Friday, September 26, 2014

a Whale of a Tail

It didn't take me long during our visit to Arcachon to notice something unusual offshore.  In addition to the swimmers and sailboats, there was also something that looked like the tail of a whale.  But it's lack of movement indicated it was not what it seemed to be.... And after closer inspection it was actually revealed to be a statue of some sort.

I posted the photo on facebook and was surprised how many people thought it was an actual whale. While I was enjoying friends' congratulations on being so fortunate to see such a sight, I décided  i had to " fess up."  And after a little research, I discovered that the sculpture by Emanuel Janssens Casteels was placed there in 2011. Every year it is painted a different color so this must have been the year of pale yellow.  In years past, it has been painted white, pink, and blue.  

What color would you like it to be next year?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lunch in the Lot

Here in southwest France, we are used to traveling a good distance to get the fine dining we enjoy much.  In fact it's not common to drive as much as an hour to some of our favorite restaurants.  For a long time I had heard of the Michelin starred Restaurabt Marco east of Cahors, and it just seemed a little to far to go just for lunch.  However, at the end of my family's visit, I was running out of places to go so I thought we'd take a chance on a beautiful fall day. A lovely drive along the Lot River it was to La Magdalene.

Except for one other table, it was virtually our private terrace for dining.

There is a daily 30 euro lunch Market menu that we decided to explore  ( Beverly however chose  the pricier Menu tradition that consisted of foie gras tatin, roast lamb, cheese and a pineapple dessert)). 

The meal began with an unusual potato mousse and octopus amuse bouche that was delicious.

It was followed by a starter of gambas carpaccio with an olive oil sorbet and marinade.  I was afraid it would be too exotic for my parents but they enjoyed it immensely.

The cod on a bed of vanilla flavored carrots was also a winner.

And the strawberry soup with pepper yogurt sorbet was a refreshing end to a meal that was well suited to this warm sunny afternoon.

Monday, September 15, 2014

50th anniversary of the Confrerie du Vin de Cahors

The Confrerie has been inducting new chevaliers into its ranks for over 50 years.  I became a member 4 years ago after promising to defend the honor of Cahors wines.  The latest group of inductees were introduced at the harvest festival at Chateau du Port on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Afterwards there was a group photo of all the chevaliers, past and present, in attendance.  Long live Cahors.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

La Poule d'0r restaurant

 I recently heard about a new restaurant in Puymirol. home of  Michel Trama's eponymous  2-star Michelin brestaurant.  I have never been to that restaurant but thought his cheaper bistro right next door was worth a try. 

La Poule d'Or,p has a somewhat over-decorated dining room,  

But the welcome was warm so we were eager to try out the food. We enjoyed a 29-euro luncheon menu (there is also a pricier 39 euro menu) that included various choices  (fish Mousseline with mussels, chicken with tarragon, brandade, and cherry tart). 

 The food was excellent and the service accomplished...definitely a restaurant to visit again.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This little piggie went to market...

Summertime is brocante/antique fair time and I always look forward to the ones held in Montcuq.  Ieven though I have more than enough acquisitions, i always seem to find something of interest to tempt me.  This year was no exception as I came found this charming little piggie head.  It was quite heavy and the vendor explained it was made of cast iron.  He thought it could be used for hanging dish cloth in the kitchen.  I immediately thought it would be a nice gift for Kate Hill and her charcuterie school.

Someone looking at the image thought that, painted black and white, it might look like Bosco.  And they were right!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Jacques of Lauzerte

Jacques of Lauzerte is a four meter tall statue that stands in one of the traffic circles just outside of  town.   It's a stylized representation of a Compostella pilgrim made out of scrap metal that was designed by artist Phillip Gigot and put together with the help of school children.  

It's quite an impressive monument which captures the free form and the energy of the pilgrims who pass through Lauzerte on their journey to Santiago.  

Some have been a bit troubled by the apparent lack of a head or pilgrim hat.  It seems as if he ran out of metal and didn't finish.  Yet others like the form head, that emphasizes the spiritual more than the material...a pilgrim with his feet on the ground and his head in the stars.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lauzerte's "Place in the Sun"

It is not uncommon to see film crews on the square of "one of the most beautiful villages in France", so I almost didn't look twice at the cameramen one morning while walking Bosco.  But I did look and recognized the face of Jonnie Irwin, co-host of Channel 4's house hunting show "A Place in the Sun: Home or Away".  He was using our beautiful square as backdrop during the show's prologue when the clients talk about their housing needs and price point.  I couldn't resist introducing myself (and Bosco) and taking a photo.

I asked how real the show is, and he said it's far better than House Hunters International which often fictionalizes aspects of the search to create a "happy" ending.  I am not sure what properties the British clients saw during their visit (there were other sightings of Jonnie in Montaigu du Quercy) but I'll be keeping an eye out for the broadcast of this particular show.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


When Ros introduced me to her artist friend, Charles Burns, the Roving Artist, who specializes in silhouettes, I wasn't sure what to expect.  It sounded quite retro, almost Victorian, and more like a parlor trick than real art.  How could it compete in a world of digital media when an app can turn a photo into a decent water color image in seconds?  

Nevertheless, with some goading from Ros, I sat with Bosco for a session with Charles....and within minutes he had captured us just using a pair of surgical scissors, a sheet of black paper, and his own considerable talents.  Remarkably accurate and evocative of both of us.  I was bowled over and have a new respect for his art.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cafe Bras at the Musee Soulages in Rodez

I have a confession to make.  When the friends of Espace Point de Vue gallery proposed a visit to the Musee Soulages in Rodez, I was as much interested in lunch as I was the art.  The cafe at the museum, cafe Bras, is an outpost of the sublime 3-star Michelin restaurant Michel Bras up the road in Laguiole. I was curious to see what he could for the "masses".

The cafe setting was metal, wood, and  glass, mirroring the design of the museum; the pebbled pond was a nice touch.

Inside the cafe,  we sat down in eager anticipation...

...while listening to the server present the menu

The menu had been preselected for us and consisted of a vegetable terrine (beautifully presented whose flavor was enhanced by - few drops of walnut syrup)

Grilled tuna  (some thought a little overlooked) with a sublime side of cauliflower custard and bulgar.

And a nice but not extraordinary chocolate tarte with strawberry sorbet

The meal was accompanied by two white wines, a Marcillac and a Languedoc, both of which I enjoyed immensely (although some thought the Languedoc overpowered the favors of the fish and custard).

I very much enjoyed the meal and felt it provided tasty and affordable dining within the museum complex.  But if you really want to be wowed by Michel Bras' cooking you need to proceed up to Laguiole (where you will pay 4 times the price of the meal we had at the cafe).  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bridging Cahors

What better way to end this professional part of the International Malbec Days than a sound and light performance (with Cahors tasting of course) on Pont Valentre.

It was an opportunity to taste Cahors in another majestic setting while hopefully bridging an understanding of Cahors' past and future, developing an appreciation of the characteristics and pleasures of French Malbec, and cultivating relationships among wine professionals of the world.  I think Cahors succeeded on all counts this week.