In search of “perfect happiness”
“Don’t you think Audrey May looks a bit like Marcel Proust?” I asked my husband last week. As he is quite accustomed to nonsense, his own and that of other people, he gave it some thought and then said “Do you mean as you imagine he would have looked like as a baby or simply as we know him, moustache and all?” This of course prompted me to place some of my own hair on Audrey’s upper lip, a trick that always draws a laugh or two in the family.
For me Marcel Proust is linked with something good and admirable. It’s a time that I would have liked to perhaps live in or at least visit. The Proust reference is one I use often. When I am buying plates, when I am describing a room or visit a restaurant. Either Marcel would have liked it or he would not. In school I read his big work “In search of lost time”, which brought me some joy and, at times, some boredom. Years later when I read it again, this time unforced, I loved it unconditionally, this time there was no boredom.
There are things you can’t do without thinking of Marcel Proust. Having a madeleine is one. Funnily enough reading Vanity Fair is another. He is always there, on the last page, presiding over a little questionnaire that bears his name. And not because he wrote the questions. He simply took the test, twice (and since he took in French the questions were probably a little different) It’s the page I always read first in VF, I like the idea of someone revealing themselves through a set of questions. From time to time, out of boredom perhaps, I’ve taken the test myself (though I’ve never written down the answers) but I’ve never really analyzed the questions. The first question is usually about happiness. That in itself isn’t remarkable but the question is actually “What is your idea of PERFECT happiness?”, as if just happiness wasn’t enough. After all these years of reading the Proust questionnaire I finally started thinking about perfect happiness last week. It’s a big question, in fact you have to deconstruct it to answer it. It’s really two questions. What is perfect, what does it mean? And does happiness have to be perfect to be … happiness. Taking it further isn’t just happiness, any happiness something perfect?
Something about the sea
These are real summer days filled with peaches and apricots and barbecues. Us being us they are of course also filled with babies and puppies and gardening and big plans of moving house and promoting a book. Then there is the cooking. Now that the older kids can drive a car they can go on excursions of their own and much as I love it, for some reason, call it tiredness, I had resisted for a while to join them on a beach trip. It’s so pleasant staying behind in big empty house, the breeze coming through the windows, just me and Audrey at home, lounging in a comfortable chair perhaps cutting a few roses and putting them in a vase. I guess I just forgot about the sea. Then one day last week they forced me to come along. My mother-in-law said she’d take care of Audrey. We headed to our secret beach and as soon as I could smell the pines, hear the ocean, I knew I had made the right decision. There is something about that particular time of day, when the temperature is just right, the sun is descending but still shining proud. The hues are golden and everything feels … shall we say, perfect. Watching the kids run around making sand castles (and destroying each other’s sand castles), seeing no one but your own family on a vast beautiful beach. Whether you look left or right, nothing but unspoilt stretches of sand and water. Then your little eight year old boy suddenly stops playing and takes a seat next to you and puts his little hand in yours. And the two of you sit there and gaze at the others as if you were watching a movie.
That’s when the idea of perfect happiness doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Natural selection (via Marcel Proust)
Happiness in our house does of course not really exist without food. That’s where all the threads of our lives lead, these days more than ever. And for some reason we’ve been having a lot of seafood lately. I’m an impulsive eater, with a lot of instant cravings and now that I’m breastfeeding those cravings and pure hunger are more powerful than ever. This time I’m sharing 4 recipes, not a single menu, just meals we’ve had in the past few days. These four dishes happened upon our table in very different ways, let me try to explain how.
My husband loves sardines, he loves them canned, he loves them fresh. Every time we are in a grocery store, he will go for sardines, especially those in beautiful packaging and then he stacks them in our pantry as if he was preparing for a war. As a kid growing up in Iceland it was one of his favorites – aren’t we all the products of the palates of our youth? Last week he came home with many kilos of fresh sardines. So what is a cook to do? I stood by him but since I’m less keen on sardines than he is I added a bit of tomato, some pastry, a hint of lemon zest. It worked beautifully.
The Moules (mussels)
We saw the most attractive moules at the market and it being mussel season we just had to get some. If moules (mussels) are dark blue and beautiful I just can’t resist them. There are of course countless ways to prepare them but again we fell victim to our memories and I cooked them in the most classic way, just like we used to love having them at Les Vapeurs in Trouville, in our Paris days. Food memories again.
As a child I spent summers with my aunt and grandmother in Moissac not far from Toulouse. They were both terrific cooks and loved fresh produce. They were, however, originally from a gorgeous seaside town in France called Sète. Often called the Venice of France, due to its canals and number of Italian immigrants, Sète has a “national dish”, the Tielle. I often had it in my grandmother’s kitchen but lately I had forgotten about it. Then one day last week, we were having fish in spicy tomato sauce and boom it hit me, I had to make a Tielle (Proust again). It was a beautiful experience and a first for me, I especially loved the part of telling my kids that this was their grandmother’s real home town food.
Our large kitchen table is always filled with vegetables and fruits, partly out of necessity for a big, ever cooking family, partly courtesy of my husbands fantasy mind where everything must look like a painting. It’s also a place of “natural selection”, and I mean that literally. The kids have a way of sniffing out the newest, freshest, the best. The rest I try to salvage by putting them in tarts, in cakes, in condiments. But this summer we’ve had a particular problem. Apricots. They were exciting at first, went so well with the cherries of May and June. But in July the clear favorites have been nectarines and peaches. My husband thinks apricots are more beautiful than peaches so he keeps buying both. But the apricots just sit there. Let’s just say we’ve been having a lot of apricot desserts.
ps: This week I am featured in French ELLE, 12 barbecue inspired summer recipes in Medoc. For those of you who can’t get this week’s ELLE, click here.
Tarte aux sardines (Sardine tart)
230 g/ 8 ounces puff pastry
5 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
8 sardines, cleaned & filleted
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Zest of half a lemon
Olive oil, to drizzle
Fleur de sel & freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F
Prepare the pastry base. Place pastry on a parchment-lined baking tray, and cover with another piece of parchment paper. To avoid them to puff up too much, place another baking tray on top (or any rectangle shaped cake tin, grill etc) for 10 minutes. Then remove the parchment paper with the added weight and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Dice the tomatoes. Heat olive oil in a large pan and sauté the sardines fillets on both sides for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked through. Season with salt & pepper.
To assemble the tart, scatter the tomatoes on the pastry, then place the sardines fillets on top (see photo). Drizzle with olive oil, season lightly with salt & pepper and sprinkle with basil leaves. Grate the zest of half a lemon and sprinkle on top. Serve immediately.
Moules à la crème
To be served with French fries & ice-cold beer!
Count 1 kilo/ approx 2 pounds of mussels per person as a main course.
4 kg/ approx 9 pounds mussels, cleaned & scrubbed
700 ml/ 3 cups white wine
A large bunch of parsley, leaves picked
3 shallots, finely sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, halved
1 celery stick with leaves on
1 bouquet garni
350 ml/ 1 & 1/2 cup crème fraîche
A few sprigs of chives, finely chopped
In a very large pot, melt the butter and sauté the shallots, onions and garlic on a medium heat – they should be translucent and soft, not golden. Add the bouquet garni and the white wine. Pour the mussels in the pot, add the celery branch, give it a good stir, cover with a lid and leave to cook for 3 minutes. Lift the lid, give the mussels another good stir and cover again for a minute or two. With the help of a large slotted spoon, transfer the mussels in a large bowl and cover to keep warm. Add the crème fraîche to the pot. Do not boil or the cream will curdle. Return the mussels to the pot, sprinkle with chopped chives and serve immediately with French fries.
The tielle from Sète is a traditional local speciality, brought to Sète by an Italian family from Gaeta in the 18th century. The octopus is the emblem of the village of Sète. The tielle, in other words octopus pie, consists of a very tasty tomato sauce with a dash of chili and tender octopus. The pastry is similar to a bread, very tasty thanks to the tomato & muscat flavors. I serve this with a simple fennel salad (see below). For this recipe, I used a standard tart pan (26cm/10-inches).
750 g/ 1 & 2/3 pounds octopus, cleaned and prepared
420 ml/ 1 & ¾ cup tomato coulis
1 carrot, diced
2 tablespoons tomato concentrate
125 ml/ ½ cup dry white wine
1 large onion, sliced finely
¼ tsp piment d’espelette (or chilli flakes)
2 garlic cloves, sliced finely
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp saffron threads
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
Coarse sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the octopus:
1 celery stick
1 bouquet garni
10 black peppercorns
Coarse sea salt
Add 1 carrot, 1 celery stick, 1 bouquet garni, salt & 10 black peppercorns to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and add the octopus. When the water starts to boil again, cover and lower the heat. Leave to cook for 35 to 45 minutes. Test with a fork to see if the octopus is fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cooled, slice the octopus into small to medium chunks.
In a large skillet pan, sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes in olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced carrot and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the tomato coulis, tomato paste, saffron, paprika, piment d’espelette (or chili flakes) and sugar. Sprinkle with thyme and drizzle with the white wine. Add the octopus, stir so all the ingredients are combined, season with salt and pepper. Cover and leave to cook on a low heat for 45 minutes. The mixture should reduce at least a quarter. Set aside and leave to cool.
For the dough
300 g/ 2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp active yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
60 ml / 1/2 cup tomato sauce
45 ml/3 tablespoons water
1 egg yolk
60 g/ 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 tsp honey
1 tsp salt
45ml/ 3 tablespoons Muscat de Frontignan (alternatively , use another sweet white wine)
Place the yeast in a little bowl and add 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Leave for 5 minutes until mixture is frothy. Gradually incorporate the water, muscat and tomato sauce. Knead gently and add the honey, olive oil and butter. Bring the dough together into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before usage.
Roll out 2 circles. Butter a tart pan and line with the first disc. Brush the edges of the pastry with water. Fill the tart with the filling. Cover with the second disc, pressing on the edges to seal the borders. Brush the pastry with the egg yolk. Transfer the tart to the preheated oven 200°C/400°F and cook for 25-30 minutes.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Slice one large fennel thinly (I use my magimix slicer) and sprinkle with the feathery fennel strands. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
Apricots rôties et crème chantilly pistache(roasted apricots with pistachio cream)
25g/ 1 ½ tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
8 large apricots, halved and pitted
80 g/3 ounces unsalted pistachios, shelled
To serve with
A large handful of pistachios, shelled & coarsely chopped
120 ml/ ½ cup heavy cream, for whipping
Preheat the oven to 210°C/ 425°F
In an oven-proof skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar, vanilla and apricots. Gently stir so the apricots are covered with the mixture, for a few seconds. Transfer to the oven and roast until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Whip the cream and incorporate ¾ of the pistachios. Serve apricots with the whipped cream on the side. Sprinkle the rest of the pistachios on top.
147 thoughts on “The big blue”
Ahhhh, I have been stuck working in Paris for so long that I am literally thirsty for the seaside. I adored this post, as I do all of your posts. Thanks for sharing more stories, and photos, and recipes. I love them all.
Thank you Sheila! I hope you’ll get to the seaside soon. Happy summer, Mimi x
amazing post!!! thank u!!
Merci! Mimi x
Your blogs are a gift! Would you be able to translate your merveilleux au chocolate noir recipe to English?
Thanks so much.
Every summer I’m here in the middle of England and away from the Pacific and every summer I have a little sigh because I miss being beside the ocean. (Mind you, I’m beside the Pacific for most of the rest of the year, so shouldn’t complain). I love the sea and sea foods and especially mussels. Mind you, the summer has been so glorious here in E that the apricots are out of this world. Lovely to see your whole family is together. How long do you have the “big” kids with you this year? Bet the little ones are enjoying their siblings. Oh, when are you moving? Big hugs and hope your sunny summer is glorious.
Bonjour Veronica! I am so happy summer is beautiful in England. Our two boys and their grandmother are there right now for a little trip – I am so happy for them. The kids are having a ball, Audrey is growing into a very cute baby 🙂 We’ll be moving towards the end of summer. Happy summer. Mimi x
Merci, encore merci pour ce témoignage et ces recettes ! psstt ! j’ai acheté ELLE ! très chouette reportage !
i adore sardines, it reminds me of my grandfather. i always imagined that as an adult that i’d have to squirrel away time alone to be able to consume these little fish, that no man liked the stuff. until i met my husband, who on our 3rd date ordered sardines for an appetizer. oh my heart that night!
as always, a pleasure to read your post.
Lovely anecdote Lena 🙂 Wishing you a lovely summer! Mimi x
I love those moments when the surrounding, the smell, the people you are with, your mood and everything else comes together and you realize that this must be really close to perfect happiness. It’s those moments that we have to embrace! Much easier even when we have the right dishes to accompany those feelings! I love the moules recipe! Never knew you had to have them with fries until my semester in Paris. It’s absolutely lovely, even better with ice cold beer. I love this recommendation…
Lovely pictures as always!! 🙂 Have a lovely day.
Bonsoir Tina! Happiness is right here, with my family! And yes, as you said, when you team this feeling with the right food… 🙂 Moules frites is one of our favourite dishes, with or without cream. If ever you get a chance to go to Trouville, you’ll have to try the ones at Les Vapeurs. Have a lovely summer! Mimi x
Lovely as always. So happy you are having a wonderful summer and taking some time to rest!
Bonjour Amber! Thank you! Hope you are also having a lovely summer – here it’s all about family, big tables and raising baby Audrey! Mimi x
Just beautiful, as always. Your family is so vibrant and this beach trip sounded perfect (though from the lovely way you described it, I have to say the idea of staying behind does sound tempting too!) And every one of these dishes is perfection. Thank you so much for sharing (and congratulations on the ELLE feature! So phenomenal!)
Thank you Cynthia! We are such a big family here… there’s so much going on, but I have to say the beach option is always tempting. Everytime I go there I feel completely revitalized, invigorated. It’s perfect! Happy summer, Mimi x
I miss fresh sardines. Very good post. Thanks for sharing.
Merci Rachida! Mimi x
Merci Alex, Mimi x
Une question: je viens de tomber sur une vieille publicite de Chanel pour le parfum Allure et le mannequin vous ressemble beaucoup. Est ce vous par hasard?
Always a pleasure reading your stories and recipes plus looking at the dreamy photos.
Meilleurs voeux! xo
Thank you Mel! Wishing you a lovely summer at the beach! Mimi x
I’ve always thought your blog was very much like a page out of Proust. The idyllic images and all of your loosely connected but very lovely anecdotes.
Love this post, I can’t wait to make the Tielle.
Merci Myriam! My passion for food is fuelled by all the delicious memories I have from the past. Perhaps this is why I love Proust so much. Enjoy the tielle recipe – it’s delicious and very tasty! Mimi x
I am so excited to see the fennel salad, it seems to be an under-utilized vegetable. I always just chop it into Kale salad, but will try it as you have described. Enjoy the rest of your evening,
I love fennel. I always have a few on my kitchen table – they are so healthy and lovely as a salad. The subtle anis taste is refreshing, and I love the crunchiness! Enjoy, Mimi x
Wonderful post! I love the the sea so much 🙂 Luckily I am in France at the moment, so I will pick up the Elle tomorrow.
Enjoy your holiday! Happy summer! Mimi x
Your blog is always such a pleasure to read. The apricot dessert looks delicious. I will have to try it this weekend. Our apricots are gone, I may substitute nectarines or peaches. Thank you!
Bonsoir Lauren! Peaches or nectarines are equally good for this recipe – enjoy! I just love these simple desserts. Mimi x
Magnifique billet tout en douceur..comme toujours~
Merci Monique! Bel été à vous, Mimi x
Thank you dear Mimi for this new post, great recipes ( I was wondering How you would Cook the octopus…) and by sharing so many precious moments. Funny coïncidence: I read Rosa Candida early this july and started again Du côté de chez Swann last week! Really agree with you about Proust and our memories. You are giving your children ( as I am trying to do with mine too) such beautiful memories… With your amazing cooking but not only!
Leaving Gironde tomorrow for a different but still beautiful place, where I will go on cooking… Love duck in BBQ this summer, always use sarments de vigne like you… Bravo pour la parution dans le Elle!
Et bon courage pour le déménagement… Gardez vous votre jolie maison dans les bois?
À bientôt, Cécile xx
Bonsoir! I am into Balzac right now – reading Le Père Goriot – haven’t read it since my teenage years! Nothing like plunging right back into the great classics. Enjoy your trip! Happy holidays to you & your family! Mimi x
Food is happiness for me as well, good food at least. I’ve been thinking about it lately as well. Everyday life goes so fast that sometimes I keep forgetting how beautiful it is. I can see you had a great time on a beach. Enjoy 🙂
Perfectly lovely! Merci, Mimi!
Merci Heidi! Mimi x
Your Tielle recipe and the rest of your blog looks fantastic. What great recipes . Congratulation on your Elle article .
Thank you so much! I was so happy with the feature. Enjoy the tielle recipe – it’s such an authentic dish, a real crowd pleaser! Perfect for this summer 🙂 mimix
Bonsoir Mimi, je vous découvre avec un Bonheur immense…Votre recette d’abricots…je vais la réaliser dès demain et pense faire des heureux! Merci à vous
Bonsoir Violette! Merci et bienvenue au blog. Je vous souhaite un bel été! Mimi x
What a gorgeous beach! I recently revisited a beach in the Aegean and was completely disappointed. It was my childhood favorite place to be and now it’s overrun by a bar, umbrellas and even parking attendants! Next adventure will be a more secluded beach. Enjoy your perfect happiness.
Bonsoir! Sorry to hear about your recent trip… You’ll just have to visit Medoc and I’ll introduce you to our secret beaches Happy summer! 🙂 Mimi x
I always look forward to your posts. This one makes me want to go to the beach with my family and bring along that sardine and tomato tarte for lunch. That would be divine.
Thanks Nina! I hope you will enjoy this simple sardines tart! And the tomato tatin. Happy summer. Mimi x
Just reading your wonderful blog provides a deep joy. Thank you for the immense gift you share with the world.
I am so touched to hear this! Thank you for such a sweet comment 🙂 Enjoy th erecipes Carolyn! Bonnes vacances! Mimi x
Well, I must confess that roasted apricots with pistachio & vanilla cream I had a chance to try in little village Saxon in Valais (Switzerland) because famous for its local orchards (peach, apricot, nectarine). Dessert looked very similar to yours and you reminde me this taste… It could be sweet fetish of this season 🙂 Thank You, Mimi!
Sounds like such a lovely place Elizabeth! There’s nothing better than picking your own fruits and enjoying them! Enjoy the dessert – I just love these simple old-fashioned treats 🙂 Mimi x
I’m counting the days until your cookbook comes out! Can.Not wait.
Oh merci Simone – me too! I just got the news today that I will be doing a “talk” at the American Library of Paris on october 28th – the day of the book launch! So excited 🙂 Mimi x
Ahhaa! Secret beaches, by definition are secret! Yours – just family and dogs – wonderful, and not something I was expecting one could still experience in France. We are very fortunate here on Jervis Bay, Australia, to have many long beaches, sometimes to ourselves. Currently, at 10.30am it’s 18C and more like barbecue weather. Your duck hamburgers are next on my list! More magic words and photos – thank you Mimi, Oddur and family.
Hi Mimi, I’m new to your blog, so fascinated by all the alluring photos of you and your amazing looking homemade dishes! You are such an amazing woman, and your life,mastering so many skills and all upon that you are so beautiful. Im from Guangdong,China, and you said your father is Chinese. Wondering what provoince he is from? Have you been to China? Thank you very much 🙂 Keep being beautiful XXX
Hello! Thanks so much for visiting Manger! I hope you will get a chance to try some recipes 🙂 Yes, my father is Chinese, originally from Shandong province (Qingdao). I have been to China, as a matter of fact I grew up in Hong Kong. Mimi x
Bonsoir Jude! Medoc is filled with beautiful wild beaches – so precious! Am longing for a trip in Australia soon – it’s been far too long 🙂 Enjoy the duck burgers – they are perfect for a barbecue. Mimi x
I just cannot get enough of your writing and gorgeous photos. The recipes are in themselves works of art; thank you for such beautiful inspiration!
Thank you so much Heather – I am so touched 🙂 Mimix
Mimi, Jude from Jervis Bay Australia again. I forgot to enquire of the fete du village. I take it the duck hamburgers are similar to those from the fete. Question – 4C. A soupe de persil? Persil I understand as parsley, but 4C. cups? soupe, pureed?
Hi again! In the end I did not make the duck burgers, but tian tarts (coming up for my next blog post) and peaches & cream meringues. 4 cuillères à soupe is 4 tablespoons of parsey. Enjoy! Mimi x
Thank you Mimi. Cups had a rather large question mark with it!!! Parsley burgers anyone?
Wow, the tielle looks amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that before. It is hard to find fresh octopus in Australia, but would like to try one day. You are so lucky having gorgeous ingredients around you 🙂
Thanks Insun! You can replace octopus with squid if that’s easier for you, or a mixture of seafood. Enjoy the recipe. Best, Mimi x
WOW,is all I can say………..
OCTOPUS, has come up three times now this week in the blogs I read.Carla Coulson did one on a panini with octopus.Cant recall the other, but my husband adores it.You look great………so many fun things happening to YOU!Keep doing what your doing cause it works!XX
Hello Contessa! Happy belated birthday! I wanted to send you my wishes on Instagram as I saw your post (with a red scarf), but somehow my comment could not load. I hope you had the best day with your lovely family. Lots of love, Mimi x
Love the sea, love apricots, and love, love, love this post! Have a wonderful summertime,
with love & hugs, Jade
Happy summer to you too! Mimi x
Lovely post as usual – It is amazing how your words become visions to your readers- you can feel the sand between your toes and the sun on your back at the beach- you can image the smell and the taste of your food. Thank you so much! I look forward to your every post- they just get better and better! Bravo!
Merci Rose Marie – I am truly honored to read such a kind comment! The sea is so inspiring, especially when we are surrounded by such wilderness. Happy summer, Mimi x
A very charming post. Brava!
Merci! Mimi x
Querida Mimi, tus mensajes podrian ser capitulos de un hermoso libro, nos hacen soñar, sentir que la vida se puede vivir siempre intensamente. Tengo muchas ganas de hacer tus recetas. Me ha sorprendido el tielle. Aqui en España la receta mas tipica es el pulpo a la gallega, sencilla , pero realmente deliciosa.Estoy desando tener tu libro, por favor que haya edicion en castellano. Feliz verano.Rosa.
Gracias Rosa! Siempre me inspiro en el mar! Me encanta el pulpo a la gallega – lo que realmente es una de mis recetas favoritas. No sé si el libro será traducido al catalán, pero espero que sí! Les deseo un buen verano. Mimi x
your post is wonderful as always…the scent of summer is in the air. ..have a lovely summertime!
Thank you Bettina! Happy summer, Mimi x
the seaside is wonderful!!http://intelligently-fashionable.blogspot.com
Thank you for reminding me – off to the beach we are!
Mimi every time is a joy reading your posts, really. So many things in this new one… Proust, happiness, life, family and always our beloved food of course. Tielle, I am from a city few km away from Gaeta, so the tielle is such favourite home food too. Apricots are my little 4months old Bianca first food… I am giving her half apricot almost every day. Good start for a baby. Loved the sea text. Feeling the same these days. Continue to have a great summer Mimi!
Thank you Daniela! Lovely to hear you are from Gaeta – it is so interesting to see all the various versions of “tielles”. Happy summer to you & baby Bianca! Mimi x
Hi, a lovely post which took me back to lots of happy family beach holidays on the South coast beaches close to Adelaide in South Australia. Delicious local seafood, wines and fresh yeast buns from the local bakery!
Oh that sounds all very lovely! Wishing you a hapy spring (soon!). Mimi x
HI Mimi, let me tell you about my every day routine: I open mu computer, I check my emails and then I check my favorite blogs to see if there is a new post. I was checking your blog every day and then, yesterday I started to ask myself if everything is fine with you :). I, then, remembered that is is July and holiday in France so I stopped fretting about this. In evening I checked it again and there it was: a new post form you. But I was tired and just read a few lines and decided I spare it till this morning to truly enjoy it with a clear mind. Needless to say I am a huge admirer of Proust and his A la recherche du temps perdu. I make it a habit every summer to read at least one book from this. Thank you so much for your post and of course for the wonderful and really picturesque photos of your husband!
Every morning while drinking my oolong tea, I check your blog for a new post, which really makes my day. Love to read your stories, adventures and amazing recipes. Thank you dearest.
In the summer in Mount lebanon’s summer house, we love to cook and to have relatives and friends over.
We have a great cook who helps in the kitchen, she prepares delicious fried sardines, you will love to try it.
Your sardines recipe looks delicious, on my list.
Best wishes and much love
Bonsoir Rowaida! Wishing you & your family a beautiful summer! Mount Lebanon sounds divine! Enjoy the sardines tart – love to the family! Mimi x
Bonsoir Denisa! Thanks for sharing your daily routine – I am so touched to hear you look forward to a new post, really! Merci for such encouragement! It’s always a pleasure to share 🙂 Next post will be all about St Christoly – and I promise we will post it sooner! Mimi x
hi mimi! I love your blog, the photos and recipes, I would like to be there soon, the father of my grand father was born there. the beach looks like Punta del Este in Uruguay .last year I was in Paris for the first time. greetings from Corrientes, Argentina, south america!
Greetings from Medoc Pedro! Lovely to hear that your family has roots here 🙂 Happy summer, Mimix
I know you won’t, shall I say can’t, tell where the beautiful secret beach is, but oh how I wish! Thanks so much again for the joyful and delicious posting! Having grown up and still living by the sea I know how complelling the smells, food and memories it brings to mind.
Many thanks again!
Ps are the 2 oldest really old enough to drive?!
The beach is about 12 minutes from where we live, hidden far away by a big dune and lots of pine trees 🙂 it’s lovely because only a few neighbors know about it, but somehow we always seem to have the beach to ourselves. Happy summer! Mimi x
ps: Our eldest is 18 and drives around like a pro!
Such a wonderful post…and the photographs are fantastic. It all looks so fabulous it makes me want to paint them!
You have inspired me and I am buying fresh sardines for the first time.
So happy to hear you will buy sardines! They are so delicious – I love having them sautéed in olive oil, a dash of fleur de sel, pepper and some toasted baguette (I always rub a clove of garlic on it for extra taste). Enjoy! Mimi x
I love how you said everything must look like a painting to your husband! I have the same goal in my tiny apartment in Brooklyn. These recipes look delicious especially the apricot recipes, I recently served them with browned butter, they were delicious almost taking on the taste of a peach. I adore how the ocean front is completely empty except for you and your family, very magical!
Bonsoir Alison! We’re lucky to have the beach pretty much to ourselves – Medoc can be so untouched. Enjoy the apricot recipe – happy summer! Mimix
Vous savez sans doute qu’on confectionne des “tiellas” — c’est l’orthographe italienne — en Italie, dans la région de Naples. Les farces sont diverses — “tiella ripiena di scarola, olive, e capere”; “tiella ripiena di polipo, aglio, ed olio”. Voir le livre de Lidia Bastianich, “Lidia’s Italy” (2007), pages 247-251.
J’ai suivi vos “posts” depuis plusieurs mois et je les aime à la folie.
Merci Pat! J’adore Lidia Bastianich, et je cuisine souvent ses recettes quand nous sommes dans le ‘mood’ Italien 🙂 Bel été à vous, Mimix
Rarely do I anticipate a cookbook coming out…..this is the longest pre-order I have ever had to wait! Hurry up!
I too, love sardines, but they are not easy to find fresh here in NJ/NYC area…….so I buy good quality mail order from Brittany. I make a wonderful stew in the winter with them with white beans and canned tomatoes, my husband loves them.
Loving all your photos.
Hi Stacey! Hope you are having a glorious summer! We are one huge family here in the summer, all the kids, friends, aunts, cousins – everyone is dropping by! Audrey is growing fast, she’s getting cuter by the day 🙂 I also can’t wait for the cookbook this fall – it’s going into print this summer 🙂 I want to hold a copy soon! Happy summer, Mimi x
Hello mimi, moi aussi j’attendais avec impatience ton nouveau post et ne suis pas déçue, bien au contraire, toujours gourmande de tes recettes irrésistibles ainsi que des photos sublimes de notre belle plage, on ne s’en lasse pas et il faut bien admettre que nous sommes des privilégiés dans ce si beau médoc. A très bientôt et gros bisous à toute la belle tribu.
Merci Anne-Marie! J’étais heureuse de te voir à St Christoly samedi dernier! C’est vrai, nous sommes très gâtés ici dans le Medoc! A très vite Mimi x
That moment, staring into my own eight year old boy’s eyes… You’re right, it’s just about as close to “perfect happiness” as you can get. 🙂 Lovely post, as always! Makes me homesick for the sea. Enjoy your family, your beach and have a glorious summer!
Hi Rebecca! Hope you are having a glorious summer – what are you up to? Here school starts in September, I assume in America is a bit earlier? Regards to your lovely family, Mimi x
j’adore votre blog et la chaleur qui dégage de vos posts…
Je vous ai laissé déjà plusieurs fois les commentaires concernants les recettes, mais cette fois j’aimerais beaucoup savoir où vous avez acheté la robe marron que vous portez sur les photos! Merci d’avance Mimi!
Merci Marija! Ma robe vient de chez Antik Batik 🙂 Bel été à vous, Mimi x
What a beautiful family you have. I have three young boys and your blog provides much needed respite and escapism when days in the house are long. I love seeing photos of you all sitting together enjoying quality time over food. I was just wondering if you had any advice on feeding young children and encouraging them to eat new things? Do you always offer them the same food you eat?
Hi Alison! Happy summer to you! We feed the same food for everyone – and if one of our kids says no, we make sure they have at least have three bites. But to be honest we are lucky that they eat everything – they are quite enthusiastic about new things! I guess I spend so much time in the kitchen, they are very interested 🙂 Mimi x
What a wonderful post 🙂 It inspired me to dig up Marcel and read him again.
We have been spending quite a bit of time in Normandy this summer, and my favorite dish at Les Vapeurs is actually the tarte normande with that huge heavy pot of fresh cream they pass around!! Heaven!
We can’t wait for your ateliers or chambres d’hote to start… My husband is itching for a reason to visit Bordeaux again! 🙂
Bonnes vacances xx
I love summer in Normandy – it’s so beautiful and charming, and all that cream! Mmmmmm… Les vapeurs is so iconic, I have the best souvenirs of moules frites. And yes, the tarte Normande is simply divine. I bought a huge pot of crème fraîche from an amazing fromager in Nordeaux called Beillevaire ) it was as good as the Normandy cream 🙂 Happy summer and I hope you’ll come here soon. By the way, I will be doing a talk for the launch of my book at the American Library of Paris (rue Camou, 7eme) on October 28th. more details on their site. I hope we’ll meet then! Mimix
What great news! I will most definitely go for the talk, hopefully my book will arrive by then! Counting down! Have a beautiful sunny weekend Mimi, sending you lots of love xx
Another beautiful post, with stunning photography! I confess I was momentarily distracted by your title and a little lost in a Jean-Marc Barr daydream until the apricots brought me back…
Thank you Louise! Enjoy the recipes! Mimi x
Bonjour Mimi! What a beautiful post! Your life truly looks like a dream come true! Happy summer!!! 🙂 xo, Dana
Bonjour Dana – I hope you are having a lovely summer! We are enjoying these beautiful summer days – so grateful to have quiet beaches with hardly anyone around. Bliss! Cheers, Mimix
What memories you evoke for me ! Thank you for taking me back to Les Vapeurs – I can still taste the Moules a la Creme I ate there, and a double cassis sorbet with too much whipped cream, the way it should always be. Still vivid in my tastebud memories after 20 years. Nobody ever talks about Sete – so exciting you mentioned it here. My husband & I were so lucky to be there, and invited to a wonderful dinner at the home of a couple of superb cooks. I still see the tuna steaks grilling in their fireplace, and I remember the spicy tomato sauce served with it. Incredible memories you’ve brought up for me. My husband, like yours, adores sardines – especially fresh, grilled – for dinner, lunch, breakfast, anytime he can get them. That photo of the dune over the sandy beach looks pretty much like the dune my beach cottage sits on. Some things are just universal, I guess. Thanks for such a wonderful post, all the recipes. By the way, must tell you, that long handled black pan and your kitchen knives are as much beautiful photo props as they are beautiful equipment.
Bonjour Linny! So happy to hear you visited Sète – it’s a lovely place, they call it the venice of Languedoc 🙂 My mother’s cousins still live there, so it’s so nice to go back and visit my relatives. My aunt is coming for a visit, she’ll probably cook her version of the tielle. Wishing you a happy summer! Mimi x
Oh Mimi thank you for this wonderful posting. I love it! Summer… the sea, the sea! We’ve just returned from our annual family trip to my stepmother-in-law’s (?) near La Ciutat and I think the water and that blue horizon I only see there is close to my perfect happiness, especially with my little girl enjoying the sea (and my little boy enjoying his own private sea in my tummy!). Thank you for the seafood – it’s all I want at the moment, cannot get enough, crab, prawns, plaice, sea bream (baked a la vasca with salt, garlic, guindilla and vinegar, or chinese style with ginger and soy… yummy!). The mussels recipe looks delicious and like Oddur, I love love love sardines – never tried any other way than grilled with salt and lemon and served with green salad so good to have another recipe to try. My stepmother serves them raw, almost like a ceviche with salt and lemon, very popular with the family but I didn’t try because of my bump and ‘NHS guidelines’ re raw fish. Does Oddur like herring also? Stepmom makes a wonderful cured herring and potato salad that I did try and loved, I’m not sure if that is your cup of tea though! And my mum and I can only eat this type of fish at lunchtime – too heavy for dinner! Sorry to ramble on, I want to try your beautiful recipes and they seem to inspire memories of so many others I love! They should do a Mimi by the sea emission! Ok thanks again – I loved reading this and I greatly enjoyed the Elle feature, my airplane reading by chance.
ps you all look fabulous in these pics – love the frocks on the beach x
That beautiful story about what is happiness for you and good accompanying photos, the set causes reverie. This delicious meal is ideal for these dates and Tielle … can not wait to try it!. A big hug for all fondly.
Reading of your beautiful words always make me feel wonderful. Your posts are always inspiring! You must be a lovely lady!
Looking forward to your next post!
Oh ya, how can I watch your cooking TV series? Is there an online uplaod? Thanks 🙂
Hello! Thank you so much for your kind words. Reharding my TV series, they are shown in Europe on the Canalsat network – I don’t think there are online uploads unless you are subscribed to it. Hopefully there will be a feature soon. Happy summer, Mimi x
Thanks for the channel to watch your cooking series. However, I couldn’t view from Singapore…
But, I have pre-ordered your cook book! Can’t wait to receive it. I believe it is a beautiful cookbook. Can’t wait to try your recipes too 🙂
Have a beautiful day !
I’ve been trying to read your post for a couple of days and now Saturday morning is here !!!
Firstly, Oddur’s seascape photos are just beautiful……really beautiful. Sun bleached beach…….bleached blue skies… sheer bliss.
On happiness. Happiness, when we have that moment and sometimes we have that perfect moment a few times in our lives….. well you’ve identified it. When you think you’re the luckiest person alive. I remember those ‘perfect moments of happiness”, when I was your age with little children…it’s an overwhelming feeling and a feeling that stays in the memory…..forever.
Rosa Candida, what can I say. Mimi, can’t put it down and thank you for recommending. Half way through now and Lobbi has finally reached the monastery. Can you read beauty? You can, cant you. All I can say is Oddur fell on his feet marrying you. You rescued him from an Icelandic diet!!!!
Keep enjoying your beautiful summer as I’m enjoying reading about it. Merci beaucoup
Bonjour Anita! So happy to hear you are reading and enjoying Rosa Candida – I am into Balzac right now, revisiting more great classics such as ‘Le père Goriot’. Am thinking to read ‘L’embellie’ from Audur Olafsdottir after. By the way, have you read Bonjour Tristesse’ from Francoise Sagan? It’s one of my favorite books, however, one of the main themes is sadness. It’s a beautiful book, I also recommend the movie with Deborah Kerr & Jean Seberg. We’re all enjoying the summer, anxiously waiting to move in to our new house soon. Getting lots of preparations ready. Audrey May is growing into an adorable baby, she loves being in the kitchen, hearing the sounds of the pots & pans, smelling the aromas, admiring the flowers by the kitchen sink… Blissful! Bisous, Mimi x
We’ve just driven the length of France (including spending a night in a creepy chateau) to get to the SW coast. Can’t wait for clear skies so we can go to the beach with kids and our dog. I couldn’t think of anything more perfect than making one of your recipes after a day at the beach!
Oh welcome to France Zelda! Enjoy the beach and the recipes – can’t wait to hear about your trip! Mimi x
Thanks, Mimi. We might make your ‘couteaux’ recipe today if there are some at the market. Yum!
Bonjour Mimi, Manger is Life in a Painting, and I never want to stop looking and discovering! Anxiously awaiting A Kitchen in France! Best Regards, Rié
Merci Rié! We also can’t wait for the book! Thank you so much 🙂 Mimi x
this post about perfect happiness felt somehow as a good sermon, I mean it. It left me in a reflective mood, sentences turned in my head for few days and I think I have changed in a good way, I got more courage to look into the days ahead.Thank you for sharing your gift and your insight.
Your Ukrainian “sorrel” friend
Hello, trés triste de ne pas lire de français dans ce blog !
“MANGER” , cuisiner , peindre et autres littératures sont des arts précieux !
PS : peut-être Translator of course ….
Thanks for these mouthwatering recipes ! I’ll try them as soon as i get back home !
Hope you’re having a lovely summer 🙂
Bonjour Miss Hawai! You must be having the time of your life – all teh amazing food & fruits… Lucky you! Mimi x
This is a beauty, Mimi.
Merci chère Nikole! Hope you will come & visit us very soon! Love, Mimi x
I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and always enjoy it. Your husband’s wonderful photographs are so inspiring. I always loved cooking for my family and friends – my four children are grown and gone now – and now have a couple of small restaurants in the south of England, one French, one Spanish. We work hard to produce food on a restaurant scale that’s good and honest as well as pleasingly presented, and are often searching books, the internet and our own food memories for inspiration!
Your tielle recipe reminds me of the Galician empanada, which can be made with a range of fillings, but most often with tuna. I think it’s interesting how many recipes are common across different cultures and adapted to local ingredients.
I am full of awe at your ability to keep writing, cooking and even finding time for reading while feeding and caring for your new baby. Don’t overdo it!
PS there’s a small typo in the conversion of kg/lb in the mussel recipe – 4kg is about 9lbs.
Bonjour Shareen! So lovely to hear from you. Your life in the south of England sounds idyllic – I can just imagine how charming your restaurants must be! And thanks so much for the typo correction – I can get lost in conversions sometimes, and I certainly didn’t see that one – merci 🙂 Have a lovely week, Mimix
This is perfection! I just recreated your moules a la creme in Estonia. Luckily we have some sort of a heat wave right now, so the feeling was very much similar to the one that oozes from your husband’s photos (which I adore, by the way).
I think that your blog shows a glimp of how ‘perfect hapiness’ looks like! That’s why I really love reading and watching it! Always looking forward to the next story and pictures! Also love your recipes, love the authenticity!
Beautiful post, and gives me courage to do calamari!!!
May we see new pictures of the beautiful bambina?
Mimi, you are so cute, I just love your posts!
What a joy to discover this blog ( thanks Home& Garden). Everything is inspiring! Greetings from Portugal.
Mimi, I always look forward to the MP questionnaire at the back, too, and have made up ones for my father and husband including their answers for a fun gift. I cannot wait until your “destination vacation” home is up and running, how exciting. Thank you for sharing your little slice of heaven and perfect happiness with us all.
books. food. love & living.
i’ve not yet read any proust – the shame of it all. you’ve inspired me. thank you.
books, travel, and food are interwoven for me, and i see that it is the same for you.
thank you for sharing
Your husband would love Portugal and especially Algarve’s region (south) in summertime, as grilled sardines seem to be our “national” dish! Your blog is beautifull. Greetings from the algarve!
OH, your blog is absolutely stunning. The photos are gripping and who such a lovely, natural life. Really, this is a treat! Such beauty.
Seeing you holding your hat like this suggests my own madeleine memory (another famous French author): J’ai quinze ans et demi, c’est le passage d’un bac sur le Mecong… I wonder where in my life I lost that particular book, I want to re-read it now.