After a few gorgeous days, a front moved in with cold winds from the north, lower temperatures and rains ranging from mists to torrents. Fortunately, we had activities planned that weren’t dependent on blue skies and sun.
On Wednesday, we were invited over to our friends – Christine and Philippe Theme – for lunch. They previously owned and ran Riboto de Taven, a charming inn and restaurant in Les Baux de Provence. At the end of last year, they closed it and are in the process of converting the mas back into a residence, turning two of the rooms into Chambre d’Hote rentals, and converting the two Troglodyte cave rooms into an apartment with kitchen and laundry facilities.
As Thursday is Philippe’s birthday, we stopped at the cave in town and David picked up a bottle of 2007 Deutz rosé Champagne. Then, it was off for Lex Baux. Unfortunately, Wednesday is market day in St. Remy, so we crawled through the village. To slow things even further, there were several road projects going on, plus some rock fall just outside the ancient roman town of Glanum that had one lane blocked, so we arrived a bit late.
No matter, we found the always warm welcome waiting, including blurs of joyful frenzy from Fred, their wonderful dog, who greeted us in the parking lot.
We went inside for a pre-meal glass of wine – Mas de la Dame’s always terrific Coin Cache – and a delicious dip with olive bread that Philippe had made. We caught up on all that is happening with their project, then sat down to a marvelous meal that Philippe (a very talented chef) had made for us. Steamed radishes, asparagus, and fresh vegetables to start, then a flaky and moist cod, and a strawberry tart for dessert. The meal was easily as good as anything to be found in a restaurant, and the company terrific.
After lunch we chatted more, while Fred cavorted inside and out. He is a wonderful carefree spirit, giving to chasing his tail, and his shadow. He has virtually destroyed the doggie toy we brought him last year, so a new one is on the agenda for our return home.
Mid-afternoon we bid farewell after making plans to host Christine, Philippe, and Fred next week, Knowing the mess in St. Remy, we opted to take a small road over the hills behind Les Baux. More turns and some sharp drop offs, but much shorter, and, today, the wiser choice. We stopped at the biologique vegetable store in St. Remy for a few items – parsley, onions, celery, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and local sausage, then it was home to the mas.
After our usual afternoon jaunt to Café du Centre and the boulangerie for pastries and a baguette, it was home to prepare the pasta dinner. The sauce had been marinating for two days, and now, with the addition of a few more herbs and some celery, we were ready to go. I started us off with some fresh Burrata with tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Doesn’t get any better. Then I cooked the penne rigate and merged it with my sauce and the local sausage we had gotten. The sausage – despite marinating for two days – was still a bit bland compared with Italian sausage, but was still nice. The pasta was excellent, needing only a toss of parmesan.
A nice meal, then off to bed.
Thursday dawned dreary and cold. David picked me up at the clinic just before noon and we headed for Molleges and lunch at Mas du Capoun. Michele, the chef/owner’s wife, gave us a hurried greeting. Over the past week, two of their staff have left unexpectedly and they were short handed. Hence the dining room was a blur of activity. The meal was superb, as always. I had a wonderful lobster lasagne to start and then sea bass. David had white asparagus with a sort of “scrambled egg” that was incredible, with two pieces of homemade bread topped with prosciutto. A wonderful dish that could have been a meal, but he also had a small piece of beef (bleu, of course) with fresh vegetables. Mas du Capoun always turns out fantastic meals, and the welcome is always warm.
We gave Michele a list of a half-dozen restaurants to try on their upcoming trip to New York – a gamut of seafood, continental, French, and American steakhouse (Capital Grille). David did a short write-up on each, and gave their address, phone, and website. He also gave her info on OpenTable so they could get more info and make reservations online ahead of time.
Promising to come back before we left, we headed down the road, past the Molleges snail farm (races every Saturday), with the intention of going to the Olivades fabric store in St. Etienne. The weather was so cold and dreary, we decided to do it tomorrow and headed back to the mas.
Dinner was light – the remainder of the Burrata – and we strained to stay up to watch The Big Showdown, a Lee Van Cleef movie that promised to be wonderfully horrible. We suffered through a Chad McQueen/Melanie Shatner war saga, and the numbing Jack Hunter finale (an awful copy of Indiana Jones) and finally, there was Lee, scowling in all his glory. Unfortunately, ten minutes of the movie revealed it to be beyond watching. No discernible plot; slow and droning; in short, un-watchable.
So, after days of waiting, Lee let us down, so we turned him off and turned in.
Tomorrow is market day.