Adieu Mas des Brun: Last dispatch from the vineyard & Ratatouille recipe!
Peeping Toms, street-side meltdowns, and this new city life in La Ciotat

Bonjour de La Ciotat + La Remoulade

Yellow tile kitchen ingredients for ratatouille
Our bright yellow 1960s kitchen. The counter-top reaches the top of my leg. It will take some getting-used-to, as will this new life in La Ciotat.  So far so good!

la remoulade

    : a kind of sauce

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:
La sauce rémoulade s’accommode avec les crustacés, poissons, œufs mollets et le céleri. - Cuisine à la Française
Remoulade sauce goes well with shellfish, fish, soft-boiled eggs, and celeri.



"When Smokey Met Lili"

by Kristi Espinasse

We have landed! Jean-Marc drove us, just ahead of the moving truck, to La Ciotat early Monday morning. I had our coffee maker in my lap and Smokey in the back seat, surrounded by other essentials. 

Our new (1960s) home is located on a busy corner, with one-way streets on both sides and parking meters up and down the road. The challenge would be for our moving truck to make the angle into our driveway. Deborah, who formerly lived here, agreed to block at least one of the public parking spaces beside our gate and, as luck would have it, another space opened up the moment we drove up!

I hurried out of the car to greet Deborah with a kiss of both cheeks and ask for her help with an important introduction (dubbed by Jean-Marc "When Smokey Met Lili"). You may recall our new home comes with an old cat.  I attached Smokey to the front porch railing and sat on the steps beside our 8-year-old golden retriever, explaining to him the situation: "On est chez Lili. Elle habite nous aussi! Elle est gentille." As he sniffed and strained against his least, I repeated,"Doucement, Smokey...." 

Front terrace
  Still no photo of Lili. Here's one of Smokey on our front terrace.

Meanwhile, crouched beside Lili at the front gate, Deborah briefed Lili on the 3 strangers. Next, we traded places. "Bonjour Lili. On est très contente d'être ici, chez toi...." 

Releasing Smokey, we watched as he wandered around what would now be his domain too. Lili kept her distance, retreating to her post at the front gate where, camouflaged by the leafy laurier she watches the world go by. Later that day when my Dad called, I was chatting away when I glanced out the window and saw the two would-be adversaires cautiously approaching one another. Only, when I opened the door for a closer look, they quickly retreated.

By last night, day two, Lili wandered into the house--right past a sleeping Smokey. She was surely looking for her cat food, which was displaced  (to the window sill) after Smokey found it in the kitchen. That's no way to score brownie points with Lili!

After the animals settled so did our boxes and furniture, which fits nicely into this 140-meter-square home sweet home, on this 995 square meter lot. With less land to worry about we began our new heading to the beach.

I leave you with a few highlights from our lunch at Mugel plage where you can swim in your underwear and where we ordered local fish (loup) with a delicious remoulade: a mayonnaise-based sauce with cornichons, capers, parsley, chives, tarragon, anchovy paste and more. The plat du jour also came with this versatile caponata, reminding me of our family reunion, or cousinade, in Sicily.

For dessert, there was a Fiadone - a Corsican lemon cheesecake made of  ewe's or goat's milk (but you can use ricotta or even cottage cheese...). Voilà, new sights and flavors in a new environment. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks. Thank you very much for reading.


Loup avec remoulade
The restaurant at Mugel beach, and that loup fish from Tamaris (near Toulon) with remoulade sauce. The people at the next table were from Italy. I had such an urge to ask them their thoughts about the caponata.

Jean-marc ordered a bottle of Domaine Pieracci rose

Jean-Marc, ordering a bottle of Domaine Pieracci rosé.

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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