Chez des américains

I’ve spent the last 10 days on the French Rivera in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. This sounds more frou-frou than it actually is. My husband is here working and so Robin Kay and I took some time off for a vacation because the train ticket was all of 39 euro for the both of us and there is an apartment with a kitchen and a washing machine. So, it costs about what it does to be at home; but, here there’s the sea! Yes, I know, that’s not a great picture but I’m here with my wonderful telephone/camera and I forgot the connector cable!

Me feeling relaxed, it’s 10 degrees warmer here than in Lombardy!

We went to carnival in Nice twice, to the Matisse Museum and to see the Church near the park where there were ancient Gallo-Roman ruins and the monastery of Cimez. Those have been our Sundays. Otherwise Matthew has been working 7am-7pm and Robin and I have been on our own.

We’ve been taking the bus to the local market at Beaulieu-sur-Mer a few days a week and spending the rest of the time at the beach building stuff with rocks. There are beautiful olive trees everywhere, even growing out of the wall next to the apartment:

There’s a mandarin orange tree and lots of sun. The water is not yet warm enough to go for a swim but it’s still a beautiful turquoise blue down on the beach. Everything smells warm and salty and my hair has slowly gone from the static-filled straw of winter to humid curls.
Two days ago we went to the gardens at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and stayed for a surprising 3 hours. Robin was thrilled with the Japanese gardens and the musical fountains with ‘dancing’ water. Since then she’s been building ‘gardens’ on the beach with tidy borders and large rocks with raked sand around them.
Today she’s off with her Dad, first to the building yard and now to the job-site. I’ll have good pictures of her, carnival, and her seaside gardens when we get back and I find that cable!

Two things I love about my kitchen

This is my kitchen counter, I love it. It’s a 2″ thick slab of bardiglio marble that we brought with us from Cararra. It’s polished on one side but the surface was straight from the big cutting machine so it undulates a bit. The piece is a scrap that was left over from the memorial fountain that Matthew carved for Angelo Frammartino in Caulonia. The colour has darkened over time as we’ve used it to kneed bread and roll out pie dough and biscuits. It’s scarred from the cutting of myriad things and I have written my biscuit recipe on the edge with wax pencil.  Every time I use it, even every time I look at it I find a rich surface full of memories that reflects the story of our family and our connections to different parts of Italy.

Another thing that I love in my kitchen is the cutting board. This is a slab of olive wood that was left over from a spiral stair case that Matthew made for a cabin belonging to the family whose house we
lived under while I was pregnant with Robin Kay.
The edge is uneven as it’s the exterior of the tree itself with a knot on the leading edge. It’s a beautiful golden-red wood that’s perfect for any cutting or slicing and brings back memories of that tiny apartment under the mill and my pregnant belly full of kicking baby. This chunk of wood has trailed along with us for the last 4 years and should last for many, many more.

My kitchen looks nothing like anything I’ve ever seen in a magazine but I love these rich, worn materials that work perfectly for what we need and carry the story of our family in their luminous surfaces.