many thanks to the cook’s atelier…
Posted in food, france October 28th, 2010 by pia

photograph by Jen Altman

Marjorie Taylor from The Cook’s Atelier has cooked up a delicious storm in the (blog)house kitchen this past month. Today in the kitchen you’ll find her last recipe -a classic apple tart – which completes her autumn menu & her stay here. What a treat it’s been to have Marjorie here this month. I hope you’ve all enjoyed her recipes and incredible photographs. Here for easy reference is her complete autumn menu:

roasted cream of cauliflower soup
rôti de veau
winter market salad
apple tart & pâte sucrée

You can keep in touch with Marjorie by following her blog, and she also has lots of great pics on flickr.  For now though,  please join me in saying a big merci beaucoup to Marjorie for being here. Merci Marjorie! Please come back again, you’re welcome anytime. x

sweet treasures #7+8+9…
Posted in film, france October 7th, 2010 by pia

movie still from les choristes

These past couple of months I’ve been in retreat again, while working toward another deadline for the production of the book – this basically means no weekends or nights out but lots of wonderful “nights in”.  So, it’s now become part of the routine that every few days or so french boy finds us a french movie to watch at home.  Since I know lots of you like the same things as me, I thought you’d appreciate knowing my 3 favourites from the collection thus far. They really are ‘sweet treasures’, in every way.  And I won’t tell you what they are about because I didn’t know until I watched them  – instead, just an image from each film. That, plus while writing this post I asked french boy to email me the french names of the movies, and with that he included his very brief description of each in English to jog my memory – they made me laugh, so I’ve included them here for you too. Enjoy…

sweet treasure #7:

Les enfants du marais. (the swamp story)

sweet treasure #8:

Les choristes (the choir story)

sweet treasure #9:

Une hirondelle a fait le printemps (the girl from Paris gone farmer)


PS Michel Serrault & Gérard Jugnot have since become two of my favourite french actors.

a new guest cook in the (blog)house kitchen…
Posted in (blog)house news, food, france September 29th, 2010 by pia

all images in this post are by photographer Jen Altman

Today and for the month of October,  I’m delighted to welcome a very special guest cook to the (blog)house. But before I introduce you, I want to say a big thank you to Yvette for holding up the fort for so long! She was so self-sufficient –  baking up irish tea brack when the mood & weather struck, serving up rhubarb compote, and sharing some Dutch Fare with us all among so many other delicious recipes over the course of the last few months – beside taking full advantage of her enthusiasm to cook for others, I got very used to her company. Alas, we must say au revoir to my dear friend Yvette for now, and let her enjoy the fruits of her labor with her new cookbook, home made.  Merci Yvette,  for being such a generous, wonderful, fun guest. Until next time!


But with this au revoir comes a warm and heartfelt bonjour! to our new (blog)house kitchen guest.  Would you like to meet her? Not only is this special guest a very talented cook, inspired by markets and small artisan producers, but she also runs cooking classes and market tours, hosts wonderful evenings called “dinner with the cook”, and is committed to living a sustainable life.  When she moved to Burgundy in France, she ditched her car and as she says so eloquently  “took to the proverbial “French bike” adorned with a basket of market produce and flowers as my preferred choice for transportation.”

Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Marjorie Taylor, the cook herself from one my of favourite places, The Cook’s Atelier

Marjorie has prepared a fabulous Autumn menu, just for us here in the (blog)house, each accompanied by beautiful photographs she has taken herself. And during the month of October she will be sharing a recipe or two from the menu each week, starting this week with the entrée. There will be 5 recipes altogether. Marjorie notes,

“this menu is the perfect example of an autumn menu for dinner with the cook, or the type of menu that we would prepare for a market tour and cooking class.  Everything is made from scratch and guests enjoy a convivial dinner at a long, zinc topped French farm table.  Dinner with the cook is like a supper club, only guests help prepare the menu for the evening. ”

How utterly marvelous. Thank you dear Marjorie for taking the time to share these amazing recipes with us, and to give us all a delicious taste of what dinner is like chez vous.

Mes amis, I hope Marjorie’s October-long stay in the (blog)house kitchen will inspire you in your own kitchens. Perhaps her stay will also inspire you to enjoy a weekend in burgundy, dining at The Cook’s Atelier table. Perhaps we could go together.


Click here to view Marjorie’s first recipe, Roasted Cream of Cauliflower Soup.

All images in this post are by photographer Jen Altman.

zine love: the french issue by lee tran lam…
Posted in france, paris, pia's photos June 23rd, 2010 by pia

The world of zines is quite new to me. Sure, I’d heard the term floating around the blogosphere but I never really began grasping the concept until I read about the MCA zine fair via Ebony and Lee Tran Lam, two über creative Sydney-siders (although Ebony has just moved to Tokyo, I can’t wait for her Tokyo blog posts!) who never fail to produce beautiful zines. A few months ago, Lee Tran asked if I would mind contributing to her latest zine and the other day, I received her zine masterpiece. It happened to be a lovely sunny day so I made myself a cup of tea and took her zine out on the front deck of the boat, quietly reading each page…

I’m hear to tell you it is an absolute treat – a piece of art in itself. There are fabulous intimate interviews from French folk and French enthusiasts interspersed by Lee Tran’s personal French experiences as well as clever quotes & beautiful images, illustrations and sticky notes. The amount of work that Lee Tran has put in to producing these handmade zines is evident with each turn of each page. So absorbed I was by the details and conversations that by the time I got to my interview I had completely forgotten about my contribution. What an honour it feels to be a part of it…

Lee Tran sold out of her zines at the recent MCA zine fair but has been busy making another batch for those interested so I highly recommend you get your hands on a copy now before she sells out again. They are only AUS$10 each with shipping (so probably about AUS$15 in total to ship overseas) and you can buy them directly from Lee Tran by emailing her here.

Thank you Lee Tran for thinking of me for this special issue, I’m absolutely wrapped to be featured and I wish you all the best with your upcoming creative endeavours. Also, I can’t wait for our next breakfast date!

4. the (final) scenery & food: taking rest by the loue river…
Posted in food, france, pia's photos October 27th, 2009 by pia


So where were we, oh yes, in the val d’amour, nestled up against the jura mountains in the east of France. It’s a beautiful area, no doubt. And on the last morning there I managed to sneak out of the house alone in the early-ish hours and take a walk through the fields and along  la loue. I imagined French Boy as a boy (even though I call him French Boy he is now, I assure you, a man), running through the fields and throwing pebbles into the bubbling river. Oh to be a child growing up in this magical place! No wonder he is always smiling from the inside out, the nature of this land must dwell deep.


Walking through nature seems like such a gift. It is forever changing, forever evolving – to be a part of it in each precise moment feels sacred and inspiring. I crave it daily and when I do get the chance to be part of it wholly I am quiet. Just listening, just being, and soaking it all in. On this particular morning walking by la loue, the sun was shining bright and even though the air was crisp the sun warmed my face quickly. I could see glimpses of the river through the shoreline trees and I could hear it loud and clear but I couldn’t quite see any way of getting down to it’s pebbly shore.


Until finally I saw a gap in the rocky hill and a slightly precarious but not too difficult makeshift pathway. With lenses and camera hanging lose around my neck I didn’t even hesitate. Down I went, making my way to the clearing and sat myself on the pebbles, the water lapping only centimeters away from me. Bliss.


I sat there for as long as I could, which was only about 10 minutes unfortunately, but oh, those 10 minutes were so lovely. I lay in the sun, feeling the river breeze on my skin and the cold hard pebbles underneath my body. The water was absolutely beautiful. I dipped my hands in and brushed some of the icy water against my eyelids and cheeks. I wanted to stay down there all day.



But it was time to go. So I packed up my gear, said à bientot mon amie! and went on my way. While I was walking past the farms I saw a few friendly characters  that I just had to photograph…


This guy on the left stood like that the whole time I went by him, and only moved his head so that his eyes were always in line with mine. His pose was so funny I couldn’t help but giggle…



Beautiful. After a few deep breaths I felt a little more replenished and ready to get back to our life in Amsterdam. It was a long drive home (about 10 hours) but with my traveling companion by my side, it was alot of fun. Au revoir jura, see you again sometime…


Location: Jura, France

On the menu: crêpe with reblochon, sauteed potatoes, and salad served with Brittany cider in bowls. Followed by a sweet crêpe with chocolate spread. Miam.