Archive for Johnnie Depp

Awaken to Five French Men for dinner.

Posted in French Affair with tags , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2014 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour friends,

My curious female friend asked me the other day, “If I could invite five French men (from any era) to dinner, who would they be?” I really had to think hard. There were so many to choose from. I had to base my decisions on some very important criteria.

I wouldn’t invite anyone who would not appreciate my cooking nor did I want someone who would dominate the conversation across the dinner table. It was then that the delightful Marcel Marceau sprang to mind who I knew would be duly appreciative, behave himself impeccably, sit non prejudicial of other guests, remain a decorative chap in harmony with his surroundings. What you see is what you get with Marceau as the sublime French mime artist. He’d wear a broad red grin when happy, frown when sad, be an undeniably good listener not to mention very hygienic wearing his trademark white gloves so he could help with the dishes.

Then I gave a thought to sitting at the table with Francois Hollande, France’s current Prime Minister. Without his wife of course. Though his powers of seduction may intrigue, I doubt he would stay long in the company of predominately male guests and he would consequently be preoccupied with affairs on his mobile to be of any real interest. Well, perhaps he can stay for a while and talk Socialism and equality for women but let’s not mention marriage and film stars in the one sentence.

Now let me think …Perhaps Johnnie Depp would be by next guest and yes I know he’s not officially a Frenchman, he does act like one and has a house outside the little French village of Plan de la Tour with its little French vineyard. Besides, he was very nice on our first encounter, stopping at the roadside crossing for me in Saint Paul de Vence, remember (https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/awaken-to-saint-paul-de-vence-france/)

According to People’s Magazine, Depp has been voted the “Sexiest Man Alive” so naturally he’d be instantly forgiven if he arrives a little disheveled. I know he’d appreciate good wine and my chocolate for sure, though I read his taken to devouring scorpions which are currently not on my menu. I’m certain though a tad shy and hibernating, Johnnie would no doubt feel freer as the night went on and conversations of a bohemian life and his music would be easy listening especially with a guitar at hand. He’d do party tricks and make his tattoos dance and trying to focus on them after much wine appreciation would make for a jolly evening. Yes, Johnnie’s good value at dinner. Let’s not put him too close to Marcel though as I believe he has a fear of clowns.

My fourth guest has to be Napoleon. Now given he’d have a strong competitive streak and so the wine that Johnnie brings would be depleted in no time but he has been known for Plan B assertiveness and will no doubt have his hip flask of favourite cognac inside his top coat. Some people don’t realise that’s why he’s given to losing one arm underneath. Napoleon will relish my beef bourguignon (my recipe can be yours at: https://myfrenchawakening.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/awakening-to-french-recipes/

And it’s a loyal act when Napoleon would tackle any man to the floor who doesn’t eat. Dear Napoleon with his feisty thirst for adventure and beautiful spirit may add be a touch of rivalry among the ranks but he’d have a lot in common with Francois Hollande and I’m certain that Deppe could lull him with a song or Marcel would place an invisible box over him if that fails. One can’t deny Napoleon would make great conversation with sordid tales of war and frenzy,  socialism and political dramas in his redefining France. He does well generally under pressure, though I think I stand for the whole party when I say that I hope he doesn’t bring up the whole, boring “construction of roads through France”contribution but mention the part he played in his renewal of the Catholic Church in France instead. That could certainly encourage debate.

Lastly, it would be a toss between Jacques Cousteau, the Marine Conservationist with the lovely tan, (who on second thoughts, wouldn’t enjoy my St Jacques scallops nor appreciate sucking claw meat from our deep sea lobster as much as the others) and either the existentialist thinker Jean Paul Sartre or maybe Voltaire the poet and philosopher would come instead.

I have an overriding sense that if Jean Paul will not acknowledge he’s actually present at the table it leaves me with no other choice but to invite Voltaire. After all, Voltaire with his ill health needs a good feed and wouldn’t waste any morsel of food. Besides, he also understands spirited liaisons (just ask Emilie du Chalelet) and with his sharp wit and hilarious verses, we’d all be enlightened by his truthfulness and candour. He’s sure to remind us at the table that, “Anything too stupid to be said is sung”.

So there you have it- my list of five for dinner. Have I left anyone out? Who would you invite?

Bon Appetit!

Therese

copyright@2014Therese Waddell

Advertisements

Awaken to Saint Paul de Vence, France.

Posted in French Affair, French Cafes, French Painters, French Travel, South East France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2013 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour my friends, If you fancy being somewhere else from where you are right now, an inspirational change of pace will welcome you in a village in Provence beyond the French Riviera. This place has always been a throbbing hub and perfect hideaway for great artists and imaginative creatures. Like bees to the honey pot, artists such as Matisse, Braque, Miro, Picasso, Mogdigliani and my favourite painter Chagall, as well as writers, (Aldous Huxley), beautifull bohemians (Johnnie Depp) and even an ex Rolling Stoner, all seem to have grown like spicy radishes in gloriously warm weather and a good watering hole. The village you ask? It’s  Saint Paul de Vence. DSC_0880 Saint Paul de Vence is securely nestled between the villages of La Colle sur Loup and Vence and it’s seven kilometres inland from the Mediterranean which you can see from the cemetery at its peak. DSC_0903 Being relatively close to the sea, Saint Paul de Vence has long been easily accessed since the year 1000 but these days the No 400 bus will do nicely. Or, if you’re going by car, you’re looking at about 45 minutes depending on today’s traffic from Nice.

Take a look at what lies ahead. You’ll get your first inkling that this village is going to be really good and colourful when standing right here beholding Chagall’s work with his Saint Paul de Vence in the background. DSC_0879 Keep walking closer and you’ll reach the boules area (Place de Joue de Boules). It’s easy to escape here with friendly locals where you can spend hours swinging low on crunchy gravel outside the rampart walls.  Or maybe boules is not your thing and if you haven’t yet shaken that competitive spirit off you from home, you may fancy a game of chess instead under these ancient plane trees… IMG_3218 DSC_0883 However, there’s a strong possibility that the warmth of the place simply lulls you and your tongue becomes a divining rod looking for a water hole. I know the perfect cafe and bar to have a cold beer and watch the game as Picasso did- it’s  just the thing… DSC_0921

From your table you’re likely to spot a celebrity outside the famous La Colombe D’Or across the road, who have come for the very reason as you. It happens. Bono, Richard Attenborough, Michael Caine, Roger Moore, X Stones rock artist Bill Wyman (who has a house nearby) and many more, have all eaten here.

Artists use to pay their drink and board bills to the entrepreneurial Roux family owners with paintings, sculptures  and drawings and so over time, La Colombe D’Or has built up an outstanding collection of  twentieth century art which now decorate the dining rooms and back garden courtyard. My french awakening to La Colombe D’Or and her history came about by reading Martine’s Buchet’s book. In fact, it made me pay a visit. Being an art museum, guesthouse and restaurant all in one, the glamorous and the beautiful-on-the-insiders fill its space in a palette of colour and expectation.

I read that the guestbook reveals the presence of Edward VIII (then the Prince of Wales) and Wallace Simpson, David Niven, Orson Welles, Cary Grant, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Marlene Dietrich, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Charlie Chaplin.  Zelda and F.Scott Fitzgerald and many more- which makes me wonder who warmed my chair as I lunch with Matisse.

The ambience inside its walls is exactly what I like-disarmingly simple and very relaxed- serving regional foods like sardines, saucisson, hams, cheeses, figs, couscous, red cabbage, fruit tarts and aubergines etc. I can taste why it’s so popular. After lunch, you can take a dip in the pool and degrease yourself of south-of-France sleepiness while swimming with Calder- if you’re a guest of course. The perfect setting for a french affair! Sleeping with Bonnieu as a guest proves me right.

What to do next? Explore of course. Walk upwards along any of the meandering cobblestone lanes… DSC_0888

and listen to the sound in the artistry of a local’s world…

 

 

DSC_0918 DSC_0887

Let it be said that there must be something in the clean, clear air here and the high altitude breeze brings with it inspiration. The light from a provincial sun soothes and warms and makes colours sparkle with poetry. You can see it in Chagall’s paintings and mosaics when he lived right here with a new found feeling of hope and freedom. DSC_0914 - Version 2

His canvases fill with swooping lovers and circus performers and a passion for living. I like that. Smiling goats and joy oozing from canvases- it doesn’t get better than that. He lived until he was 97 in his beloved Saint Paul. DSC_0906 - Version 2 Perhaps Chagall drank from this fountain of youth here… DSC_0896   and always found respite among the shadows, DSC_0897   and a growing clarity of thought and peace. DSC_0911

As for me, as I dawdled across the road here in the early morning, I turned around to give a wave of thanks to the kind driver who had stopped  DSC_0926

so abruptly to let me cross. It was at that instant that I too became like Chagall and all the others mesmerized by Saint Paul de Vence, those who never want to leave this place- for the driver behind the wheel …was Johnnie Depp.

AuRevoir and Best wishes (and thankyou Johnnie for stopping)

Therese Waddell

copyright@ 2013Therese Waddell

Awaken to French Chocolate in the Search for Johnnie Depp.

Posted in East of France, Food and Recipes, French Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Apologies for being away for what seemed like forever, but I’ve been to beautiful Melbourne, Victoria- home of the wonderful Belgian chocolate cafe chain called Koko Black, who have absolutely no qualms in serving you the most deliciously dark Belgian molten chocolate- literally the best I’ve ever tasted.

It was all too hard to surpass (and why should I?) I think I stayed beyond what reality deemed as reasonable. but who cares? On that same sinful occasion, I chose one single handmade chocolate to accompany my hot chcolate. The lower half of it was a replica of a shelled walnut, filled with a creamy hazelnut praline and crowned with a hand cracked  fresh walnut, reminding me of France in an instant…. and there you have it! My absence.

To get an inkling of these hand made indulgences, take a wee peep at:

http://www.kokoblack.com.au/

The ‘Koko Black’ my friend Mary and I visited, is located half way through Melbourne’s  grand  Royal Arcade, between a hive of gorgeous hat and knitware shops and galleries boosting with new season colour and pizzazz and not to mention near the fabulous SUGA store (co-owned by Koko’s Shane Hills) with its rolling ribbons of striped rock candy under your very eyes!

To top off the whole chocoholic Koko seduction, chocolate is served by equally warm and attentive staff who, like fine nurses dispensing to the sick and infirmed, encourage and nurture in the best way possible. I like that. Shane Hills seems to be doing things right and it’s a quality establishment in which he should be very proud.

The black and white checquered tiled flooring of the Royal Arcade and the gorgeous glass roofing has a definate Paris ‘Awaken to the Glass Passageways of Paris’ feel to it, but it was that little walnut chocolate which tasted so much like those which I had in France which sent my French awakening into a deluge of French chocolate memories reeling about in my head. So let me tell you…

It all began in the eastern region of Burgandy, in the fortress town of  Semur en Auxois.

Under it’s fifteenth century Porte Guillier (or medieval gateway), the inscription in stone of 1552 reads,“ les semurois se plaisent fort en L’Acointance des estrangers”, translated as, “the people of Semur take great pleasure in meeting strangers”. That was good enough for me.

Our welcome at the café brasserie, “Le Mont Drejet” a few metres from the arch in Rue Buffon, proved that this inscription was so accurate today.

But Semur was famous for something else…chocolate.

Just a few steps away was the famous but solidly closed ‘Les Semurettes’ chocolatier and patisserie. The locals had told me that the owner and chef chocolatier, Bruno Coeur (in the family business) is famous for providing his chocolate knowledge and chocolate making tools  for the film ‘Chocolate’. We took its closure as a sign to go right to the heart of the ‘Chocolate Film’ itself-to Flavigny Sur Ozerain.

Twenty two kilometres from Semur en Auxois, we pulled into Flavigny Sur Ozerain, a medieval fortified town and  home to many of the scenes of one of my favourite films, ‘Chocolate’ starring Juliette Binoche, Leslie Caron, Dame Judy Dench and my personal legendary heart throb, Johnny Depp.

I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough, gobbling signs in all directions and ready to pounce. I could only remember a few times when I have felt like this. Could it have been at the door of David Jones for the post Christmas sales or when I won two tickets to the Elton John concert?

Our Mission was to find the actual site where Juliette Binoche had her chocolate shop in the film, ‘Chocolate’. We obsessively perused the narrow winding maze of streets and alleyways, piecing together size and location of buildings, slope of streets and shapes of windows.

I had remembered that the shop in the film had an arched window showcasing amazing chocolate statues and temples and other Easter treats, with a large door on its left, (the same door that Johnny Depp had offered to fix in the film.) Possibilities narrowed as the only arched window we could find was the one directly in front of us. We both looked at one another.

Peering through the window, the elaborate chocolate display had long since disappeared and thick dust had settled inside and out. The counter top where Juliette Binoche’s would offer customers their favourite type of chocolate was also gone and a single table and chair stood alone in a darkened room.

Time had passed since the filming. We noticed however, fine lettering across the window pane with the name ‘chocolate’ in a calligraphic scroll not unlike the name ‘Eternity’ I saw under the Harbour Bridge one New Years Eve evening. It wasn’t large or in lights but it was a clue.

I turned around to my dear friend The’re’se and there was a local woman behind her by this time. My hesitations about the shops authenticity completely disappeared as I caught her eye. She nodded and smiled to me approvingly. The locals knew the secret and we had found it. There was only one thing I could do. I walked over to the large wooden dusty old door and kissed it. Yes I kissed the door that Johnny Depp had stroked and breathed a long sigh of contentment…

The search for chocolate can bring amazing results…

A chocolate obsession can take you anywhere. Blame any welcoming signs.

P.S I have to go to Melbourne again next week. Oh well…

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell