I’ve been wanting to write about Elizabeth Bard for a while now and her new book gives me a perfect excuse. It comes out on April 7 and it looks every bit as delicious as its predecessor, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes, which was a New York Times bestseller, an international bestseller and winner of the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best First Cookbook (USA).
And, because I live to please you, I’ve asked Elizabeth and her publisher Little, Brown and Company, for three copies of Picnic in Provence to give away. Of course, they said bien sur!
Elizabeth’s articles on food, art, travel and digital culture have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, Wired, Marie Claire and Harper's Bazaar.
Since 2009, she and her husband Gwendal have lived in the tiny Provencal town of Céreste, where they own and operate the artisanal ice cream company Scaramouche.
The first book, Lunch in Paris, told Elizabeth’s story of cute-meeting the perfect Frenchman at a conference in London, and chucking her life plans to move to Paris to marry him.
Picnic in Provence picks up where Lunch in Paris left off, or, as the author says, “it’s about all the things that happen after the happily ever after: marriage, motherhood, entrepreneurship...and in our case, ice cream!”
“It’s about unexpected choices and how they can be the best choices we make,” she continues. “There’s no five year plan in the world that would have gotten me here. And yet it’s exactly the right place to be.”
The 336-page hardcover has 60 recipes and is also available in ebook and audiobook versions.
You can see a trailer for it here.
Elizabeth first met Gwendal at an academic conference when she was a student in London. “I asked what his research was about,” she recalls, “which is as good a pick-up line as any in academia. He was finishing up a PhD in computer science and I was just starting a Master's in Art History. So anyone who says you can't meet the love your life in a lecture on a Hypertext Version of Finnegan's Wake is wrong...”
The crafty American soon made an excuse to come to Paris for the weekend. Next thing she knew she was back and forthing on the Eurostar--they wouldn't be married if it wasn't for the Eurostar, she tells me—and soon Elizabeth had a decision to make: go back to New York to pursue her dream of being a museum curator...or take that flying leap and move to Paris for love.
She chose Paris, of course, and the couple married in 2003. Those first years in Paris, she worked as arts journalist and as a private museum guide. Eventually, she realized that “everything I'd learned about France I'd learned autour de la table –around the table. So I decided to write about my experiences from the ‘market’ point of view, and include recipes with every chapter. That's how Lunch in Paris was born.”
Onand WWII Resistance leader René Char, whom Gwendal had long admired.
“In what felt like a brush with fate, the house was for sale,” she remembers. “Something about it felt perfect--inevitable.”
The full story of how they found their house is .
‘’Almost as soon as we arrived in Céreste,’’ she continues, ‘’we knew we wanted our careers to become more local. Gwendal was working as an executive in Digital Cinema. In the spring of 2012, he got a call about a job with Warner Brothers. He’d never really wanted a studio job...he was more of an entrepreneur. We had a long think about what we really wanted and we realized we wanted to do something that would be fun for us and good for the town, something that would allow us share the amazing local flavors we’d discovered here: melons so juicy they drip down to your elbows, strawberries that taste like sunshine.” They spent a year getting things together--six months of vanilla testing!--and opened Scaramouche on a rainy day in April, 2013.
Word spread quickly and in August 2014, TripAdvisor published their list of the top ten ice cream parlors in France: Scaramouche was tied for #5.
Scaramouche is now a local mainstay and a destination. People come for classics like salted caramel ice cream and bitter cacao sorbet and come back for the odd ones: 1001 Nuits (Raz-el-Hanout ice cream with grilled almonds), Pastis sorbet, Rose geranium ice cream with pistachios, and a brand-new black truffle ice cream made with truffles from the nearby farm Les Pastras.
Elizabeth, Gwendal and their team make all their own ice creams and sorbets in a lab on the outskirts of town. They use raw milk from a dairy in Volx (don’t worry, the milk is pasteurized during the ice cream making process), organic eggs, and the best local fruit they can find. Flavors change with the season...and there’s always a line in June when the first tubs of cherry sorbet arrive.
For those who can’t make it to Cereste, the products can be found at La Bris de Glace in the center of Bonnieux, an ice cream shop launched a year ago by the owners of the restaurant Le Fournil next door. It’s also available at Luberon Paysan in Apt and Naturellement Paysan in Cousellet. For more places, check the Scaramouche website.
And you can look for their ice cream truck--the "Scaramobile"--in and around Banon this summer.
Picnic in Provence rendezvous
“If you had told me on my wedding day that, ten years later, I’d be standing in a field in Provence making small talk with skinny cows,” she writes on page 1, “I would have nodded politely and with a twist of my graduated pearls, said that you had mistaken me for someone else.” The skinny cows produce the perfect milk for the ice cream, by the way.
In advance of the book’s April 7 launch, positive reviews are streaming in. Kirkus Reviews said: "Like the Provençal food and lifestyle it celebrates, Bard's book is one to be savored slowly and with care. Delectable reading.”
Ok on to the giveaway! To enter to win a copy, just leave a comment below, under COMMENTS. Tell us about a lifelong dream of yours (fulfilled or not), or perhaps about your own experience taking a big leap of faith. Tell us your favorite summer ice cream story...or about the book you’re writing...or anything you feel like sharing! Just please be sure to leave us your email so we can reach you if you win. Bonne Chance!
If you’d like to go ahead and buy the book, it’s on Amazon here.
To contact Elizabeth, email her at: email@example.com. You can also find her in the following places:
Photos: The book, the shop on opening day, the happy couple.