Tag Archives: beef

Un Petit Goût de Lyon and on to Beaune

We awake to an 8 degree Lyon which promises to rain on us. We are busing into the town center to see a basillica and then into old town to shop. Upon our return to the ship we depart for Beaune on the Saone (rhymes with Rhone) River.

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A note about cruising with Viking and their shore excursion guides. We have now been on several tours this trip and have to give kudos to Viking. Their guides are some of the best we have ever encountered. Each one has been extremely knowledgeable about the town and the history of the area and knowledgeable beyond their talks. As well, each one has implemented their own personal style and delivery. Our guide into Lyon, Christian, is well-traveled and a comedian. It was a highly entertaining morning. Beyond that, we have taken as we said, several of the leisurely tours. In each case the guide was superb at keeping the tour moving but never making the more infirm passengers feel hurried. Lastly, unlike in North American tours, tipping while gladly accepted, is never mentioned, either by the guide or by putting a visible basket up front labeled “Tips”. A euro or two for your driver and a little more for your guide is appreciated and well deserved. Our guides this cruise have truly taken our experience to above and beyond.

On this blustery day, our second last of this trip, we view a good part of the city of Lyon from the shores of the Saone River and the hill above the city upon which the Notre Dame de Fourvière Basilica is perched.  Colourful buildings line the shores of the river and I notice each window is decorated with an ornate iron faux balcony and window valance. Very picturesque. Our bus climbs the hill to the basilica to where we are let out to view the building. Here we are invited into the most ornate building, church or otherwise, I have ever entered. A sight to behold – a wedding cake topped with ice cream and sprinkles then dusted in gold leaf for good measure. A cherry would be gauche.

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After viewing the spectacular interior we head to the the walled cliff just beyond to see the equally spectacular view of the city of Lyon at our feet.

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The bus winds its way down the hillside and deposits us in old town. Our guide, Christian, leads us through traboules, ancient doors in the apartment walls that lead to interior courtyards and serve as shortcuts between the streets. The traboules are distinct to Lyon.

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In the ancient town of narrow cobbled streets we peruse shops and cafes. There are many purveyors of candy – chocolate, calisson and nougat –  specialties of the region, flower shops, soap and gourmet foods such as regional salts, meats and candied fruit.

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We are on the hunt for regional specialties, particularly Lyonaise sausages. We are stymied on many occasions because the French feel Wednesday is a holiday especially preceding a bank holiday which is then followed by a what the hell holiday, because you know…we are, French. So. Not a lot open the past few days. Luckily, we stumble upon a lovely shop here in this narrow alley in Lyon which features an array of homemade sausages: fine herb, blueberry, paprika, boar, chevre, poivre, nature — handmade and rustic. We select several and are dying to get them home to share with friends. Some baguette, french cheese, moutard and a pickle. Happiness.

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Our time, while short but well spent and very enjoyable,  is cut even shorter as the skies open and heavy rain chases us back to the bus and onward to our waiting ship. We are treated to hot chocolate spiked with rum upon boarding, to chase the chill. The Viking staff often have little surprises waiting.

This evening the crew present a farewell dinner to us. The day after tomorrow, most passengers have horrific flight schedules, us included, so tonight will be the night for goodbyes. Dinner, a seven course event, includes regional specialties from the Burgundy region where we are now docked, including escargot, filet mignon and shrimp with bearnaise and duchesse potatoes with red wine jus and crepe Suzette for dessert. Lovely end to a lovely week.

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Tomorrow we have a walking tour of Chalon-sur-Saone and some free time to shop before an early dinner and early up for a brutally early flight.

Arles, Provence

Still trying to conquer jetlag and enjoy the offerings on day 2 of our cruise. We have signed up for a leisurely walking tour through the city of Arles in classic Provence.

IMG_3503Breakfast in the dining room proffers an American style hot breakfast of omelets, scramble, sausage and bacon as well as a European selection of meat, cheese and fruit. Our breakfast companions inform me that the the coffee is excellent but I am avoiding liquid before our planned excursion as we have been told that French public toilets are scarce and…”oh la la.” Yes, they actually say that here.

Soon we board a comfortable Mercedes-Benz coach bus and we are off to explore Arles and the Roman ruins in the city. The scenic countryside of Provence unfolds outside our windows. Ditches are clotted with wild yellow iris and scarlet poppies. Cherries are just pinking up in their orchards, thorny artichokes ripen in neat rows, and bridal spirea hedgerows arch to the ground with their heavy blossom bounty. We fly past horses grazing in the morning sun, ancient terracotta roofs, giant sycamores, elegant cypress, a colour all their own.

We pull in to Arles on the Rhone river, just outside the city ramparts. The ancient stone ramparts are softened by eons of time and have given themselves over to wildflowers. Our guide says the city would like to restore them but I think they are magnificent as is.

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We enter the city beyond the ramparts and begin our walking tour through Arles. Classic Provence. Cobbled streets in amazingly good shape and lovely, colourful, shuttered windows bedecked with window boxes and planters of all kinds greet us cheerily. The ship gives us quiet box radios to listen to our guide through. We are lucky to have a most excellent and informed guide. She allows us to walk and explore at our own pace and we are guided by her voice, always knowing down which narrow alley the tour will go and when to jump out of the way of the cars which travel down these narrow streets.

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Arles is waking up this Monday morning and the small shops and cafes that dot the charming streets sputter to life.. The sun warm on the light breeze makes the walk perfect.  As we move through Arles we come to the Colosseum built by the Romans in 90 AD. The structure, largely intact serves today as a stadium where bullfights are hosted. Go Bull! Sitting on the cold, ancient stone seats brings the ghosts of another time to the fore.

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From there we head into Vincent Van Gogh territory, the cafe where he painted “Cafe Terrace at Night”. The cafe has been unfortunately completely bastardized for les touriste, but ah….stuff happened here.


We also were treated to the spot Van Gogh was inspired to paint “Starry Night on The Rhone” and the garden courtyard  of the Hotel Dieu, “Garten des hospitals in Arles”, where Van Gogh was hospitalized after getting loose and free with a knife near an ear.

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Our walking tour through the streets of Arles is everything you could want in a brief tour of Provence. Arles and Provence define “quaint”.

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We wind our way slowly back to the coach and are transported to Tarascon where the ship has moved in the meanwhile to meet us. We board and head to the dining room for a light lunch of squid pasta and shrimp po’boys. Not quite classic but a very nice sandwich.




After a brief nap (still recovering from the time change), we head up to the lounge for a pre dinner drink and await the briefing about the events for the following day after which we retire for dinner at the civilized hour of 7 pm.

At dinner we meet up with companions from day one who are entertaining dinner mates. Our foursome elects to abide by the chef’s choices for the evening: Poached Scallops and Avocado, Chateaubriand and Chocolate Souffle.


IMG_3166IMG_3168Dinner was beautifully presented and accompanied by a local wine. All in all, an excellent meal. Tomorrow we do hope to take advantage of a cafe in Avignon on our free time.

Sharon’s Jamaican Curry

I have tried my hand many times at rich, sweet, coconut milk based Thai curries and spice laden Indian curries. Tonight I am trying my hand at Jamaican curry with a family recipe kindly supplied by Sharon Kameka, my daughter Heather’s boyfriend’s mother. They need to find a better term for that relationship. Heather raves about this recipe and her SO Matt makes it frequently. According to Wikipedia , “the word “curry” is analogous to “soup” or “stew” in that there is no particular ingredient that makes something “curry”, and that the word itself  “is an anglicised version of the Tamil word kari,  meaning ‘sauce,’ which is usually understood to mean vegetables/meat cooked with spices with or without a gravy”. Curries are pretty much known through out the globe and are defined by regional cultural traditions and ingredients. All I know is I love ’em all.

Traditionally, Jamaican curries often feature goat meat and are served with rice and peas, callaloo, roti or hard dough bread.

Jamaican Curried Beef Kameka
2-3 lbs cubed outside beef round roast or lean stewing beef
2 tbsp. Lalah’s curry powder
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp cumin powder
Combine the above to season meat

Olive oil, enough for sauteing vegetables and frying beef
2 tbsp. more of Lalah’s curry powder (Matt insists that this brand is integral)
1 scotch bonnet pepper, finely diced (adds a medium heat to this curry)
1 tbsp. minced ginger
1 onion
3 green onions, white and green parts or Jamaican escallions, chopped
2 cloves, garlic minced
1 tsp. creamed coconut or 1 tbsp. coconut cream (add more if you want a sweeter curry)

1. Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in pot.  Add 2 tbsp curry powder, saute chopped onions and scallions, garlic, and scotch bonnet pepper, and ginger until tender and remove from pan. Reserve.
2. Add spiced beef and brown well.
3. Add enough water to cover, about 4 cups, bring to boil, scraping up browned bits, and add sauteed onion mixture back in with the creamed coconut.
4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until beef is very tender.

Matt says this curry brand is essential.
Jamaican escallions and scotch bonnet peppers.


Adds a little sweetness.
This is how it’s SUPPOSED to look.


…and while the curry simmers…
…prepare the roti, just before serving.


We used ready-to-cook frozen roti.
With a little oil in the pan, it puffs up quickly.



I am notoriously hard to buy presents for. My tastes and interests are pretty specific, and if it’s a gadget or cool thing, I probably already have it. I really am hopeless to buy for. At least that’s what my family tries to convince me of.

There are a couple of by-products of this difficulty. One is that I often tell folks to skip the enterprise all together, unless they happen upon something, but not to wrack their brains looking for something that is apparently so hard to find. The other is that I get some fairly off-beat gifts, including singing Mickey Mouse toasters (ours was haunted, but that’s a story for another day),  office gadgets, and other off-beat, cool items.

In addition to the previous cake post,  I want to cover a couple of the cool items I got for this year, my 50th birthday milestone. Heather and Matt (daughter and SO) gave me a subscription to the “Jerky-of-the-Month” club from Big John’s Beef Jerky. You get a 0ne-pound bag of one of seven flavours of jerky. This month: BBQ!

First impressions: this is really good jerky. Medium-chewy in texture and nicely-layered flavour. After I bit into my first shred of jerky, I was impressed by the initial beefiness and then a sweet undertone from the BBQ sauce that is present in the curing process somewhere and finally, a nice black-pepper finish. Jerky this good overcomes the reservations some may have about what gets sold as jerky in Gas Stations and convenience stores. People are right to not want to eat leathery, dry, dusty meat under any conditions. …and if you need any more convincing, it also turns out that one of our fairly discerning cats, Scout, is a major jerky monster. Go figure.

I am certainly looking forward to next month’s package.

Jaliscan Beef: Carne en su Sugo

Everything sounds better in Spanish! Carne en su Sugo translates literally to “meat in juice”. We first experienced this dish at Tres Agaves (now just called Tres) in San Francisco. The dish was so memorable that I had to revisit it on a second trip several years later. Jalisco, a province in central western Mexico, bordered by the pacific ocean, is renown as the center of Mexico’s tequila industry, home to the Huichol people and mariachi music (I wouldn’t spread that around though if I were them). Tres Agaves specialized in Jaliscan food which is one of Mexico’s distinctive regional cuisines. Carne en su Sugo is a representative hearty soup, which I think you will find delicious and pleasantly different from your experiences with other Mexican styles. I grabbed this recipe off the web some time ago and have made only tiny changes. I cannot find the source to credit the author. My apologies.

Carne en su Sugo
1 pound bacon, diced
2 pounds medium hamburger
1 large can tomatillos
1 cup cilantro
4 cloves garlic
2 19 0z cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, diced
sour cream, garnish
*flour tortillas
**lime, garnish

Fry up bacon very crisp. Add half of the onion to pot and saute until tender. Add beef to the pot, cook, and break up meat.
In a blender: add tomatillos, the rest of the onion, garlic and cilantro. Blend until liquid.
Add mixture to beef mixture in pot.
Stir in beans and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve in bowls with lime and cilantro for garnish. Serve with flour or corn tortillas tortillas.

Remember to heat your tortillas. It makes such a difference to their taste. You can do this by wrapping them in a clean, wet dish towel and microwaving them for 1 minute, or better, heat them on a greased griddle, 10 seconds per side.

** The lime garnish is really more than just for aesthetics. A squirt of fresh lime juice is essential to making the flavours really pop in this dish.

Click HERE to download a printable version of this recipe.