took good care of it and hopefully Hudson will too. I have, after all, another son coming.

I give the kids all sorts of chores, many to do with dogs but also other more unpleasant things. Kids need duties and they need to sometimes fail their duties. And I need to be angry with them when they do, even if I’m not.

It’s the right thing to do.



He who is coming

My wife and I are expecting a son.I don’t know how she does it. At 8 months she still does everything like she always does. With style and thoughtfulness. My son is lucky to have her as his mother. Lucian, that’s his name.. He will not have the same father as my first son who turns 19 this month. I will be older, greyer, slower when he’s a teenager. But maybe I’ll be, in some ways, better. You have to try to learn, to improve. And when that fails to try harder still. Every night I say to myself, tomorrow I’ll be a better man. And usually I’m not.

But I have to try.

It’s the right thing to do.

Back to the dogs

So why do I like to have so many dogs. What’s the real reason?

It’s called indulging, allowing yourself to make your dreams come true, even if it makes no sense to other people. Of course it’s all a little bit selfish. But at least I’m honest about it.

It’s the right thing to do.

… and besides, I think it’s more fun than playing golf.


Nettle Pesto Potato Salad

As I said earlier, Braden was a good sport and made us this wonderful potato salad with nettle and Reblochon cheese when he and Laura visited in April. He sourced his own cheese and nettle which wasn’t really necessary as we are up to our ankles in nettle here in St Yzans. In iceland we call this “fetching the water over the stream”.

Here’s Braden’s recipe.

Nettle Pesto

200 g/ 7 ounces wild nettles
2 garlic cloves
200 ml/ 7 ounces good olive oil
100 g/ 1 cup grated parmesan
50 ml/ 3 tbsp lemon juice
50 g/ 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts/walnuts/or omit

Soak nettles in ice water.
With two layers of plastic gloves, remove the leaves from the nettles.
Blanche nettles for 1 minute and place into an ice bath to stop the cooking.
Squeeze out all the water and moisture from the nettles.
Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor mix the above ingredients to a fine paste.

Reblochon Espuma

180 g/ 6-7 ounces raw cream or heavy cream
180 g/ 6-7 ounces reblochon cheese cut into small pieces
1 sheet of gelatine
2 nitrous charger
1 isi Siphon

Warm cream in a pot over low heat.
Add piece of reblochon and stir until cheese is melted.
Pass mixture through a strainer to remove any clumps.
Add gelatine sheet and stir until melted.
Pour mixture into a siphon and charge with 2 nitrous chargers.
Keep siphon at or near 38ºC.

New potato/Leek sauce

500 ml/ 2 cups water
100 g new potatoes (peeled)
100 g leeks (green parts removed)
25 ml/ 1 &1/2 tbsp lemon juice
50 g/3-4 tbsp butter

Cook potatoes in water at simmer until potatoes are soft and cooked through.
Add leeks and continue to cook for another minute until leeks soften.
Blend potatoes, leeks and cooking liquid.
Season with lemon juice, butter, salt and pepper.

Roasted new potatoes

1 kilo/ a bit more than 2 pounds new potatoes

Gently scrub new potatoes with a vegetable brush.
Toss potatoes with a neutral oil like sunflower, salt and pepper.
Roast at 200ºc for 25 minutes or until coloured and cooked through.


250 g/ 1 & 1/2 cup shelled peas (blanched and iced)


Warm potatoes in a pan to color edges.
Warm potato and leek mixture in a small sauce pan.
Spoon nettle pesto into the base of the serving bowl.
Spoon roasted potatoes onto the nettle pesto.
Warm peas in the potato/leak sauce, then spoon onto the potatoes in the serving bowl.
Holding the siphon upright, squeeze reblochon espuma over everything.

If I was making this at home, I would leave the gelatine out of the reblochon espuma and rather than aerating it, I would just spoon the fondue over the potatoes.


Asparagus ravioli

Green and white asparagus has been a dominating influence in our lives and Mimi’s cooking for the better part of two months. I think (without exaggerating) that we’ve had asparagus every single day for two months. A lot of the time we just blanche the green asparagus and drizzle it with olive oil and lemon. Other times Mimi goes more elaborate. This time I told her I would mention Alain Passard and she decided to make a version of a recipe of his, albeit with an Asian twist. Her parents were visiting in April (see photos) and brought us a load of goodies from their visit to an Asian supermarket in Bordeaux . We’ve had them several times since and will continue to have them as long as there is green asparagus.

Asparagus Raviolis

Serves 4

25 round ravioli sheets (I used wonton wrappers)
A bunch of asparagus, tips reserved
A large handful of fresh peas
1 glass of Jura wine
250 g/ 1&1/2 cup morel/ morilles mushrooms
A bunch of chopped fresh sorrel leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted buttter
grated zest of 1 lemon
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnishing
Olive oil

Cut off asparagus tips, then halve each tip lengthwise and reserve.
Place a piece of asparagus, about an inch and a half/ 3cm in the center on each wonton sheet.
Brush pasta around mounds of filling lightly with water, then lift half of sheet and drape over mounds.
Press down firmly around each mound, forcing out air.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over a high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle boil.
Add the raviolis to gently boiling water, carefully stirring to separate, and cook for 2 minutes, keeping them al dente.
Lift raviolis with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate.
In a large pan, heat olive oil and butter until sizzling. Sauté the morel mushrooms and asparagus tips. Season with salt and pepper and add a dash of Jura wine. Add the fresh peas, the raviolis, lemon zest, and toss everything gently together.
Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil and grated parmesan.


Strawberry shortcake

T’is the season for strawberries and basically Mimi wanted to please the kids. I have been bringing home organic strawberries for weeks now and while we have most of them straight out of the box sometimes it’s nice to go a little more fancy. This is a recipe from one of Mimi’s episodes of ‘La Table de Mimi’ on Canal+.

Strawberry Shortcake

For the sponge cakes

4 eggs
125 g flour/ 1 cup, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
125 g/ 2/3 cup caster sugar
A pinch of salt

For the cream

125 ml/ 1/2 cup mascarpone
125 ml heavy cream/ 1/2 cup
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Add a pinch of salt in the egg whites.
In another bowl, beat the sugar with the egg yolks, until light and fluffy.
Sift the baking powder and the flour together. Add to the egg yolk mixture.
Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks. Gently fold in the egg whites with a spatula.

Fill muffin tin two-thirds full and bake for 15 mins, until golden, risen and firm to the touch. Leave to cool for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the cream
In a large bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the mascarpone until smooth and thick. Add a few tablespoons of icing sugar and vanilla seeds (according to your taste, I prefer not too sweet) .
Slice the strawberries, halve the little sponge cakes and assemble.


Hi it’s Mimi again, signing off after my husband’s (long) post. Which I loved by the way 🙂

I just wanted to share the cover of my new book, I’m so proud of it, so happy with it. When we started talking about it, even before the first one came out I dreamt it would end up in a certain way, and it did.

I’m usually a summer girl but this year October can’t come early enough.

Mimi x

French Country Cooking – in stores October 25th but available for preorder now on:

Barnes and Noble



One morning in late February, Oddur and I woke up to the strangest weather, sun, rain, wind, shutters banging, corridors howling. Slowly the wind quieted down but the heavens kept opening and closing with a mixture of grey and golden, and as a grand finale to this curious symphony, mother nature put on her Sunday hat, the rainbow. It was the beginning of a few weeks that have been, well, somewhat upside down. In Japan they call this sort of weather, the sunshowers, a Fox’s wedding and I was always fascinated by that name. One of my favorite movies, “Dreams” by Kurosawa has a beautiful story about a little boy based on that mythology. Here in France it’s slightly different or “le mariage du loup“, wolf’s wedding.

Soon after we had one of the coldest, windiest mornings we’ve had this winter (or early spring), when we visited our friends at Château Lynch Bages to learn about pruning vines. They are among a number of leading Châteaux in France who have enlisted the services of a group of Italian master pruners who have been trusted with the training of their vineyard workers. It seems at once odd and refreshing that prestigious French Châteaux are relying on Italian expertise to help perfecting their wines but the Italians have re-established an old method that respects the sap flow of the vine and helps protection against disease. I was intrigued to meet these guys, Andrea, Thomas and Valerio, and learn more but while I enjoyed hearing their explanations I don’t think I’m ready to prune those baby vines just yet. They just seem so tiny and fragile and frankly easy to destroy. One of the vineyard workers at Château Lynch Bages is another import, this time from Portugal. His name is Diamantino or little Diamond. And he lives up to his name every season as he keeps winning the annual wine pruning competition that’s held in Médoc. A pruner is given 20 vines to prune and a limited time to complete the job. Afterwards the judges examine the work and declare a winner based on the quality of the work (without knowing which pruner did which vines). The winner is always little Diamond!

A glorious French wine, Italian master pruners and a little diamond from Portugal. Joining forces is always the way to go!





Another European import, this time from England, arrived at our doorstep early in March in the shape of the lovely (and pregnant) Lucy Birkhead. Lucy is a Manger workshop alumni who spent a few days with us last May and we got on so well that she’s back to help with the spring workshops. It’s a curious team we have, two pregnant ladies, an Icelandic man who won’t stop talking about dogs (especially when we have puppies) and an Italian girl who thinks everything comes fro Italy, even Barbapapa and Baba au rhum, two ultra-French exports. Soon after Lucy arrived yet another foreigner ghosted in through our doors (I actually thought he was a ghost), the Austrian Oskar who is the architect for the very ambitious renovation taking place across the street. Oskar usually loves to drink big Bordeaux vines so Oddur had prepared two bottles for him, the 2006 Chateau Figeac and of course the 2006 Château Lynch Bages. This time though, Oskar was abstaining from alcohol for 6 weeks, not for religious reasons, just for no reason. As I said everything has been a little strange lately.





Oskar has found all sorts of ways to make the house opposite (it belongs to our friends in NY, Matt and Yolanda) brighter, warmer … cooler. He’s employed French workers who specialize in restoring old houses with ancient techniques and as he said “the level of work is incredible”.

Living in France I am exposed to masters of all kinds every day. The baker, the butcher, the vegetable farmers, the winemakers. I even have a passionate dog breeder under my own roof. Adding to that an international league of international masters or pruning, building, designing. To be passionate about something, anything, and to do it well. As we all know there has been a resurgence in all things “artisanal” in the last decade, a trend of rediscovering old methods and manners, dong things splendidly instead of just doing them. While some of these things are professions that take years or even a lifetime to master others are simple little household chores like polishing silver or shoes, restoring an old chair that you found at the flea market or just waxing a wooden table.

Little tasks, carefully executed, sometimes with a help of a neighbor, it’s the old way of doing things. It’s the new way of doing things.





Which brings us to food. Simple food, carefully made with good ingredients. This strange season has seen asparagus appear much earlier than usual. Which may be a sign of global warming which is bad but is otherwise very welcome. I think I may have had asparagus every day for the last 3 weeks. And I’ve enjoyed every bite. So many asparagus soufflés already, soups and salads. A favorite “quick but luxurious” dish are eggs in cocotte. Always the same basic ingredients, eggs and cream but each time with a little seasonal touch. And this time it’s the season of the asparagus.

Another simple dish I’ve been making quite often this week is this easy, slightly bitter and crunchy pasta that’s possibly inspired by all the Italians I’ve met lately. I tried making it with a red endive and while that works fine I prefer to use an Italian radicchio and I have to admit my cravings were so strong I had my greengrocer order a little crate, fresh from Italy. Usually I make a point of only using locally grown vegetables but sometimes pregnant women get to break the rules.

To add something sweet I asked, Allegra, my Italian assistant to share a delicious ricotta cake that’s she’s been toying with over the last few weeks. She’s in love with all things Ricotta and had this cake at a friend’s house over Christmas back home in Pescara. It’s takes a bit of time, but is simple to make nevertheless and is perfect if you have some ripe pears standing on your kitchen table.

We had so much fun photographing this post, the house has felt like magic lately, one room filled with puppies, another one with crates of asparagus. I got to hold the puppies, Lucy the crate of radicchio. Oddur even made her wear an old, squashed hat that Yolanda left here at the end of summer, because as he said, “it makes her look like a mad English hatter”. Of course it’s him who is the mad hatter which is fine, every family needs one.




I’m off to NYC in the morning, with the whole family, a mixture of work and play. We’re visiting our 20-year-old, Gunnhildur, who’s finishing an internship. We’re also putting the final touches on my upcoming book and meeting members of the press. I hope I can share the new cover with you in the coming days.

Broadway here I come!
(I always wanted to say that – the Random house offices are on Broadway).


Eggs en cocotte with asparagus and Jura wine butter vinaigrette
Serves 6

You will need a 6 ramekins or small pots

(per ramekin)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
5 asparagus, green or white, tips halved and stem sliced
A dash of piment d’Espellette
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Zest of an organic lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
A dash of Jura wine (if you can’t find Jura wine, try a dry Sherry)
A dash of finely chopped chives
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

Break the eggs into a little bowl and pour into each ramekins. Add the cream, place the asparagus on top. If the asparagus is very thick, steam them for 5 minutes before.
Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a dash of piment d’Espellette.

Pour water into a pot or large deep skillet, approximately 2 to 3 inches, place the ramekins in the pot, cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Steam for about 5 minutes, or until egg white is turning opaque. You want the egg yolk to be runny so you can dip your ‘mouilettes’(grilled sliced baguette/ little soldiers) in the glorious yolk.

Meanwhile, prepare the butter vinaigrette. On a medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Grate the lemon zest and add to the melted butter. Bring the butter to a light simmer, without coloring, and add the Jura wine and lemon juice. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the finely chopped chives.

Drizzle the eggs with the sauce and serve immediately with grilled ‘mouilettes’(little tip : I like to rub a small piece of garlic on them).


Fennel, radicchio and lemon butter noisette pasta

Serves 4 to 6

500 g/ 1 pack pasta (I used fetuccine)
3 medium-sized fennels, sliced finely
2 heads of radicchio, sliced coarsely
100 g/ ¾ cup pine nuts
Zest of 3 organic lemons
180 g/ ¾ cup unsalted butter
90 g/ 1 & ½ cup Parmesan, grated
Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper
A dash of olive oil, for roasting the vegetables

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F

Slice the fennels finely. Chop the radicchio coarsely. Place both ingredients on a roasting tray and drizzle a little olive oil. Season with salt. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 10 minutes, or until golden. Add the pine nuts half-way.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to instructions.

Meanwhile, prepare the lemon beurre noisette. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter on a medium to low heat. Whisk until the butter foams and turns into a light brown color. Take off the heat and grate the lemon zest into the butter. Set aside and let the lemon zest infuse the butter.

Drain the pasta and set aside a ladle of cooking water. Add all the roasted fennel, radicchio and pine nuts, season with salt and pepper, add the grated parmesan, the ladle of pasta water and toss everything together with the lemon beurre noisette. Serve immediately and add extra parmesan when serving.


Amalfi Ricotta Pear Cake

For the hazelnut biscuit

200 g/ 1 & 2/3 cup flour
60 g/ ½ cup hazelnut flour
100 g/6 &1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
65 g/1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla seeds
A pinch of fine salt

In a large bowl, sift the flour with the baking powder, add the sugar, the salt, vanilla and the hazelnut flour. Incorporate the eggs and cold butter. Mix all the ingredients together until the mixture forms a homogenous dough. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. On a floured surface roll out the dough to fit your spring form cake tin, (approx 1 cm) Line it with the pastry dough, and cut out excess. Pierce dough with a fork all over, cook at 180 °C/350°F  in a preheated oven for about 15 min, or until golden brown.
Repeat the operation once again to get 2 perfect sized layers of biscuit.

For the ricotta & pears filling

400 g/ 15 ounces ricotta
160 ml/ 2/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
65 g/ sugar/ 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon to sauté the pears
Zest of 2 organic lemons
2 tablespoons of rum
4/5 medium-sized pears, peeled, cored and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Confectionner’s sugar for dusting the cake

In a saucepan, sauté the diced pear with one tablespoon of sugar, the lemon juice, and rum. Stir occasionally until the pears begin to cook and release liquid. Continue stirring so that the pears don’t burn and until the sugar dissolves and the pears soften, about 5 minutes, add some water if necessary. Remove from heat and transfer to another bowl. Leave to cool completely.
Whisk the ricotta with the lemon zest and sugar, fold in the whipped heavy cream and the cooled pears with their syrup (save some of it to brush the 2 disks of biscuit)
To assemble the cake, use the spring form cake tin lined with parchment paper. Place one disk of biscuit at the bottom, brush it with the pear syrup, fill with the ricotta cream pear mixture and cover with the second layer of biscuit, brushed with more syrup.
Let the cake set in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight and place in the freezer 10 minutes before serving. When ready, dust the cake with confectionner’s sugar.


Wonderfully Ordinary


Right now we are in early February which in Médoc means rain. The winter has been mild, not too many cold days and throughout December, not too many wet days either. December was simply glorious. I was beginning to think we’d get away with it, that the bursts of rain that often wash over us before the new year had gone somewhere else. They hadn’t. When it comes to nature everything has its price. Two days of sun and one grey day come at the cost of at least one rainy day. Three whole weeks of brilliant sunshine will be matched by at least a week of pure rain. It is worth it? Yes.

What if we could negotiate with the weather gods, reach a compromise. They stop the rain and cold, we give up the sun and the heat. Every day would be the same, grey, comfortable, unsurprising and intolerable. Let’s keep the sun … and the rain.

But how do you deal with all that rain? The first few nights are charming. I say to my husband in bed “isn’t it comforting to hear the rain and storm outside and we are all cuddled up inside safe and warm” (well apart from the fact that rain has a way of getting inside the house). Then it becomes slightly irritating and boring. Wet dogs are less fun than dry ones. Finally it becomes depressing. That’s where we’re now. Or let me rephrase that. That’s where we were. Now we are beyond that stage. Rain is no longer comforting, irritating or depressing. We are the rain now, it’s part of us “just keep it coming” we say, to quote U2 “There is nothing you can throw at us that we haven’t already seen”.

Besides, we know it will soon be over. January is already gone, February is still on stage. The dour duet. Of course the latter sometimes sings a sunny tune but whatever happens, the next act is March, and March never fails to shine. March in Médoc is always beautiful!





This blog is now in its fourth year. It’s also the fourth time I find myself in exactly the same situation. The villages outside is quiet. Well it’s always quiet but now it feels like we woke up and everybody left. Some of them did actually. When we brave the rain and wind to go to the markets nothing spectacular is ever happening. No crates of cherries or stacks of fresh tomatoes. No man shouting that he’s got the best mushrooms. It’s just the usual suspects. Cabbage, beets, carrots etc. But somehow there is always something to get a little worked up over. One day it might be a shiny (shiny because it’s wet) bunch of spinach or swiss chard or even just particularly nice looking apples. This weekend we had the first artichokes. That was exciting. Apparently everything is early this year and even the magnolias are opening which is a terrible idea for them as they will just be struck down by wind and rain. It’s almost as if they’re sacrificing themselves to bring hope. Like they are saying “I should probably wait a while so you could enjoy me longer but I think you need me more now!”





As I said it’s the fourth time I write to you at this time of year. Things don’t change much in Médoc. But this time something actually has. Not the rain. Not the banging of shutters against the walls of the house on stormy nights. But I’ve changed. I can wait for spring. I used to be more impatient. I know it will come and I know it will be wonderful. I can already see all the colors and the flowers. I can close my eyes and imagine the little puppies we are expecting in March playing with each other in the vineyards. I can see my girls in summer dresses and beyond that I can see a little boy in blue pyjamas that I already bought for him.

I can wait because on any given Sunday I can walk into my kitchen and take what’s available to me and cook a meal that makes me happy and makes my family happy.

I was going to say that thinking about good food, making it, eating it, is the perfect antidote to dreary winter months. But it’s actually the antidote to … everything.






Cervelas de Lyon sausage with pistachios and warm potato salad.

Cervelas is a typical Lyonnaise pork sausage filled with pistachios. Everytime I go to Paris I pass by the charcutier Gilles Verot to pick up a few sausages to go!

1 large unsmoked pork sausage, traditionally the Lyonnaise use “Saucisson Pistache”– pistachio sausage)
900 g/ 2 pounds new potatoes
2 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced shallots
3 tablespoons roughly chopped shelled pistachios
Parsley, chopped
Olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cook the sausage in boiling water for 15 minutes. Take the skin off and slice into 1 cm thick slices.

In a large saucepan, place the sausage and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook about 20 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool. Peel the skin off and slice into 1 cm thick slices.

In a large saucepan, place the potatoes, in salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and leave to cool. Cut into thick slices.

In a large bowl, prepare a vinaigrette. Whisk olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper until smooth. Add the thinly sliced shallots and chopped parsley. Add the potatoes and toss everything together.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and sauté the sausage slices until slightly browned on both sides, about a minute or two. Place the sausages on top of salad and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Season if necessary.


Beef cheeks pot pie with root vegetables

Serves 6-8 (depending on ramekin size)

This is a perfect dish for a Sunday lunch, so I usually prepare the stew the night before. Then all you’ll have to do the next day is scoop the delicious stew into little pots or ramekins and cover with puff pastry.

1 kg/ 2 pounds approx beef cheeks, or beef cuts for braising
3 tablespoons flour
300 g/ 2/3 pounds Bayonne ham
6 medium-sized pearl onions
6 carrots (2 oranges, 2 white , 2 purple )
2 turnips, peeled and diced
3-4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and diced
240 ml/1 cup Bordeaux red wine
3 tablespoons tomato concentrate paste
350 ml/ 1 & ½ cup beef or vegetable stock
1 bouquet garni
Extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pastry

2 sheets of puff pastry
1 egg and 1 tablespoon of milk, for the eggwash

Preheat oven to 160°C/ 320°F. Cut the meat into 3 cm cubes and dredge them lightly in the flour.

Slice the Bayonne ham into chunky sticks. Peel the onions and vegetables. Dice the ​​carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and turnips into small cubes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron pot on a medium heat and cook the Bayonne ham and onions for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Add another tablespoon of olive and brown the beef on all sides. Add the red wine and reduce for 2 minutes. Return the Bayonne ham and onions, add the vegetables, tomato paste, and bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper. Add the stock, bring to a simmer and cover. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally (add a bit of water if necessary).

To make the pot pies:

Heat oven to 180°C/ 350°F.

Spoon the stew into each ramekins.

Using a rolling-pin, roll puff pastry until 0.5 cm/1⁄8 inch thick and cut out 6-8 circles, large enough to cover the ramekins with extra hang. Using a pastry brush, brush the rim of each ramekin with egg wash and cover with a pastry circle. Press lightly around the edges and decorate with small pastry leaves (see photos). Brush again with egg wash all over. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Leave to cool 10 minutes before serving.


Clémentine soufflé

A delightful old-fashioned recipe, this is the kind of dessert I often order in my favorite restaurants. I love the combination of prunes with clémentines, it’s hot and cold and turns your soufflé into a whirlwind of flavors.

Serves 6

6 large clémentines, juice squeezed
60 g/1/4 cup unsalted butter + extra for lining the ramekins
60 g/ 1/2 cup cornstarch
150 g/ 3/4 cup of sugar + extra for sprinkling
5 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon Cointreau
1 pinch of fine salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 400°F

Line the ramekins with butter and sprinkle with sugar all over. Place them in the freezer.

Squeeze the juice of the clémentines into a bowl and set aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the butter on a medium-to-low heat and add the cornstarch, whisking constantly.
Pour the clémentine juice immediately and continue to whisk. Add the sugar and Cointreau. Whisk until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.
Off the heat, add the egg yolks to the mixture and whisk until smooth. Set aside and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites. When the whites start to foam, add a pinch of salt and continue to whisk until stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites gently into the clémentine mixture.

Take the ramekins out of the freezer and pour the mixture into the ramekins up to 1.5 cm to the rim.

Cook in the preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes, until golden and risen.

Serve immediately, adding a scoop of prune sorbet in the center.

Prune Sorbet

For one tub

500 g/ 1 pound + 2 ounces dried prunes, pitted
150 g/ ¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
60 ml/1/4 cup Pineau de Charentes (or a sweet dessert wine, like Vin Santo)
Juice of one lemon
820 ml/ 3 & ½ cup water

Combine all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a soft boil on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
Turn the heat off and add the lemon juice. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a large bowl.
Leave to cool completely and refrigerate. Churn ice-cream in ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions.


Double Fantasy


Sometime last summer I (hopefully – delusionally) announced that from autumn onwards we would launch a redesigned blog with more frequent posts and contributions from my friends. What happened instead was that posts became less frequent, there was no redesign. It’s not a cancellation though, it is simply a postponement. When I started this blog some years ago I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, it happened naturally and this winter, equally naturally, posts have been few and far between. It’s natural because we’ve been so busy, with the workshops but mainly with my new baby, my second cookbook. It took all my best efforts to finish it in time, and when I say in time I mean so late that it would have been too late if my wonderful editor, Rica, hadn’t moved the finish line for me so that I could make it.

I believe that, with very few exceptions, things need to change and grow to blossom. This blog has not changed since the beginning but the question facing me this January is how do we keep what’s good, build on it, make posts more frequent, keep the purity and simplicity, yet make it more accessible and easy to find older recipes. I want to keep this blog exactly how it is. I also want to change it and make it better. I’ve decided to do both. I’m terrible with deadlines but let’s try aim for late February and if not I hope you will be as understanding as my editor and allow me to move the finish line.

In a few days I’ll publish a traditional post with a delicious winter menu but I thought it would be fun to look back at 2015, remember a few things we did, share them with you and, in some cases, think about how they will affect 2016. Oddur, my husband, is my partner in all I do, the blog would be very different without him – I like to say we are a dragon with two heads. So I asked him to contribute to this post and we decided to each talk about five things. 5 songs each on a 10 album LP. When I was growing up in Hong Kong my mother loved John Lennon, especially Double Fantasy which was on practically every day. Sometimes she’d have a tiny glass of sherry, flick through French magazines (I am named after one of those – Marie-France) and reminisce about her days as a young girl in France and a young woman in London. She loves living in Hong Kong, she loves the culture, the climate, the massages, the food. But Europe always made her fell a little nostalgic and sometimes Double Fantasy (oddly enough) was the soundtrack to that nostalgia.

Just like on Double Fantasy we’ll take turns, Oddur will go first, then I etc. I picked being John Lennon first so Oddur is Yoko …


The Year of the dog 

Hi it’s Yoko here. Happy new year! Sometime soon we’ll leave the year of the goat behind and enter the year of the monkey. But not in this house, in this house every year is the year of the dog. And one dog in particular, my dog Humfri. He’s not the smartest dog and he’s a little grumpy in the morning. He sleeps on a little ugly bed in the corner of our bedroom and growls when the kids come near him. He likes to sleep in. There was that incident when he tried to assassinate a Pomeranian in Orvieto. And that incident when he peed on the leg of the diner next to us. He causes all sorts of problems, like most dogs do, but he does it with panache.
He fills my eye every day with his beauty and my heart with his distinctively odd character.

Here’s to another year together my friend.


The Restaurant 

I’m back (Mimi – sorry John)
The first time I visited 1 rue de Loudenne I had a book in my head. I called my editor, Rica Allannic, and spilled my beans. “That sounds wonderful but shouldn’t we finish book number 1 first?” was her response. I have a tendency to get ahead of myself. The idea of opening a restaurant in my home, my dream restaurant, and writing a book about it sounded a little crazy but mainly great and I can’t believe that we actually did it. The restaurant was magic, I’m so excited about the new book and can’t wait to share it with all of you.

It will be called  “French Country Cooking” and is out this year in October published by Clarkson Potter like my previous book. I was very happy with the last book and though you shouldn’t have favorites when it comes to your children I think I like this one even more, so many hours went into it, so much love and laughter.

It’s the best feeling in the world, to finish something so meaningful and wait for it to come to life.


The Miles

Talking about distinctively odd characters, remembering last year wouldn’t be possible without mentioning Miles. He was the cook (sorry Miles, chef) who assisted Mimi in the kitchen. His effort were worthy of a reality show (one that I would actually watch) and took the phrase “full or surprises” to a new level. I had many good moments with him in the “boucherie“, where we shared wine and stories. He knew how to win my heart. He said “we are just like Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin” me being the Master and Commander. Miles was rather well read and any man who refers to me as Master and Commander is off to a rather fantastic start. You can read more about Miles in my wife’s upcoming book but I thought I’d share a pairing that Miles introduced to me and I named after him.

I don’t love sweet potatoes but I like the idea of them. I love the smell and aroma of Cognac but seldom drink it. Miles told me he eats a baked sweet potato every day to improve his eyesight and always with Cognac. Considering the source that may be an exaggeration but I find this a most interesting pairing. Very sophisticated and primal at once. A mélange straight out of a Hemingway short story.

I encourage you to try this at home, just prick the potato with a fork and place it in a hot oven for 30 minutes, then slash open and fill with butter. The Cognac should be smooth.


Mouhalabieh – Orange Blossom and pistachio flan

Even if this is not a conventional post I thought I must share at least one recipe (the Miles isn’t really a recipe is it?) When I lived in Paris we sometimes ordered Lebanese takeaway and when we did I always included Mouhalabieh in the order. Two for me was the standard. It’s a wonderful flan like pudding drenched with orange flower syrup and topped with pistachios. I hadn’t thought about this little friendly dish for a very long time until I had a sudden craving late last fall and I’ve made it countless times since. While this is a great dessert I love to make it any time of the day and have it when I feel like it.

Let’s call it winter indulgence.

Orange blossom flan with pistachios/ Mouhalabieh

For 5 to 6 servings

For the flan

400 ml/ 1 & 1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons milk
30 g/1/4 cup cornstarch
40 g/ 3 tablespoons sugar (more or less to your taste)
2 tablespoon orange flower water
A handful of roasted pistachios and chopped

For the syrup

2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons orange blossom flower
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk and sugar on a medium heat and add the sifted cornstarch. Whisk until the mixture thickens and coats the back on a spoon, about 5 minutes. At this point take the pan off the heat and whisk in the orange blossom water.
Pour the mixture into ramekins and leave to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Prepare the syrup:
In a small saucepan, heat the water, honey, sugar on a medium heat. When the mixture starts to thicken slightly about 3 minutes, add the orange blossom water.
Take off the heat and leave to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Spread the pistachios on a baking tray and roast for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Chop the pistachios coarsely and reserve.
To serve.
Drizzle the syrup on the flans and scatter the pistachios on top. Serve immediately.


The Vehicle

2015 is the year I finally got a Land Rover. Old, huge, beautiful and monstrous. I’ve never been a particular car buff and though I appreciate beautiful cars there was always something else more interesting or important to get. This car landed in my lap and what a happy coincidence that was. Driving through the muddy roads of Médoc, unstoppable, is better than I thought. Driving all the way to Rome, with no music or air condition in sweltering heat is not as bad as I thought. Not in a Land Rover.

The Workshop Playlist

Last year we hosted so many wonderful workshops, met incredible people from all over the world. Such a mixed group of all sorts of people who love food and wine … and music.
We have a good selection of music we tend to listen to a lot but some of the guests also pitched in. It takes a lot to make it into the Manger workshop playlist, like somebody said “this is good stuff”

Billie Holiday – You go to my head

Chet Baker – Let’s get lost sessions

Barbara – Dis, quand reviendras-tu?

Marilyn Monroe – Let’s make love

Dan Penn (Theresa Ghoulson) Power of love

Swamp Dogg (Dewey Nicks) Synthetic world

Sam Cooke (Hannah Barry) You send me

Dave Brubeck – Audrey

Robbie Williams – If I only had a brain

Charles Trenet – La Mer

Julie London – Fly me to the moon

Jacques Dutronc – J’aime les filles

Rosemary Clooney – Botch-a-Me

and the song no one likes but my husband

Richard Hawley – Tonight the streets are ours

Here is the link to our playlist on Spotify.


The wines of the year

It was a very good year. For the wine being made in the vineyards (look out for 2015) and for me personally, because of the wine I drank. It’ almost impossible to pick favorites but let me try.

Early in the year we had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Jean-Michel Cazes, the owner of Château Lynch Bages. He brought the wine. 1991 Domaine de Chevalier (white), 1985 Mouton Rothschild, 1962 Château Montrose, 1959 Château Lynch-Bages and the 1952 Lynch-Bages, made by his grandfather. The ’59 was my favorite, maybe, of the whole year.

Other extremely memorable sips were the ´89 and ´99 of Margaux, a privilege made possible by the WSJ who sent me to Château Margaux for a story, yet I ended up in a lavish lunch with Madame Mentzelopoulos, the owner, and Paul Pontallier the winemaker.

An epic wine day was had in autumn at Château Ducru-Beaucaillou where we had the pleasure of tasting many of the best vintages of the last 20 years. That’s the night Mimi said to the person next to her that she actually preferred Italian wine. It was a joke of course, a bold funny one. There weren’t too many laughs though.

All this is probably fairly meaningless, these wines are hard to get your hands on and if you can you may have to sell your house.

So here is the list of the best wines I had at home in 2015, for what it’s worth, many are not given but they’re all great and in most cases they should be obtainable.

1. Château Lynch-Bages 1996 
I fell in love with this vintage years ago and the romance just won’t end. A very Médoc, Médoc. The 2000 is supposed to be better and maybe it will catch up but this is my coup de coeur.

2. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2003
A hot year and a beautiful wine, more or less ready to drink now.

3. Château Calon Ségur 2005 
A little young but really opening up this year, smooth and lovely, pleases everyone. You should try to get at least two bottles, drink one now, keep the other one.

4. Château Léoville las Cases 2004
We had this bottle with Mimi’s editor, Rica, and her husband Cyrille, a French master chef when they visited us in the summer. We served it with an andouille sausage from Brittany and though the pairing might not have worked it did. Everything works with this wine.

5. Château Rauzan-Ségla 1989
This bottle was the star of one of the workshops – remember Jerry?

6. Château Tour Haut Caussan 2003 (Cuvee Mathis)
Our dear friend Fabien, aka the best man in Médoc, makes this wine and in 2003 he put all his efforts into it as it saw the birth of his only son Mathis. He says it’s the best he’s made and I agree.

7. I Sodi di San Niccolo 2010. 
For the sake of variety we have to include at least one Italian wine. My wife picked the bottle on a trip to Milano, it has a little bird on it. Judging a wine by its label never felt so right. This was also the year I really got into the Sagrantino grape from Umbria and the year of a decent amount of Barolo’s from … and Brunello’s from Biondi Santi. In Rome I had the 2007 Rosso di Montalcino from Biondi Santi, it tasted great … but then I was in Rome.

8. Clos du Marquis 1996 (Magnum)
Another long-standing favorite. I got my hands on a small stash of Magnums – it’s all gone

Honorable mentions go to the (often more affordable) 2011 Clos Manou (our neighbors), the 2010 Château Haut Marbuzet, the 2010 Croix de Beaucaillou (a real crowd pleaser).

Whites we couldn’t get enough of were the Blanc de Lynch-Bages, the Cygne Blanc from Château Fonréaud, Elise from Château le Pey (our friends) and Caillou Blanc from Château Talbot. Château Smith Haut Lafitte was much-loved but we had it less simply because of the price.


The Italian Girl

This was the year of so much activity and adventures and to put it very simply and short. I could not have done it without my trusted assistant Allegra who rather than joining a cloister joined us. Which is similar due to the remoteness of Médoc but with far better food & wine.

With all my heart, Grazie Allegra!




The travel discovery and the buttoned up shirt

Last year I went an incredible 6 times to Italy. First with Mimi in May when she was invited to cook at a food festival but after that mainly to Umbria. I knew Umbria a little from before, we have decent knowledge of Toscana and Marche, the neighboring regions but apart from a few fleeting visits to Perugia, Umbria remained a mystery. I have CN Traveler to thank, they sent me on many missions there throughout the year and most of them ended up as road trips. The first assignment was to shoot Brunello Cucinelli and “his” Umbria. My boys came with me, Thorir & Hudson and of course Humfri and his son Dick (this was before they fell out). Hudson took the trip very seriously and always wore a blue blazer and a white shirt buttoned up to the top. I always told him to unbutton claiming he looked too much like a Belgian fashion designer. That’s how it went. He buttoned up, I made him button down etc. Then we met Brunello who passed his judgement. “Buttoning up in this case is more chic”. Hudson won, I lost.

The food in Umbria is incredible, the landscape so hilly and unusual and part of it reminds me of Iceland but with much better weather and olive trees. My favorite subject of last year was one of Brunello’s tailors, a humble, quiet, elegant man who wore his clothes with enormous dignity.

Many times this year we were happy in Umbria.

The cherry on the cake – 8 is my lucky number

So it’s up to me to finish this account. With a baby boy. He’ll arrive in late June and though he has more to do with this year his roots were planted in the fall of 2015. I have said time and again on this blog that we were done. I have confidently stated that the baby shop was closed for good. It seems it wasn’t and I couldn’t be happier. Four girls in a row would have been wonderful  and even a little funny but I have to admit that a baby boy right now feels right.
It will be the last beautiful chapter in a book that is turning out much longer than I ever expected. It’s also the second time in two years that I’m expecting a child in early summer and a book in late fall. It’s double fantasy. Twice.

I wish you all a happy and exciting new year and thank you once again for coming to my obscure little corner of the world, whether it’s in person or simply by visiting this blog.

Mimi xx


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