In My Kitchen, July 2017

In my kitchen, there are signs of packing frenzy. The kitchen table has become a convenient sorting ground for the paraphernalia one now requires for a long overseas trip: regional power plugs, battery chargers for cameras, phones, computers, Kindle and tablet, mini speaker, extra SD cards for cameras, car chargers for phones, different lenses for cameras, plastic sleeved folders for itineraries and bookings, medical supplies. Have I forgotten something? On and on it goes with this weird tangle of stuff, the clothes and shoes almost an afterthought. As you may gather, I’m getting organised for 4½ months of global roaming: the kitchen is the best place to sort, iron, and edit, repack, write more lists and dream.

Laguiole set, lucky find.  Reconstructed chopping boards from one large flexi poly board.

One kitchen-esque packing item that I am enjoying putting together is the picnic set, although picnic friendly verges and green public spaces are not so easy to come by in France and Italy. I found a Laguiole set of 8 at my favourite second-hand shop. They are new, probably a discarded gift. Those little bees are now heading back to France. I’ve cut down a flexible poly chopping mat into 3 pieces to fit the picnic box. Of course there’s a Swiss army knife and a bottle opener, two wine glasses, two large table napkins which double as tea towels, a little cheese box, a few lengths of wax paper for wrapping cheese, some rubber bands and a few zip lock plastic bags. The box now weighs 1.167 kilo. Anal packarama. I am being restrained: what I really want is a picnic set like Marlena de Blasi’s. ( See extract at the end of this post).

Picnic box packed. Laguiole set of cutlery, found at my favourite second-hand shop . A corkscrew, a Swiss army knife, two napkins and two wine glasses, some re-constructed chopping boards and other odds and ends complete the set.

I have cut three ½ metre sheets from this roll of waxed paper, ready to wrap some lovely cheeses that we will find en route. I purchased this paper online a year ago and it goes a long way. It keeps cheese very well.

All natural waxed paper.

I am now counting the sleeps and imagining the farmers’ markets in small villages and the new kitchens that will inspire, or perhaps frustrate, my kitchen creativity along the way. Initially, the escape from daily cooking will be very welcome, but after a while I know that restaurant food will begin to jade the palate. And so we are renting small apartments and houses over the next four months, little places with kitchens, a small garden or a terrace, a place to call home for a few weeks at a time and to enjoy some home cooking. I’m also looking forward to the French and Italian bakeries for our daily bread. I recently purchased this strong fabric bag at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Van Gogh exhibition. Note the long length. Perfect for a baguette or two in France.

Carry bag from Van Gogh’s seasons, NGV, Melbourne.

My future posts for the rest of 2017 will be written en route, assuming that WiFi is free and fast, something that I take for granted anywhere in Asia but not necessarily in Europe. I hope to attend a cooking school in Chiang Mai, visit some Hong Kong kitchens, write from an old stone bothy house in Skye, and cook in the houses we have rented in France and Italy. My posts will include a walk around some French and Italian markets. I couldn’t imagine travelling to these countries without purchasing some lovely local produce to take ‘home’ and cook. I’m dreaming of some freshly shucked belon oysters in Brittany, miniature fresh and aged goat’s cheeses hand shaped by a grand-mère in the Dordogne, perhaps washed down with a Bergerac red. And some autumnal produce from the stalls of a medieval bastide market town in Languedoc. The anticipation is enormous. I hope you will join me, at least vicariously, in my travels.

Today’s bread. Celia’s High Hydration, with ears.

In the meantime, I have made our final loaves to see us through the last week, as well as dehydrating some sourdough starter to tuck away for our return.

Batards of the Finnish seeded loaf.

I am also enjoying this little corner of the kitchen since the new plaster board was installed last week, covering the dated 80s pine boards. I attached the monkey face calligraphy to the end of the dresser, a gift from Brian.

Colonial kitchen dresser with new wall.
Another little calligraphy corner , gift from Brian, on the end of my dresser.

Thanks to Sherry for hosting of this ongoing series. You can check out other kitchen posts on Sherry’s Pickings.

Marlene de Blasi’s picnic basket.

‘Always ready in the boot is a basket fitted with wine glasses, two of our most beautiful ones, plus two tiny bohemian cut-crystal glasses, napkins made from the unstained parts of a favourite tablecloth, a box full of odd silver, a wine screw, a good bottle of red wine- always replaced immediately after consumption- a flask of grappa, a Spanish bone handled folding knife, a pouch of sea salt, a small blue and white ceramic pepper grinder, plates of various size… ‘ Tuscan Secrets, A bittersweet adventure.



65 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, July 2017”

  1. If You Care paper! I buy that at our local grocery–that is some wonderful wax paper, as is their parchment paper. Oh, I envy you, Francesca. I so look forward to ‘traveling’ right there with you. Have fun!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I had it sent from USA – two rolls for $19. As the rolls are 75 metres long, they should last for ages. Thanks for mentioning the brand, Loisa, I forgot to do that in my post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How can you possibly contain your excitement? My heart is aflutter just in anticipation of you painting your blog with images and wordsmithmanship that we get to savour along the way.
    Bon Voyage

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And thank you for the comment! It did make it to my blog. Like many bloggers, I screen all comments before they actually appear on my posts. Otherwise, the spammers win.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. *hugest smile* You must be one of the few people in the world to travel with a picnic set: the beautiful Laguiole cutlery has just been on sale, heavily discounted, at some of my favourite on-line stores also. Have been sorely tempted! And but a few decades ago you would have counted up the dresses and shoes and not all the paraphernalia needed for current media contacts !! Your journey sounds fabulous: please make us part of it as often as you can . . . as Ardys said: buon viaggio!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Grazie Eha. I will keep you posted along the way. Writing is what happens in my down time, a forced rest and reflection break each day in lieu of a nap.That picnic set is essential as the French markets are just so good- last time ( 2011,) we found ourselves a little grassy spot on the Vezere river, after loading up with all sorts of treats from Le Bugue market- paella, cheeses, strawberries, baguette, olives,……


      1. Well, I ‘blog-read’ as my ‘downtime’ so we are on the same page 🙂 !! And since you are about the fourth I know this European summer to be able to ‘brag’ about all the ‘goodies’ at a French or Italian market the colour green is becoming rather predominant in my thinking pattern!! I actually remember sneaking bags of deli products into our hotel rooms way back in Paris etc et al, hoping the glorious aromas did not reach the nose of the concierge whilst walking past . . . 🙂 ! Hmmm : Tour de France with its beautiful vistas beginning tonight at some ungodly hour . . . it will have to do . . .

        Liked by 1 person

        1. While not mad about Le Tour itself, I love watching them whizz past those gorgeous villages. At a certain age, one wonders how many more long trips can be undertaken to Europe. It’s just so far, and the journey can be quite uncomfortable.


          1. My apologies about another return . . . re TdF – Watching absolutely gorgeous ‘bottoms’ often headed by remarkably intelligent ‘brains’ for over a dozen years the impossibly ‘late night runs’ ex Australia for 21 nights every July have become a life pattern . . . . one in which there is a big sign on the door ‘not before 10am’ 🙂 !! . . . ‘I did it my way’ .. . . . God bless Frankie . . .


  4. Oh, Francesca, you are going to be living my dream. I just had to stop and read/show this to my husband – “fabulous”, he said , “anything you want at Bunnings” – boom, that was the sound of me coming back to earth! We have friends who spent a year house-sitting in various locations in Europe where they had such wonderful experiences. I shall hitch my armchair to your wagon and dream my way into your lovely photos. I can’t wait to sniff the air in the markets, feast my eyes on the fresh produce, hear the buzz of your picnic cutlery, the gurgle from the wine bottle, and explore your new kitchens and landscapes. Safe travels and happy landings. …and I love your dresser too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jan- and I love your way with words,’ the buzz of the picnic cutlery, the gurgle from the wine bottle’. And that wonderful thump of your husband’s ‘anything you want at Bunnings?’ Saturday realities. Glad you can come along on my journey.


  5. I’d like to think the find of Laguiole cutlery is a wonderful omen for your trip that it will be everything you anticipate, and more. I love Marlene de Blasi’s picnic basket, anything Marlene de Blasi at all is a fine thing. Her books have influenced my values greatly. Bon voyage… I too will be onboard vicariously via my screen & sunny spot on the verandah ♡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remembered that you are also a fan of de Blasi’s books. Such style and such rich writing that only women seem to enjoy. All those wonderful recycled velvet curtains turned into skirts, and her way with food. Once I saw that set of cutlery, I though of her again and had to find that passage.
      Enjoy your spot on the sunny verandah Dale.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lucky you Francesca it sounds perfect. I love your picnic set. Where are you going in Italy? We will be in Sicily for two weeks in September and A week somewhere else in Italy, have decided where yet. A quick three week trip. My first back there for almost thirty years. enjoy your cooking and I look forward to the posts. Louise


    1. Have a great trip Louise. Sicily is such a wonderful place- I have very fond memories of my time there. Another friend of mine is heading to Sicily in September too. The best time to go there as it’s still very warm.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for joining in Francesca. How marvellous your trip will be. I will look forward to reading about your wonderful holiday. Isn’t it funny how much electronic stuff comes with us on hols now? Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bon voyage. Alternating between hotels and a flat during a long trip is nice.

    I hope that bag is just a little too small for a baguette. I love to break the top off a warm crusty baguette sticking out of my shopping bag and eat it on the way back to the flat.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I read your post yesterday and wanted to comment then, but it’s been bedlam here with kids in the house. You made me feel wistful about travel. We did something similar in 2011, five Euro countries, 5 months of carefree bliss and great food. Any space in the luggage for a freeloader?


  10. Greetings from Budapest! Safe travels to you, lovely one… truly sorry I haven’t been commenting. Looking forward to seeing your postcards on Instagram (I hope?). Check out what’s in my Budapest kitchen if you have time. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. You sound so excited! I would, too, if ever we travelled this way. Staying in one place for a week or two where you can shop and do your own cooking is fantastic, plus you get to know the local area very well. Looking forward to those posts! Καλό Ταξίδι as we say in Greece – good travels.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Debi. It’s a little longer than our usual annual escape and across three seasons so packing is a bit of a nightmare. we usually travel light, and in Asia. Haven’t been to Europe for 6 years.


  12. Wow Francesca what an adventure to unravel… it all sounds amazing. I love your picnic basket too. Good idea to take some wax paper for wrapping cheese in. Safe travels and look forward to your posts from abroad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Buon Viaggio Julie. Crete-how lovely. Swimming and warmth. No picnic set, no worries. I am sure Mr B might have packed a little Swiss Army knife- all that one really needs in a French market or after a trip to a French wine cave.

      Liked by 1 person

Now over to you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.