Blog Archives

Accidentally in Avignon

Pont d’Avignon from the île de la Barthelasse

“You can’t get there from here,” is what the French rail website might as well have said when we were trying to get home from last week’s trip to Aigues-Mortes. Caught up in the excitement of staying on board our own boat, we anticipated that our return to Carcassonne would be as easy as the outbound journey. Unfortunately what should have taken a bit over 2 hours in travel time was showing up as 16 hours because of layovers, connections, and being sent up to Paris to catch the night train that has only seats, no sleeping berths. We then learned that because of track repairs no trains would be running for 3 days in the direction of home so it was time to get out the map and see where we could go. Since we knew that there were trains running northbound in the direction of the capital, it didn’t take long to settle on Avignon as the place to wait until the rails were once again open. Read the rest of this entry

Wine tasting impressions

Two eager wine tasters

Given that we live in the world’s largest wine producing region, it’s no surprise that Bill and I have ample opportunities to taste that favorite beverage of Roman god Bacchus. It might be at a neighbor’s house, in the corner mom-and-pop shop, at the cooperative of 50 brands represented in the newly-restored early 1900s Le Comptoir de la Cité, or at one of the many city-sponsored festivals given throughout the year. We were at one of these fêtes last weekend, organized by CitéVins, which is a group of young vintners, mentored by award-winning sommelier Baptiste Ross-Bonneau, who promote the smaller producers in our part of the country. The show opened at 9:00 AM but even for we seasoned tasters, closer to mid-day was better and the timing was perfect. Read the rest of this entry

Beaune day trip

The hospice well

With a title like “Wine Capital of Burgundy” how could we not visit the city of Beaune (sounds like “bone” in English) especially since it’s only 18 minutes by train from where we were staying in Dijon? In the US we were big fans of public television, PBS, and especially travel videos from Rick Steves which is where we got our first glimpse of what this part of the Côte d’Or region had to offer. Thanks to YouTube, portions of those recordings are still available so with our memories refreshed it was time to see for ourselves why a famous New York City newspaper wrote an article entitled, “Seduced by Beaune in Burgundy”. Read the rest of this entry

When you mix oil with wine

Olive oil tasting bar

Growing up, I wanted to be a microbiologist until I got to college and found out that in addition to biology you had to also be good at chemistry. Bill’s a wiz at that but I still can’t tell the difference between emulsify, liquefy, and puree—unless those are blender settings, of course. That explains why, when I only caught snippets of the conversation between him and our friend Sally regarding something about oil and wine, I didn’t pay close attention. It was only when I saw them get out their calendars to schedule a day trip that I understood that we would be visiting an olive grove and a winery. Naturally there would have to be time for lunch, so let’s go! Read the rest of this entry

Taste of France

Fonte family olives

In every big city in the US where we lived, each year there would be a big food festival always called “Taste of…” and then you could fill in Chicago, LA, Philadelphia, Atlanta, etc. Typically restaurateurs, sometimes hundreds of them, would gather for a weekend to dispense small plates of their best creations to entice you to come for a full meal at their establishments. After 25 years I still remember the remarkable taste of a Margarita made with only fresh ingredients instead of reconstituted sweet and sour mix. That simple recipe has long been a mainstay on our bar. At the end of September for the last eight years the French government has encouraged communities across the country to celebrate all the aspects of gastronomy including the people and their knowledge that make this possible. Last weekend Carcassonne was one of the thousands of communities to participate in the nationwide Fête de la Gastronomie. Read the rest of this entry

Saint-Émilion day trip

Monolithic church and bell tower

Although Saint-Émilion is too far from Carcassonne to see on a day trip, it’s only 30 minutes by train from Bordeaux so going there was an easy decision while we were visiting that regional wine capital with a big, bold name. In the US we knew that this region produced some famous and often pricey wines (Château Cheval Blanc,Grand Cru $1000, for example) but in our local supermarket we can find a Grand Cru produced 5 kilometers (3 miles) from that winery for about $10 and many more from the area, without that official superior grade classification, for half that small price and less. It was time for Bill and me to take a trip to see this well-known territory for ourselves and to find out why one British newspaper described it as “the French wine town that’s more beautiful than Bordeaux.” Read the rest of this entry

Bordeaux in 4 days

Inside La Cité du Vin

If I say the words “champagne, cognac, and burgundy” do you think of place names or drinks? That’s a trick question because in France they are both; capitalize the first letter and you have a region or town designation whereas if you pour these into a glass they are something to enjoy with a meal or just on their own. That also works for bordeaux: with a capital B it’s alternatively known as the “second Paris” or as the “capital of wine” while a small b gives you the familiar big, bold red wines that might include grape varieties we know such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and malbec. We had just a few days to discover both the place and the wine. Read the rest of this entry

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to northern France

Southern Fried French

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

wcs

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

Chez Loulou

Two American Guys & Their Dog Move to France

The Vicious Cycle

A man searches for meaning...in between leg shavings

Post-Industrial Eating

Just another WordPress.com weblog

An Italian Point Of View

Alan and Tracy's Expat Adventures