The Musette: vegan green pie

This is a quick and easy recipe which uses (vegan) pre-prepared filo pastry sheets, plenty of greens and some vegan cheese. Of course, you can also easily make a non-vegan version.

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 150g (2 cups) kale, chopped
  • 200g (3 cups) cooked spinach (I used frozen)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, minced
  • 250g (1 cup) vegan ricotta
  • 2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 100g (3 1/2 oz) vegan feta cheese, crumbled
  • 10 sheets filo (phyllo) pastry, defrosted

Method

1.Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 (375°F/350°F fan).

2. In a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent (approx. 10 minutes).

3. Add the kale and cook until wilted, add salt and pepper and defrosted spinach (eliminate as much liquid as possible) and allow to cool.

4. Mix the salad onions with the ricotta, feta, nutritional yeast, nutmeg and lemon juice. Add to spinach mixture and thoroughly combine.

5. Using a non-stick circular or rectagular baking pan (depending on the size and shape of your sheets of pastry, layer at least six sheets of filo, brush each with a little olive oil. Place a damp cloth over the remaining sheets of filo dough so they don’t dry out.

6. Pour the spinach mixture into the middle of the filo dough in the pan and level. Fold up the hanging edges of the filo sheets, then brush with a little olive oil. Cover with the remaining four sheets, tucking them well into the sides of the pan. brush a little olive oil over the top sheet.

7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature before serving with some salad and my tomato and chilli jam.

8. This will sit happily in the fridge for a couple of days but it rarely hangs around that long.

Sculpture Saturday #27

A giant Tyrannosaurus Rex sculpture sits atop the platform of Compagnie des Bateaux-Mouches by the Seine River in Paris, France. Created by French artist and sculptor Philippe Pasqua, the 4-metre-tall and 7-metre-long structure is composed of 350 molded bones, constructed in the likeness of those discovered in China. The colossal dinosaur skeleton is designed as an accurate depiction of the skeletal assemblage with a silvery finish.

The chromed aluminum figure was commissioned by Charlotte Bruel-Matovic, the daughter of the founder of Bateaux-Mouches, in an effort to support and promote contemporary art along the river. Its size and unexpected placement in the area adds a new and ironic sense of life.

This challenge is kindly hosted by Sally Kelly over at Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition.

Share a photo of a statue or sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Friday Photo Challenge – quiet places

This week Amanda’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge is to share pictures of QUIET PLACES.

According to her, the world can be a stressful place at times. Often there is a need to step back and re-energise our tolerance to stress, pressures and worries.

Certain places in the world can be restorative to our spirit. For me it’s being near water. Aside from the magnificent view from my home (pictured below from this morning), I love views of water – sea, lakes, rivers, ponds! I find it calming and soothing. What about you. Where’s your quiet place?

 

I’m much enjoying these weekly challenges hosted on alternate weeks by either Amanda or Sandy because they force me to think about what’s in my photo archives and how I might re-purpose them.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not join in the fun?

Friendly Friday

One from the vaults: My work here is done!

We’re heading back to September 2015 and a project dear to my heart which occupied much of that year. After I had edited a friend’s book, I (foolishly) offered to collect as many of the riders’ autographs in one copy so that it might be auctionned for lots of money for the writer’s chosen charity. To be honest, if you’re not a cycling fan, and I understand inexplicably some of you aren’t, this may not mean much to you.

Okay, it’s confession time. I’ve spent the better part of this year accosting young scantily clad men and asking them for a favour. No coercion has been necessary, they’ve been willing accomplices. They’ve happily done what I asked because it’s all in a good cause. I am, of course, talking about my project to get signatures from professional riders featured in Book du Tour which will be auctioned for charity on Friday 25 September in Richmond at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The project didn’t get off to the best of starts. I’ve previously written about the delivery problems with the books and the challenges in obtaining the winner Vincenzo Nibali’s signature. I’ve never been an autograph hunter, so I wasn’t sure exactly how I would fare. I was a woman on a mission and, more importantly, I had a plan. I went to the start of every race clutching a list highlighted with the names of my quarry. Lesson number one: it’s easier to collect signatures at the start and not the finish of any race.

The first race of the season on my programme was the Tour of the Med – cancelled.  At the Tropheo Laigueglia riders stay in local hotels, riding to the sign-on and start line. Lesson number two: you have to approach the riders when they’re not on their bikes or you need to be a lot fleeter of foot than me.

There was torrential rain on day one of the Tour du Haut Var. Lesson number three: water and books don’t mix. It has to be dry. Day two I staked out Tommy Voeckler and Cheng Ji. Success  – merely because their team buses were parked next to one another. Lesson number four: don’t be too ambitious. More rain at Paris-Nice meant no more signatures.

At this point in the season I wasn’t worried, I had an ace up my sleeve – the Tour of the Basque Country. It’s a decidedly relaxed event and it’s easy to trap catch the riders at the morning sign-on. It didn’t hurt that I stood next to the two lovely podium girls, Miren and Eiharne, who had kindly offered to help me. Fortunately, there was no need for them to restrain or wrestle any of the riders to the ground. I say fortunately but I dare say the boys might have enjoyed the experience. Lesson number five: enlist the assistance of younger, leggier, beautiful girls or borrow a doe eyed poppet.

Reigning world champion Michal Kwiatkowski
Reigning world champion Michal Kwiatkowski

As a minimum, I wanted to collect the signatures of all the stage winners, jersey holders, top ten overall and the big names such as Alberto Contador and Chris Froome who were sadly DNFs (Did Not Finish due to injury). All but two of the top ten riders feature in the book. Laurens ten Dam managed to avoid Greig’s brush but, like Jose Serpa and his bandito tache, would have been instantly recognisable with his beard. The other MIA (missing in action) was Basque rider Haimer Zubeldia. I remember post-Tour everyone joking about Zubeldia on Twitter. He tends to finish well without anyone noticing. Greig didn’t either but I still collected his signature on the classification page.

The organisers made my job more difficult at the Amstel Gold race by restricting access to the snake-pit to VIP guests while official press, photographers and team PR people were kept to the outer edges. With riders streaming in and out from both sides, catching anybody for a signature was fraught. However, once they’d lined up for the start it was a much easier task and I collected signatures from stage winners (Ramunas Navardaskus) and contenders (Alejandro Valverde) alike. Lesson number six: stay flexible, be prepared to change tactics.

Seven times a grand tour winner: Alberto Contador's signature
Seven times a grand tour winner: Alberto Contador’s signature

La Grande Partenza of the Giro d’Italia held just up the road from me in San Remo offered more opportunities. I hung around at team hotels and press conferences, securing Alberto Contador‘s signature in the hotel garden. I struck out at the team presentation and on stage one. Lesson number seven: don’t bother trying to collect signatures on the opening stage of a grand tour, the riders are too keyed up.

Chris Froome signed this page with a wry smile
Chris Froome signed this page with a wry smile

A day in the Alps for the Criterium du Dauphine landed a couple of big fish namely Romain Bardet and Chris Froome. Riders of their stature tend to stay in the team bus until the very last moment. Lesson number eight: stake out their bikes and don’t move until they appear.

Next up, the big one, the Tour de France. Getting signatures at the press conferences was much more problematical. Some teams held them in their hotels, others came to the press centre but not always with the entire team. Undeterred I managed to catch a few less in demand riders. In fact, one or two of them looked positively relieved that someone wanted  to talk with them. I kept my powder dry until stages two and three, (see lesson seven). Again, patience paid dividends. On later stages I managed to get the autographs of stage winners Mick Rogers and Alexander Kristoff plus a whole parcel of riders who feature in the book such as Jack Bauer and Luis Angel Mate.

Peter Sagan left his mark too
Peter Sagan left his mark too

A few days back up in the Alps yielded Peter Sagan, a clutch of Europcar and Lotto-Soudal riders, but Mark Cavendish proved elusive. Ironically, he’s one of the few riders whose signature I’d previously secured on two separate occasions for friends. Just not this time. At the Clasica San Sebastian I successfully tracked down stage winner Blel Kadri.

It's Spartacus aka Fabial Cancellara
It’s Spartacus aka Fabian Cancellara

On to my last throw of the dice, the Vuelta a Espana. After failing to collect any signatures at the team presentations of the other two grand tours, I left the book behind for the Vuelta’s. Rookie mistake and lesson number nine: never make assumptions and always have your book with you. The teams were all relaxing in the nearby hotel and I could have collected autographs agogo. I skipped the opening team time-trial, but scored in subsequent stages securing signatures from Fabian Cancellara, Niki Terpstra and Mr Combativity, Alessandro de Marchi, to name but a few.

I have secured the signatures of around 70 riders. My job is complete – well almost. Alas, my path has not crossed that of four-time stage winner Marcel Kittel, whose autograph I secured for a friend at the 2014 Tour de France. Nor have I managed to get signatures from any of the fabulous women riders in La Course. However, there’s a couple of days before the book is auctioned on Friday 25 September so I’ll be on the look out beforehand. And that’s lesson number ten: never give up.

 

Thursday doors #86

Okay, let’s head back to doors from some of our other Vieilles Villes. The next few weeks will feature those from Biot.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Revisit Fondation Maeght: Jacques Monory

There’s nothing I enjoy more than wandering around an empty museum or gallery, particularly to see an exhibition of an artist with whom I am not familiar. So, after a fine Sunday lunch at quite possibly my favourite restaurant, I popped into the nearby Fondation Maeght to check out their exhibition of Jacques Monory.

Now, I had to do some research on the relatively recently deceased Monsieur Monory (1924-2018) who was a fully paid-up Narrative Figuration (Pop Art) painter. The enigmatic scenes that he painted and juxtaposed form the haunted diary of a painter who regularly questioned the world’s reality. The shade of blue he used made him famous and his signature Monory blue is now a specific colour produced by Marin Beaux-Arts.

Monory’s work was first shown to the public when he was 40 in 1964. The artist was a contributor to the Mythologies quotidiennes exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (Paris). The exhibition marked the birth of a new French artistic movement, Narrative Figuration, in which Monory was one of its most active members.

In 1968, a first series of paintings revealed the singularity of his talent. It was a series of ‘Murder’ paintings, reflecting an obsession with death and a passion for the underworld. The early major works from this ensemble are the most sought after by collectors.

Monory was passionately interested in the spectacular world, with its fictions and its incessant flow of lurid news. His romanesque world was largely composed of existing images and photos he took himself, after having worked for 10 years with Robert Delpire, a publisher specialising in photography. With his keen eye, he amassed a whole repertoire of images, particularly during his travels in the United States.

Monory’s paintings have that frozen-action look… fictions on canvas inspired by Hollywood films, comics and noir fiction. The artist developed an iconography with acknowledged references, similar to the principal players in the Pop Art movement at the same time, but in another vein. His work was a reflection of his era and its major influences, of interest in everyday life and its flow of images, but also a reaction against the Abstract art (which Monory himself tried in his early days before destroying his works) that dominated the art scene in the 1950s and 60s. The artist’s favourite themes also reflect an acute awareness of the world’s violence.

The painter questions himself and he questions us: how do we live in a violent, unreasonable, illogical, surprising and often fake world? This exhibition pays homage to Monory and his work where the scenes he depicts appear to be “narrative” and the composition is said to be “cinematographic.“

The paintings, drawn from photographs, form a collage. The artist explains how and why he manipulates images:

The principle is to take two images, to put them together and to mentally create a third.

I am not seeking painting for the sake of painting, or painting that wants to become crazy about photographic realism. I think that it’s the interaction that interests me.

He elaborates that his use of the colour blue:

When I paint in blue, I enjoy it. It’s blue, it takes me away from what I’m doing. It’s like covering myself in a blue veil. Behind the blue window, a massacre is taking place, and I’m bulletproof. For me, blue is not the colour of fear. It’s the colour of dreams.

All the works in the exhibition are based on photographs taken by the artist though he never considered himself one as such and it was only late in his career, and somewhat reluctantly, that he agreed to an exhibition and a book of his photographs in 2011. He used photography almost instinctively and saw himself more as a painter-filmmaker with a strong penchant for producing situations.

It was a thought provoking exhibition but I’m still undecided as to whether i’d hang one of his works on my living room wall – always the acid test.

 

French Riviera: Must See Places

Most of us can only dream about where we’d like to visit next however I would encourage you to do more than just dream. Plan and prepare for when we can all travel again. I’m conscious that many of you only have a few days to spare for my part of the world, so where would I encourage first-time visitors to the French Riviera to go?

These places are in no particular order and can all be easily reached using public transport – train, tram bus.

Nice

Obviously I would have to say start with Nice, an all year round destination, about which I have already written one or two (slight understatement) posts. It overlooks the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. Start with a climb up (or take the small train) to La Colline du Château (Castle Hill) to see what I’m talking about. Once you get to the top, you’ll have panoramic views of the Baie des Anges, the Old Town, Promenade des Anglais and the city’s varied and vibrant architecture. And while a few crumbling walls are all that remain of the namesake castle on the hill, there is a verdant park that’s perfect for an al fresco picnic lunch.

Any sightseeing should include a trip to Nice’s colorful Vieille Ville, or Old Town, which is a delightful maze of narrow streets full of lively restaurants, galleries and shops. There are cafés dotted all around the Old Town’s many squares, so take the opportunity to sit down, coffee (or rosé) in hand, and people-watch the day away. For a more active visit, spend some time strolling along the Promenade du Paillon, the city’s public park and botanical garden that links the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art with the Promenade des Anglais.

Menton

The town of Menton has all the beauty of the better-known coastal villages, but a fraction of the crowds. Its half-dozen beaches are all but empty in the off-season, and boutique-filled alleyways are relatively tourist-free. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, exceptional gardens, and quality Italian cuisine due to its position on the Franco-Italian border, it’s an ideal spot for a day trip. (For an unparalleled Provençal gastronomic experience, however, head to Mirazur, chef Mauro Colagreco’s triple Michelin-starred spot that earned the number one title in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2019.) In February, the town holds a magnificent Lemon Festival, a celebration of spring and a throwback to the town’s past, when it survived principally on citrus production.

Antibes-Juan les Pins

Beyond the megayacht boat porn and picture-perfect beaches, Antibes is a draw for its literary and artistic history. It was at the Villa Saint Louis (now the popular Hotel Belles-Rives) in Juan-les-Pins that F. Scott Fitzgerald took up summer residence with wife Zelda and his daughter Scottie in 1926 and began his work on Tender is the Night. The enclosed mansions and dramatic villas lining the shore that once fascinated Fitzgerald are still very much a part of the landscape, but there’s local charm to be found, too. Stroll around old Antibes, through the Cours Masséna, a Provençal food market, and up to the Musée Picasso, the first museum dedicated to the artist. Formerly the Château Grimaldi, the stronghold was Picasso’s home and workshop in 1946 and remains one of the commanding cultural draws of the resort town.

Cannes

Long before it was synonymous with the International Film Festival and earned its reputation as a playground for the world’s dizzyingly well-heeled, Cannes was a shimmering, seaside destination made for resting and people-watching  – something that still remains true. But it also offers extraordinary views and culture. Climb the winding staircases and pass the pastel-coated homes in Le Suquet, the city’s old quarter, and you’ll end up at the Musée de la Castre, a home for ethnographic art in a medieval fortress overlooking the marina and the Croisette. For restorative beaches and landscapes free of crowds, take a 15-minute ferry ride to two of the Lérins islands off the coast: Ile St. Honorat, known for its working monastery and forest groves, and Ile Ste-Marguerite, the spot for hidden coves and beaches.

Eze

Nestled into craggy cliffs high above the sea, the medieval village of Eze is a delightful step back in time. The well-preserved stone buildings, winding alleyways, 14th-century chapels and dramatic Mediterranean backdrop make this tiny village seem like a movie set. The dramatic views are best earned by taking one of the many hiking trails, like the famous Nietzsche path, that connect the the town and the summit, which sits over 150 metres (1,400 feet) above sea level. At the top, is the town’s medieval fortress, which you may recognize from Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, surrounded by the Jardin Exotique, a desert garden brimming with succulents and exotic florals.

Grasse

Grasse (visit write-up coming soon) is a quiet, pretty medieval village that also holds the distinction of being the world’s perfume capital. While famous perfumeries like Fragonard offer free tours of their factories, the real reason to come here is to take in the near-endless fields of flowers that dominate the area’s hilly landscape. Come August, the town plays host to the Jasmine Festival, a three-day celebration of jasmine, one of the two flowers to have dominated local perfume production (the other is Damascus rose). Grasse is conveniently located between Cannes and Nice, so a quick stop here is worth your while, if only to smell the flowers.

Monaco

Bordered by France on three sides, the petite principality of Monaco is a bastion of glitz and glamour. While it’s typically known as a playground for the ultra rich, those short on cash can still enjoy themselves. Its easy enough to walk around to view stately sights like the Prince’s Palace, Fort Antoine and Monaco Cathedral. Don’t forget to take some time to observe the luxurious yachts in the harbour (or, even better, make friends with someone who owns one), and wrap up your trip with a spin at the Monte Carlo casino.

I hope I’ve provided you with some inspiration for your next trip to my part of the world.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #59

Again, these photos were taken while I was out and about, nowhere in particular.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your helpful feedback and kind comments on these posts – most encouraging.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday Challenge was hosted by Irene a formidable photographer who encouraged us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It was a one day challenge without prompts which I have continued to pursue. Feel free to join in and brighten everyone’s Monday.

Liebster Award XVIII – XX

Once again I’ve bundled three of these awards together as I find it’s the best way of responding. Now, that sounds a bit boastful. It’s not. It’s only because I respond that I receive these nominations. Of course, it would be nice to think that it’s down to my well-crafted posts with their wonderful prose and fabulous photos but let’s not kid ourselves! I do them because it encourages more interaction among bloggers, particularly newbies. Plus, you know, they’re fun to do!

This time round I was most kindly nominated by three wonderful and quite different bloggers:  The Real Aktion, Stefania at  TYT and, QueridaJ over at The Indigo Show.  Please take the time to drop by their sites, check out their interesting content and give them a follow.

Nominees

Are you a relatively new blogger? If so, please consider yourself nominated. Go ahead and tell us more about yourself and answer whichever of the many questions below take your fancy!

11 Facts about me

Another reason for combining these awards, I’m fast running out of things to tell you! At this stage, I must be an open book. Apologies in advance for any repetitions.

1. I’ve regarded the pandemic as a rehearsal for life with my beloved in retirement. Fortunately, I think I’m going to be able to manage – just.

2. Travel restrictions during the pandemic have allowed us to fall in love, all over again, with where we live. We’ve tried to have days or half-days out most weeks visiting nearby towns as part of our staycation.

3. Being at home so much has allowed me to develop our terrace garden and do much more cooking.

4. While we’ve not been able to watch any live sport we’ve more recently much enjoyed watching football, cycling and MotoGP on the television.

5. My beloved and I usually work at a large partners’ desk in the office but, because of all his Zoom calls, he’s been banished to the desk in the lounge. I’m much enjoying having the office to myself and this situation could well continue long-term.

6. We’ve introduced Friday Musical Evenings where, thanks to my beloved’s subscription to Apple Music, we’ve been exploring the catalogues of our favourite artists and discovering some new ones. We’ve not had any complaints from the neighbours so they too must enjoy our musical choices.

7. We’re currently considering what will be our first overnight stay in a hotel since you-know-what. Of course, it’s in France and one we’ve stayed in before.

8. We’ve tried to regularly support our favourite restaurants because we don’t want them to disappear.

9. Our picnic set has been pressed into more use this year than ever before.

10. Lockdown has reminded me to more greatly appreciate what I’ve got rather than what I haven’t.

11. Our long, hot summer has continued well into September.

Aktion’s Questions

1.What is a really cool place you would like to travel to?

Most of the places I want to visit are ones I’ve already visited. However, recent documentary programmes on India, Cambodia and Vietnam have put them all onto the list though whether we’ll ever get there is a moot point.

2. What kind of music do you like?

I like all sorts of music.

3. What would you do with US$8 Million Dollars?

That’s a very specific amount. I’d look at ways I could give it to people whose need is far greater than mine.

4. Do you play video games?

No, I have never played a single video game. Life’s too short to spend it sitting down, indoors.

5. What, in your personal view, is the top Movie of 2020 so far?

I’ve seen so few movies this year that I’d have to go for Toy Story IV which is probably from last year.

6. How many languages do you know and can speak?

I speak English, French, German, Italian and Spanish but can get by in a few others.

7. Do you like to cook?

I love to cook!

8. What would be an ideal job you would look forward to doing everyday?

Looking after my beloved hubby has turned into a full-time role!

9. Which would you desire most: Supercar? Or Super Fast Motorbike?

Neither! You’re talking to a woman who drives a Smart car and does more kilometres on her bike than in her car.

10. Would you choose Pringles or Tortillas?

Again, neither unless the latter is home-made.

11. What ability would you like most: to breathe underwater, or, to be unaffected by heat?

I’m generally able to withstand heat pretty well but maybe I need to up my game with global warming.

Stefania’s Questions

1.What’s your name?

It’s Sheree. I thought this an odd question until I gave it some thought then realised so many bloggers don’t put their names on their blog.

2. Do you like your name?

Yes, I do. I was teased about it as a child but it never bothered me.

3. Where do you live?

I’m very fortunate to live in the south of France.

4. How long have you been writing the blog?

Too long!

5. Did you practise any sports?

I did play lots of sport and continue to do a few, such as cycling and cross-country skiing.

6. Who’s your favourite actor?

I find favourites difficult but here’s a few: Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, John Malkovich, Tim Robbins

7. What’s the strangest thing you’ve done?

I spent quite sometime thinking about this and even asked my beloved. We couldn’t come up with anything!

8. What would you eliminate from this year?

Racism and not just from this year, for ever.

9. What are you afraid of?

In truth, very little

10. What is your best quality?

My relentless positivity

11. What would you like to change in your behaviour?

I’ve reached that time in my life where I’m perfectly happy with the way I am

12. What animal would you like to be?

See my answer above!

Querida J’s Questions

1.If you could travel to a destination you have never been before, what would it be?

See my answer to 1. above in the first set of questions.

2. What is one dish you love to eat but can’t be bothered to cook?

I love cooking so there’s nothing I wouldn’t cook.

3. What is your favourite/often used phrase?

Tout à fait (absolutely)

4. Who was your favourite teacher and why?

It was so long ago and I don’t recall having any favourites.

5. Share a scenic photo/landscape artwork (one you have taken/created or one you have seen on the net) that made you feel happy, thoughtful or amazed.

This is the view from my balcony of which I never tire.

Award Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you, and give a link to the blog
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you
  • Share 11 facts about yourself
  • Nominate between 5-11 other bloggers.
  • Ask your nominees 11 questions
  • Notify your nominees once you’ve uploaded your post

Congratulations, you’ve (finally) reached the end! Sorry it was such a marathon! Please reward yourself in some way. Hope you had a great week-end. Sx