A Journey Through the South of France: A Feast for the Senses
Imagine this: You're sitting at a small table on the sidewalk of a narrow cobblestone street in Vieux Nice, the old town of Nice, France. The sun is shining, casting a warm glow on the colorful buildings around you. The air is filled with the tantalizing aroma of freshly grilled sardines and the sound of lively chatter in French.
This is not just a meal; it's an experience, a way of life in the south of France. Dining outdoors, along the sidewalks and pedestrianized streets, is a common sight here. Even in mid-January, cafes and restaurants spill their tables onto the sidewalks and streets, inviting everyone to join in the feast.
On this particular day, our meal consisted of grilled fresh sardines, ready to be doused with half a grilled lemon. The sardines were fresh from the Mediterranean, their silver scales glistening in the sunlight. Accompanying the sardines were Potatoes Lyonnaise, a classic French dish of sliced potatoes and onions, sautéed in butter until golden and crispy. A salad of radicchio and arugula added a fresh, peppery bite to the meal.
But the star of the show was a sumptuous bowl of potato gnocchi, garnished with a dead-ripe tomato and a sprig of rosemary. The gnocchi were soft and pillowy, melting in the mouth with each bite. The tomato added a sweet, tangy flavor that perfectly complemented the earthy rosemary. And of course, no meal in France would be complete without a crusty baguette and a bottle of water.
Everywhere we visited on that trip was prepared to tempt us into yet another fabulous meal. The five-table trattoria next to the railway station in Eze was no exception. The food there was simple yet delicious, made with fresh, local ingredients and served with a smile.
As an artist, I wanted to capture the sunny inner glow I felt throughout that trip. For the tablecloth, I used watercolor "bleeds", where I let the excess water flow the pigment across the paper. A blue wash across the plate as shadow (foiled against the magenta-orange table.) For the fish, I drew sharp lines of silver, bronze, and gold metallic watercolor pencil over a base layers of grey, blue, and purple. I chose to highlight the pencil lines, rather than erase them?—?the glasses, lettuce leaves, fish tails, etc.
This trip to France was more than just a vacation; it was a feast for the senses. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the south of France will forever be etched in my memory, and I hope to share this experience with you through my art and stories.