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28 July 2012

Clafoutis and Marseille, France

As I emptied my luggage, I looked at the accumulating gastronomic souvenirs I took home with me from my trip to France.  There's an odd mixture of jars of tapenade, flower syrups, specialty sweets, a variety of saucisson, a big bottle of soupe de poissons of Chez Fonfon that I was debating whether to take home or not and some other biscuits I stuffed in my carry on for my daughter's impulsive bouts of hunger while traveling. 

I also managed to squeeze in some food prop musts.  Yes, it's every food blogger's vice.   Wherever I am, I find something that I am absolutely convinced will go well with my future food posts.  I don't know (or rather I refuse to acknowledge) when I have completely filled up all the free spaces in my cupboards.  And the peculiar thing is, they are just singular items of different kinds, practically useless unless I serve my meals with a hodgepodge of cutlery, glasses, plates and table napkins.

With all these souvenirs that took up most of my luggage weight allowance, I took home something more valuable that didn't even take a single gram.   Packed in my bag was a a few pages of recipes of classic French dishes that my friend cooked, made me try, patiently translated and wrote for me.  

One of these recipes is le clafoutis, that, after trying for the very first time (Yes, you read right.  First time!), made me wonder why I never tried it before in the first place!  I loved it!  And my  friend and her husband didn't miss that point after I ate 3/4 of the whole dessert.  

I was intrigued that the classic clafoutis uses unpitted black cherries because the seeds add flavor to it.  That suited me well.  I never liked pitting cherries anyway.   My friend gave me this recipe that she got from a French cooking magazine that her mother-in-law uses.  Her mother-in-law is someone whom you would want to stay with in the kitchen all day.  I had the opportunity to meet her in her house over  a weekend ten years ago and believe me, I can still taste all the dishes that she cooked.  

As soon as I arrived home, I went to the supermarket to fill up our kitchen with food again.  I was convinced that cherry season is already over and I was lucky to have chanced upon a new delivery of black cherries at the supermarket.   Immediately, I recreated my new discovery, le clafoutis!

In every trip, there is something that ranks as the most valuable ornament to your experience or something you would rather forget.  Marseille epitomized both for me.  I always believe that it's better to hear the negative part ahead of the good one, so let me quickly tell you what it is.  My friend's car was broken into while we were having lunch.  One window was broken and the stuff that we left at the trunk were strewn in the front seats of the car.  Nothing was stolen, thank God, because we really didn't leave anything valuable anyway.   Having gone through this misfortune, I feel the need to warn you in case you arrive in Marseille with a car, get excited that there are some parking spaces at La Corniche, where the telescopes to see Chateau d'If are located.  We didn't know that there was a reason why the area had free spaces.  Everyone, even the police, knew about the notoriety of the place. 

Now for the wonderful part of Marseille.  Bouillabaisse was born in this seaside city.  And for that, after 10 whole years and still craving for it, one of my priorities was to have some bouillabaisse in Marseille.  That meant traveling for almost 2 hours just to experience it again. 

We booked a table at Chez Fonfon, one of the few restaurants in Marseille serving the genuine one.   Everything about the restaurant impressed me.  From the way they dealt with my 2-year old daughter, the over-all service, the kir, the fish tapenade, the whole process of serving the bouillabaisse, the dessert, the calisson and the coffee.  Did I miss anything?  Everything was well-orchestrated to perfection.  The bouillabaisse was worth the plane trip from Rome and the 4-hour round trip car ride. 

Let me leave you with a few pictures of what we were able to see in Marseille before we discovered our broken window.  We weren't able to go around much but hey, lunch was more than perfect!  

And I hope you enjoy this clafoutis too.  This weekend would be the perfect time to make one!  Enjoy your weekend!


Serves 6
  • 450 grams black cherries, washed and stems removed
  • 150 grams white sugar
  • 80 grams flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 250 ml. liquid cream
  • 200 ml. milk
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla powdered sugar for sprinkling on top
  • butter for greasing the pan
  1. Mix the cherries with 50 g. of white sugar in a bowl and leave them for 30 minutes.  
  2. Beat the eggs then set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix the flour, the remaining sugar, salt and beaten eggs.  Mix well.
  4. Add the cream and milk.  Continue mixing.
  5. Rub the butter on baking pan.  
  6. Put the cherries on the baking pan.  Pour the mixture on the cherries.  
  7. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes.   To check if it's cooked, insert a toothpick at the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean, then it is cooked.  If it doesn't come out clean, then cook longer.
  8. Let it cool.  Sprinkle with vanilla powdered sugar on top before serving.  Serve lukewarm or cold.


  1. What a lovely recap of Marseille - it's now on my travel list! I'm sorry to hear of the broken window - I find the cruelness of others to be truly shocking.

    As for the clafoutis, I'm so sad cherry season has come to an end here because I'd love to try this! Will save it for next year :).

    1. I thought that cherry season was over for us too but I was lucky to have found some cherries as soon as I got back. That should be the last of the season! I hope you can try my friend's recipe. It's really good!

  2. Wonderful photographs of Marseille. Our french student has been living there and it's fun to see photos of her new home city.

    1. Thank you Sarah! Marseille is such a beautiful and interesting city!

  3. I'm so curious about the lens you use while shooting your travel photos. The photos are always so evocative for me. Maybe it's just because I miss Europe so much. I've been to Paris twice, but sadly never Marseille. You've done it beautiful justice. Our cherry season is almost over, unfortunately, but this looks like a worthy dish to try and squeeze in at the last second! I'll see if I can find them at the market tomorrow.

    1. I was also convinced that cherry season was over until I found the last batch of the season. I was happy that I got the chance to do it! The lens I always use are 10-24 mm. for the wide angle, 50 mm. for the food and 28-135 mm. for the rest. I'm glad you like them Jen!

  4. Anonymous28 July, 2012

    And still I feel there's so much more I didn't get to show you!
    I'm so happy you truly liked the clafoutis. I hope the rest of the family likewise did.
    Thank you again, my amiga, for the visit & for the wonderful posts of France.
    Looking through the eyes of a tourist will always be the best way to rediscover the place you live in - broken car windows & all!

    Really loved having you,

    1. I think you have shown me enough. It's better to leave some room for the future visits! Enjoyed everything I ate and saw Makis! Thank you for showing me the real France.

  5. Stunning from the Clafoutis to the travel photos. France will be on my travel list as soon as my kids get bit older so they can remember their trips and enjoy the beauty with us...
    Thank you for sharing and have a lovely weekend!

    1. We will switch continents when our kids are big enough. I would like them to see your side of the world when they are able to understand more. Thank you Sandra and I hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

  6. Beautiful photos of Marseille and your clafoutis!

  7. It's a beautiful clafoutis :)
    Perfects photos :)

  8. I love your colourful props. I am also always collecting props and each time I photograph a dish, I search the house for special props to compliment the food.

    1. You're right Suzanne. I collect props from around the house too. I think it's the best way. Thanks!

  9. Stories and recipes from France? Bouillabaisse from Marseilles? Theft in the daylight? Your trip to Marseilles seems like an exciting one! I love clafoutis, but have never made it with whole cherries because I know my kids will be very careless and just bite into them. It is a wonderful, wonderful cake (or is it a custard), and you made a beautiful one!

    1. Oh yes, whole cherries and kids don't get along so well. I get nervous when my 2-year old has one in the mouth. When your kids are big, you have to do it with whole cherries. I heard that it really makes a difference. I think it's a custard more than a cake.


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