faire d'une pierre deux coups

mauvaise herbe

"Chief Grape". Meet Jean-Marc in DC this coming March 8th for a tasting of his wines or later in many other US cities

mauvaise herbe (moh vayz airb)

    : weed

arracher les mauvaises herbes = to pull weeds

Audio file: (check back later... will update the site this afternoon!)

 A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The sun is shining, cutting through the haze that hovers over the field of vines just outside my office window. I've opened the fenêtre to let in some air and, with it, some sounds from the parcel just below. More than to birdsong I am treated to the enchanting chitter-chatter of the vineworkers from a neighboring farm. I hope our own workers will be as jovial this morning.... 

The sun's rays are now hitting my back, warming it completely. It feels almost like le printemps.... Earlier, as I drove Jackie to school, I noticed the amandiers were in bloom, their white blossoms adding a floral pop! to the still hibernating countryside. 

While some, like the almond trees, are coming to life, others are being read their last rites! It's going to be a mean morning for les mauvaises herbes! But justice must be done! After all, they are choking our baby vines! (As many of you know, Chief Grape is lenient on weeds: he'd rather keep them and let the mature vines struggle for water, and, in so doing, strengthen. The alternative (herbicide) is not an option for this gentle farmer. But things are different for the baby vines, which are too weak to hold their own against the weeds. Therefore, this morning certain weeds are meeting defeat!).

Two 'executioners' arrived last night from Belgium, friends of Chief Grape who are already out working in the vineyard. I imagine their feet are sinking into the cold, wet earth. If I squint my eyes, I can just see the men at the end of the field, hunched over one of the knee-high voleurs d'eau, or water thieves. With gloved hands they tug at the thorny weed....

I guess about now--almost two hours into the torturous task of weeding--the men, c-à-d "Erik" and "Olivier", are wondering about the charm of Southern France, wondering what particular spell it had over them, wondering, after all, what Provence has on Brussels (???) -- where the din of city life is beginning to sing to them, chanting melodiously as are the birds in the vineyard trees and the other worker 'bees' who chitchat and work with longtime expertise.

Le Coin Commentaires
Corrections, questions, commentary, and stories of your own are most welcome here in the community corner. P.S.: today I'm making chicken thighs & rice & Provençal tomatoes, salad... but I'll need help with tomorrow's lunch: does anyone have a good (fast, easy!) recipe for pork tenderloin or le filet mignon de porc? We'll have a stomach-smashing gratin dauphinois to go along with it! Please put the recipe or tips in the comments box!


Desherbant I hope you'll have a moment to read this story about an exotic "herb" I found growing in a nearby vineyard... It includes a very embarrasing garden moment! Click here to see it.


 VIDEO: and do not miss this video of Jean-Marc planting his beloved baby vines. The footage always brings tears to my eyes!

French Vocabulary

la fenêtre = window

le printemps = spring, springtime

l'amandier (m) = almond tree

la mauvaise herbe = weed

le voleur d'eau = water thief

c-à-d = c'est-à-dire

Coquilles, etc... ("Typos etcetera")

gagant-gagnant (and not gagné-gagné)

Thank you, Jacqueline, for the gagnant-gagnant correction (from the previous "two hits with one stone" edition). And mille mercis to Newforest, who followed up on Jacqueline's comment. Newforest writes:

---> About the 'win-win' situation: yes, it is indeed "gagnant-gagnant" (from the verb "gagner" = to win)

---> On the other hand, in a 'no-win' situation / 'lose-lose' situation, there are choices, but, unfortunately, there is no benefit and no way of getting anything that works out. This situation, is "perdant-perdant" (from the verb "perdre" = to lose).

---> There is another expression formed in the same way - it is: "donnant-donnant" (from the verb "donner" = to give. This is a 'give-and-take' situation with mutual concessions, compromises and agreements.

jet lag et compagnie...

Newforest added a few vital words to my "décalage horaire" - jet lag translation:

I think "jet lag" should be translated in French by
--> "le syndrome du décalage horaire"

to suffer from jet lag
= souffrir du décalage horaire.
"Je souffre du décalage horaire"/ "je supporte mal le décalage horaire".

A short bio on Newforest, written by fellow comments box buddy "Candy in SW KS"
"Newforest always regales us with great vocab lessons which are informative and fun. "


Mille mercis to those of you who share... in le Coin Commentaires. Don't miss this cozy commmunity corner, which comes to life after the edition goes out. 

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Mike Hardcastle

Hi Kristin,

Glad to see you back with another thought provoking piece. I'm looking out at my garden from my desk and watching les mauvaises herbes se réveillent aussi. Unfortunately I do not have two Belgian helpers so I must get down to it myself and as la météo a promis de soleil pour cet apres-midi I will get down to cutting my grass. and then weed, and then there are the hedges. I only have 4000 square metres (about and acre?) and the work is mostly mowing, hedging and tree maintenance, so it's not too demanding although I do have about 300 metres of high hedges.

We are not as advanced in la Vendée as you are in Provence so no blossom yet but it is 15 C outside so it won't be long.

I've decided to go back to school (distance learning with my alma mater) and study French formally because most of my language learning thus far has been, 'on the street' as it were, and although I communicate quite well, I don't like searching for the word (although sometimes I do that in English too). Ma voisine thinks that at 73 I am quite mad but ma petite amie who is bilingual is supportive of the idea so it's no contest.

Great blog about l'assassiner plusieurs oiseaux quelques jours auparavant, je n'avais pas le temps de répondre.

Very best wishes,


Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Maybe you should get some goats so they can eat the weeds around the baby vines! I remember your "Round-Up" story!
We used to live in Brussels and I miss it!
Have a great weekend!

Linda Hollander

Dear Kristin:
This is my first comment to your wonderful blog, but I thought you might like to know that, this winter, American chefs are "braise crazy"! So, I think a good, fast and easy way to do your pork tenderloin is to braise it. Here's how I do mine:

Brown the pork loin in olive oil.

Put the loin on a plate and drain off excess fat from the pan, if there is any.

Put in the bottom of the pan: onion, celery, carrot (cut up into big pieces), and as much garlic as you can stand...two bulbs is not too much for me, but...just cut off the top of the garlic and make sure the roots are clean and throw it in there. Put the loin on top of the vegetables.

Strew some herbs, whatever you have. Use fresh or dry...I personally like quite a lot of fresh rosemary (two goodly sprigs should do it) AND tarragon AND dill...a good sprig of each. OR alternatively, you could go with a good handful of herbes de Provence and never regret it!

Now, pour in some HOT broth, OR nice stock if you have some (you're in France, after all) OR neige, or even just water, AND some white wine...I don't know the size of the loin, if it's boneless or what, but you are aiming for about 1/3 up the side. I assume you'll use wine, proportions should be about 75/25 stock to wine. Maybe you'd use 1 - 1 1/2 cups...just mix the broth and wine together and heat it first.

Now, put it in a preheated (this is important) oven at whatever is the French equivalent of 300 - 325 degrees and let it rip for about a hour. Start checking at about 40 minutes. In America, the loin is VERY lean, each one weighs less than two pounds and cooks very quickly. If you have a bigger loin or it's on the bone this is going to take longer, but you can test for donenes with a knife. If you see pink juice, you're good to go, but if you see red blood, keep cooking!

IF you braise the pork in the oven, put in a plate of almonds to toast for about ten minutes, then take them out when they are fragrant and brown.

BUT --- You can also do the braise on top of the stove, keep the liquid at a "shimmer"...just a few bubbles around the edge.

Now, here is my favorite part: At the end, I add some split olives (I love plain old green as well), but use what you love, AND the toasted almonds. For two pork loins I would use about 1/2 - 3/4 cup each of almonds and olives.

That's it, it could NOT be easier!

Bon appetit, I wish I could be there with you because I LOVE, LERVE, LOAVE potato dauphinoise, and now I think I have to make it for dinner (usually I restrict myself to once or twice a year because I am a shameles pig, especially for the crusty bits leftover in the pan!)

Let me know if you do this, I'm interested, becuase it is an unusual flavor.


Paul Heffron

Hi Kristin,

Speaking of goats I've wondered what a native French speaker thinks when he or she hears the word "Chevrolet". Is it goatmobile?


Suzanne, Monroe Twp., NJ

Kristin your post comes at the perfect time. We are experiencing mid-60 degree weather here in Central New Jersey in mid-February. It makes me anxious to get out and survey snow damage to trees and shrubs, check to see if tulips and crocuses are poking through the soil, breathe in the promise of spring. But the snow is still melting and the ground is sodden. For now I will need to close my eyes and think of your Belgian helpers and imagine the view across the vines to Les Dentelles.


Hi Kristin. I love the baby vine planting video. A favorite song as well.

I see Linda has taken care of you (& very well, too) w/great recipe but I'll just pop in the cooks.com link here for a quick roast w/potatoes & herbs in case you want to have 2 recipes. I like to pop in olives as well. http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1638,148177-244197,00.html



Kristin Espinasse

Mike, wish I could send Olivier and Eric your way (but, between you and me, theyre pooped! I learned at lunchtime that they are only one-sixth of the way through the chore... more work than he thought, Chief Grape...) Good to read about your French class -- enjoy!

Eileen - oh gosh, goats! Dont tempt me (Im sure Chief Grape would wonder about the goats eating his vine babies!) Thanks for remembering the round up story :-)

Linda - so happy that you commented and I am delighted by your au pif recipe. This is the kind that I can best relate to (the measurements are relaxed and un-intimidating). Now to round up the ingredients for these boneless and lean filets. I think they total one kilo...

Paul - I will never look at a Chevy the same way :-)

Suzanne - enjoy the milder weather and the crocus hunting. JM informs me that some flowers pushed up near our mailbox. Howd I miss those? They must have broken through in the last hour...

Susan - glad to have the cooks.com recette. Ill check it out and mix up the two until the easiest happens! Glad we have some green olives on hand. Now to pit them!


Hello Kristin,

It takes some efforts to pull weeds. You might get away using only one "R" but, if you are in France and want to do a good job, you need to be armed with "deux R" (double R).

Here, in Dorset, the hard frosts and very cold weather this winter burnt the top leaves of some of our evergreen shrubs. I'll wait till after Easter to go round with my secators, as we may still get hard frosts till the beginning of April. However, the temperatures below zero (C) didn't manage to kill all the weeds in the garden and we've got some spreading green patches here and there. It's often much too cold to "désherber", so, I am going to "aRRacher les mauvaises herbes" when it gets warmer. No harm (I don't have baby vines!).

The trouble is that, when the sky is blue and the sun trying its best (rare treats) I feel like going out for a walk, or taking pictures of the flowers we've got at the moment in our front and back garden. I'll share them with you:
In the front garden, we have "des crocus mauves", "des perce-neige blancs" (= white snow drops), "des "sarcococca parfumés" (= scented sarcococcas), des primevères (= primroses)...
The yellow hamamelis flowers look a bit tired and have gone brown. Their energy seem to have been passed on to the leaf buds that have began to swell (don't ask this dainty shrub to do two things at the same time). The pink flowers of our Vibernum B. 'Dawn' follow the same principles, but the new leaves will have to wait for quite a while, as the flower display is going on and on and on. Their evergreen cousin (Viburnum Tinus) is full of little bunches of creamy flowers covering most of the dark shiny leaves.
If you are curious and want to know whether we have anything in bloom in the back garden, I'll let you know that, on one side of the lawn, the very early daffodils are a joyful sight, proudly blowing their brand new trumpets. Their name? "Spring dawn"- that says everything! All the other daffodils are showing a few centimetres of dark green stems against the lighter green grass. There must be signs of weeds in various places but nothing invasive or harmful.

Bye for now,
going to finish knitting a new pair of wrist warmers in Sirdar wool -> Sirdar Click Chunky "Woodland".

Leslie in Massachusetts

To Mike, I want to say that I think it's an excellent idea! I hope to do the same thing after I retire, go back to school for a masters in French. Can I ask about your alma mater's distance program? Does it offer a masters degree? Or maybe I would be content with undergrad courses, and just take everything they would let me. The degree is not too important, just the chance to improve my French and read lots of French literature. Also, I'm looking for a program which is not too expensive. Merci d'avance !


Ooooh! Le gratin Dauphinois! Miam, Miam, Miam...
Thank you for the idea Kristin!

Recipe for your "filet de porc" ... Hmmmmm. Sorry, I can't help. We are vegetarians, so, I am not an expert in meat dishes.
'Cynthia in the Alps', one of your FWAD readers, could get to the rescue although I don't know whether she's got that sort of recipe in her e-book, but there is Lynn, of course (not sure about her full name).
Oh, I just noticed Linda gave you plenty of ideas! Bravo!

To Erik et Olivier,
"Je vous souhaite BON COURAGE dans les vignes du Domaine Rouge Bleu. Les bébés de Jean-Marc seront tellement plus à l'aise".
We appreciate your hard work!
I'm sure we'll follow the growth of Jean-Marc's babies., so... "histoire à suivre".

"A la famille Espinasse qui se retrouve maintenant au complet:
Mille bons souhaits pour un long et joyeux week-end!"


I cook pork tenderloins by first marinating them in a little orange juice and white wine (overnight if I have time - a few minutes if I don't and sometimes not at all). Sprinkle with pepper, cumin, coriander...and sometimes grated fresh ginger. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Délicieux!

Bill in St. Paul

I'm having a little trouble relating to your "It feels almost like le printemps". We just had a thaw, getting up to the 50s, but we're expecting 4-6" on Sunday, so the snowshoeing should be great again. Just your typical Minnesota weather!

Frank Spence

Bonjour Kristin! Found your blog as we prepared to visit Paris this spring. Thoroughly enjoy it. DC is only couple hrs down the interstate so I might have to look into going down on 8 Mars. In gratitude here is my favorit pork tenerloin recipe.

Mike Hardcastle

To Leslie,
I was a student with The Open University (UK) having (through near poverty) been unable to attend university full time at the normal age, I became an undergraduate (distance learning) at 36. Later on when business life became a little less frantic, I became a part time lecturer with The Open University Business School and on retirement from industry full time. I cannot recommend this organization, which is very highly regarded in academic circles, too highly. They don't have a Masters in French but have a three year (part time) diploma which may suit you. Look at:
I'm happy to chat via email if you would like to. Look me up on Skype.


To Linda and Susan,

Thanks for the recipes, they all look good and not to difficult for an apprentice cook like myself.



Bonjour Kristin,
Here's link to a pork tenderloin recipe that I've made several times. It's so good that it borders on addictive....!
Super easy.....I usually make extra glaze.


Here in Vermont there's still over a foot of snow on the ground- we've just had a thaw, but expect another snow storm on Sunday...normal for us. So, reading about spring happening otherwhere is encouraging.
I'm of the marinate-for-at-least-an-hour school of pork loin cookery; tuck in lots of garlic & rosemary, cut up onions & put them under rack w a bit of oil & just roast.

Jules Greer




Candy in SW KS

Can I just "ditto" everything that Newforest said? :) She always says everything better than I could! BRAVO!

Carolyn in Vermont

Thank you for this wonderful blog Kristin and for always making my days brighter. We still have plenty of snow here in Vermont and today's post has me dreaming of spring. It will come once again as it always magically does every year when we least expect it.
I have 2 wonderful dogs, Lady and Rory, so I LOVE reading about Braise and Smokey. Thank you for showing what an important part of the family our pets are to us. Best of luck getting rid of all of those weeds!

Joanne Ablan

Chere Kristin,
Je vous suggere le website:
www.epicurious.com recipes. On peut
y trouver beaucoup des idees pour un
repas delicieux.
Bonne chance!


I wish I was in Provence with le primtemps, but in Connecticut it is 55 degrees F today with a change on Tuesday when the temperature is going down to 30 with the possibiliity of snow showers. UGH!. I still have snow piles 4' tall. I look forward to seeing my grass some day in the future. We had a huge chunk of snow slide off the roof and come crashing down on our glass topped table - totally shattering it and breaking the arm of a metal chair. I'm sure glad no one was under it.


It's "rites" not "rights". The Catholic church provides extreme unction, now called "sacrament of the sick" for those seriously ill.

Michelle Charette

Super easy pork tenderloin:
Preheat oven to 325F
Place pork on rack in roasting pan
generously pour olive oil over meat
fresh ground pepper and salt
generously spoon on minced garlic (The pre-minced kind in a jar)and spread evenly
Cook aprox 45 Min for a 1 lb. roast
Remove from oven, loosely cover with foil for aprox. 5 to 10 min.
Slice and serve!
Leftovers make awesome sandwiches with spicy mustard and cheddar cheese on a bulky roll.

Ooooo, so glad I just finished lunch or I would be drooling right now!
Love your blog Kristen, though I don't know much French. But I'm learning!

Jennifer in OR

Congrats to Mike on going back to school, that is very inspiring for learners of all ages! And thanks for the recipes, Linda, Susan, Michelle, and others, my husband loves pork and I rarely cook it for lack of great recipes.

Kendal Shand

Referring to your previous blog and mention of The Snow Goose, there is a truly wonderful, atmospheric and beautiful recording of the Snow Goose with Herbert Marshall and Joan Loring which my parents gave me when I was very young and I listen to it every year without fail and I'm an old hag of 55 now - it's old and some think a bit dated but actually, it's timeless - I highly recommend it - available on Amazon

Pat Cargill

Kristin, I posted yesterday, with a p.s. to follow early on and when I returned last evening it was not here. "Oh, well..." I was saying that

I love this post and I love that you and your family share your creativity with the world: J-M's devotion to producing grapes full of divine terroir, with lovely wines to follow; your writing and photography and beautiful, open spirit that inspires us, challenges us to think and feel and explore our own inner lives.

Looking forward to shaking Chief Grape's hand in D.C. March 8 and enjoying the vino.

Also, to Kendal - I rem the Snow Goose thingie you are talking about. However, I am alarmed at your self-reference to an "old hag of 55." I beg to differ. Your "hag" days are a LONG way off! (Like never.)

Lovely wkend all.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Pat and Kendal,

“Old hag” for the ladies, “old f—t” for the men; I think, when I get old, I’ll use the term “chronologically challenged”.

Kendal, I agree with Pat.


"The Snow Goose"....A beautiful book read to me by a very elderly ( in the eyes of a 10 year old) and eccentric English gentleman when we were staying in an old castle that filled with secret tunnels and hidden doorways....I will never forget the memories this book evokes! Thank you to Kendal and Pat for stirring them up!

Now I am way off the beaten track of Kristi's story... where is my weeding trowel...you just reminded me.... those mauvaise herbes!


Jules Greer

Hi Kristi,

This is one of my favorite photo's of Jean-Marc.

His face is so full of soft love and peace as he
looks into the lens of your camera.

Is this the night he cooked you your welcome home dinner? You should photo-chop and put this into a frame for your desk......please do this...



Kristin Espinasse

Mom, the photo was taken last May, when Aunt Charmly and Uncle Tucker were here. I'll frame it... good idea!


Jules Greer

Hi Mike,

I was just wondering about you as I read your delightful comment to Kristi's post ( for about the 3rd time since Friday). I was thinking to myself, "I wish I had Mike's email so I could ask you all kinds of questions - and then just before my eyes appeared this bright red word "reply" - I assume this meant to your comment. Is this a new feature Kristi has come up with in the last few days - if so I love it.

I had wanted to ask you all about your village, it just dawned on my on my third read through your comment that you actually 'LIVE" in France. I don't know why but I thought you lived in the U.S.

Sometimes I get all of Kristi's friends mixed up but you have always seemed to stand out and if I am correct I think I have a pretty good idea of exactly who you are.

I was so inspired by your statement about deciding to go back to school. Thanks for all of your comments to Kristi, I always enjoy your thought's - you have a pure heart just like my Kristi...I can feel it in your words.



Jill in Sydney

Hi Kristin
If the pork is sliced into fillets, maybe you could coat it in some sesame seeds, and just fry it in a little olive oil and sesame oil and when it's almost cooked through maybe add some soy, honey and orange juice. (Alternatively you could marinate it in the soy mixture before cooking). You could also serve it with some apple slices coated in brown sugar and fried in some butter. Should go well with the potatoes.

Mike Hardcastle

Hi Jules,

I would be happy for you to have my email address, Kristin has it (I think) and she could pass it on to you. If not just let me know and I'll send it on again.

Mv village is quite small with a population of about 500 and situated 40 minutes drive due west to the coast and the same time north east of La Rochelle. I live in a hamlet of three houses with the delightful name of 'le Coq Joyeux' just outside the main village. I'm still living alone but with plans for the future 'en tant que couple' which I'm very excited about. I didn't think I could be lucky a second time but if you know the song, 'This Couldn't be the Real Thing', you will know exactly how i feel. My version, which I think is the best, is by George Shearing, recorded a long time ago but still poignant.

Going back to school to learn French formally is something I should have done years ago, I have loved the country ever since my first tour here with the Royal Air Force as part of the N.A.T.O. mission in 1960 - 1963. It took me a long time to get to live here but since I've been here I couldn't have been happier. I have a philosophy that doing new things, keeping ones mind open to new ideas, and keeping active helps to slow the passing of the years which is good because -
- I have so much still to do.

This is getting overlong and unless I end it I run the risk of boring you so goodbye and best wishes,


p.s. I must ask you about the xoxos, I thought before I saw them here that they were special to me and one other.

Jerry Robinson

While some, like the almond trees, are coming to life, others are being read their last rights!
The spelling should be "last rites".
I love your work!

Marianne Rankin

I really am going to have to try some of the pork tenderloin recipes!

Pat, I'll see you at J-M's tasting next month.

Pam Luckey

Hi Kristin,
My husband and I have been avid organic gardeners for more than 40 years,so I would like to make a suggestion regarding the mauvaise herbs -- Make sure that you burn them. They seed so fast it'll make your head spin!
Kudos to Chief Grape for going organic -- wish we had more like him.

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