Orteil + Yoga & Wine? Oh, Those Frenchies!
Artisanat, Allez Hop! Come on let's get some beer at a new brasserie in Nice!

Au pif, kale pesto recipe, and Bookshop for sale in France!

Making parsely pesto pistou citrons lemons golden retriever dog
Making parsley pesto. In today's post I make another kind (without parsley): Pesto Manqué (find out what's missing...)

TODAY'S WORD: au pifométre - or simply "au pif"

        : at a guess, by guess work, off the cuff, off the top of your head


Au pif. Les grands chefs cuisinent au pif.
By guesswork. Great cooks cook by guesswork.

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Click here to listen: Au pif . Les grands chefs cuisinent au pif.

Try the book Pronounce it Perfectly in French


    by Kristi Espinasse

We are heading out to Nice to spend the weekend with American in France and beer-maker Dan, his wife Julie, and our good friends Gilda and Robert. I have a few hours in which to come up with un cadeau pour nos hôtes....

I want to keep things simple and sentimental (I'm thinking of my stash of antique clés... part of which I have given to special friends. But I wonder if I have already given Dan and Julie a key?

What about a vintage book? Julie and Gilda are artists. But how many vintage books on art do I have lying around? Que dalle!

Sheep bells! I also collect sheep bells! But who else treasures les clochettes des moutons?

Well, my husband sure isn't obsessing about what to offer our friends -- Jean-Marc recently bottled his 2016 Mas des Brun rosé and will gift it (along with olive oil from our domaine). This gives me an idea - just add to that gastronomic basket... Currently we have kale in the garden and lemons and olive oil from our trees.... I could make pistou!

But we do not have pignons or Parmesan. Pas de panique. You can do like the venerable French women do - do as any cook worth her salt would -- you can make it up au pif!

I leave you with the result of kale + lemons + oil + a few things in my kitchen drawers....


(manqué...because pine nuts and Parmesan are missing)
(everything after this line is approximate...)

3 cups of kale
1 lemon + grated rind
3 tablespoon raisins (dried grapes for a vineyard theme!)
1-2 cups olive oil 
3 or more cloves of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything in the blender or food processor. This pesto is delicious with sliced tomatoes, over potatoes, pasta, fish or salad. It makes a nice decorative swirl on top of a bowl of soup.

Stories you may have missed: "PESTO IN BED" 

Mas des brun rose oliv oil and kale pesto manque
What we're bringing our hosts. I hope they don't see this post.

Increase your vocabulary with this list. More tools here.

manqué = missing
un cadeau = gift, present
une clé = key

l'hôte = host
que dalle! =  zip, nada, none
pas de panique = no worries!
le pistou = pesto
le pignon = pine nut

Wintasting with Warsaw Zurich and local friends
Thursday night Jean-Marc served his 2016 Mas des Brun rosé to visitors from Warsaw, Zurich, and to some locals from Toulon and Bandol. We had some munchies, but the kale pesto would have been good drizzled over slices of bread or some of that fresh goat's cheese we ate!

Kristi and tanja
With my friend Tanja, right. Those were her traffic-stopping legs you saw at the beginning and ooh-là-là end of this post. So don't miss this post.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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Wonderful story and gorgeous photos, as always!!!! i love seeing them on IG and so fun to see them larger on my big desktop!!!!!
Meason in Santa Barbara


II am so impressed and honestly a bit envious (a lot envious) of all of your 'grown at home' ingredients for your pesto! Beautiful pictures with this post. I wonder how it's going with your need to sell your home and vinyard and then to purchase another home. Have I missed something?

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Pat! I will miss this garden so much. There will be no room for olive trees at the new place, but plenty of space for kale and maybe a potted lemon tree or two. I will update you soon.


Bonjour, Kristi,
Good friends deserve our best efforts which is
certainly what you and J-M are expressing in your
nourishing gift basket for your friends.
I am keenly aware of how my true friends keep
me safe from myself and from catastrophes, natural
and invented. I am especially aware of how they
restore my joie de vivre when the arrows that fly by day
threaten and wound. It always pains me when I realize
that I have missed an occasion to be with good friends .
Thanks for reminding me to get it together and make
a gift for my friends I am visiting this weekend.


Our dear Kristi,
What could possibly be more special and thoughtful for dear friends than gifts
created with love from your own garden?
Such surprises absolutely mean the most.
Such beautiful pictures!
Especially wonderful news about your new home!
Please give us updates!
Natalia. xo

Taste of France

Pif is slang for "nose." So au pif is following your nose--going without a plan, figuring things out on the fly.
My onion soup recipe from a friend also is au pif: https://francetaste.wordpress.com/2016/12/20/french-onion-soup


Those are wonderful gifts - gifts from the heart of the garden. I'll have to try that pesto and you gave me a good idea to try other leafy greens to make pesto. The pictures are lovely and I am sure that your rosé is fantastic.
Hope that you have a wonderful, enchanting house on the horizon. Bon chance!


betty Tuininga

I cant wait to try this! I am a vegan and allergic to nuts...this a great recipe to try for my palette! Always looking for different ways to introduce things like kale into my diet! Thanks Kristin!

Bonnie Wirth

Dear Kristin, My husband put me on to your site. He is a self-teacher of the French language and often refers to your blog-in glowing terms. FYI we are our 70s.
My cultural and ethnic heritage on three sides is French Canadian but on the fourth it is from Froideconche, France. We visited there a few years ago-an emotional and lasting experience.
I transition to a new place in my mind and soul when I read of your life, family, friends and adventures. And of course, I love Smokey.


Love the phrase "au pif". It's joining my favorite list. A homemade cadeau from the garden and heart is always the best.

Kristin Espinasse

So good to hear from you Bonnie. Is your husband William? Please thank him for me! Glad to have you with us. 

Catherine Berry

A lamentable cook I am. I wish I could do more 'au pif'. A lovely photo of you all enjoying the sunset around the table.


The pesto sounds fabulous, Kristi. Thank you for sharing the recipe! Have a fabulous time in Nice!

Beth Dillard

Hi Kristi,
I have been following your blog for a bit and find them so genuine and generous. I am in the process of finishing a ever so small village house in the Luberon .. I would love to meet up with you for a lunch when you are on your way to Aix to visit or in the area . I will be coming April..


I love seeing you and Jean-Marc enjoying your life, your friends - and sharing it all with us! From a comment you made, it sounded like you two may have found a house. I hope to hear about it all very soon. I'm wishing you well!

Nyla Witmore

Whenever I see a good recipe on your site...(Using my ipad or iphone) I highlight the text and copy. Then, in the yellow and white colored "MEMO" Icon that comes with my device, I have created a File I named "Recipes". I simply paste it there for quick retrieval. Thank you for sharing your healthy recipes.


En fait, c'est plutôt de la salsa verde (sauce verte = green sauce):

Kristin Espinasse

Aha! Thanks, Jacqueline. I will call it that when back in Arizona, or the Southwest. Here in France, I am stickin to pistou! 


I love the first photo so much. I love the hat, the lemons, and ofcourse, the golden retriever! <3 So adorable.

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