What Daube de Boeuf and I Have in Common
Patty Sadauskas had a new oven installed in her new Niçois apartment. Even though it’s a long-term unfurnished rental, the oven in the apartment had “seen better days” (that’s being polite, considering its horrific condition). She likes to cook, and since she intends to spend a lot of time in the apartment (because of its spaciousness and outstanding views), she didn’t hesitate to fork out a few bucks to make the upgrade. Darty, our preferred appliance merchant, delivered it and installed it in a flash. The delivery guys then couldn’t wait to go out to the balconies where they were awestruck by the views, too.
(Patty sends me photos from her balconies daily as the sky, the lighting and the view changes. She is clearly in awe, too, and I have joked with her that she may never leave the apartment!)
To inaugurate her new home in Nice, she invited me for lunch yesterday along with two other close friends. She couldn’t wait to make “Daube de Boeuf,” a classic Provençal stew made of beef, vegetables, garlic, Herbes de Provence and wine. Traditionally it’s made in a “daubière,” a terracotta pot that resembles a pitcher with a concave lid. Patty doesn’t have one (I don’t think), but no matter, as it’s not absolutely necessary to be so specifically equipped—other kinds of cooking vessels can work just as well.
In preparation for the task, she asked her sister, Janet, who is currently Stateside, what recipe she uses to make Daube de Boeuf. Janet sent her a copy of her favorite recipe in the form of photos of the book and the recipe inside it. Surprisingly it came from Patricia Wells’ cookbook, Bistro Cooking, but it wasn’t Patricia’s recipe at all—its origin is actually the Auberge de la Madone in the hilltop village of Peillon.
Here we go again with kismet encounters. You may remember a Nouvellettre® from August 2019 and another from August 2020 about this very restaurant and this very special hilltop village. As it happens, it is in Peillon that I spent Thanksgiving Day this year…all thanks to what was a “Kismet Encounter in a Beau Village.” It was a French Property Insider issue from August 8, 2019.
In brief, the story is about a by-chance excursion up to Peillon with my daughter, Erica, during a three-day adventure to discover the hilltop villages around Nice. We climbed a very narrow road made up of a series of hair-pin turns that would make any driver sit upright and nervous in their seat, as it did me. When you drive into the village, there are about a dozen spaces for cars, but no more. It is impossible to enter the village any other way than by foot.
Upon entering the village, a woman sitting on a stone stoop near a fountain just as the stairway ascends into the village, called out to me in American English, “Are you Adrian?” Imagine my surprise to see Terry, someone I had met once through an American friend living in Nice, in this very remote spot.
“I live here in Peillon part of the year, she said. Would you like to see our house?”
After visiting the house that day, she recommended we have lunch at the Auberge de la Madone just on the other side of the parking area. Run by the Millo family, who has four generations in Peillon of which to be proud, we were served a truly magnificent meal on the terrace of the auberge overlooking the beautiful landscape of orchards and olive trees. Mathieu Millo presented us with a plate of fresh-made socca (crisped up to perfection), an entrée of the most heavenly locally-grown red tomatoes (the best we’ve ever tasted), a whole grilled sea bass with lightly sautéed vegetables, apple tarte for dessert he claims he made himself, accompanied by locally produced wines and topped off with a dense espresso. We thought we had died and gone to heaven.
That was just the beginning of a series of crazy coincidences with this Terry in Peillon to the point of ludicracy. A year later, Erica and I went back to Peillon to visit Terry and her partner, Charlie, and have lunch at the auberge, this time together. Charlie reminded me that he and I had met in September of 2004 when he attended one of my Living and Investing in France conferences; in Washington, DC to be exact. Sitting on the patio of their beautiful home, surrounded by stone and hundreds of years of history before heading over to the auberge for lunch, Terry asked about a recent story she had read in Parler Nice: “The Million Dollar View,” from July 27, 2020.
“The woman who sang opera at the party in the villa you went to in Villefranche-sur-Mer last week…was her name Christina?,” she asked.
“Why yes. Do you know her?,” I asked.
“We bought this very house from her. She renovated and decorated it and lived here many years. We know her well and we know the house in Villefranche, too! We were supposed to be at that party!”
Oh my! The coincidences never seem to end when it comes to Terry, Charlie and Peillon. As we have gotten to know them better, we have learned even more. Charlie told me a story about having stopped in the Provençal town of Ansouis to have lunch at a Michelin star restaurant, “La Closerie,” before ever having purchased the house in Peillon. At the restaurant, they met a woman from Chicago who lived in the village.
My jaw dropped again. There is only one woman from Chicago in that village—my close friend, Barb Westfield! I showed them a photo of her, and of course, she was one and the same.
“But here’s what’s so amazing,” Charlie said. “It’s because of meeting her that we bought the house in Peillon! Until then, we thought we wanted to be in Nice. Then we realized how lovely a village house would be.” I couldn’t wait to call Barb and tell her about the coincidence!
Now, I have the Daube de Boeuf à l’Auberge de la Madone to add to the collection of synchronicities that seem to pile up one on top of the other. Stay tuned, because the story likely hasn’t ended.
Patty’s version of Daube de Boeuf was outstanding and the day was stunning. Not to miss a single sunny day at the water’s edge, I wandered through Vieux Nice down to the Promenade des Anglais to watch the sunset while strolling home. It’s never not stunning.
Later today I will be taken to the coastal town of Menton, at the border with Italy, to tape another House Hunters International episode. For the next four days, we’ll be visiting rental properties along the Riviera, mostly between Monaco and Menton. The entire crew is enthused about being outdoors, in the sunshine, with such gorgeous scenery as our backdrop. After spending the last two weeks mostly at home, alone, this will be a very welcome change indeed.
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
Adrian in Peillon, August 2020
P.S. Don’t miss tomorrow’s Après-Midi with Tour Guide and Travel Writer, Véronique Savoye! Be sure to register then Zoom in from the comfort of your own home. Get the details and register TODAY!