I used to hang out with my co-parent, Maura Ruzzier, when she used to live in Manila. Our children, her Alice and my Matthew, were in the same class at an international school and at one time went to the prom together.
Maura and I both love cooking for our families, recommend ingredients to each other, and try out new food. One of our cooking times together was when she taught a few of us fellow parents authentic Italian home cooking at our house to the forever looping “Cinema Paradiso” song (It was the only Italian song in my playlist #mayforever).
Alice is also into cooking and baking and she told Maura about a blog she was following. It’s called “Manger” about a mom who loves to cook and her photographer husband’s photos show their life in a little village called Medoc. I had no time to read all the text but all the photos, wow, they are so delicious! In that blog, even grass looks delicious. And I happen to love French aesthetics and food and music and sceneries… so in short, I loved Mimi’s blog.
One day, Maura announced that her family was moving to Switzerland. That was so sad. But she said, you never know, maybe we can meet up in France to take up a workshop with Mimi! One day we shall, Maura and I dreamily agreed, “A Bordeaux!” meaning before we die in our eighties or so.
But when Philippine Airlines sent me an email in March 2016 on half-off airfares to Europe (London) last year, I asked God, is this Your cue? I just made baka-sakali (Just in case, it works) inquiry on the workshops and soon, Mimi herself sent me a reply. Again, just in case, I started linking together puzzle pieces that needed to work together for this to happen! By God’s grace, the details seamlessly fell into place and soon I was set to go… in six more months! By mid-May, Maura confirmed that she would go to the workshop, too!
And so it happened that Maura and I were able to walk through the pages of the Manger blog storybook of Mimi. The memories had been shelved since as trips and work and errands and everything else-to-do came up but I’m so thankful to get flu yesterday because it is giving me time to write!
Thank You, Lord for Your … provision, protection, presence, and many graces along the way for this beautiful experience! (I know that last year’s Manger experience was God’s gift because this year, I tried to plan another culinary trip but from the get-go it was stunted at every turn!)
Mimi Thorisson is a lovely, lovely woman. She is wife to professional photographer Oddur Thorisson, mother to eight beautiful children and more than a handful dogs, author of A Kitchen in France; A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse and French Country Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards, blogger for Manger.com, TV Presenter, image model for Giorgio Armani eyewear and L’Occitane en Provence skin care products.
In person, she has none of the diva attitude that you might expect from a person of her stature. Oh, she is statuesque and beautiful outwardly too, if you didn’t know yet.
Everything was just so beautiful…
From the teamwork, synergy, and collaboration of the stunning couple, Mimi and Oddur…
Mimi herself… she was a very generous teacher. “I have no secrets. You can share what you have, ” she said of the photos I took of our workshop. She shared recipes, brands of products, sources, and even her family.
Everything around us was beautiful… the produce, flowers, seafood, and meat.. (Oddur said that before they eat the produce, they enjoy them visually first by displaying them on tables around the house! Brilliant idea!)
…the recipes we made together… with all that butter!!!!
…the kitchen, furniture, and interiors…
…ambience, music, and candles that made even the Abatilles water beautiful…
…the people, of course…
When the kids got home from school, they seamlessly flowed in — to help out with what we were doing, join in the conversations or have a bite with us— and then out to do their own business. And if you notice, it seems everyone wanted a turn to hold Lucien!
Anne Eccles’s birthday happened during the workshop so Mimi and Oddur surprised her with a birthday cake!
Oddur passionately oriented us on wine. I’m not a wine drinker, preferring warm water to it every time but at the Manger workshop, we had about five or so varieties of wine to try at every meal and each time my glass was having only a fourth cup, Oddur was very quick to offer more. After four days, I was finally unintimidated by wine.
And here’s my Photograph [essay] of the Photographer (a.k.a. Mischievous Manly Mastermind of Intrigue for our Photo Survivor Contest 🙂 )
On one of the afternoons, we took a side trip to St. Vivien to see Pierre’s house. You might want to buy it and convert it into a school or hotel. It has a gorgeous vantage view range on all sides and a good location, surrounded by a lot of open air. It has about twenty or so rooms, a cellar with a generator before generators became publicly available; and lots of intricate sumptuous details in the interiors and furnishings.
We proceeded to Soulac Beach… unfortunately, the ice cream place was still closed.
The Workshop in Review:
I asked Mimi a few impromptu questions:
How did the Manger Workshops come about? I guess people were asking me and I just started one. I was a bit nervous about it at first… what are we going to do… but then it’s just like having friends over and cooking together so that’s how it started… just little by little, organically.
Was that a year ago? Yes just over a year ago.
Does every workshop have cooking? Yes, with cooking but we have themes for each one, for antiques, pastry, wine, photography.
Will the antiques be just around the area? We’ll be spending more time in Bordeaux and the villages. And then cooking, the beach…
Do you have a message for women who are afraid to cook? My message is to have a lot of guts. Courage (French accent)… because you know, to do everything you want to do, you need courage.
And because this Manger Experience was a beauty overload dose, my last question is… Can you share a Beauty Tip for women? The night before (because otherwise you will be really red if you do it the same day) you put one or two tablespoons of honey and two good pinches of cinnamon, enough to be a mask, on the face, lips, but not around the eyes. It really stings, you might think you have an allergy but you go to bed and the next day, your skin will glow; it will look new and young. It’s like having a home derma-peel.
Mimi inspires me because by now she must already know that she is beautiful and very talented aside from living a wonderful, beautiful life, but she remains humble and kind. She shares the gift of cooking freely, teaching generously. She is an asset not only to her family but also to her country and region as she promotes interest, economy, and tourism there.
The Manger workshop was a worthwhile once-in-a-lifetime (or perhaps more than once) experience. The impact of joy in my cooking and work can not be measured until much later but I know Mimi has imparted a great gift to me as well as to others who have learned from her.
Lord, You have made the world a better, brighter, more beautiful place by putting Mimi in it! Thank You for the gift of her life and all her giftings! May You prosper and protect her, Oddur, all their children and pets, loved ones, their household and suppport help, their work in Jesus’s name amen.
And so happy to get Mimi’s note today! 🙂
Click here to read the post of where we stayed:
Bordeaux Region Real en Medoc Stay and Saint Julien Dinner
9 Comments Add yours
Hi Karen, this is Mariel. I chanced upon your photos while looking at Mimi Thorisson’s workshops in Medoc. I’m such a fan of Mimi and my dream is to attend one of her Antique workshops in the future. I’m not a cook but I like to try recipes.
I started this business , Domesticity, and I turn to Mimi for inspiration. Would it be ok if you can share tips, places to stay and how to get to Medoc? What kind of workshop did you join?
Hello Mariel! That sounds lovely! I posted some photos and reviews on places to stay in the Bordeaux region from Medoc itself (Real en Medoc which was one of the accommodations on Mimi’s list run by the lovely couple, Patrick and Violane); Le Gargantua farmhouse in Lot et Garonne with wonderful teacher Marlene; and the perfectly situated Hotel Normandie in Bordeaux. If you can scroll down my Instagram account “Karenskitchenph” to September 2016, there’s a series there with some featured places to visit and things to do in the area. I was also planning to attend her antiques workshop before my visa expired but I got very busy. Hopefully one day! I will look up your site since if Mimi and antiques inspire you, your stuff will probably be up my alley, too! I joined the now obsolete 4-day cooking workshop which has been replaced with the 3 day one. Let me know if you have other questions as it is fun for me to revisit my experience. NOt sure if I have answers for all but I would be happy to try!:) have a wonderful weekend!
Oh how to get to Medoc, I rented a car at the Bordeaux airport (with an advanced online reservation). I made sure to order a car w navigation system. Maura drove to Medoc following the GPS instructions. It’s left hand drive in France so it’s not hard to drive. The roads are one lane each way but roomy enough. At the roundabouts, whoever is already inside the roundabout as the right of way. Then you can enter when safe. Other than that, traffic rules seemed to be the usual. If you can review beforehand French traffic signs, that would be great so that you can identify the basic signs (interdit/ sortie / autoroute, etc.)
If taking train, I believe Mimi will give you directions to get to the train stop near her and they will pick you up at the train station. If you like wine you can plan which wineries to prioritize since there are so many. Make sure to make room in your cell for photos photos photos 🙂
If you’re not planning to take a car, there are two bed and breakfasts walking distance from mimi’s but you need to book way early because there is limited space.
HI Mariel! In case you haven’t found accommodations yet, you might want to consider Real en Medoc. https://butterflyinthespring.com/2017/07/26/bordeaux-region-real-en-medoc-stay-and-saint-julien-dinner/
Hi Karen, Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. I have inquired with Mimi about her workshop for this spring and going to reserve a spot. She said in her email that they only took payment by bank wire transfer and not credit card. I just want to confirm if this is how you paid for the workshop. I am a little nervous to wire money into the unknown. Thanks for any advise. Lisa
Dear Lisa, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Yes, bank wire transfer is exactly how I paid but I had to pay a little extra so to cover the transfer fees so that the net proceeds of the transfer would amount to the workshop fee. The information Mimi gave worked on the first try. Have you had a look at accommodations? I wrote a post about where we stayed, Real en Medoc. If you have a car during your stay, I would recommend that. You can check out the place plus some Bordeaux field trips 🙂 I hope you have a marvelous time!