We first met Mimi earlier this year when we interviewed her for Mums In Style. Mimi is a talented author and chef, cooking the most enticing meals with ingredients from her local market and she shares her recipes all on her wonderful website Manger. Visit her website and be transported, beautiful imagery taken by her talented husband Oddur Thorisson captures their family life which they live in the charming French countryside of Médoc, their stunning family home filled with beautiful antiques, and family meals shared around exquisitely dressed tables. We speak to Mimi about her life growing up in Hong Kong, preparing meals for the family and the best things Médoc has to offer during autumn.
We know that you have a great passion for antiques, how does this passion influence the way you dress your dinner table, and what advice would you give when it comes to dressing the table for special occasions or dinner parties?
I love antique dishes because they are timeless and so incredibly beautiful. The artwork, the quality, I can never seem to find anything as nice in a modern store. When I dress a table I follow the season’s natural colours, in summer a table will be livelier with fresh colours, in autumn and winter I go for more old-fashioned style as I tend to cook comforting meals.
What advice would you give to parents when it comes to preparing a meal for the family? Any tricks or tips you would like to pass on?
Cooking should always be a pleasurable moment, so I will always advise to start by a trip to a local market. The smells and colours that surround you are very inspiring. Next, I would always go for comforting family meals, a slow-cooked pot roast in the oven, a baked dish with potatoes or pasta, a hearty soup or stew that can last 2 days. I always stock at least 10 bags of frozen chicken or vegetable stock in my freezer, so all I need is to take it out for a great soup or sauce. One of my most popular family recipes seems to be the broccoli pasta because the kids love it (it’s on my blog)!
How do you like to spend quality time with your family?
Always around the table, eating great food and exchanging our stories of the day. It’s often during that time that my husband and I glance at each other and think that this is what life is all about, good times around the table.
Tell us what are the greatest things this Medoc has to offer coming into autumn? Any best kept secrets?
Medoc is all about wine, hunting, forest and all things rustic. In autumn, the vineyards are the prettiest, all golden and red. We have the wine harvest, so it’s a great time to visit and see the vineyards in action. There’s also a lot of mushroom picking, especially the cèpes (porcini) mushrooms. And Bordeaux is an amazing city only an hour away.
We see you have a new exciting project in the making, a website titled Rue Loudenne could you tell us a little more about this project?
It’s a new destination for food, travel, wine and lifestyle. We’ll have lots of contributors, beautiful photos and it will be an exciting place to visit! My blog Manger, will remain more of a food journal, and Rue Loudenne will have all the seasonal recipes to share. We will also develop our own cooking show, so stay tuned!
We love discovering the traditions that surround a culture, especially when it comes to food. What are some special traditions or things that are unique to where you live when it comes to food, eating and preparing meals?
Médoc is filled with a rich wine and food culture. Oysters are from our region so it’s typical to serve them at every meal. Hunting is very big here so there are lots of dishes inspired by the forest. Fishing is also a big activity because of the Gironde’s estuary. There are little fishing huts all along the river and it’s very typical to invite your friends and have a barbecue. All barbecues here are grilled on sarment branches (dried vine shoots), so the fish or meat taste extra good. Finally, wine is God, so the wine line-up for any meal is always an important moment.
Your life seems so much to embody the French lifestyle, having grown up in Hong Kong could you tell us a little about your upbringing in China and how this has influenced the way you live today, are there traditions that you have held onto?
I have such fond memories from my childhood in Hong Kong, the colonial days, the amazing food, the celebrations, the boats. If I had to pick one, it’s the Moon Festival where you have the most delicious dishes with your friends and family, walk around the hills or beaches with traditional Chinese lanterns, eating mooncakes and admiring the moon. Growing up in two cultures gave me so much inspiration and confidence. All the superstition, legends and traditions have made me into who I am today. The rich and colourful mixture of cultures has always made think outside the box, allowing me to dream and feel that anything is possible.
And your children, how do you teach them about their Icelandic and Chinese roots?
It’s such an important part of their culture. It’s such a gift to be part of so many cultures, so they spend a lot of time with the family from all over the world.
From La Coqueta’s autumn collection what are your favourite 3 pieces this season?
The Carmin Girl Dress is so cute and timeless, it reminds me of a dress in Annie (my kids love that musical so we watch it a lot!)
The Espiga Girl Skirt is so timeless, and the Cromo Girl Nightgown and Cromo Boy Pyjama is a must for the holiday season(I’ll be slipping them in the Christmas stocking!)
Mimi’s children are dressed in La Coqueta, they are wearing our girl’s dresses, girl’s skirts, shirts & trousers: Laria Girl Dress, Carmina Girl Dress, Vicenza Girl Shirt, Espiga Girl Skirt, Carmin Girl Dress, Mairena Baby Shirt, Bimba Baby Trousers.
Mimi was kind enough to share one of her delicious recipes with us for Caramelized beetroot tarte tatin.
800-900g beetroots / up to 2 pounds beetroots (approx. medium-sized 6 beetroots cooked and peeled)
1 large red onion (sliced)
2 tbsp brown sugar
40 g/ 3-4 tbsp butter + butter to line the cake pan
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper (for seasoning)
200 g/ 1 & 1/2 cup plain flour
125 g/ 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and sliced into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp cold water
Crème fraîche (or sour cream) – 1 tbsp per person
A large handful of chopped parsley
Preheat oven to 180°C/ 350°F
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and mix using your hands until dough is crumbly. Make a well in the centre, add egg and water. Mix well until dough is soft and form a ball. Roll dough on a floured surface, adding flour if necessary if the dough is too sticky. With a rolling-pin, roll dough large enough to cover the cake pan.
Remove the skin from the cooked beetroots and slice in quarters. In a large frying pan, heat the brown sugar. As soon as it’s starting to melt, add the butter and stir. Add the beetroots and red onion, fry (on a medium to high heat) for 10-12 minutes, until they start to caramelize, add balsamic vinegar, reduce for 2 minutes until sauce is thick and glossy. Set aside.
Butter a round cake pan, layer the beetroots so the surface is entirely covered (try to pick out the red onion for the surface layer) – make sure to ‘display’ them nicely as the tart will be inverted. Add the red onions and sauce. Place the pastry sheet on top and tuck in at the edges. Prick the pastry with a fork all over. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning it out gently. Place on a serving plate. (Don’t worry if a few pieces of beetroot fall out-of-place, you can simply re-arrange them like a puzzle).