I spent the last week in the south of France in a town called Auvillar (link in French). It's nearish Toulouse and in the middle of nowhere. There is a nuclear power plant right down the road that adds a lovely sort of irony to the place. The people are unbelievably friendly.
The whole trip we had a lovely woman named Sophie cooking for us. We had bread, yogurt and fruit for breakfast and usually a light lunch of beet salad and cheeses. For dinner we had a variety of dishes. A quinoa salad one night, fish stew, chicken. All of it was amazing.
The one restaurant we visited was a wonderful creperie. The food was amazing, the ambiance more so. Picture a giant home on top of a hill surrounded by trees and a garden; it overlooks the lower part of a French village. I had a 3 cheese crepe, it was topped with a huge ring of brie and was rich and delicious. I shared it with my new friend Christine. We then shared a second crepe with bacon, cheese, and mushrooms. For dessert we had ice cream and crepes with butter and sugar. I felt cheated that we couldn't make a second visit work later in the week.
We ate on the huge balcony overlooking the trees and garden as a distant storm rumbled across the valley. There was lightening, thunder. The night was closing in around us, this all equals perfection.
What was not so perfect was the behavior of some of the other people at my table. Why do Americans get so antsy when a meal starts to take a few hours to consume? And why do they continually make claims that it's 'ok it's taking so long' or 'we are in France, I guess it takes longer, which is ok' Americans are the passive-aggressive champions of the world when it comes to other cultures. This is at least partly true. I'm sure that we could all pick another country and make our arguments stick.
I brought a bottle of a 2002 Le Vin Noir home with me from Les Vignerons du Brulhois. Le Vin Noir is black wine which is essentially a very dark purple colored red that tastes a little like black currant jam mixed with wood. It's way to strong for me to just sit and drink, but with a nice strong meal it would work out. The lovely lady at the winery told me to serve it with contif or a strong foie gras. I think it might be best with a nice slab of steak, but I'm not a huge wine head.
At the corner grocery I even found Kinder Surprise. They are chocolate eggs with a little toy inside. The outside is milk chocolate, the inside is white. the toy is usually a silly cartoon character that you have to put together. I got some ninja chimps and a magician with a broom in my three kinders. They are originally a German candy that I grew up with in England, so finding them in France was nice.
It's funny that the thing that most impressed me was the discovery of a childhood toy. But maybe not so surprising as I've been very sentimental these days. I find myself discussing personal histories with anyone who will listen...including these posts.