Archives for posts with tag: Giverny

Oh joy! The tomatoes are finally ripening, after months of (our) impatient waiting. It’s time to get creative with tomato recipes.

When I looked at the big plateful of tomatoes, I had a flashback to our trip to France last September. At a restaurant in Giverny where Monet used to hang out with his pals, I had a wonderful appetizer called something like “freshness of the summer.” It certainly tasted like summer. Mary and I tried to deconstruct it, and I came home with a scrap of paper with the words “tomato (gazpacho?) cucumber sour cream feta.”

All these months later, I can no longer envision it. But essentially it was a tomato parfait presented prettily in a glass. It was delicious. With my tomato bounty, I tried to re-create it. Here is my version, sorta kinda the same.

Tomato Parfait

2 c. of ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

Balsamic vinegar, reduced to a syrup

2/3 c. creme fraiche (you can substitute plain Greek yogurt but it will lose some of the silkiness)

2 seedless mini cucumbers, diced

1/4 c. feta cheese, cut into small cubes

1 T. chives, minced

Divide the diced tomatoes among four stemmed glasses. Drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar syrup. Mix the creme fraiche and diced cucumbers, and spread on top of the tomato layer. Scatter the feta cubes on top. Sprinkle with minced chives.

Note: I don’t think this needs salt, because of the balsamic and the feta, but add if you think necessary.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.

Claude Monet’s art has always struck a chord with me, especially the paintings of his gardens. So when we decided to go to France, a visit to Giverny was tops on my list.

It was in this small village, an hour from Paris, where Monet painted some of his iconic works of art. Smitten by the light, Monet painted his wife with her parasol beside the River Seine and his son toddling through the gardens.

The gardens that inspired him are a work of art in themselves. I consider myself a decent flower gardener (not a master gardener like my friend Ruth, but above-average). But Monet’s gardens are a masterpiece – a cacophony of color in outsize proportions. No tidy English cottage garden for him – these are wild swaths of colorful flowers from the ground reaching high to the arches and trellises. Gravel paths mark the way through the floral tapestry.

Perhaps I’ll just let the flowers speak for themselves.

sunflowerRainbow of color

pink mums

pink mums



We spent hours walking through the gardens and then toured Monet’s house, where hundreds of artworks hang. CRR counted 53 on the walls of Monet’s studio alone. Even the upstairs bedrooms and hallway walls feature paintings by Renoir and Cezanne and Pissarro, fellow advocates of the Impressionist school who often visited Giverny.That evening we ate dinner at ancient Restaurant Baudy, where these master painters hung out in the 19th century. They’ll be my inspiration when I plot my 2014 flower gardens.

Sandy Johnson is a journalist and a gardener, equally passionate about both. She lives in Alexandria, VA.  Visit her on her blog, Grassroots & Gardening.