In My Kitchen, November 2017

Although I’m now in Italy and have a handsome little kitchen in my apartment in Pavia, there has been little time to use it, except for a quick breakfast. One of the oddities of the Italian kitchen is the lack of toaster: the typical home breakfast consists of coffee and sweet biscuits. No wonder lunch is so important to the Italians. So this month, I’m stepping back into my last kitchen of two weeks ago in France. Located in Pézenas, in Languedoc- Rousillon in the south, the house was built in the 15th century and was located right inside the doors of the old city. Old buildings are initially very charming and romantic to the Australian eye but after a week or so, the lack of light became noticeable and I imagine this would be quite disheartening in winter. Despite this, I always got a thrill opening the large wooden door on the street and entering the cold stone courtyard to climb this ancient spiral staircase.

Stairway to  apartment in Pezenas, South of France.
Inside the cold courtyard, leading to my French kitchen.

The kitchen, although tiny, was very functional. I wouldn’t mind slipping this antique copper soup ladle into my handbag!

Antique copper soup ladle, Pezenas kitchen.

Pézenas is close to the sea. Every day, the market square oyster sheds opened for business. We managed to consume a few dozen while staying there. Freshly shucked by the man in the shed, served with a squeeze of lemon and some pan complet, – another speedy meal made(!) in my French kitchen.

More oysters, the best from Pézenas. An acquired taste for some.
First floor window onto little medieval lane, and oysters. Pézenas. The bells are ringing all over the town. Lunchtime.

Plenty of wine found its way into our kitchen. We developed a taste for rosé wine: so much drier than the Australian rosé and so pleasant for lunch.

Another day, another rosé

Occasionally a nice white was discovered, especially on the day I made a tray of crumbed Coquilles Saint Jacques. Scallops are also plentiful here and are always sold on the shell.

White wine and scallops

I’ve been following the trail of the Camino of Santiago ( St Jacques) as we travelled across France. A pilgrim village is easily recognised by the sign of the scallop shells on the walls of cheap hostels or embedded in brass along the footpaths. When I’m at home, I keep the shells and reuse them as fresh scallop meat is more readily available off the shell. The shells always remind me of Santiago de Compostela.

The sign of the pilgrim.

One of the other quick dishes I’ve made in all my French kitchens is so simple it’s worth noting here. Grab some perfectly ripe figs, put them in an ovenproof dish with a good amount of honey, and bake for 10 minutes or so in a hot oven. While they’re cooking, shell some fresh walnuts and toss in a pan to toast, then add them to the baked figs. Serve with crème fraîche. The success of this instant sweet depends on the quality of the honey. Jean Pierre gave us a pot of his own honey back in Monpazier. It is aromatic and floral, similar to Tasmanian Leatherwood.

Baked figs, honey, walnuts. Voila.

The local market at Pézenas was full of treasure from the South. More Mediterranean goods were on offer than the markets in Dordogne.

Olives and capers, Pezenas market.

Thanks Sherry, once again, for hosting this series. You can find other kitchen posts at Sherry’s Pickings.

27 thoughts on “In My Kitchen, November 2017”

  1. I really love the copper ladle in this kitchen. It seems full of character. It is amazing how you can pull together a fabulous meal just by going to the market. Love the scallop shells – have seen these on medieval pilgrim badges. Good to know the saint attached.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful fruits and shell fish! I always wish I could grab some fresh figs, but they don’t travel well and don’t grow here, so your simple recipe becomes impossible to follow!

    best… mae at

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Okay Francesca. I thought we were friends. Showing me figs with walnuts was just the last straw 😉 You must be revelling in taking gorgeous photos in your surrounds, as eating lovely food. Lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. oh my how wonderful all that beautiful produce looks. yum to oysters and scallops (hubby eats neither so we don’t have them at home). I like the sound of that rosé too. So pretty in pink. Yes i agree about light; i would find it very depressing to be living in a house without much natural light. I am used to the bright sunshine of brisbane. What a marvellous trip you are having francesca, and thanks so very much for joining us here in IMK land. cheers sherry x

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  5. Methinks one matter in which I seriously envy you is the variety of apartments you have been able to find throughput your stay in Europe . . . for me the atmosphere surrounding me makes all the difference . . . and this last one, since darkness has not yet come, charmed. Oh the seafood, and Provence is also one of the few areas in the world where I reach for a bottle of dry rose . . . .

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  6. What a wonderful kitchen. Small kitchens are great if one doesn’t like “over the shoulder” cooks. Those oysters and scallops must have tasted wonderful. Dry French Rose has become very popular here and our government run liquor monopoly (Sytembolaget) carries quiet a variety. Hard to beat a nicely chilled glass of Rose on a warm day.

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  7. Francesca, reading your post was like winding up that spiral staircase with hints of light at every turn. Stunning photography and gorgeous glimpses of your life — thank you so much for sharing it. I loved the efficient French kitchen was with everything in reach, your Coquilles St. Jacques, and fig recipe, and I can’t imagine a more exquisite environment to enjoy oysters. xo


  8. Oh! Some of my favourite things, figs, honey, walnuts, oysters. I love that you rejoice in them too. Dry, light Rose is the only kind I drink… The heavy rich variety has become over-abundant in Australia, sadly.
    All your wonderful lodgings… I tend to settle quickly and would find leaving the delights of each a wrench… until anticipation of the next kicked in ♡

    Liked by 1 person

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