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Frenchie and the West Coast

16 Sep

How long after being back home from a lengthy and restful vacation would it be considered normal to still daydream about it?

It’s September. I’ve been back for a month. My eyes and mind are still filled with picture perfect coastal ocean views and pastel colors.

From Vancouver, BC to San Francisco, on the coast, on the road, and going through every temperature and weather combination possible.

Way too many photos to share.

Too many tips and addresses.

So here is a Top 20.

Until next time…

When in Vancouver, BC, do not miss:

  • The Granville Island Market – bright yellow tones, seafood, city views and more food you could ever taste. Special mention to the Sandbar for their oysters.
  • Random finds are usually the best – and this is what happened with exile bistro – an artisan restaurant and cocktail bar. A must try when in the city. I cannot recommend it enough.
  • Stanley Park of course! And rent a bike, it’s a fun way to go around the bay and see everything the park has to offer including the lagoons.
  • Stop and explore Yaletown – warehouses and rail yards converted into living neighborhoods. It will remind you of some of New York City’s industrial yet swanky areas.

If you already know Seattle and are continuing to explore the city:

  • The very unusual Gas Works Park and its old abandoned coal gasification plant provides great views of the city. It also helps that the park is right next to Westward for oysters and other apps overlooking the city and The Whale Wins for dinner.
  • Oddfellows Cafe+Bar for lunch, dinner, or both. Everyday if possible would be nice, thank you!
  • A ferry ride from Anacortes to the San Juan Islands Archipelago – Orcas Island, Lummi Island, Lopez Island. An experience like no other. Evergreen coniferous trees, needle foliage, cones, seafood and water as far as the eye can see. And did I mention lunch at a shellfish farm?
  • Walking in the Queen Anne area of the city and watching the sunset from Kerry Park – magical!


As I left Portland, I thought ‘can we go back soon?’

For a first time in the city and Oregon, experiencing and discovering the food, people, vibe and flavors of the area was a spectacular treat:

  • There aren’t enough bullet points for me to list all the great food places I found, were recommended and discovered along the way. Portland, OR is that kind of city. AviaryMÅURICESalt and StrawPok PokLe PigeonSE Wine Collective just to name a few.
  • Alphabet District and N.W. 23rd Ave – if you are going to visit the Pittock Mansion, make sure to stop in this area on the way back down to the city for some play time.
  • If you are nostalgic about old photo booths and want to hang out in a space like no other, the lobby at the Ace Hotel has one of those booths. Fun times ahead with a cappuccino from the coffee bar next door. Also, do not forget to check out Clyde Common next door for a cocktail and some nibbles.
  • While everyone else focuses on the Multnomah Falls, 10 minutes past the falls is the Oneonta Gorge which requires climbing, crossing treacherous obstacle courses, walking in waist-high waters and feeling extra small at the bottom of a beautiful gorge.

From Oregon to California on the coast.

Green on the left. Blue on the right.

Rock formations, rugged and ragged coastline.

Wild in Oregon.

More commercialized in California.

  • Cannon Beach, OR is a wonder not to be missed. The rocks, the view, the infinite ocean of small waves creating shimmering almost blinding white fluffy cloud-like movements.
  • Alloro Wine Bar in Bandon, OR – a gem found in a haystack by mistake. A must-go if in the area.
  • Ferndale, CA for one of the best preserved Victorian hamlet in the country. It is not a movie set, it is very real and oh-so cute.
  • Mendocino, CA and the Point Arena Lighthouse – a scenery that seems to only exist in picture-perfect postcards and travel books. And if that’s any indication, the Murder, She Wrote house is located in Mendocino even though the show supposedly to take place in Maine. It’s that kind of pretty!

Discovering and rediscovering San Francisco has been a joy in my life.

I am lucky to have one of my best friends there and had many opportunities to visit over and over.

It allowed me to observe the city through different angles and lenses while unearthing new material for inspiration:

  • If you are looking for new views of the city or the Golden Gate Bridge, China Beach and the Ina Coolbrith Park provided new perspectives I had never seen before.
  • A bright blue restaurant front and good food? Yes, at Loló in the Mission. A view like no other on both the bay and the city with wood fired meatballs and moroccan chickpeas? Yes, at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito.
  • Buena Vista Park and colorful Victorian houses on Haight Street.
  • Quirky Bernal Heights neighborhood

Frenchie and Summer Memories

16 Jul

The light is brighter, the air feels lighter, this must be summer.

And a lazy summer spent slouched on a blue couch is ok by me!

Merci Mayà.

It’s the sweet appetizing smell of the ripe apricots waiting in a green bowl on the counter in my kitchen that reminded me how much I love apricot tarts.

And summer is a great time to reminisce and remember.

Like the apricot tart my grandpa used to lovingly prepare for me and my brother when we came to see him either for lunch or after school in his townhouse located three skips away from our school.

I still remember the noises inside this old house. And the smell in the kitchen.

And I know where he used to put away his spices and his sugar, or where his boxes of fragrant teas were lined up.

An apricot tart always waited for us in the summer.

La tarte aux abricots, c’est une tradition !

I suddenly realized the last time I posted a recipe for a summer tart was a very long time ago.

Une très bonne occasion.

A new crust recipe I worked on last month.

Who knew that adding baking powder to your crust could lift it and make it so much lighter? Thanks Fine Cooking for the tip.

And of course, pairing apricots with my favorite summer scent – lavender.

A bit of cuisine de Provence on a plate.

Enjoy! The result is truly unique and one that made trial tarts disappear within seconds into hungry guinea pig mouths.

Happy summer. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Apricot Lavender Tart

makes a 9-inch tart


for the gluten-free crust

½ cup (90 g) white rice flour

⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp (45 g) gluten-free oat flour

½ cup (60 g) tapioca flour

⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp (45 g) of powdered sugar

1½ teaspoon of xantham gum

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers

a pinch of sea salt

1 stick or 8 Tbsp (115 g) butter – chilled and cubed

4-5 Tbsp iced water

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the white rice, oat and tapioca flours with the powdered sugar, xantham gum and baking powder. Add the sea salt and dried lavender and mix well on medium speed with the paddle blade.

Drop the butter cubes in the bowl and work until it becomes crumbly and sandy.

Drop the iced water in the bowl one tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to come together and form a ball.

Flatten the ball, cover and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.


for the vanilla apricot compote

5 oz (140 g) ripe apricots – about 2

2 Tbsp natural cane sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

While the dough is chilling in the fridge, place all the ingredients for the compote together in a small saucepan and cook until thick – about 4-6 minutes. Set aside.


Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C).

Roll out the dough to fill a 9-inch tart pan (22-23 cm). I use some of the tapioca flour to roll it. Line the dough with the pan, press in the corners, and trim it without any overhang.

This crust recipe does not leave much overhang. Leave the crust thick to absorb the apricot juices as much as possible.

Place the dough and tart pan back in the fridge for 30 min.


for the filling

¼ cup (50 g) natural cane sugar

1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers

1 Tbsp almond flour

1.25 lb (565 g) ripe apricots – about 7

Combine the sugar and dried lavender in a small bowl. Work with your fingers to mix it well and rub the lavender with the sugar to release its scent and flavor the sugar. Set aside.

Cut each apricot in half and each half lengthwise in half-moons.

Sprinkle the almond flour on the crust. Spread the vanilla apricot compote on the crust mixing it with the almond flour.

Drop the apricot half-moons on the compote. Arrange them neatly in a circle or drop them randomly. There is beauty in the disorganized random placement of the fruit.

Sprinkle the lavender sugar all over the tart.

Bake for 10 minutes then lower the oven temperature to 375 °F (190 °C) and bake for another 40 minutes.

Let the tart cool for 20 minutes before removing it from the pan.


Frenchie and a BBQ à la Campagne

17 Jun

When you start experiencing the Relish Carolina shindigs and their roaming dinner parties, you just can’t stop.

Sensory overload in the best way possible, they say. And it’s true!

Do you remember this partie de campagne at the farm? I do!

Every year, new themes, new food, new locations and new concepts.

The excitement always builds up as their new seasonal dinner calendar is announced.

This time – a South Carolina BBQ retreat to escape and joyfully spend a Sunday night among old and new friends.

The usual 100-120-seat long table, the same outdoor fairy lights.

The familiar vibe, the regular smiles and warmth of the crowd.

Countless ducks, chickens, fish, hogs, pork.

Fire pits, smoke, ash and enticing smells surrounding guests already busy cocktailing and grazing on the local charcuterie.

And going away from the traditional BYOP (Bring Your Own Plate), this time Le Creuset displayed an elegant and grandiose array of colorful plates, pitchers and cookware.

A perfect summer night.

If you’ve never participated in a Relish event, here is what you need to know:

– buy your tickets ahead of time, they disappear fast

– fast all day and come hungry

– be prepared to socialize, meet new people, and share family style food platters

– as Relish points out – it’s ok to talk to strangers – and you never know who might be seating next to you… your next best friend, a new client, or future husband/wife.

– try everything once, food or drinks, and go back for seconds

– bring bug spray if it’s an outside summer event

– enjoy local ingredients, food, chefs, mixologists and anything crafty Relish might have up its sleeve – and they have a lot of ideas!

– play the game, if there’s a theme, go with it!

– and of course, relax and have fun


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