AUGUST IN PARIS . . . AND SWEET BASIL IS ON THE MENU

It is August and there are those Parisians who flee to damp, cold stone houses in Brittany, or gritty, sticky beaches in Cap Ferrat.  I have escaped to my little house in Paris ( une petite maison).  The ceilings soar to cool heights.  Linen curtains billow and dance at tall windows.  The floor in my kitchen is ancient stone pavers.  It is cool under my feet. And it keeps the baskets of vegetables and bottles of wine at just the right temperature.

I always spend August in Paris.  August is when friends, from distant cities and exotic climes, appear at my door.  The Tin Man and Augustine appear first.    The Tin Man’s birthday is Bastille Day, and after several weeks of trolling vine yards and forgotten villages they visit  Paris.    This evening my Paris friend Theadora  and Resa of Toronto’s  West Queen Street, will dine.

There is a market at the end of my street. I tuck a basket under my arm and  early so very early  I follow a truck washing the streets of night memories,  I shop for tonight’s dinner.  Looking for basil from Provence.  It’s highly perfumed, piquant, tiny-leaves are the best for a brilliantly flavoured sauce and for tucking into salads.

I am in my kitchen  pounding and turning basil with a pestle in a large marble mortar.   It’s for a light basil sauce.  In the heat of summer it is an answer to almost everything.  I use it as a sauce for pasta (tonight’s dinner).  I glaze it on pizza along with tomato sauce.  I’ve paired it with poached fish.    And lavished it the most traditional way as pistou in a Provençal vegetable soup known as  soupe au pistou.

The recipe is simple.  More so if your kitchen boasts a food process. Into your processor  you place four fat garlic cloves peeled and halved , a half teaspoon of fine sea salt, four cups  of loosely packed of fresh basil leaves and flowers and process it to a paste.  I sometimes include a generous handful of Italian parsley leaves.    Then with the machine running you slowly pour six tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil through the tube and process again.  Taste for seasoning and the transfer it to a small bowl.   Stir before serving.  You can store this covered and refrigerated for three days or frozen for up to six months.  Bring to room temperature and stir again before serving.  You will end up with two-thirds of a cup, or about twelve one-tablespoon servings.

Chilling in a well-used silver ice bucket are  several bottles of vin rosé from the south of France.  Edith Piaf sings about lost loves.  Theadora arrives arms loaded with treasures from the flea markets  –  vintage fashion magazines.   We hear the high heeled taping of  scarlet soled shoes on the stairs.  Resa has arrived.

The night sky has turned pink.  Candles gutter and sputter.  It has been an evening of companionship, deep discussions,  frivolous fanciful dreams, laughter and a few tears.  It has been an August night in  une petite maison (my little house in Paris)

 

 

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16 thoughts on “AUGUST IN PARIS . . . AND SWEET BASIL IS ON THE MENU

  1. Pingback: August in Paris… – Timeless Wisdoms

  2. Lovely verbal images, Virginia. May I come, too? It’s quite hot this year, so I’ll bring some more rosé , a wine I learned to love when my s-i-l lived in Provence and I was there one very hot summer. I love making pesto, so this sounds delicious. I think I can smell the basil now and maybe even some lavender. 🙂

    janet

    • Of course Janet. The kitchen in “une petite maison is generously large and wonderfully unmodern. There’s an old wooden table, scrubbed almost white, and that’s where we work. And eat. And drink. Le Marsiellais is the best basil in Provence to create our sauces, and then we would shop for the large-leafed Genovaise for scattering over tomatoes. That’s lavender hanging to dry … just over head. I’ve a big bouquet of basil on the kitchen window sill. It’s supposed to keep bats and mosquitoes away. Cheers Virginia

  3. Are you really lucky enough to be in Paris this month, or–like the rest of us–day-dreaming about it. You images are so wonderfully vivid I can’t tell, but I do hope you’re there enjoying every minute.

    • Dear Girl, It is a pied a terre of the mind. The very best kind. The rent is perfect. The trip is short and I escape there frequently. Perhaps you would like to join me on mindful get away. You would be so wonderful welcome. XXX Virginia

  4. Dear Virginia, What a wonderful Moveable Feast! I’m also a big time fan of fresh basil. I completely agree. Fabulous in quiches, pizzas, and sauces. They should bottle the scent. I’d wear it. Any tips for gentle clipping or snipping?

    Signed,
    Basil Fanatic

    • Dearest Miss Basil Fanatic, Basil grows in fragrant rows along the rabbit-proof fence in our big vegetable garden I confess to caressing and stroking the basil when I’m in the garden. I have a small pair of scissors and cut large stems off the plant. A fat white vintage pitcher filled with the basil keeps me company on the kitchen counter. It lasts for days and I just pluck a few leaves off when needed to scatter on tomatoes toss with pasta. I also confess to growing generous amounts of basil for the sheer pleasure of it.
      XXX The Confessions of a Basil Grower.

  5. OMG!
    Dear Virginia, It was a marvellous dinner! Everything was perfect, as I knew it would be. How fortunate I am to know you, and be invited! I just want everyone to know that it was so fabulous, that after a couple of glasses of wine, you and Theadora had to stop me from eating the flickering candle.
    Much love to you & Theodara! XXXOOO
    (I’m still not getting email notifications, even though WP ays I am! I’ll just have to keep checking in. Also. I’m back sewing again. My eyes are healing nicely, finally.) ❤️🌹💚

  6. Dearest Resa, I am so happy you enjoyed our Paris evening. I love traveling to my little house in Paris and entertaining dear friends. Everything is just a little shabby and worn. The kitchen is the antithesis of stainless steel, white and shiny kitchens we are used to here in Canada. There’s a few heavy shelves to hold my flea market collection of dishes and confit pots. A well scrubbed kitchen table I use for both preparing food and dining. An odd assortment of chairs. IT’S PERFECT. My house in Paris holds many friends, many memories and it is always the most wonderful place in the world to just be. Resa, bring me up to date on your newest projects. It is good to hear that all is well with you once more. XXXXX Virginia

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