25 July, 2010

Seaside color.

Hello again! I'm still shaking the sand out of the beach bag, as my family got together for some sun and fun in Cassis. Here's some of what I saw... Tablecloths for sale, swaying in the breeze.
Beans at the market. I should have gotten some...
Colorful bracelets for the summer.
Linen blouse with pretty details.
Breakfast options.
Better than television: watching the action on the square.
A secluded cove, where you can see the native Aleppo pines growing directly out of the limestone rock.
Moroccan pottery.
Mediterannean multi-tasking: hop off your scooter, grab a bite to eat, peel off your shirt and people-watch while you catch some rays.
Local olives.
Some good-looking fig jam. I should have picked some of that up too, come to think of it.
Coeur de boeuf (heart of beef) tomatoes.
The first golden plums I've seen. (I'm already stockpiling jars because I'm going to have a serious bumper crop of Reine-Claudes--greengages--this year).
Keeping it down-home and local.
I ate at Nino's, a family culinary institution right in the port which has been serving meals without interruption since 1962.
Anise-infused pastis is the drink on the coast. I love the notion, the reality is more of an acquired taste. Little old hat-wearing men sit around drinking it.
Cassis is a charming little port village, with more than its share of restaurants.
Color, and laundry, everywhere.
The Mediterannean unfortunately doesn't have the fish stocks it used to; most of the boats in the port are for pleasure.
Not too far off, there are also some camp sites tucked under very large, airy pines, where some of these sun-burned vacationers head off to in the evenings.The calanques are every bit as beautiful as in these postcards. If you find yourself in Cassis, you musn't miss them.
There are shade-giving platanes (plane/sycamore trees) with their distinctive 'camouflage' bark in every village, and Cassis is no exception.
Street jazz. Young and talented.
The sun is so bright, you tan even under a rented parasol.
I could have put up so many more photos...Oleander everywhere, in all the hues from whites and peaches to reds, fuschia bougainvillea draped over walls, blue plumbago in full bloom.
I mightily enjoyed some eggplant caviar at a beach restaurant. Inspired, I'll be whipping this up after I've stocked up at the farmer's market tomorrow; we've got a full house, and I enjoy keeping tasty, make-in-advance spreads and finger foods within arm's reach. If you've never had this before, do give it a whirl. It's just the ticket with a glass of white wine in the late afternoon...I like this version (there are many out there), by Hubert Keller.

Caviar aux Aubergines (Eggplant Caviar)

Serves about four. Can easily be doubled or tripled.

1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small baguette, thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato--peeled, seeded and cut into1/8 -inch dice
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Preheat the oven to 180C°. Brush the cut sides of the eggplant with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Set the eggplant, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until tender and collapsed. Let cool. Arrange the bread slices on another baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the red pepper, onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

Using a spoon, scrape the eggplant flesh from the skin; discard the skin. Finely chop the flesh and add the eggplant to the sautéed vegetables. Stir in the tomato, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice if necessary; refrigerate until slightly chilled. Stir the chives and basil into the eggplant caviar and serve with the toasted slices of bread.

(The eggplant can be refrigerated for up to 1 day; store the croutons at room temperature. Let the caviar stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.)


  1. Brilliant photographs - absolutely lovely!

    All the best


  2. Oh, thanks Keith! Hope you've fine weather and fun summer plans where you are...

  3. Fantastic photos! Looks like the new camera was worth it.

    I love the linen blouse. I love anything linen actually.

    Wow, fig jam. I'm sure it was incredible. I just bought a hunk of brie from my Whole Foods last week and was oohing and ahhing over the luscious jammy concoctions for spooning over cheese. I just couldn't bring myself to fork out the $7 for a *very* small jar.

  4. Cassis is so beautiful. Hopefully it was not too crowded when you were there. A bit further East on the autoroute, Bormes-les-mimosas is also a pretty village.

  5. Wonderful images. But I like the blue and yellow tablecloth on the far right and the pottery in particular. Probably because if I were there, those are the souvenirs I would've taken home. The others would've been pretty pictures, but not as tangible. :)

  6. Howdy - I've sent you a little e-mail, and I hope to hear from you shortly!

  7. Hello Rose,
    Linen is a form of textile divinity. Closer to home, I'm still mad at the crows who come every year to feast on my ripe figs, one by one, completely emptying a ginormous tree, and leaving me unable to make even half a pot of my vanilla fig jam. Solution: I've planted a tree right next to the house, which they in theory will avoid. Now the darn thing simply has to hurry up and grow.

    Hi Nadege,
    Cassis is still lovely, still human-scale, and still relatively un-overcrowded, to my surprise. Other towns on the Cote d'Azur have not fared so well, falling victim to greedy over-development and bumper to bumper traffic in the summer months. Bleh.

    Hello WC,
    Thanks! Since I live about three hours from Cassis, the things I take home can be perishable. I especially enjoyed the juicy flat nectarines I brought back...You might also have liked the little tablecloth weights I saw, made of cast iron in the shape of cigales or olive branchlets, which you clip to the edge of the cloth.

    Hi mr le marquis,
    Thank you very much for visiting, I have sent you an email reply...


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