Monday, May 20, 2013

Ma Yucca: Restaurant

My new favorite Niçois restaurant is the brain-child of Mayu and Yuka Ueda.

   Combining their two names they call the restaurant:  Ma Yucca. 

  Yuka graduated from the Jsuji Hotel school in Lyon in 2000 and worked in a couple of two-star Michelin restaurants before striking out on her own with a new concept:  combining French with Japanese flavors. 

 Mayu, (who I did not meet today) started out to be an English professor and lived in both England and Australia before returning home and choosing, along with her sister, to enter the world of gastronomy.   After varied restaurant experience, she now runs the "front of house" in Ma Yucca.     For a while Miwa will be taking her place while Mayu visits in Japan. 

From a "Franco-Japonais carte" for lunch..... of two starters,  three main dishes,  and four desserts,  one can choose the "plat principal" alone for 12 euros,     the "plat principal" and an "entree" or a dessert for 16 euros, or three courses for 26 euros.   Very reasonable.

I ordered the Emincé de poitrine de porc au miso au Yuzu sur un bol de riz et oeuf mollet  and it came elegantly displayed on this wooden tray with a small bowl of miso and a very soft boiled egg to pour over the "porc".  I have to say that it was the best pork dish I ever remember tasting!   It was sauced perfectly and the egg blended well with the rice.   

For dessert I ordered a chocolate cake with three tastes of berries and a "creme anglais". (Gâteau roulé aux framboise et chocolat It was so enticing that I forgot to snap the photo before I took my first bite.  It is good cake with a mousse and strawberry filling.

I could see in the middle of all the articles and accolades, a letter from Mayor Christian Estrosi.  

This is Miwa, who is filling in for Mayu who is in Japan. 

And here is the team with Yucca, (second from the left) who is the head chef.  Brava Yucca and all of you.

After a lovely meal with a glass of rose´ for only 20 euros , I wandered across the street to Ma Yucca Maison the gift shop run also by the sisters and an assistant. 

You know how I am fond of "wood block" printing so these reproductions caught my eye.  Wow, 3 euros, can that be right?

I have a feeling that these cloths are for gift wrapping.  The Japanese have an aesthetic that is close to my heart.

and here it is,  the double meaning of Ma Yucca....a plant that is known for its explosive growth! 

Be sure to make a reservation.  When I walked in the dining room was full. 
 Well, of course it was.  It's an excellent place to be.... alone or with friends.   And please, if you do go, mention this post.

 PS.  (Thanks G. and P. for the discovery, and next time we won't get our signals crossed and have lunch together.)

Here is the website:

Informations pratiques

Réservation uniquement par téléphone au 04 93 88 39 84

Nous vous conseillons de réserver en avance.

Adresse :
Ma yucca まゆっか
26 rue de la Buffa
06000 Nice
Fermé les dimanche et mardi

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Chateau de Carces

Everyone who commented on my last post had a word to say about the space where the exhibition took place .  Here is a bit I've learned about the Chateau de Carces

Carces (Pronounced car-sess ....and there should be an accent mark over the e) is a lovely, leafy Provençal town.   Its  "'Veille ville"was constructed  from rubble and ruins ( ramparts, walls, Roman vaults from the 11th to the 16th century ) hidden underground for 500 years .  The final restoration was completed as late as 2006 after 20 years of perseverance and tenacity.   

From this restoration, rose again the Renaissance castle  dating from the 16th century.   It had been destroyed in 1951 and restored again in 2006.   Certain original elements have been preserved:   the mullion windows , the stones around the door to the entrance of the castle and the the octagonal stone staircase. 

Those windows on the left are typical... the ones you shoot arrows out of...easy for the arrow to go out , harder for theirs to come in.
  The castle which you walk up to,  had originated on a rocky outcrop from the eleventh century and was reconstructed in the 16th century when it belonged to the powerful family of the "Comte" of Provence, and Lord of Carces.  It had seen many of the normal ravages of war and I imagine in its prime it had more height to it than is there now. 

 It is now used for cultural events such as ours and apparently there is also an outdoor theatre.  

As well as the medieval castle and old town, the village of Carcès boasts a lake,  gorgeous trees and parks and surrounding land which is perfect for wine.   In fact Carces is posed on the "route des vins de Cotes de Provence" and the quality of its wine has kept rising over the last years.   

  A well- cared for little town is Carces.  I wish I could have had more of a look around and "un verre de Cote de Provence" with dinner but with such a long ride home we decided to scoot and save it for another day.   

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Biennale de l'estampe

  Well, guess what?    I did make it out yesterday to the opening of our collective exposition in Carces ...... which is almost as far as Toulon ,  a trek of about an hour and a half from Nice by "auto route."  I got to go with the teacher and my friend, Jacques who was also a participant.

In fact with a side visit to the immense and hard to find ( all the signs taken down for roadwork) Villa Tamaris Centre d'Art, I did get to finally pass through the city of Toulon and onto the other side of it to the beautiful seaside of La Seyne-sur-Mer.  

 The main interest for the first stop was to see the retrospective show of Marie-France Lejeune, a friend of my teacher , Sylvie Morris.   Ms. Lejeune had some intriguing work there but my camera was running out of juice.  

   Her paintings consist of pouring out gallons of acrylics, letting them dry, cutting them with the equivalent of a pasta machine into strips and then working with those strips to make targets,  hangings, and lace-works and big Pollack like discs which  she sands and polishes and hangs on the wall.  Then there is her photography and her woodwork as well.  Her art offerings are extremely varied which is unusual. 

  Everything was meticulously rendered and it was as the French say "un travail de fou"...roughly translated as "crazy-making work".   She seems super-humanly dedicated to what she does which is probably the definition of a good artist.   I was surprised not to find an official website but when you see the breadth of the expo.....when would she find the time, really. 

This work consists of yards, maybe miles of strips of acrylic wound tightly to form the rings.

This is a two dimensional work with computer manipulated photos

This is a hanging of paint strips that moves when you blow on it.   (Well of course, that's the first thing you do.)

this a sample of her woodworks, perspectives made real from photos she takes to get the angles right. 

Another surprise was to see at the Villa, a few works of Franta, the famous Czech artist who installed himself in France in 1958, and whom I talked to for a half hour or so at my expo at La Maison des Artistes in 2008. 

 Since I didn't know how famous he was until yesterday, I wasn't, at the time, intimidated.  He asked me a ton questions about my work and I just answered them. ... nice man,  unassuming and great artist.

Me at my expo in Cagnes ( 2008) and Franta behind me. 

Next we got to our printmaking expo held as the "3eme rencontre des ateliers de gravure des ecole de Beauxs-Arts de Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur" held at the Chateau de Carces .  

Three other large schools besides EMAP de Nice participated : Digne-les-Bains, Seyne-sur-Mer and the Inter-communal School of the county of Provence.  Each instructor was there with a few carloads of students for the opening and the profs were asked to speak.... as is common with these things.  And then treats were served.... very civilized.

That is my red-headed teacher second from the right, Sylvie Morris.

 And yes,  I was very honored to be among the few participants from our school.  There was a ton of excellent work and as you might imagine, each one varied as to subjects, techniques and abilities.  

 After an hour or so of talking with the other artists and sharing tips,  I was brought home by some of the participants.... who went out of their way to get me home safe by 11pm.  

  It was a good day.... I'm grateful for the event and the camaraderie, not to mention the scenic route we took home through the Var, one of the most stunning areas to pass through at any time .  Today its RAIN again,  so we hit it just right.  What a piece of luck that was.      


That's me in front of my "'eggs"

The work of my friend Anne Marie Deligny 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Vieux Nice: Day One

Photo by John R.'s the unexpected color and framed symmetry that I love

Those of us who have lived here a long time are guilty of taking the sights of our area for granted.  All this old world crustiness and dilapidated beauty eludes us now.   We pass by the chalky paint of the old buildings in their burnt oranges and pale ochres and talk only of the chunks of those buildings that have fallen off and hit people over the last years!

  We go to the outdoor markets and buy without realizing how lucky we are to have five fishmongers selling their fresh wares and ladies who wrap the delicate pastries with a box and ribbon into a tantalizing gift. 

Brother Roge left a bunch of pics on my computer and I intend to cull and edit them and with his permission to keep putting more out there for you.  

It was so good to have another insight,  a good photographer's observation of Nice to inspire me.  I have been kind of lazy lately about serious art creation. ...but Roge got me excited about photography.  I will put a little comment under each photo about what I admire in each one.

Photo by J. Puckett, .....its the point of view I like., the negative space of the sky..

Photo by John R. Puckett,..... it's the trompe l'oeil and shadows that seem to pop the windows. 

Photo by John R.'s the irony of the missing letters that I first I read "Yanks"

Photo by John R. Puckett...its the texture and composition I like

Photo by John R.'s the shadows and composition I like

Photo by John R. Puckett......its the contrast of lines and values I like....

Photo by John R. Puckett....its the golden-ness of it all and the "J-Luc Je t'aime"

Photo by John R. Puckett ..... it's the unexpected angle I love

Photo by John R. Puckett,  its the iconic shot but not face on like you would expect

Photo by John R. Puckett  .......its the voluptuous texture that comes through that I like

Photo by John R. Puckett's the color and asymmetry of the arrangement that I like

Sunday, May 12, 2013

SOS "Essaim" times three

Well, my friends,  I have talked about our nest of bees that we have reason to believe has been functioning on this little property for the last twenty years.

  It is housed at the base of an olive tree behind our house.  There is a narrow strip of "no man's land" up above that goes with the property.  Once in a while we have a gardner up there to cut back the overgrowth but otherwise no one goes up there and no one ever bothers the hive. 

Once a year the wild bees outgrow the premises and the residents make a collective decision to go elsewhere.  They take along a newly hatched queen and set off for another location. This is called a swarm or "Essaim" in French. 

 The bees land on a nearby tree until they find a new place. Usually they are gone within the day.  This year there was not just one, but three separated swarms who left the olive tree.   The second one was hanging in our "Fausse Poivre" for three days when the third one arrived. 

It was then that I went to the www.  I read that a hive will actually settle in a tree and start adding comb when it can't find another location.  Once it has started producing young and filling honey comb, the scouts stop looking and will defend the new home even if it is just a bunch of bees hanging from a branch.   It will then be harder to re-house.  Yipes.

After reading this, I went online to SOS Essaim ( swarm) which has a list of all of the "apiculteurs" in France.  They will come and rescue your bee colony.  Out of a list of nine or ten beekeepers in the Nice area,  I chose Basile Ferran 06 31 83 56 08 who came right away with his able assistant. 

Basile is located in Bellet right next to the famous Bellet vineyards  ( my friend Jeanne's got a write- up about Bellet.)   and has about 30 working hives.  In summer he takes the hives up to the Mercantour to the farm of his parents.      

Half size commercial bee box

After donning bee bonnets and gear, the two beekeepers easily got the first swarm down by getting up on the roof,  clipping the branch and easing it into the provisional hive they had brought.  

Loading the smoker

 But the second swarm had surrounded quite a large limb and was much higher up in the pepper tree.  

Basile Ferran, beekeeper

But no worries, Basile then "climbed out on a limb" and with the help of our saw blade fixed to a long pole,  he and his helper were able to carefully cut the large branch while grabbing hold of  the other end as it was eased down.   

Beekeepers let bees descend slowly into bee box on roof.

By using a smoker ( the bees are less likely to sting when there is a fire alarm) the swarm was placed over the new box until some of them settled down into it.  

When Basile was pretty sure the queen was inside, he kept smoking the hive and ever-so-gently brushed the rest of the bees on the limb into the hive and put on the lid.  The two small swarms were put into the same box.  One of the queens will battle the other for supremacy and one will remain alive to breed.

The job took about an hour and then the two able beekeepers were gone. But the hive remained until dusk when all good little bees would be safely tucked inside for the night. 

 At 9 pm,  Monsieur Ferran re-appeared,  eased down the door of the hive,  fetched it down the ladder and off he went. The new colony will stay in the small box for about a month or two until they have had a chance to build out the comb and start broods .  Then all the frames and bees will be transferred into a standard double hive.

Mr Ferran tells us that he collects about 7-8 swarms a year... that the dreaded mite disease called Varroa is not prevalent in our area and that here the bees are not extensively commercialized like in the USA (which has resulted in 50 % loss of the bee population) . Apiculture here in the cote d'Azur seems to be in pretty stable condition for now.  

 In addition, I am happy to report that unlike the U.S., last week the European Union took the major step of a two year ban on neonicotinoid class pesticides.   Many scientists think these pesticides are major factors behind the alarming rate of colony collapse .  The USDA has yet to act accordingly.    

For the end of our saga, we were delighted to meet a real professional and his beautiful Spanish assistant,  although I am sorry I didn't catch her name. ( I didn't want to impede their important job so lets just say that I was only half as nosy as usual. )
But with luck we will see them again next year.  

 Today I can hear the rest of the bees still lively in their "ruche".   In our little patch,  at least, pollination continues.    Ironically I am writing this on the day that the carbon dioxide level on earth has been reported to have passed the long feared milestone.   

Well,  here's to the bees, their keepers and life!   Waiter, more champagne! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

On Marriage

Photo by John Puckett

Well it is our anniversary today,  22 years married and 32 + years living together.    We haven't yet killed each other and we haven't been sorely disappointed in one another..... so I think that is reason enough to celebrate.    

Marriage to Monsieur has never fit all of my pictures and I know that is the same for him.   I don't get a card or present on my birthday or other holidays.  But sometimes I get a great pricey gift when I least expect it.  It's hard to give up my bourgeoise tendencies. 

 We have discovered many new byways by being together.  One way or the other we have learned a ton from each other over the years. We make a team, albeit an unusual one. 

Funny, we don't seem to get bored with each other.  This is surprising because we are "chalk and cheese" and spend a lot of time together since we both work from home.   Of course, we do get question.  But that is part of not having one's way all the time.   You thought you learned how to deal with that as a kid but "rats"....not the case.   I still want my way.

I think one could have had another marriage, another life with different challenges but they wouldn't necessarily be better ones.  I would say that we have grown on each other, from puppy love to loving loyally.  

So Hey.  

Here's to us.  Here is to Monsieur and Me.  Pour toujours. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

To do list : Wednesday

 1.   Go for a walk before breakfast.  Get my lazy ass out there again , no excuses.     Did it.... feel smug and it's only the second day. 

 2.   Gawk for a few minutes at the bees which are swarming again and have landed in the pepper tree.   It looks like a big swarm,  three pounds maybe.  They will hang in the tree until the " scouts" find a new location. ... proud of our little wild hive at the base of the olive tree.  

3.  Finish raking up all the rocks that fell off the hill in the rainiest March in Nice history.   Bag 'em up. 

4.     Admire all of the happy irises that love their new location and are blooming like crazy.   Weed for an hour.   Whew , I need a machete after all the rain.    Listen to the "coal tit" babies squeaking in the nesting box every time the parent comes in with food. 

5.   I Clean out the "anti-humidity" boxes in the garage and maybe today we will get some refills. 

6.  I wash the car of all of the red mud rain  ( from Africa?) we had last week.  

7.  I have just put away my winter clothes.  All the give-away clothes are in the hallway.     I call the "Femme de menage" who said she would like to  come for them today... but hasn't called me back.    Tomorrow I will drop off the give-away books for the English/ American library.   It's spring cleaning around here.

8.  Monsieur went to put money in the bank to pay the bills.   Oops,  he's back.... can't do it today because its a holiday: "Le Victoire" .  Probably can't do it tomorrow because it's  "Ascension", another holiday.   Probably most stores will be open, though. 

 9.   It will be a change to go out to the big market with Monsieur in J's car to do the big food shop.  I am usually in class when he goes.    We put in some gas and we are good to go.

10.    Back from market , I put away the food.   I Make a stir fry for lunch .   We have it sitting on the  terrace looking at the Irises, listening to the collared doves trying tirelessly for a mate,  and Mr. Bird ( blackbird) doing his riff.

11.  Answer the fourth email this month, saying no, we don't rent the studio in high season for only three days.  Bookings are down this year.  People are slow to commit and then just want a few days.  Hmmm.  Still we have already had some fun couples.  

12.   Pull four agapanthas out of the garden.  OMG, they have huge root balls and weigh a ton, roots full of water.   It's finally a hot day and I'm parched.  That's it for today.  I'm going inside. 

13.    Finish knitting the back of Kerry's Noro Mossa sweater ..  Yipes, it seems to have stretched widthwise.    I Block it on a cork board.    Fingers crossed it will shrink back.

14.   Finish off the stir fry as an evening snack.  

15.  Watch dvd film:   Robin and Marion by Richard Lester with Sean Connery as Robin Hood and Audrey Hepburn as Marion.   Pretty amusing.  It takes place years later... when they are older. 

16.   Write this post while having a glass of champagne. !!!