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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Twelve Days in Paris and Gascony: What was the best thing you ate in France?

I hear that pretty often, and yet, my response is often -- well, you can't really say. I apologize if my answer sounds like an oxymoron or a platitude. Or that I am avoiding the question.

But let me ask, how do you define your best meal? Let's talk.

Is it about stars, or the chef? The anticipation?

Or about the most local or the most veggie or the most of anything, really? 

And here's a hot question, what is the root of the deal? Is it always to rave about ....the food?

Celery Root from Bon Marche that traveled by TGV to Gascony

Bio (organic) Pomme at Marche in the Marais

Is the aroma at the table or wafting (is permeating better? wafting.. lord..I hate that word...) from the kitchen spurring your conversation? Or is there an intriguing taste that leaves you speechless?

Oyster Mushrooms at Bon Marche in Paris

In Paris... I felt the enormity of sitting, and yes, eating at the restaurant tables we snuggled up to!

Around 9:30 am on the 3rd Day in the Twelve Day Tour I felt the pleasure of drinking in the deep and reflective experience of being with Cori and Brenda and Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light author and travel, food, wine and pilgrim extraordinaire, David Downie who Michael Ondatjie says is "The master of educated curiosity." He and his amazing photographer wife, Allison Harris, showed us the secrets of the Marais. We walked into (yes, not just by...) the small and chi-chi Chez L'Ami Louis, frequented by Bill Clinton and other celebs, then through Marche des Enfants Rouge, were led to the gorgeous boutique of astonishing chocolate, Jacques Genin and ate an authentic bistro lunch at Cafe des Musees. Allison and David were generous, gentle and energetic historians of the many layers of the Marais; which must be made of stone, chocolate and Moroccan delicacies. It was at the Cafe des Musees where we also returned to the Veau Debacle.

See any Presidents? 

Marche les Enfants Rouge

Merci beaucoup! to David Downie and Allison Harris 

And on the 2nd Day of Paris with Cori, Brenda, and Judy we found and arrived, as planned, to La Procope, a restaurant that had been in my mind for a long time. I swear almost since the day it was founded in 1686! Now La Procope still sports Napoleon's bicorn hat. Wow. Napoleon had not one, but two corns. That hat might have been the best "meal" there. But this was also the beginning of the Veau Debacle.

Judy and the Crepes 

Cori and the Glace 

Brenda and the Parfait 

 The balcony of La Procope

More, La Procope (is that Napoleon off to the left?) 

And going back in the tour (not in actual time..) even further, on the very first day I was in Paris with Cori, my assistant, we were planning and frankly, we got so incredibly hungry! For dinner we visited Parnassus 138 in -- I know you'll be surprised -- Montparnasse. It was fun to show Cori, and fun to waych their crack-up-laugh-out-loud video. The little place has retained and remained a small neighborhood jewel. 

Well, now I really don't know -- what was the best meal? What do you think!?

Cori with her Plat du Jour at Parnassus 138 in Paris

My Salad of Duck Gizzards at Parnassus 138

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Beaucoup Fromage.....

We've coined some lovely phrases and methods of walking around Birdeaux. 

You're right, I should call it Bordeaux, but there are a lot of pigeons here. 

Maybe if I was a fresh traveler I wouldn't feel as if I am in some sort of video game.

In the obstacle section there are many things to avoid as you walk. 

Merde de chien.
Broken glass.
Slippery stones
Trolleys (trams) 
Voitures zipping 30 km an hour
Beaucoup Poubel

Not sure I won this video game in Birdeaux, but will leave you with some parting photos of our last few days. 

At the end of our street...

French Soup Card Game

St. Emillion

Next stop, Paris! 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Since We Last Spoke ....

The sun has set over our time, for the time being, in Poudenas and I'm feeling a wee bit guilty about leaving you in the lurch! 

What have you been up to?

We've entered Phase Five - no Six - of our trip to France. 

It's hard to believe that soon it will be 2 weeks since our little group of "Twelve Days" disbanded. 

What's happened since? 

Rich and I had a couple of days to ramble around the small villages that lead out of (or into) Condom on the Chemin de Santiago, in preparation for where we are now. 

Plan de Lot et Garonne (a map of sorts) 

Then our sons, Erick and Jaryd arrived...what a long journey from their homes in Colorado and California.

We enjoyed cooking as a family and one night full of stars for the lovely entourage of Marie-Claude, Christian, Sandrine, Jean-Claude and Jean-Antoine. 

Then, beaucoup Le Market in Condom and Auch. 

Armagnac tasting at Gelas in Vic-Fezensac.

And then Kayla - Erick's girlfriend arrived - another long journey behind her.  Welcomed in the only proper way, a Reblochon Pizza from La Galerie. She shared a beautiful bottle of 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit Company! 

Wear 10th Mountain Whiskey & Spirit! 

Jaryd, Papa, Marie-Claude, Kayla, Jean-Claude, Christian, and Erick! 

The Arcade of La Galerie

 Nerac's amazing market..

Here are some litle moments from last week.

I bid you a lovely Vendredi, Friday! 

Erick and Jaryd in the kitchen at La Belle de Gasconne

Ah, the Hour of Pate c'est arrivee!

Jaryd and Erick hamming it up! 

Sleepy Chat in Fources

Door in Fources, the round bastide

Marie-Claude Gracia Rey, 
The Queen of Foie Gras! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pruneaux, Figuer, and Potiron

The rain falls steadily, softly; marking tiny circles in the millpond of La Belle Gasconne.

An escargot marks a Chemin - a path - across the picture window of La Belle Gasconne. 

It's our little band's last full day of this trip and we have a bit more tumbling and rolling and stirring to do for a Fete Midi.

But in the meantime here are a few photos from our adventures in this beautiful and tranquile embrace of, and with, Gascony. 

                Madame Fromagier

            Michel and the Marmite

       Potage Potiron with Haricot Rouge,              Recipe of Marie-Claude Gracia.

Cocottes waiting for Flan aux Verveine, Marie-Claude Gracia's Recette. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day Three with David Downie and Onward to Poudenas

Hello from Poudenas!

I am writing on my I-phone outside of Cafe Galerie on the main street of the village of 300 inhabitants, which includes
Marie-Claude Gracia Rey with her husband, Christian, and her sons, Jean-Claude and Jean-Antoine, and her daughter Marie-Christine. 

We are blessed to be in the company of one, Michel Lebecq, who is a renaissance man and a wood turner, a farmer and leader of our little band through many culinary experiences....

In Mezin ...

On the train from Paris with Judy..

Cori and Brenda piquenique-ing

Cooking in a Paris apartment off Rue Daguerre

With Isabelle Bachelard at Rungis Market

In the Marais with David and Alison...

We spent a lovely morning with author and punster, David Downie and his wife, Alison Harris - photographer of all beauty, touring the Marais delighting in the history of the Templars, where Presisent Clinton ate, the seductive aromas of Marche l'Enfant Rouge and the sights of bejeweled chocolates. Lunch apres at one of their favorite restaurants.

David Downie and Alison Harris

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day Two, Three, and Four Went By In a Blink!

Paris mezmerizes. 

In Montparnasse Cemetary you can walk among the gingko trees and commune with the likes of Sontag, Sarte, and Zadkine. Man Ray gives a friendly nod. And Baudilare, is bawdy.  

I said to my friend Cori today that everyone is better looking in Paris. They smell so good. And I guess I meant everyone we see. She thought I meant everyone takes better care of themselves. And maybe that's true. It is true for me. I don't feel so schlumpy bumpy. But I am not sure why. Maybe its osmosis, being surrpunded by such beauty. 

We have been readying for the Twelve Day Tour and so that means walking. 

Tracing our steps along Rue des Bucherie and stopping in to Shakespeare and Company. We were just in time to hear Will Self Shark...which was winderful and strange. 

We went to Bon Marche on Rue de Sevre, and to Poilane on Rue de Cherche Midi.

But not Everything is art. 

We shopped at le Marche on Edgar Quinet and watched people descend as the vendors were closing up and discarding boxes of cucumbers, soft pears, peppers with spots, crushed containers of mache and bags of spinach 
and other varieties of laitue. 

Tall plastic bags of produce with ripe red tomatoes got dragged against their will by the men in the green suits.

But today we were busy in the kitchen; making Curried Tuna Salad with Potatoes and Peppers and then a Snow Pea Salad with Cucumbers and Green Zebra Tomatoes, a Flan of Oyster Mushrooms and Leeks and Julia Child's Cocolate Mousse for tomorrow when the Twelve Days officially begins.

We've got to catch a taxi as there is already too much to carry to move over to Rue Daguerre.

But the alarm is going to sound early to go out to Charles de Galle and fetch Brenda and Judy and welcome them and tantalize them with the best of Paris. 

What else are we to do? 

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