Panier of Plenty

Paella and Pavlova

Paella – 45 servings

Dining in the shade


This year, as part of our village fête (the commune of St Jean de
l’Albère), we enjoyed paella on the lawn terrace of the mas. Lunch was
followed by a selection of desserts, from traditional fougasse to tarte
au citron and tarte au pommes, chocolate gateau, and an offering from
the Antipodes – pavlova.

The day starts with a service in our village church then musicians
‘wake the dead’ in the neighbouring cemetery (I can only imagine this
is so they can join in the festivities?). Everyone gathers at 11.30am
for the mayor’s annual speech and a rendition of La Marseillaise,
before the official ‘apero’ when we descend a rough stone path into
the shady reaches of the river and partake of the local muscat
(golden and sweet like dessert wine). The cobla orchestra then
strikes up, as old and young alike join hands to dance the ‘sardane’.
The population, which includes visitors from surrounding villages
(Le Perthus and Maureillas) then disperses to various lunch venues.

The mayor’s annual speech

The traditional Catalan dance, la sardane

Here at Mas Reste we dined in the shade, overlooking the mountains,
and were then entertained by a classical recital – talented young
musicians from Paris playing Bartók and Bach – before heading back
to the village centre for more music and the sardane. As evening fell,
the square came alive once more, as the local theatre troop performed
‘Le Centenaire de Mina’. The smell of a catalane grillade – sausages,
merguez and roustes (sliced pork ) – filled the air, the wind whirling
around the stage set and challenging the actors as we expected the
heavens to open at any moment. They did, but during the night, as the
storm front passed through, bringing 14mm of ‘very welcome’ rain.

Recital about to commence

A Bach solo

Afternoon – the sardane encore

My role for the theatre – sound

This entry was published on August 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm. It’s filed under Catalan, Cuisine, Europe, Fête, Festival, Food, France, French Culture, Home, La Vie Quotidienne, Languedoc Roussillon, Leisure, Life, Lifestyle, Mediterranean, Music, Pyrénées, South of France, Summer, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Paella and Pavlova

  1. Pavlova : Mmmmhhh

  2. Firstly I applaud that monolithic Paella, to feed a mass of 45 from one dish is incredible. I love your offering of the Pavlova, equally as delicious & tasty as the other desserts I’m sure. The idea of simple living in a town with a rich community and their traditions is so enticing. Even more so when I contour up images of ABC’s French Leave or one of my favourite food diary’s-cookbooks, Lunch with Madame Murat.
    I Look forward to reading of many more summer festivities!

    • You know ‘Lunch with Madame Murat’?!

      • Ha ha, Vivienne you’ll laugh at this. I’ve just revisted my book shelf and I see that this book is none other than one of your own! Of course, it’s one of my favourite food memoirs.

        Quite a funny revelation for me as I enjoy your blog and photography (of course) and on the other hand, (Lunch with Madame Murat) is a mainstay on my bookshelf for the food, the philosophy & heart of country living, your gorgeous photos and the recipes which I’ve cooked for years. Specifically the Tomato Tart.

        Wonderful, to see your story and adventures still continue, now you’re living the book!!! 🙂

      • Hello Alice, (I had to relook up your name beacuse I know you as girlonafoodfrenzy) – I am laughing, it is a small book in comparison to the greats, incredible you not only have a copy but enjoy the recipes!!! It was a wonderful experience creating it as we were part of the family, and I last visited them 2 years ago – we also produced a film that aired on ABC. Just to get any other coincidences out in the open, I don’t suppose you ever came across Jenny Tate who was costume designer for Opera Australia, based in Sydney? (sadly now deseased). At the time of production, although an incurable Francolphile, I had no idea I would end up living here (I hoped, and tried to choose the region on a map, and eventually came up with Languedoc Roussillon – et voila, after all these years it has manifested). You have changed your blog design! And won many awards – congratulations, I don’t know how you find the time to study, work, update and respond to others?!

  3. Hi again, saw the doco on ABC and Thoroughly enjoyed it, (a few years back or more, I think?) I actually had the book first and was pleasantly surprised to see the story on tv. I think it’s great and truly, something I’ve read time & time again in my armchair travels.

    As for Jennie Tate, both she and Kristain Frederickson tutored me at NIDA where I graduated sometime back. I was extremely lucky to meet and learn from them both before they (sadly passed.) I still work in theatre, sometimes back stage, sometimes costume or sets, even events. My next venture is a Pop up restaurant (designing the venue) finally putting my culinary and design skills to good use.

    As for study, work and blogging, it’s easier as I study/work part time. I have very understanding employers and I constantly ply my colleagues with cakes! 🙂

    • Jennie Tate was my neighbour in Paddington – we were part of a tiny Sydney community hidden away in the pedestrian back streets near Paddington barracks. I photographed her, and as a consequence have one of her original opera designs…

      Good luck for your restaurant, and I’m sure cake bribes work very well – as they do here!

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