A certain joie de vivre….

I currently have the luxury of writing my blog in 30 degree heat with a light breeze in the kitchen of a very petite medieval French house in the Languedoc Roussillon – well, more 3 rooms stacked on top of each other but you get the picture.

Writing in the shade on a sunny day, filled with a dappled glow of a truly From Scratch lunch, life couldn’t be better.

Now I was trying to work out, what makes it so good? Is it the holiday or is it the From Scratch food?  I am well over half way through my year now and, as holidays always seem to provide, I am starting to get some perspective on the project so far.

Holidays are technically off limits to ‘From Scratch’ as I am forced by my lack of true isolation e.g. sharing meals with 3-5 other people to eat what is provided. But here – right here – you couldn’t get closer to the idyllic dream of a From Scratch existence.

Here a potato salad is made from potatoes dug minutes earlier from the ground, served with a handful of freshly picked herbs and a glug of zesty dressing. This, accompanied by giant Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes, freshly baked bread, and a roast chicken completes a lunch fit for kings (summed up clearly by the word ‘fresh’). This is only to be surpassed by my raspberry stained lips that are the by-product of picking fruit for pudding – alas, most of those poor raspberries never made it to the table.


This week so far has been the utter encapsulation of the spirit of summer food I was so excited by a few months back. I couldn’t be happier.

You could argue it’s easy here, and it is. The appreciation for good ingredients, the amount of produce grown in the region, the soil, the sunshine…..

But just because it’s easier here doesn’t mean it’s impossible back home.

So the question is how do I return to London with a similar joie de vivre?

I think one element is time. Often the best thing about a holiday is there is no agenda, no prescribed times, and no set routine; if you want to spend three hours making and then eating a meal nothing is there to stop you. So instead of fumbling around for excuses, you just get on with it and you’re truly in the moment enjoying every taste, texture and flavour.

The other part is ingredients and being able to pick things fresh from the plant. Whilst we might not always have the sunshine, (so chillis might be out) or even a garden,  potato’s, herbs, raspberries, strawberries, green beans … I could go on, all grow quite happily on our island with it’s slightly less desirable climate. So whilst I might not be able to stay on holiday forever, I am definitely going to try and bring some back with me, probably in the form of recipes.

Here is one of my favourite meals so far:

Gambas and Meatballs In a Tomato Sauce


  • 200g- 300g of Beef mince
  • Gambas – or Prawns
  • 2  Cloves of Garlic
  • Handful of Parsley
  • 1 tsp of Mustard
  • 1 tsp Pimento
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 Chilli
  • 1 Onion
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dash of white wine



  1. Take your mince, mix it with 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tsp of mustard, small amount of parsley, and season with salt and pepper
  2. Mould this mixture into meatballs and place in a hot oiled pan, put a lid on and let them brown
  3. Clean the prawns and add them to the pan to cook
  4. Meanwhile crush the remaining garlic and some parsley with a pestle and mortar, until you have a paste. Then add 1 chopped tomato and some olive oil and carry on mixing into a paste. Finally add a tsp of pimento and mix in
  5. Remove cooked meat and prawns, add chopped onion and chilli to the pan and let it soften
  6. Next add some wine to deglaze the pan, then pop the meat and prawns back in, add your sauce mixture, the final chopped tomato and let it simmer for 30 mins
  7. Once this is done its ready to eat, either serve with some fresh baguette, rice or pasta
  8. Et voila, Summer Holiday on a plate 🙂


Next I am off to a local Boulangerie to try my hand at making some viennoiserie! Watch this very floury space!



One thought on “A certain joie de vivre….

  1. This was truly yummy and I shall try to replicate it when back in rainy England! Mediterranean memories 2011.