Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A&G Off to France--Day Seven (Part 3 of 3)

Our heads in the clouds.

Our heads in the canyon, and no, we didn't bungee jump.

There's really no need to (try to) be clever about these, is there?

Alas, even beautiful holes in the ground end eventually, and so we head off to Chateau Trigance, our inn for the evening and a castle where we hope we will have to solve the mystery just like Shaggy and Scooby, or I guess I should say Freddy and Daphne. It turns out to be less tacky than we imagine, and the view from the turret-tops is magnificent, especially since we don't have to repel invaders attacking our home from it. It doesn't even really seem haunted, even with this guy, "a night in shiny armor" as a student once indelicately put it, in the lobby to chase us about while we yell, "Zoiks!"

After a chateau-top picnic of banon--the great sheep cheese wrapped in fig leaves--and baguette and sweets and wine, we walk through the village, which almost takes longer to type than write. At least it did mean we had to go downhill and then back to the chateau. Although we had an even better uphill to look forward to, as we hop back in the car and take the mightily scenic drive to Castellane along the Verdon where it's just a pretty river valley and not a 2300-foot deep canyon. On the way we have to wait for a woman shooing her goats, including one randy billy, along the road. At Castellane, it's a road rally of cool cars and a town not on a hillside, but under a 600 foot cliff. Upon which, of course, they built their church, for both safety and weight-prevention reasons. We cannot not trudge up to Notre-Dame-du-Roc, and for a 360 degree view it's more than worth it.

Here's the rock, and here's the steeple, open up the door, and you've got very cardiac-fit people.

And throughout the trip I had to keep myself from taking photos of French people as so many seemed so photogenic. Whether the men playing boules or the women trading tales, they often seemed so of the place (people as terroir?) they needed to be documented too. Of course, that's both a bit patronizing and a bit creepy, so I didn't general do it, unless I could be sneaky like here:

Dining at the Chateau is a particular treat as the dining room is in a former weapons store room and has a stone vaulted ceiling lit by candles (and some indirect incandescent light, but I'm trying to set a mood here, ok?). Our waiter, who will be spotted cleaning tomorrow morning and will also check us out of our room, looks a bit like a French Tim Roth and recommends a local organic wine, the tasty 2002 Domaine du Jas D'Esclans Cotes de Provence. We get a zucchini soup amuse and then two terrifically constructed first plates; Amy orders a salmon terrine of both cured and fresh fish plus some bonus mussels and calamari while I have a quail salad, the little bird tender and juicy, next to a vegetable pate terrine of lovely layers and a spot of greens with a fried quail egg atop, that then coats the salad when broken. My guess is folks didn't eat like this in the 11th century. We have the same main course, duck breast with mushrooms, garlic, onion and pea essence (it's there so the chef can paint with green on the plate). We also both opt for the dessert plate, deciding to cut the cheese for the evening (oops, sorry), which is mango pulp, pear and chestnut mousse, raspberry and mousse (don't worry, there's lots of mousse but no squirrel), apple "turnover" and an ice cream that was awfully close to butter pecan, although so good I shouldn't have used awfully before it. For those of you with poor imaginations, all of that looked like this:

Before heading back to Chambre 5--and I know it's really just the French word for room, but even if it wasn't, digs in a castle have to be called "chambres"--we go above to the turrets to take in the night air. That is, until we realize we have company, as a host of bats are feasting on the bugs attracted by the lights up there, which is too atmospheric for us.


Anonymous Amy said...

Chestnut leaves, banon is wrapped in chestnut leaves. And you forgot to mention that you hit your head on the castle. :)

Oh, and you also didn't stress how beautiful the fall leaves were... who needs New England when you have the Gorge de Verdon!

I can't wait for the next day's entry!

9:18 AM  
Blogger George said...

I'm left without a figleaf to wear with my banon mistake, but I blame it on my head and the castle meeting uncremoniously. I insist the castle lurched. Or maybe it's that I'm tall and the wall was curved. I only knocked myself back to the bed for a quick second.

And if we're going to talk about things I forgot to include, I also failed to mention Amy's lesson for the day: "don't touch a plant, it may bite you." We don't know what kind of flora she fondled, but it left her with stickers in her hand for two days.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Tessitura said...

pea essence...mmmm...sounds good.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Amy said...

better than Pigeon cooked in its own droppings...

9:52 AM  

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