Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'll step away here from the property market  on the French Riviera for once.

The lemons have been falling from the trees in my parents' garden in Nice. Although they live only 5 minutes walk from the beach and the Promenade des Anglais, they are one of the lucky few to have a private garden in the centre of town. The apartment with a garden (in a chateau no less, and yes really it is in the city) was chosen entirely on the basis of the dog needing outside space. But that's my family.

Anyway, thanks to Rosie the dog we have a reliable source of lemons, bitter oranges (best for marmalade making) fresh herbs, lettuces, tomatoes, stunning roses and so forth depending on the season and my mother's planting whims. The lemons are luckily an annual constant, however.

I live across town in a martini-modern penthouse. Granted it is chic and has fabulous views of Nice and the sea, but my parents' garden is a refuge now that summer is here. A little paradise in the city.

And the lemons? In the past we have thrown a limoncello party in January with friends and made bottles of the divine Southern Italian drink. This means trips to the pharmacy to get our quota of pure alcohol. (As my mother and her friends limp in with mystery ailments, the chemist always says 'ahhh, limoncello season is it'?) and to Italy, half an hour away, where sale of the 90% proof is less regulated. The magical potion of alcohol, lemon rinds and bay then sit on the dining room table for several weeks marinating before sugar syrup is added to make the yellow nectar of limoncello (nothing like that horrible sweet stuff you get in Italian restaurants, by the way).

This year, however, we have been a bit preoccupied and let the January party slip away (some lemons did go to Sweden with friends who rather wonderfully created a Northern version of the Nice limoncello party this year).  The lemons are now destined to be preserved. I'll serve them late Summer with a Moroccan tagine on a sultry Côte d'Azur evening.

By the way, there are a couple of apartments for sale in the Nice chateau where my parents live. Well, I couldn't resist adding that, could I?

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