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St Remy de Provence: June 19

Another perfect croissant for breakfast.
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Mas Shamrock:
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Cooler morning so far, little bit of high cloud cover. Wind is fresh and teasing me that it is the Mistral but I know better. I will come another time in Winter for that. I just learned that the name for the wind is tramotane.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: The tramontane in France is a strong, dry cold wind from the north (on the Mediterranean) or from the northwest (in lower Languedoc, Roussillon, Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. ).[2] It is similar to the mistral in its causes and effects, but it follows a different corridor; the tramontane accelerates as it passes between the Pyrenees and the Massif Central, while the Mistral flows down the Rhone Valley between the Alps and the Massif Central. Check this sight for the tramotane clouds we did not see. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tramontane

Luckily we eaves-dropped over breakfast so we altered our plans. We learned Les Baux de Provence is crowded with tourists, canned sardine style, most of the day. So we decided to go first to St Remy and I think Karen wandered and counted windows or something. I checked email, solved the planet's problems again for the umpteenth time but no-one listened again for the umpteenth time.

On Saturdays at St Remy artists line the boulevard which circles the historic township. We are told that numerous artists flock to St Remy for the market, many live and work there and as we walked around the Boulevard we could see a very wide variety of artistic styles and mediums and we thought perhaps they mix and exchange ideas and fantasised that it had the buzz and vigor of Paris in days past.

We were suckers for some more Gallo-Roman ruins. Check out the "wine smoking" room. We think it relates to preserving wine but still have to check it out.
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After an espresso and 'pression' (French for espresso and beer on tap) we drove back to Mas Shamrock for nanna's nap.

The nap worked for us both. We then readied our self to head off to Les Baux de Provence. The town is situated about halfway up a hill some 15 minutes south of St Remy. Above that is the chateaux and the old fortress. The town is very much intact like Sarlat and our host was right. When we arrived around 4:30 the hordes were thinning and those who prefer space were winning. There were some talented artists hawking their wares and others selling the usual trinkety trish-trash.

As with Gordes, our photos do not do justice to the vistas and the best of Les Baux de Provence. For that our memories will be the best.

Some views of Les Baux de Provence:
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Okay, it is time to come clean. We knew in advance we were in for a treat but we have been holding back telling you. The village of Les Baux de Provence and the surrounding views were like a pre-entree. We had decided to book a dinner at a two star Michelin restaurant. Please don't tell anyone. The restaurant is known as L'Oustau de Baumanièr in the Hotel of the same name I think. As we were driving there the Highett boy in me felt underdressed and unworthy. You know, like shogs on a rack. Thank goodness I had a beautiful woman on my arm. As we approached the restaurant through the arbor of honeysuckle our excitement rose as the ambience spoke well of the restaurant. We didn't feel quite as bad when we walked onto the terrace as a group of young trendy French people who had attended a wedding at Les Baux de Provence all beginning to get rowdier with alcohol as a group of young trendy Australian people would.

To my delight, when we were greeted by the maitre d', he pretended he did not see my shoes and I pretended to believe he respected me. This was reinforced by the fact that there were not seated in the furthest most invisible corner. I felt compelled to ask permission to take photos of the food (flash off) and our maitre d' at the end of the night encouraged a couple of shots I would not have thought of taking. If you ever been to a fancy restaurant you may be faced with making a choice of three or four courses from 20 plus. Our choice was fairly easy in the sense that we had 20 à la carte options and then the choice of vegetarian menu, and three fixed menus. We were seduced by the Les Ballard option given some detail in the listing.

Then you have to choose wine. There were 10 pages of wine listing some 3 wines on each page. We narrowed the choice dramatically wanting a 500 ml bottle. We narrowed it further by asking about regional wine and the sommelier immediately confirmed an option for us. We were beginning to feel more relaxed. This feeling deepened as a few other shogs on a rack rocked up. Certainly there were some trés chic guests and I suspect a couple of celebrities and some a little more moneyed than we were.

But we had hunger. This is something we would like to do once a year. More often would be detracting. The food and the ambience was exceptionally special, but so in other ways was a home-cooked meal with the Welsh's, the traditional farmhouse meals such as at the Goose Farm, and so on. Let me tease you no longer.

Included is a photo of the menu which Karen procured by charm alone.
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Unfortunately it does not reflect every item on our menu that we consumed. An amuse bouche of crisp baby salad leaves and pureed pea was perfect. By perfect I mean it could not be improved.
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The presentation on the red mullet (roget) was fun and impressive and the taste was superb. Like my previous at La Recreation the fish or the accompaniment had a smoky flavour.
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Our next course was a fish dish of Turbot. This is a fish I've not had before, not oily, with white meaty flesh and uniquely tasty. On the plate you can see some separate elements around the fish. Tasting them in turn made me wonder. The fish grabbed me immediately and then towards the end of this serving when the pushing and shoving and moving around with a knife and fork causes all the disparate elements to merge, the chef had thrown me to the floor, pinned me to count of 1, 2, 3. I was won, I was his. This dish really worked for me.
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We then had the pigeon and he nearly got me again but I was stronger this time. What really worked for me was the pigeon, cooked rare, merging really well with the soft turnip. The pigeon was gamey, we have never eaten pigeon before. Karen loved this dish immensely.
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Then the glass cart of cheese was wheeled in and the maitre d' insisted I take a photo. There seem to be 50 cheeses which he named, I was in awe and beginning to fall in love with him, or the cheese. We thought four would be a respectful choice of cheeses although he said we could have more. Without discussion Karen chose two I would've gone for: a local ash covered thin chevre, and a ripe soft cheese. I chose a Corsican sheep cheese, and a fresh goat curd with rosemary and two others unfortunately I now can not recall. Damn, and damn nice cheese.

Desert was a delicious event, a chocolate frappé with a confit of cassis (blackcurrant) which we suspect had a share of kirsch. For us the flavours merged perfectly. Another win!

Pastry, chocolate and another desert which tasted good, not perfect, but was perfect to watch.
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Or in motion:

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Back home through the honeysuckle then driving in the dark with the chateaux lit in lights.

Home, ever so replete and complete. Bonne Nuit.

Posted by lesnkaren 14:15 Archived in France

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This looks INCREDIBLE!! xo

by benheidi

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