Tag Archives: Catalonia

Franco-Finnish Christmas meal

Last year we spent Christmas in Paris with my parents who flew over from Finland. Traditional Finnish Christmas meal includes ham but I do not eat ham and my parents were curious to eat like the French, so this is what our Franco-Finnish Christmas meal looked like and consisted of:

1. Champagne for apéritif! My father was responsible for opening the bottle and my mother was ready with her glass (Finnish design, naturally). champagne for aperitif

2. We begun with an Elegant amuse-bouche recipe for Christmas that included Russian caviar and scallops tarama:elegant amuse-bouche

3. And continued with oysters from Cancale  (oysters are an integral part of French Christmas): oysters from Cancale

4. From oysters we moved onto foie gras (another integral part of French Christmas!): foie gras at ChristmasUntil now we had been drinking champagne but this is when we switched to sweet white wine by Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon: Le Rêve de Pennautier, “Vendanges d’Après” Vin de France (BLANC MOELLEUX). An excellent choice, a sublime wine!!

5. After the oysters we enjoyed some Finnish smoked salmon….smoked salmon from Finland

6. …before moving to our already very famous French Christmas meal: stuffed goose from Les Provincesstuffed gooseWe also opened another fantastic bottle of Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon: Mas des Montagnes, “Terroirs d’Altitude”,  AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages. This extraordinary red went so well with the goose that we could only say “wow”. And continue eating.

7. After the goose it was finally time to dig into cheese and there is no better time to eat Mont d’Or than Christmas: mont d'or cheese(Unfortunately the wine (red Irancy) was not the most perfect choice to go with the cheese; especially after the previous wine)

8. If you now think we could not eat any more, you are wrong… For dessert, we had marron glacé and calissons: Marron glacé

with some chocolate and vin chaudChristmas chocolate and vin chaud

Our Christmas was merry and delicious, and I hope yours was too!

If you want to know more about our cooking ingredients etc., have a look at this post too: Christmas meal essentials!

And to learn more about the wines, please go here:

PS If you liked this post, you may want to check out Pearlspotting’s Facebook page! Especially since I am flying to Venice tonight and will be updating from there too.

French Christmas meal: stuffed goose from Les Provinces

Traditional Finnish Christmas meal includes an oven-cooked ham but my parents happily followed French traditions while in Paris. Good for me, as I do not eat pork! Les Provinces

One week before Christmas we visited the boucherie-restaurant Les Provinces near Marché d’Aligre to see what our options for the Christmas meal are. The most typical French Christmas meat (poultry) is capon, a castrated rooster, but the butcher suggested we buy goose. After discussing the choice between the capon and the goose with everyone, we agreed that we prefer goose. Price-wise there was no difference and we had a feeling that the goose will be more original –the goose meat is more reddish brown (similar to duck or duckling) whereas the capon remains white as chicken (but is more fatty). So, “Prepare us a nice big goose with stuffing” we told the butcher and left a 10€ prepayment!Les Provinces

In the afternoon of the Christmas Eve we returned to fetch our stuffed goose and in the late morning of the Christmas Day we opened the package to find a beautiful, fat goose from Anjou with some organs aside for those who appreciate them.stuffed goose from Anjou

We followed the roasting instructions: higher temperature in the beginning that gives the goose golden color and crispy texture, and lower temperature during the rest of the time with the aluminium foil. We added a glass of water in the casserole and kept moistening the goose with this water (some fat drained from the goose and mixed with the water). 2 1/2 hours later our goose left the oven and was ready to be cut. Such a beautiful piece of goose it was! roasted goose

Everyone loved the goose and it will surely find its way to our Christmas table again in future! We enjoyed it with sweetened potato casserole, a Finnish dish, but you could also serve roasted carrots and potatoes or other vegetable with it. The red wine we had was Mas des Montagnes, “Terroirs d’Altitude” AOC Côtes du Roussillon Villages, and it was really excellent!!

The stuffing our goose had included veal, poultry liver, onion, alcohol, herbs and spices, and no pork, but remember that nothing prevents you from creating your own stuffing…

Boucherie-restaurant Les Provinces: Easy Saturday dinner from the Aligre Market

Wine: Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon and http://www.lorgeril.com/2-35542-Terroir-d-Altitude.php

PS As a bonus, here you go with a photo of the organs we prepared some days after Christmas. We recognized liver and gizzard but were not sure about the rest. Do you have an idea? goose organs

What to expect to eat in Roussillon?

Earlier this month I was in the region called Languedoc-Roussillon and specifically in the southern part of it, Roussillon. This area of France is truly interesting food-wise: it is very Mediterranean but the mountains lurk in the horizon, it borders Spain and it is considered part of Catalonia. It has a strong culture of jambon, sausages, different types of seafood, snails, rabbit, cod, anchovies and tapas plates etc., and one should not forget the local wine and cheese making!

Roussillon wine

This blog post is about sharing my culinary experiences during the recent five-day trip in Roussillon, and to show you what to expect to see and taste both at restaurants and at markets. Enjoy!

Beautiful garlic! After all, it is the Mediterranean!
garlic in Collioure

Cheese! (mixture of cow and sheep):
cow-sheep cheese

Roquefort-flavored sausage:
soubressade and local sausages

Sea urchins! Salvador Dali liked them… do you?
sea urchin

Catalan snails in tomato-jambon sauce:catalan snails

Warm goat cheese salad: warm goat cheese salad

Mussels with aïoli and grilled cuttlefish:
mussels with aïoli

Mushroom with Balearic spicy sausage called soubressade on a toast:Sobrassada

Duck legs: duck legs

Beefsteak: a beefsteak

Razor shells (my all-time favorite!!): razor shells

“Small tapas assortment”: tapas assortment

My only regret is that we did not have a chance to taste the local oysters, but one always needs to keep a reason to return!

PS Why not to follow Pearlspotting also on Facebook?

Collioure: the pearl of the coastal Roussillon

Collioure is one of those Mediterranean towns that every artist seems to have loved. Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Dufy, Chagall, Braque –you name it– have all immortalized this cute seaside town in the south of France. We spent one night in Collioure, and even if the weather has turned cooler and greyer, we could see and feel the charm of the old town and the historic harbor area.

CollioureI could only wonder how old these plane trees are! It looks like many artists have leaned on them… …imagine the storied they could tell us!

We also witnessed one brave man having a swim in the sea. But after all, who would not be tempted in such beautiful surroundings?Collioure

Collioure has a rich past. Throughout its history, the Spanish have had their fair share of Collioure occupation, and once upon a time Collioure was a summer residence of the King of Majorca! It has been part of France only since 1642.

There is an impressive fort built by Vauban, the military architect of Louis IV, which reminds us of the old battles and the strategic location of Collioure.Vauban fort


If you are traveling in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, make sure to stop here for a day or two. Even during winter season (like last weekend) the life goes on and the tapas scene is quite active. In addition, there are delicious anchovy shops and a dozen of art galleries. And there is the wine route that passes by Collioure –after all, Collioure has its own appellation (appellation d’origine contrôlée, AOC). No wonder all of those artists loved it here!

Salvador Dali’s house in Portlligat

House in Portlligat was the only stable residence of Dali from the -30’s onwards. This is where he worked and lived with Gala, his wife, until her death in 1982. We made an overnight trip from France to this northeastern corner of Spain to see the house yesterday.Salvador Dali house Portlligat

Once inside, the first thing one notices is a huge polar bear holding a lamp. An owl is watching the bear and the visitors. The entrance makes an impression!Entrance to house-museum of Dali, Portlligat

From the entrance the tour continues to the dining room, the studio, the library, the bedroom (the biggest room in the house) and other rooms.

The dining room:Salvador Dali's dining room

The library: Salvador Dali's library

The bedroom (can you spot the animal?):Bedroom of Dali and Gala

Wall decoration: Dali Portlligat

Posters that cover the dressing: The dressing in Dali's house Portlligat

Lastly, one can visit the garden and the pool area: the pool area Portlligat

The guided visit takes about 40 minutes and the house is definitely worth the visit! Be prepared to see a lot of stuffed animals… And remember that one must reserve by internet or telephone. In summer, it is not unusual to book 5-6 days in advance.

Information and booking: http://www.salvador-dali.org/museus/portlligat/en_index.html

Perpignan: a photographer’s paradise

One-hour walk in Perpignan this afternoon was enough to impress me. The town is such a mixture of French and Spanish/Catalan architecture, the buildings are covered with splendid colors and there is that rough, southern-Mediterranean creative edge… If you pay attention, you hear inch’allah more than bonjour. Then there are the jambon shops and bodegas. And there are gypsies dressed in black.

Join me on this inspiring walk!

PerpignanThese first three photos were taken in the gypsy quarter. I had arrived here by accident, and yet I had noticed that the area looked rather poor compared to more touristic and commercial areas, I was just too happy to take photos and watch the life go by. Suddenly a man approached me saying that I should maybe head back toward the center, and it may not be safe to walk around with my camera… Well, I had a glimpse of the famous gypsy quarter and I may even head back tomorrow during the daytime (but with more modest clothes and no jewellery on). Why is it that the forbidden things are often the most attractive ones…?Perpignan

Perpignan gypsies

The following photos were taken in the historical center of Perpignan, which is a cleaned-up version of the gypsy quarter, but equally charming.

Don’t you just love these Catalan-style balconies?Catalan balconies

Or do you prefer this style, often found in the French riviera? Perpignan

On that “less-polished side”,  what do you think of these two photos? Perpignan IMG_7177

Lastly, one more photo (after all, it is the apéritif hour and the bodega is waiting for me!)Perpignan

PS If you are interested in learning more about the Languedoc-Roussillon region, why not to join the Pearlspotting’s Facebook page? I will be here for five days and update Facebook whenever I can!