Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hotel Cazaudehore La Forestiere, St. Germain en Laye

When Steve and I travel I can spend days before our trips scouring travel books and the internet for the perfect places to stay. I have high expectations; I look for fine and elegant or off the beaten track and quaint at a modest price. I have found many incredible places for us to stay on our travels and always for an exceptional price.

This time Steve found the gem.

Last week when Steve came to France to work at the Epone office he found the sweetest hotel. He was eager to come back this week to share it with me.

This hotel, Cazaudehore La Forestiere is part of the always beautiful and elegant Relais & Chateaux collection of fine hotels.

It was a pleasure to stay here the last few nights. Our accommodations were lovely and the staff of the hotel offered impeccable service at every turn. Unfortunately, though we are staying in the area until Saturday or Sunday, we must change hotels today as the hotel is booked tonight (not the rest of the week just tonight). The Hotel & Revenue Manager in me wants to explain the revenue loss in displacing several (there are other company folks who could have stayed here)week long stays for one night guests but it is not my place. We enjoyed our time here and I'm sure we will have opportunities to return.


An interesting side note-

Steve's Uncle Jacques is a retired General of the French Army. At one time he was the Station Commander of an installation that is directly across the street from this inn. How funny is that?

Monday, March 30, 2009

En France

Yesterday Steve and I drove from Switzerland to France. Steve is working in the city of Epone and we are staying in the beautiful town of St. Germain en Laye. We are 30 minutes outside of Paris. We took a slightly different route from our usual Montreux- Paris path since the GPS indicated the new path would be a little faster. We didn't make any stops along the way as we got off to a late start and wanted to get to our hotel at a reasonable hour.

After we checked in at our hotel we ventured in to town for a late dinner.

Steve started with the pate de maison.

I started with the terrine de volaille (chicken), also house-made.

I am just starting to take photos when we dine and I am not used to it yet thus I forgot to take any pictures on our meals but below is a picture of the Chateau de St. Germain en Laye which was our view out the window of the restaurant.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bleating Sheep

Steve was working in Epone (a suburb of Paris) this week, and I stayed here to get settled and give him a chance to settle in to his gig there. It was pretty quiet around here. It was cold, damp and grey two days in a row so I just laid low. I did venture to the Ikea outside of Geneva for a few household items but that has been the extent of my excitement (other than just being here which is daily excitement).

These photos are especially for Era who asked for them :) O.K. probably not exactly what you had in mind but what I happened to have in my camera.

That bamboo in the front left corner of the photo is the far side of my sister and Nico's property. The road you see is the same road we take up from town and it goes all the way up the mountain. I don't know who owns the yard/property next store to my sister's but they have about 12 or so sheep that they keep on the property. Their morning bleating is my alarm clock.

This house is the next closest house to my sister's as you look out the same direction as the yard with the sheep. The view beyond the house is what you see as you look up the mountain.

Steve will be working in Epone again next week and I am going with him this trip so I can spend some time in Paris. Hopefully we will have a chance to see his cousins this week. That mostly depends on Steve's work schedule. I will have time to visit with them during the day but Steve wants to see them too! This trip we will drive so that I will have a car if I need one. We are leaving Sunday. Steve will work Monday-Friday and we will take a leisurely drive back over the weekend so we can stop in some of the towns we like along the way.

One more pic of the view from my Sis' . This is looking from her balcony out towrds Geneva.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What I Packed

When I travel instead of taking one full suitcase I divide my things into two bags so I will have plenty of room to bring home goodies for myself and to share with family and friends.

This trip I decided to take advantage of the extra space in my bags going over to fill them with everyday things that I would use while here in Switzerland since things are so expensive here.

On the counter you can see bags of oats and other ingredients for granola. I eat granola most days for breakfast. I brought enough to make two batches: one for while I'm here and one to make to leave for my sister and her husband Nico.

The two bags of Nestle's chips are to leave with my Sis and the Hellman's is well, sometimes you just want Hellman's! I don't care for the mayo sold in France and Switzerland. It often has mustard in it and even when it doesn't I'm not a fan. I know I could make my own but I also wanted to have a jar of the good stuff from home.

I brought this awesome vintage set of stainless flatware for my sister and her husband that I found thrifting in Detroit. It is a huge set and was a great score.

In addition to the above I also brought a 250 Ft. roll of Reynold's aluminium foil, a box each of gallon and quart Hefty freezer bags, a package each of the largest, large, medium and small Ziploc plastic food storage containers, a few bamboo flat edge spatulas from the Asian import store, a few good knives and a knife sharpener and some stainless tongs, oh and most importantly a pastry cutter and pastry scraper.

You didn't think I would stop making pie crusts while I was away did you? My sister has a patch or rhubarb in the yard and I'm going to check on it today. Hubba, hubba I hope to be making my first rhubarb pie while I'm here.

For those of you that don't know, I finally mastered the art of the pie crust a few months ago. I have been practicing and refining my crust ever since. You could say I'm going through a pie and quiche obsession and rhubarb is my FAVORITE pie so I am very much looking forward to making my first one with fresh rhubarb and all!

Monday, March 23, 2009


There are two farms about 20 minutes from my sister's house.
One farm grows vegetables and raises dairy cows. I get almost all of my produce from this farm as well as raw milk. They hoop farm and keep produce in cold storage (think large root cellar) so they have lettuces and other produce throughout the winter. They also supplement their offerings with items from other farms. They sell local eggs and baked goods.
The second farm raises cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens and turkeys and they sell rabbit from a nearby farm. The chicken may be from the same farm as the rabbit but I haven't figured that out. This farm not only raises all these meat animals but they process and butcher it themselves. They also make their own fresh and dried sausages.
Each of these farms has a small room where one goes to shop from their offerings. Payment is on the honor system. I will post more about the farms when I have a chance to take some pictures of each of them. I planned on doing so today but it was a little overcast and smoggy so I thought I would wait for a clearer day.

Last night we had sausage and sour-kraut (choucroute garnie) from the meat farm with sauteed spaetzle and I made a salad of frisse and green apple from the veggie farm. The smaller sausages are white veal sausages made with milk. The larger sausages are made with turkey but in the same way as the veal sausages.

This is one of my favorite cheeses, it very well may be my favorite. This is a winter cheese available late September through March. I am SO pleased that we are here during the season as I have not had a proper Mont D'Or for two years. We were able to find two wheels of this cheese when we were here last August but as nice as it was to have some, it was a little old even for my tastes. I love both the French and the Swiss Vacherines but I give a slight edge to the French Mont D'Or. I don't know if the difference has to do with the French that I've had being made from raw milk vs. the Swiss being made with slightly warmed/pasteurized milk but I guess that would have something to do with it. Either way, French or Swiss, Vacherine Mont D'Or is heaven. If you like soft, runny cheese this is that at its best.

There were some wheels with a darker rind and some with a lighter rind, this one was just right.

This is the cheese after it sat out for about 4 hours. It will get a little softer and runnier by the time Steve gets home from the office but I couldn't resist trying a bit. Some times people will lightly warm the cheese in the oven and even slit the rind and push in a clove of garlic and drizzle a dry white wine of the region over the top before it goes into the oven. I am not warming it in the oven today but it is heavenly like that. Think fondue from heaven.

This is a saucisson de campagne from the farm/butcher, Georges Martin Et Fils. I wish I had given it a squeeze before I cut into it. It is not as cured as I would like it to be. The one I had this summer had cured longer and was harder. I liked that texture better but this is still wonderful. It is smoked and we've been having it on a mixed wheat peasant bread with coarse mustard.

Tonight we are having Mont D'Or,
left over choucroute garnie and a duplicate of last night's salad.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sis' Kitchen

Here are some pics of my sister's kitchen. It is a decent size by European standards.

This large window is AWESOME. It looks out to their side yard which is where they keep a small garden. The black space on the counter is an electric cook top. It always takes getting used to the electric cook top when I'm here. The only thing I really miss from my kitchen when I'm here is my gas stove.

This is the teeny-weeny refrigerator.

And a look at the inside.

First Post! Hi from La Suisse!

I have often thought about keeping a diary or journal but have never done it.

When I married my husband, Steve, I bought a journal to keep track of our travels. We travelled and I never journaled. In fact, I have two or three beautiful journals in my keepsake drawer, each purchased with the best of intentions and each one... empty.

At the same time I've never had an interest in blogging. I enjoy reading other's blogs, mostly food related although some family/daily life sorts of blogs.

My husband and I are currently living at my sister's home in Chernex, Switzerland while Steve works on a project that will run until the beginning of May (hopefully longer!). We do a good deal of travelling together but living abroad for 7 weeks makes this our biggest adventure yet. It is wonderful that we are staying at my sister's since I feel at home in her house and I am familiar enough with the town and surrounding area to be able to get by on my own when Steve is at work or away.

I got it in my mind to start a blog to serve as my journal for this trip and also as a way to share the adventure with family and friends. I hope you enjoy my new endeavor and I hope you keep in touch while we're away.

Much love,