Chicken for caring in cooped up crazy times?   

Preparing poulet properly or perhaps poussin or pintade?

Too chicken to go out? You should be, writes Susan Gish. It’s fowl out there! No clucking about it please!

We’re on for at least 2 more weeks of lockdown, but don’t count your chickens before they hatch. I started thinking about comfort foods in this difficult time. Foods that make you feel better. Continue Reading »

Message from the Mayor

Here is a message, recorded yesterday 24th March, by the  mayor of Aix, Marysse Joissans: http://www.aixenprovence.fr/Covid-19-Le-maire-fait-le-point-sur-la-situation.  In it, she outlines what is happening and the challenges ahead.  She explains the situation with the markets, the homeless, schooling, and launches an appeal for masks for frontline staff. It’s got French subtitles.

The authorities have provided an interactive map to help us locate businesses (food, pharmacies …) that are currently open:  https://tools.ccimp.com/covid-carte-commerces/?gv_search=13100&filter_10=&filter_7=&mode=all

There is also a great poster to put in foyers of residences where you can put your name if you NEED help, or to OFFER help. Download here: http://www.aixenprovence.fr/Voisins-solidaires-un-panneau-a-afficher-dans-les-residences

Tonight, church bells all across town (throughout France too) will be ringing for 10 minutes at 19:30, in solidarity.

The Aix tourist office closed on 15th March, but they say they will respond to emails.  They have put an Aix-specific Q&A online, in

Aix t-shirt from cdiscount.com

English, which may be helpful as it has info on local parking, buses, parks etc. (I hadn’t realised that the Torse is a no-go area.)  But recent government proclamations have superseded some of their info (eg on markets) which perhaps is being updated.  https://www.aixenprovencetourism.com/en/blog/information-covid-19/

The usual spring cartoon festival – Les Rencontres du 9eme Art – is now a ‘festival a la maison’.  Devotees can go online to dip into various activities. I particularly like the provision for house-bound children of two line drawings of Aix to colour in.  Felt-tips ready!  One features Cezanne and a funky version of La Rotonde.  Download here: https://www.bd-aix.com/2020/03/18/le-festival-a-la-maison-episode-1/

News now from Cannes where the Palais des Festivals should be preparing to welcome the hottest names in cinema onto its red carpet. Instead the Cannes Film Festival venue is opening its doors to the town’s homeless who have nowhere to go during the coronavirus lockdown.  The annual festival had been due to take place from May 12-23 but last week organisers postponed the event until late June. The festival hall opened its doors to the destitute on Friday.

“We have between 50 and 70 people here every night,” said Dominique Aude-Lasset, an official at Cannes Town Hall. At the entrance, a worker in a face mask takes the temperature of each homeless person each time they enter the site. Inside, there is an eating area, shower block and communal space with television and games. In a cavernous, low-ceiling room, camp-beds are set up in three long lines.  Importantly, there are also four kennels to house man’s best friend.

Great initiative in Cannes.

Recipe Alert:   Susan’s lovely tarte au citron, posted yesterday, has been updated with slightly amended ingredients, shown in red.  Bon Ap!


Tarte au Citron -this time written by Chef Sam and photos by Susan Gish – we switched roles this time!
With updated ingredients
The almost easy Tarte au Citron recipe  I’ve been making this tart for almost 18 years and I still go back to the recipe I found in Cuisine At Home back in 2002. The filling is very tart and lemony. One of the first times I brought this to a friend’s house, their 13 year old son had a piece, said, ‘This is really, really too tart. Can I have another piece?’ 
The big thing to remember is to do your mise en place before you start and you’ll be fine. I’m putting the essential equipment, proportions and full ingredient list at the end.
Let’s start with the crust. After trying almond crusts, hazelnut crusts, pre-made store bought crusts, it turns out that making your own paté sablé is the best one to use. Lots of people are freaked out by crust but it’s really easy – patience and cold butter are your friends and will not let you down. That and using your hands to make it; not a food processor, not a stand mixer, not a blender, not a pastry cutter – your hands.


Continue Reading »

Thanking those on the front line, people throughout France are coming out on their balconies to applaud their local doctors, nurses, pompiers and all others  involved in fighting this awful virus.  Here is Marseille: Continue Reading »

My 2020 diary is looking decidedly bleak with a cancelled holiday in April and lots of empty pages as we enter a period of social isolation; but we can dream, we can plan.  And I am starting a Post Lockdown List.

How does cocktails at the new Harry’s Bar in Cannes sound for starters?

The original in Paris is the oldest cocktail bar in Europe; it was in 1911 that the Scottish Harry MacElhone opened the first Harry’s Bar in Paris, to bring to the French capital the fashion of American “cocktail bars”. Mission accomplished as Harry’s Bar became “Paris’s place to be”, chosen by Ernest Hemingway, Jean-Paul Sartre, Coco Chanel and many more American and French celebrities. Now, it is in Cannes that his great grandson, Franz Arthur MacElhone, has chosen to expand.

Harry’s Bar Cannes will cover an area of 127 m2 with a 150 m2 terrace on the wide-open space of Port Canto a newly-developed area abutting La Croissette. (http://www.cannes.com/fr/cadre-de-vie/amenagements-et-travaux-en-cours/port-canto-phase-2-espace-grand-large.html)

The company has made cocktails its speciality: Bloody Mary was allegedly born in there in 1921, White Lady, Monkey Gland and the Blue Lagoon were invented by Harry’s Bar. There are over 300 references of whiskeys and a choice of 400 cocktails made by experienced bartenders.

I doubt its opening date – June 2020 – will be possible, but cocktails in the Cannes sunshine is pencilled in my 2020 ‘Post Lockdown List’.

Lock ‘Down and Out in Aix-en-Provence’
Lockdown Recipes at Chez Gish
Susan Gish writes:  All the restaurants are closed. Since we are self isolating / quarantining / social distancing, we can’t have people over for dinner parties that Chef Sam is known for. He loves to cook but now the meals will only be for the two of us. I am so spoiled, because he cooks a wonderful meal most nights, except when we go out…Now, of course, it will be every night. Lucky me!
This new series will be recipes for simple meals or desserts for you to make at home. I’m sorry we can’t have you over for dinner!
BL (before lockdown), I would shop every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at the marché, sourcing seasonal food as much as possible from the local producteurs. Once home, I laid out everything I bought out on the table. Sam looked at his choices and created (of course for dinner parties he would have an idea and I would shop according to what he needed).
This lockdown is tricky. I tried to buy as much fresh food as possible in advance, so that we could have fresh vegetables and fruits. Did you realize it’s asparagus season? The asparagus we’ve had the past few nights is grown locally in Cucuron! So tasty already, it’s going to be a great season!  We have a full refrigerator with all the staples – including wine, bien sur!
Our freezer is stocked with everything homemade: cassoulet, bolognese, pizza dough (yes, homemade!), fond de viande, duck stock, chicken soup made with homemade chicken stock of course… (why can’t we get chicken soup here in France? I only see vegetable soups or soupe de poisson). We have homemade mirabelle compote from a tree near our apartment. Also we have duck legs and chipolatas.
Duckchetta. (A take-off on Porchetta)
Stuffed magret/breast
Chef Sam says:
“Really easy and delicious – The stuffing is equal parts of grated Parmesan, chopped rosemary, chopped fennel seeds. Two or three cloves finely chopped garlic. One large chopped mushroom and some fresh fennel.  
Served it with roasted cauliflower seasoned with turmeric.
With a small sharp knife, make a pocket in the duck breast – insert the knife in one end being careful not to slice through the sides. Push the filling into the pocket – I used a small funnel and a chopstick. 
Make sure the filling is evenly distributed. 
Turn the oven on to 350-400F. Put a small casserole dish in to pre-heat and add some duck fat. Cook the duck skin side down in a heavy bottomed pan until it’s golden brown. Save the rendered fat! This can be used for duck fat potatoes at a later time. 
Put the breast into the pre-heated casserole and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes (internal temp 125F for rare). Take it out, season with sea salt and let it rest for 5 minutes. 
Slice and serve. 
Next time I’m going to vary the recipe, possibly using pine nuts and chopped spinach and lemon peel. Or maybe reconstituted dried apricots or prunes with almonds. The Parmesan will be a constant. 
Full disclosure – This is a variation on a Mark Bittman recipe from the NYTimes.
I don’t want french fried potatoes, red ripe tomatoes
I’m never satisfied
I want the frim fram sauce
With oss-en-fay with sha fafa on the side
I don’t want pork chops and bacon
That won’t awaken, my appetite inside
I want the frim fram sauce
With oss-en-fay with sha fafa on the side
Chef Sam & Susan Gish

Announcement by French PM this evening:


What times…..