Friday, August 29, 2008

A Picnic? No Two!

Those who live in Southern France know how to enjoy people and foods. The place--- Lauzettes, one of the La Gramiere vineyards that overlooks the village of Castillon du Gard, the evening, warm with gentle breezes, the people, friends and soon to be friends of Amy and Matt's, our daughter and son-in-law, the occasion, a summer's picnic. All who were invited brought a dish to share and something to put on the grill.

We arrived about an hour before to help set up tables, grills, and wine glasses, of course. The grapes are a deep purple hidden amongst the leaves just waiting for the perfect moment to be picked. Friends began to arrive, some we knew and others that we would know before the evening ended. I had made a tomato tart with ingredients from the Saturday market. As the sun set in the crimson sky we feasted upon all the wonderful foods.

The following evening, our neighborhood had a picnic outside our front door. We placed candles in all of our windows, set up tables, two wonderful paintings hung on the walls of our neighbors home, and of course, the gleaming Christmas tree lights. Michele, the artist, created this creature on the temporary light pole that should be moved in about 20 years. The people, fascinating. The lady who had been mayor of the village for 35 years, Albert and Pierre who presented a delicious sangria, Nicole who was going to Alexandria to head schools, Nana who is on the village council, Odette who we wave to each morning as she walks to get her bread. Wine flowed, food was shared, new friends were made. It was midnight as we cleaned up. Albert and Pierre enticed us to join them for a drink at their home. Of course, we couldn't refuse---or didn't want to. The drink? A choice of Verveine or a Thyme liquor both from plants they had collected from the garrigue, the dense low growing forests at the edge of the vineyards. At 1:30 we wondered home---glad we didn't have to drive!

Enjoy a wonderful summer weekend with friends. We will think of you.

À bientôt,

Monday, August 25, 2008

Have a seat----here is your fork.....

Yes, you will need your fork. The time was finally right (gosh, I think anytime is right) to begin our current research. The morning was beautiful, a little cool, perfect for coffee and oh, a pastry. Savarin had every pastry imaginable as it was market day and others had the same idea as we did. Joe pondered and pondered. I didn't! La Tulipe had been gently calling my name since our trip in February. Today, it yelled out very loudly! It is a crepe filled with a chestnut creme and candied chestnuts on top. Joe was still looking. His decision, La Plasier, a chocolate and vanilla yummy. Naturally, the name means pleasure/delight. Be sure to savor every bite. Would you believe each of these cost 2.10 Euros? Hmmm, I guess I had better begin dreaming about my next choice.

A Bientot, Cindy

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh, So French!

Can you believe how French this kitten is? Larry Slate decided her/him's name should be Lili and designed a bowl just for her. That made us all smile. Any more ideas?

Yesterday, we went hunting for blackberries in the vineyard. If we had had stilts we would have been much more successful, however, we did have enough to add to a Reine Claude (greengage to us) plum tart which we took to dinner at one of Amy's friends homes. It was a beautiful summer evening with a brilliant red sunset. If one wished, one could swim before dinner (see a tiny bit of the pool to the left) See the beehive oven from Portugal? The entire dinner was cooked in it (oh, except 3 totally different desserts all made by 3 different people and all having Reine Claude plums from yesterday's market. Yum!) Right now the tomatoes are wonderful. The taste is something we have forgotten in the U.S. Lucy cut large tomatoes in half, added slices of garlic, herbs from around her house (rosemary and thyme), olive oil and the oven cooked them beautifully in about 5 minutes. Very Provencal! We bought tomatoes at the market today and they will have to go on our grill.

As dinner was so delicious, and conversation was so diverse, we missed the movie Azur and Asmar which was showing in the park (place) just down the street! Maybe next time.

A Bientot!


Friday, August 22, 2008

.....A New Surprise Member of the Family

Yes, as I told several of you, our adventure began within 33 minutes of arriving at the house. The train was late so Amy was right on time to pick us up. If you have not had a ride on the TGV (very fast train----180 miles per hour) put that on your thing to do, however, do it with one small suitcase as you are on your own carrying everything-----even a new Mah Jongg set!

As we were upstairs at the house we heard male voices in the salon. Amy went right down and there were two of our neighbors to greet us and announce that there was to be a block party right in front of the house next Monday. We can't wait to meet more of our neighbors---well, at least we can say, "Bonjour! Hmmmm, what will I take American to eat? Fried chicken and potato salad?

Amy was off. Actually, she returned in five minutes with a very sheepish look on her face. She had found a kitty on the road and just knew we would love to have it. Isn't our daughter thoughtful to think about us? The picture shows what we saw of the "Little One" for two days. She was very loud and demanding but has a very gentle meow when she wants. Yes, we are seeing more of her each day, but she loves to hide in the tiles in the courtyard. We have found that Joe's ham he has for lunch is a great enticement. She also is borrowing her cousin (and our first grandcat), Chloe's, basket for awhile as Chloe spends the evening visiting her neighborhood.
We do need an appropriate name for our little friend. If you have any ideas, we would love help.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Attempting to Complete a Mission!

Yes, we have to do it. Leaving France last Spring, we had not completed our mission---to try all of the pastries at the wonderful patisserie in Uzes, Savarin. As you can see, the case is very full and because of our daughter's wedding we just did not have enough time. We can't wait to have an excuse to continue our quest.
Tomorrow we are off to Paris and the TGV to
Avignon. The harvest of the grapes at our daughter and son-in-law's vineyard, La Gramiere( ), will begin the beginning of September. Once again we shall spend our liesurely retirement picking grapes, carrying full buckets, hauling crates, stomping grapes (well, we tried it), tasting the juice, and finally, listening to the wine ferment in the vats.
Of course, we will need to begin immediately to sample the pastries in order to complete our mission. Join us!