Friday, November 25, 2011

Culinary Retreat - May 12-19th 2012

We have finalized the dates for our next Culinary Retreat and are so excited!

Raison d’Art is excited to announce our Spring 2012 Culinary Adventure with Chef Carol Cotner-Thompson. Together we are pleased to offer an unforgettable 7-day journey to the heart of southwest France.  Spend a week with us learning to cook wonderful new dishes with local, fresh ingredients and discover the food, culture and history that this ancient and authentic region is known for.

Carol has over 27 years professional cooking experience and over 20 years experience in culinary education. A graduate of both the professional cooking and pastry programs at the California Culinary Academy in 1986, Carol has since taken on a wide array of professional endeavors that includes extensive restaurant consulting and cooking experience, television and print food styling and on-camera chef work, recipe and curriculum development, catering, and stints as a personal chef. She currently teaches professional cooking and baking programs at the New School of Cooking in Culver City and has previously taught at L’Academie De Cuisine and the Epicurean School of Culinary Arts. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times Food Section, the Hollywood Reporter, radio shows KCRW’s “Good Food” and “Weekend America,” and, most recently, on the morning television show, “Good Day L.A.”

Our itinerary for the week includes 5 hands-on cooking classes led by Carol, gourmet food and wine, wine tasting and vineyard tour, visit to a local cheese farm, shopping at the local outdoor markets, visits to the local medieval villages of Saint Antonin Noble Val,  Bruniqual, Penne, St. Cirq, Montauban and much much more.

Life in France is all about slowing down, relaxing and being in the moment and your stay will allow you time to do just that.  There is no pressure to join the group on specific outings, you always have the choice to follow your own inspiration for the day.

Saturday May 12, 2012 – Saturday May 19, 2012
(Please plan on arriving at the Toulouse Blagnac airport on the 12th between 4:00 – 5:30 pm and schedule your departure on the 19th between 8:35 – 10:30 am.)

€2200 euros per person based on double occupancy
 (small group of 6-8 people)

7 nights accommodation
Five (5) ‘hands-on’ cooking classes with Carol
Daily French breakfast
7 dinners
All beverages at the house
Vineyard tour and wine tasting
Cheese farm visit
City and Museum visit in Montauban
All admission and local group transportation for excursions & outings
Notebook with all recipes for the week
Ground pick-up at Toulouse Blagnac airport on Saturday, May 12th, 2012 and group drop-off at Toulouse Blagnac airort on Saturday, May 19th, 2012.

Roundtrip Airfare to Toulouse, France
Lunches (while at villages)
Drinks and snacks outside of Le Sivadal

Endive with Herbed Goat Cheese and Local Honey
Crispy Duck Breast with Gascony Cherries and Roasted Shallots
Potato Fennel Gratin
Haricot Vert with Persillade 
Fig Galette with Lavender Crème Fraiche

If you have always wanted to see this beautiful, untouched part of France, now is your chance.  We live here and know the best places to go.  We'll take care of everything!
See you in France.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another Year

On October 23, 2010 we arrive back in France.  This time for good, we hope.  2010 was crazy, but in a good way.  We arrived back to the states in October 2009 after our year sabbatical.  We weren't happy about having to return as we loved it here, but our business needed us.  We thought that we'd have to stay another 3-5 years and then hopefully we'd return.  But luck was on our side, when we got an offer from one of our clients to buy the business.  So in October 2010, we rented out our house in Los Angeles (again), packed up all our belongings and the dogs (this time though we brought all of our stuff...this wasn't just a 1 year trial it was for good) and headed back.  We sent our belongings in a crate and it took about 2 months for it to arrive.  We did it.  We moved back to France.

This year here has been amazing.  Very different from our first year, which was just a trial.  We now know people and know the area.  It feels like home.  This year we've visited many different places.

The Pyrenees
as well as many many small villages

We had visitors from American,  Eric came and celebrated his 40th birthday and Chris came and we went to Paris and Fontainbleu and climbed a lot!  Steve and Lisa also came "back" as they visited us when we lived here in 2008.

in Paris with Chris

We opened a business in France, Raison d'Art, got officially registered, pay french taxes and had a very successful summer of teen art camps and in September 2 adult retreats.

We started rock-climbing again, something we hadn't done in 10 years.  We now go (during our off season 3-4 x a week), we take a break June-August.

 Bruce climbing at Capusin

 Bruce bouldering in Fonainebleau

me climbing at Capucin

Bruce started painting again!

We've settled into our life here and it's wonderful.  I never get tired of the views!  We have 3 of the luckiest dogs, as they get to run off leash every day in the forest.  We are lucky because we are with them.   Life is simple and slow and well, just wonderful.  We have amazing friends here and I can't think of a better place to be.  I'm still not able to throw pottery though, as I don't have a studio or equipment and that makes me a bit sad, but I know it will happen, hopefully sooner than later.

Sometimes we pinch ourselves....we really did it and things are going great with the business, so we won't be leaving anytime soon.  I love calling France my home.