Our First Full Day in Aix en Provence

I am a little worried about my figure. After being in the countryside, Aix is nearly overwhelming with the number of gastronomic opportunities. We are determined to keep healthy, but I do not know how to go for a run in the middle of a city.
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Today our exercise began at eight a.m. when we walked to the bakery for breakfast. The day was jam-packed with similar sorts of exercise. It consisted of meandering through the city center with frequent storefront stops. We ate lunch at a Danish restaurant, Chris bought a new knife, and I some stationary. I gather that we live near two schools, and a university, so there is no lack of youth, nor with shops like Hermes, and Rolex in the neighborhood, well dressed adults of all ages. I am getting plenty of ideas of what to buy.

This afternoon we stopped in a cookie and candy shop with cookies piled in perfect mountains, and decorative tins displayed all the way to the ceiling. We practiced restraint, as Chris chose a orange caramel and I chose an anise nougat to save for dessert.
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We also found a tres cool vintage shop, and Chris talked music with the clerk. It was perhaps our most enjoyable, relaxing experience. That is, besides last night, when walking down the street, I noticed “Wisconsin Chedar” as an option at a hamburger joint. I shouted out, “Wisconsin Chedder!” and the young man behind the counter turned around, thinking that I was talking to him, and asked me to repeat what I said. “Nous sommes de Wisconsin, come le Cheddar!” (We are from Wisconsin, like the Cheddar!). Chatting with retirees from Connecticut on the tram was not even close to as heart warming as expressing joy over cheese from my homeland. The guy smiled, in a disarming, natural sort of way, from one cheese lover to another.

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We are feeling more and more comfortable in our new neighborhood. So, when we set out looking for ingredients to make our Beet centered dinner, we felt comfortable stopping in three separate shops in our search for Muscadet and Boucheron. If you have no idea what I was looking for, you are not far from what I was feeling at the time. I knew that the first was a kind of wine, and the second a cheese, but beyond that, I had only my limited vocabulary and unlimited encouragement from Chris to guide the search. We eventually did find Muscadet, although it wasn’t until I read this blog post after returning home that I had any idea of it’s merit: Wine Country blog As for Boucheron, I even asked several people at the markets, and no one had a clue about this cheese (this may have something to do with my pronunciation). I thought that it might be goat cheese based on the picture that went with the recipe: on our favorite place to find recipes: food52.com Unfortunately, I have been very scatter brained since entering the city (sensory overload?) so we grabbed some random cheese off the shelf instead. The random cheese turned out to be Saint Nectaire, an uncooked cheese made from cows milk, nothing like chevre, and very smelly.

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We cooked up the beets, chard and shallots, lopped off a wedge of the stinky cheese, took the baguette from the oven where it was warming, and hoped for the best. The best turned out to be… pretty good. Beets are available at almost any grocery store here, no matter how small. They come whole, pre-cooked and pre-peeled, in a vacuum sealed plastic covering. I didn’t realize that they were pre-cooked at the time, so it may have had an impact on the recipe. We also did not have beet greens, as the recipe calls for, so I will try the recipe again (probably back in the states), but all in all, it was a new flavor, filling, and enjoyable enough even with smelly cheese.

P.S.
Weeks ago, we happened upon a blog that was discussing bakeries in Aix, and Chris (for obvious reasons if you check out the cite), really wanted to go to the bakery “Farinoman Fou.” Today, on our 8 a.m. walk, we walked past a few bakeries, waiting for the right one to call out to us, and guess what we saw?

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Better description of the store can be found on this blog, where Chris first learned of the place: http://lovelifeeat.com/2012/09/26/the-madman-bread-baker-in-aix-en-provence/

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