Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Getting Lost in Arles & Beetroot Granita

One of the most unexpected and best things about writing this blog has been making connections, building friendships, finding meaning and inspiration in the hilarious, brilliant and poignant words of someone living a similar life far from home.

Such is the case with Heather, a writer with a stunningly piercing and sometimes melancholy (my favorite) voice that lets you dream, beckons you to follow along with she, the adorable Ben, and the intriguing, talented Remi, to delve deeper into a life less ordinary.
We connected through a series of posts, she with my feelings of homesickness and I with her haunting tale of a deserted Provencal village.
As soon as we started commenting and emailing, I knew we would be friends. She wrote, 'We have to meet!' and I whole-heartedly agreed. We set about the task of finding time for me to get away with Clementine for the day.
Finally, last week, with the big kids in tennis camp, P-Daddy working from home and the Littlest busy doing summery, Littlest things, Clementine and I hopped in the car and headed off to find Heather in Arles.

{Heather and the doggies, smiling}

It was fantastic. We couldn't stop talking, hands fluttering, laughing, words tumbling over each other, giddy with all the things we wanted to know and share.

And Clementine and Ben! You can't imagine how deep in love my little gurley fell. She tumbled, gnawed, whined and played until she wore him right out. He was so patient with her puppy self until she pushed him just that bit too far. It was hot. He was tired. His ears and neck were soaked from all of her love licks. It was exhausting. And then, he gave her the signal, a tiny, but deep grrrrrrrrr, telling her to back off and give him a rest, for the LOVE! And she did. Tucking her tail, with downcast eyes and a heavy heart, she schlumped off, collapsing in a golden heap on the floor, harrumph!

But she just couldn't stand it and so, after a few minutes of pouting, up she got. She slowly made a turn of the living room, passing by Ben along the way, gauging his mood and letting out a pathetic whimper you've as she neared him.

Heather and I stifled our laughter. Three turns, pained whimper each time, before he threw her a bone and started to play gently again.

That poor Ben! I have never seen a sweeter dog. It's the nature of the golden to be loving, kind and patient. It's  why Clementine lets the Littlest lay all over her, eats kibble from the Middlest's hands and sneaks into Ma Fille's bedroom when no one is looking.

{the adorable Ben, pure sweetness}
After a lunch of pissaladiére, a delicious salad with AOC olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a glass of Cairanne, the perfect crisp whiteness for such a hot day, we headed out for a tinkle (Clementine) and some ice cream.

Heather took me to her local ice cream shop where they make unusual sorbets, like basil, beetroot, cucumber and ginger. She chose cucumber and beetroot and I went for the caramel with salty butter because I'd been craving it lately but hadn't wanted to indulge in buying a pint. One scoop would fix me right up. And it did. It was delicious, but also a bit too sweet for such a hot day, leaving me thinking that Heather had the right idea ordering such clean, refreshing sorbets.

She offered a taste of hers and the cucumber was delicious, like refreshing cucumber water.

The beetroot, however,  was amazing. My one taste left me wanting more. I love beets, always have, even back when I was a little girl I would eat them in canned form. And so this taste of cold, natural sweetness, refreshing and bright, turned into one of my little food obsessions. 

Just like with some of the other things I've fixated on and had to make myself, this beet sorbet thing planted itself firmly in my brain. What was there to do but try my hand at it? I had a vacuum-sealed packet of cooked beets in my fridge and so I set to work. I messed up the water amount but the flavor still sparkled so I decided to scrape it with a fork in snocone fashion and call it a granita.

My boys loved it. Surprisingly, the Littlest couldn't get enough of it and is the one who finished off the lion's share, preferring it to any other snack. I guess it's in his genes.

{Littlest eating beet granita}
If you like beets, give it a try. If you think you don't, try it anyway. P-Daddy even secretly enjoyed it although he would never admit how much. I caught him sneaking bites and letting the rouge brightness melt on his tongue.

{beetroot granita}
Beetroot Granita

2 large, orange-sized cooked beets
1/2 cup granulated sugar, no more than this, they're sweet enough already
1 cup water
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
generous squeeze of fresh lemon, to taste

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until completely smooth.
When you're satisfied with the flavor, pour into a shallow glass dish and place in the freezer to set. I churned mine in the ice cream maker for a bit beforehand but I don't think it mattered. You can add this step or skip it, as you wish.

Check on it every hour or so and scrape with a fork to keep it from hardening into ice.
When completely frozen, scrape again and serve in small cups. It would make an interesting starter alongside salmon or caviar and would also be a great palette cleanser between main and dessert courses.

Or, simply enjoy like we did as a deliciously refreshing dessert or afternoon snack, poolside.

You could be cheeky and booze it up with a splash of vodka too.


  1. Well I like beets but have never imagined eating them in sorbet form. Will have to give it a try. How nice to have a day out with just your four legged kid. Delightful!

    1. Nicola,
      If you like beets at all, you will like this. It's the perfect sweetness and hits the spot on a hot day.
      It was nice. I wondered what she thought about being loaded in the car, just the two of us.
      aidan x

  2. Sounds delicious! Will have to try it! I love beetroot also...maybe this recette will makes lovers from the others in my house. Thanks. I also agree blogging has been an awesome and unexpected way to meet some of the most interesting and fascinating people - love it! and of course - hope to meet in person someday!

    1. Jennifer,
      Just don't tell them what it is and make them taste first. That's a rule in our house, you have to taste before you can judge.
      We would love to meet you too. Looks like we have a younger generation of modern pen pals connected too. I'm so happy about that.
      We're thinking of coming to Bordeaux in October so I'll keep you posted.
      aidan x

  3. Oh hooray! I had just sent you an email and poof! Found this little surprise waiting for me on my dashboard!! I loved reading about our day from your point of view and am so glad that you included "the drive by cry"! Poor Clementine, she didn't know what she did wrong!

    I'll say it again, I had the BEST day with you Aidan. What a gift and what a wonderful person you are. The real deal. Looking forward to making it happen again!
    Thanks for all of your kindness.

  4. Fifty must never know about this post. Or about Ben. Never.

    1. I know. It's bad enough that you have to know. It doesn't mean I love you and Fifty any less. ;)
      aidan xo

  5. Bloggy friends are the best - it's always so much fun to meet up for real.
    The granita sounds good - I like those unexpected mixing of flavours, luckily there is a lot of it in France. Miam!

    1. As you and I know from experience, my darling friend!
      It was good, you should make it. S made a rosewater and mint one too which all three kids love and is equally refreshing.
      aidan xo

  6. That certainly sounds tasty - and btw, what a sweet story about your two goldens meeting. Ben def had some wet ears from all of Clem's loving. Too cute!

    1. If you like beets, you'll like it. And it's fun because it's unexpected. The French frozen mecca, Picard, has a selection of savory ice creams that are meant to be served alongside the main course. One is foie gras! I don't know if I'm ready for that yet.
      Could you see all the residual bisous? It was too sweet.
      aidan x

  7. So happy you two ladies finally met, Aidan. Loved reading your version after Heather's. The dog story made me smile. Poor Clementine. :-) I admire you for making the beet sorbet. I mentioned it to my hubby who exclaimed: "Du sorbet à la betterave? Dé-gueu-lasse!" -- I guess I won't be making this anytime soon. Oh well. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. It was fabulous to meet Heather. I knew you would appreciate the doggie story and Clementine's whimpering passes. She's started talking a lot more lately, maybe she knows she has to speak up to be heard around here!
      I had to ask Ma Fille what your husband's response meant and she was shocked! It cracked me up. She said, 'Oh, Mommy! That's a bad word. But then, he's a grown-up and grown-ups say bad words. I mean, look at you!', the little sass. Boy, do I love her.
      Tell Mr French Girl that he never knows until he tries. So there! Paul told me not to post it because he said it didn't sound tasty but then he actually tasted it and changed his tune. Men!
      bon weekend. are you still floating along?
      aidan x

  8. Sounds like a lovely meet up, for you ladies and your pups! Recipe sounds peculiarly delicious, too. Diaz is suddenly quite turned off by any sort of veggie goodness these days that isn't a cucumber, this could be a solution? Must try.

    1. I would love to meet you and Diaz too. I'm going to plan another blogger lunch after school starts and you're on the list. Keep it in the back of your mind.
      As for Diaz and her veggies, I'll bet she'd love the granita. Beets are so sweet on their own that you could even cut down the sugar a bit more for her and it would still be good. Let me know if you try it and how it goes. She is just too adorable. I love all the sweet photos of the two of you.
      bon weekend,
      aidan x

    2. A blogger lunch with you sounds delightful. I too start school in September a few days/week. Aside from that, we're here!

      Thanks for the granita tip on my blog. Substituting apple juice for sugar is a great idea. Diaz does love balsamic too. I wonder, do you think keeping the balsamic and using apple juice would still be tasty?

    3. I think if she loves balsamic then keep it. It's such a small amount that it really just deepens the flavor of the beets and it would be great with the apple juice. I might try it this way myself. I'd love to see if you guys make it!
      Are you taking French classes in the fall? I'll let you know when we get closer and if there's anyone you'd like to include let me know.
      a x


It makes my day to read your comments. They're an answer to my floating words in blogland.