Category Archives: Photography

Life in Images: Hospices de Beaune


I won’t go so far as to say it was a homework assignment. Suffice it to say that the annual charity auction at the Hospices de Beaune was understood to be a cultural supplement to our coursework. Basically, I had to go take part in the festivities.

The Hospices de Beaune used to be a hospital for the poor. As in, back in the 1400’s, when it was founded. Now it is a museum (and one of the most magnificent examples of French XV century architecture in Burgundy). The charity auction has been held annually since 1851, always on the third Sunday of November.

The Hospices’ eponymous domaine comprises 61 hectares (150 acres) of donated vineyard land, much of it classified Grand Cru and Premier Cru.

The prices – encouraged by carefully chosen hosts, like this year’s former first lady and ex-supermodel Carla Bruni-Sarkozy – are out of this world, even for Grand Cru. Carla sold the presidential cuvée (a 350 liter barrel) for 270,000 euros, for example.

Nicolas and I ran into more than a few members of my class during the day, but, try as we might, we didn’t spot Carla. (Let’s be real: after thirty minutes of elbowing at the window of the auction hall, we retreated in search of Nutella slathered crêpes and waffles.)

One thing is for sure: the people-watching was prime.

So was the wine tasting…of course!

2012-11-16 Hospices de Beaune

IMG_1056{Doing a little publicity work for MyVitibox.}



IMG_1049{The “Anti-Parker Wine Buyer’s Guide”: The Seven Capital Sins…obviously there are mixed feelings about Parker here, as in the USA.}



IMG_1012{Cougar sighting?}





Filed under Culture, Photography, Wine

It’s Derby Time in Kentucky!

It’s officially Derby season (or has been for more than a week now) in Louisville. Here are some pictures of people “keeping Louisville weird” at the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair last Sunday.

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Filed under Art, Cool Characters, Culture, Home, Kentucky, Photography

Life in Images: Easter

{Notice the dog looking in at the food.}

Happy Easter!

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Filed under Home, Photography

Swiss Chard, parmesan rinds, and white beans: a unique recipe for the end of winter and a colorful welcome to spring

It seems like springtime here in Kentucky. I slept with my window open last night and awoke to birds chirping in the tree outside. Spring birds. Happy birds.

They reminded me that in a few weeks it will be too late to make one of my favorite winter soups. (Sure, you can make hearty soup in spring, but it’s just so much more satisfying when it is cold outside!)

As I washed and patted my chard to the sound of white beans boiling on the stove, I thought, it would be a shame not to take a picture of this beautiful bouquet. I ran for my camera.

Not all chard is technicolor, so I recommend searching for “Rainbow Chard” in the supermarket. When it is packed together in the produce section, you can’t see what surprises are in store. It’s a real pleasure to unwrap the tie that binds the leaves, revealing bright red, pink, orange, and yellow stems. More than the recipe, this is what I wanted to share with you. It made me smile, and although I was using it to make a good hearty soup, I couldn’t help but think again of spring when I saw that rainbow in my hands!

*Some people are leery of using greens in soup, and a lot of people have never tried chard. Please, oh, please do! It is subtle, almost sweet — not at all like spinach — and delicious!


Parmesan Broth with Swiss chard and White Beans

A deeply satisfying soup that can compete with chicken noodle as a winter cure-all.Serves 4 to 6.

Over low heat, steep 8 cups chicken stock with 8 ounces Parmesan rinds for about 45 minutes, until the rinds are soft. Strain the liquid and reserve. // In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, sauté 1 smashed garlic clove in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat until garlic just begins to color. Add 1 dried red chili, crumbled; 4 cups loosely packed Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves cut into ribbons; and stir to coat. //Add the warm, strained stock and 2 cups canned cannellini beans and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon lemon zest. To serve, ladle soup over a slice of toasted country bread and drizzle with olive oil. —Sara Jenkins of Porsena and Porchetta, New York (Click here for full article)

{Hello, from Rêve}

Click here to see it in French, from Mélie: Continue reading

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Filed under Food, Photography, Recipes/Cooking

Pur sang: Images of Thoroughbreds


I grew up on the back of a horse. There was a time when neighbors who spotted me on foot would ask if my horse was lame or sick. They expected me to be on a horse or beside a horse but never without a horse. It’s surprising to some of these neighbors and friends when I tell them my life in France doesn’t include much riding. I guess I’m not the type they’d expect to have grown out of it.

And I haven’t.

Each time I’m home I’m reminded of the thrill of galloping over cross-country fences and winding through the trees or splashing into the creek. Although I don’t ride daily, my love for horses remains. When I have the time and the means, one day I’ll gather the passion and will to ride and pack them up with me. I’ll take them wherever I am living at that time and plant them there. For now though, I’m content to find them safe where I left them a few years back: at my old Kentucky home.

{Rêve: “In the winter we gals let it all hang out.”}

{George, feeling good}


J’ai grandi sur le dos d’un cheval. A une époque, les gens qui me croisaient à pied me demandaient si mon cheval était blessé ou malade. Ils s’attendaient à me voir à cheval, ou à côté d’un cheval mais jamais sans cheval. Cela étonne certains de ces voisins et amis à qui je raconte que je ne monte pas beaucoup à cheval en France. Je pense qu’ils ne s’attendaient pas à ce que je puisse m’en passer.

Et je ne m’en passe pas.

A chaque retour à la maison je retrouve le frisson du galop par-dessus les clôtures, les slaloms dans les arbres ou les plongeons dans la crique. Même si je ne monte pas tous les jours, mon amour des chevaux persiste. Quand j’en aurai le temps et les moyens, un jour, je regrouperai ma passion et ma volonté de monter à cheval et je les embarquerai avec moi. Je les emmènerai où que je vive à ce moment-là et je les installerai là. Mais pour l’instant, je me contente de les retrouver sains et sauf à l’endroit où je les ai laissés il y a quelques années : dans ma vieille maison du Kentucky.

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Filed under Home, Horses, Kentucky, Photography

Life in Images: Happy 2012!

Hoping these images will get you all caught up (if a picture’s worth a thousand words…). Happy New Year, readers! Special thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement in 2011. I relished each comment and delighted in hearing that you appreciate my writing. Honestly, you’ve inspired me in so many ways. Writing this blog and hearing from you has brought much clarity to me in terms of where I am going and what I do best. So, thanks for launching me into a brand new year with lots of hope!

{Had to include this USA Santa from a visit with Erin’s family}

{“Sisters” + Oliver}


{Christmas Dinner and Lucien Boillot wine}

{Boxing Day Hunt}


Filed under Christmas, Gratitude, Horses, Kentucky, Photography, Wine

Charles Joguet Chinon Franc de Pied: an adventure

I have to admit, as Monsieur Jacquey closed the iron gate behind me and motioned toward his secluded front door, I looked over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t locking the latch.

“Le Nez de Saint Pierre,” he called himself.  St. Peter’s nose.  He was nice enough, although he blinked a little too curiously at me through his yellow tinted glasses. “I didn’t expect a young lady,” he said. I gripped my cell phone and followed him up a path to his “office.”

Monsieur Jacquey sells wine from his own collection, right out of his home, which is why I was a little wary. But he’s the only one in Dijon who had the wine I was looking for — a 2005 Charles Joguet Chinon Cabernet Franc — so, after supplying Nico with the name, address, and phone number,  I had rung the “nose’s” doorbell and hoped for the best.

His office was a converted patio adjacent to the kitchen. It had its own entrance, marked by an oak barrel. Inside, papers and books covered a giant desk, which was lit only by a computer screen. I took a seat opposite Monsieur Jacquey and he poured me a taste of a 2006 Braucol from Gaillac, a town “not far from Toulouse,” he said. Ever vigilant, I took a calculated sip.

“How does a young woman like you become interested in wine?” he asked, an eyebrow arched over one oval lens.

Was that a trick question?

“I came to France,” I said.

“Thought I heard an accent.”

Yes. Yes you did, I thought. But I said, “Yes, and I still have trouble finding my words.”

He excused himself for seeming nosy (“Forgive me for sounding indiscreet”) and went right ahead with his questions. “Did you come to France for love? Do you live here in Dijon? What are your plans?” etc. I did my best to answer politely, and discreetly, then, glancing at my watch, I searched for the infamous bottle.

“Oh, one moment,” he said, taking the hint. Scrounging around behind a cotton curtain, he emerged with a dark bottle, almost black. I smiled when I recognized the familiar label, adorned with beloved French humorist Francois Rabelais’ portrait. (“Drink constantly,” he said once. “You will never die.”)

Jacquey placed the bottle between us. On the label, the name of the vineyard forfeits the spotlight to a vibrant red diagonal band announcing “Cabernet Franc de Pied.”  My host underlined it with his finger. “This is a special wine,” he said.

“Cabernet Franc is the grape of Chinon. When the phylloxera came in the 1800’s, it wiped out most of the vineyards in France, Chinon included.” He tipped his chin. “The insect came from America, but then so did the cure. American vines were immune to the phylloxera, so after a while, when all other remedies failed, someone thought to plant American roots and to graft French vines onto them, to save French wine. According to purists, something was irreparably lost, even though the rootstock doesn’t interfere with the development of the wine grape.”

Oh, the joys of French-American sibling rivalry.

“Well,” he continued, arching an eyebrow. “Some of the vines were saved. And that’s why they’re called franc de pied. They’re 100% French, and proud of it. Like I said, this wine’s special.”

After paying for the wine and thanking Monsieur Jacquey, I practically skipped away with my new bottle. When would I taste it, and with whom? Would I lay it down for a while, or decant it and taste it now? With what meal would I pair it? These questions brought a smile to my face as I made my way back toward centre ville.

For the answers, tune in to tomorrow’s post!


Filed under Adventure, Cool Characters, Culture, Dijon, Photography, Wine