Sunday, May 15, 2011 – Bev almost goes airborne

We woke to clear skies and about 40 miles an hour winds, plus huge gusts, which we were later told reached nearly 100 kph (60 mph) . The temp, which was in the low 80s on Saturday, plunged about 30 degrees cooler today. My initial plans for the day, until I stepped outside, were to go to Mount Ventoux for the views, as it was crystal clear. However, David convinced me that this would be a bad idea as a) the temp at the summit would be low enough to chill wine, and b) the winds would probably blow me of the peak and deposit me somewhere below, in essence making me an Italian-American kite… So instead we decided we would roam around and look for photo ops.

Our first stop was atop the hill in Eygalieres. I hopped out of the car to shoot some photos and was almost blown over by the wind. The car was rocking and bouncing on the small dirt road. I hopped back in after taking a few shots, and David suggested we go to the glider field at Romanin, as the winds were, no doubt, making for a great day for sailplane buffs.

As we approached the field with its long grass runway, it was apparent that something was going on as there were cars parked far down the road. As we strolled up the road, a sailplane took off. The rope that pulls it down the runway only took it about 30-40 feet before it was airborne and climbing almost straight up. I tried to take photos, but with the sun in my eyes and the rapid movement, all I got was pictures of blue skies and clouds.

As we got closer to the hangars and sailplanes, it was apparent that today was a fund-raising party for the airport fire department, with music, food, and – of course – petanque. Everyone arriving had their boules with them in neat little bags, ready to play. Not wanting to crash the party, we decided to head out, when David pointed out a sailplane getting ready to land. This time I was prepared and got great photos of it coming in, touching down, and rolling to a stop.

As the day was glorious, but the winds were making even standing difficult, we decided to head into St. Remy to stroll around. Unfortunately, there was a special antiques show going on, so the streets and lots were not available for parking, and the nearest parking spot was in Spain. We decided to continue on to Maussane, one of our favorite villages, to shoot some photos and then have lunch. The sun was in full force by now, so – despite the winds, which were somewhat less on this side of the Alpilles – it was becoming a nice day.

We parked next to the square, and David walked down to see if one of our favorite restaurants – Ou Ravi Prouvencau – was open. It was, so we hopped into the charming old, timbered dining room and took in all of the great smells of traditional Provencal cooking. As always, a kir made choosing between the meal choices easier. I opted for David’s favorite – jambon a l’os, ham hot smoked on the bone. It is a house specialty, smoked in a wood oven with rosemary. David chose anchovies with red and orange peppers. Both were very tasty. It was time to switch to wine, so David chose a white from vineyards just two miles away – Mas de la Dame cuvee Stele. Our main courses arrived – daube for me, a rich Provencal stew made with beef, accompanied by what was essentially mac ‘n cheese. David had scallops with local asparagus and mushrooms. For dessert, I passed, and David had a locally made goat cheese with olive oil from the town and a touch of rosemary. It was a relaxed, wonderful meal, made even better by the warm ambience of the dining room.

By the time we finished, the Richard family, who own and run the establishment, were all sitting at the family table for Sunday lunch. We bid them farewell and strolled back to the square. As the wind had died a bit, and the sun was shining full force, we decided to relax in the square at the Cafe de la Fontaine, recently purchased and renovated to be more upscale. It all is very nice, except for the large white and blue cow they have now installed over the entrance.

After relaxing for a bit, we got in our car and headed back over the Alpilles to Eygalieres. I was able to get some nice shots along the way.

After a short snooze, and doing some laundry, we headed back over the Alpilles for dinner at Riboto de Taven in Les Baux. We arrived to find the parking lot almost full, and a dozen people dining. Christine and Philippe were busy, but we still were able to chat. Dinner was another Jean-Pierre triumph. Ravioli of smoked salmon started things off, then I had Spring lamb and David a filet of sea bream. Dessert was a sorbet with local pear that had been marinated in some delectable creation. As usual, Philippe picked out a unique wine for us – a white from the Catalonia region. It was full-bodied enough for the lamb, and didn’t overpower the fish.

As the crowd had thinned, we were able to chat with Christine, Philippe, and Jean-Pierre – always a delight. As we left to trek back over the Alpilles, Fred – the new doggie member of the family – decided that he wanted to play and ran to and fro with his toy in his mouth. What a delight.

We bid them all farewell and drove through the vineyards, over the Alpilles, and back to our mas. A nice day.

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