01.06.2010 - 01.06.2010 21 °C
Sorry guys, we has been out of town.
We woke with a sense of sadness this morning. Our last day in Paris, leaving early to meet the Welsh's at Gare du Nord (big! train station). We enjoyed our last "deux noisettes et un croissant" at our local cafe. With a tear in their eyes (allergies?) we bid each other aurevoir and we taxi'd away. If we were braver and younger we would have travelled 7 stops on the metro from Bastille to Gare du Nord, stared down the pick pockets and carried 20kg cases with athletic ease, but we are older than 30 now. You wait.
A second sadness went soon after waking. I tasted the pain des ami again this morning and found it to be more smokey in flavour. In deference to our champion baker I thought I should dismantle my wood fired oven; but once again Karen talked sense to me in an interesting dialect of French suggesting, getovereeetyoudeeeckhead. I did.
Gare du Nord was not as hectic as I expected then suddenly two familiar faces appeared. Reacquainted in the French way we resolved to collect the hire car and caught up with news simultaneously. It was fun getting into the Citroen C4 wagon and being unable to start it. Eventually some 10 toots later we were aided by le grump and we were on our way. I have awarded Mr Welsh the Order of Merit as he proceeded to leave Paris by driving through Paris in Paris traffic. I was assistant navigator confirming that the voiceless TomTom was getting it correct. We found the setting for the voice later. I have awarded Mr Thornton the Order of Merit for remaining calm throughout.
We found the Bvd Peripherique, a busy ring road which was hectic at 11 am like our peak hour. However the traffic was 'fluide'. Several tunnels later we arrived at Aulnay and found the track leading to the B&B.
Jean-Pascal and Gilbert, are friends and neighbours of Alaine. Alaine and Caroline hosted Laura Welsh who spent time at the same French school at which David stayed. John and Ingrid have stayed here before and now we already know why. Lovely people with much better English than our French, willing to chat.
Aulnay is beautifully bucolic, birds twittering happily, large fields of a dark green wheat and young fields of corn, the sound of a cuckoo in the distance … their garden with oak, cherry, and flowers I have not seen before. All this some 30 kilometres west of Paris as the crow flies. This is a deeply relaxing location.
nearby track and neighbours barn and house
We met Alaine, a truly brave man who was willing to be driven to Maule, a nearby village by a novice driver. There over coffee and later a ricard we chatted about many things. Somehow the topic eventually found itself to be food and cheese and not long after we found ourselves in a fromagerie. A generous Alaine helped us to taste some fragrant aged hard cheese.
Les got us safely back through the narrow village streets. Gimme these narrow streets over Parisian pace anyday when driving on the wrong side of the road.
Ingrid and Karen then went off to have a bath and soak in the fine oils Jean-Pascal and Gilbert provide. Separately. John decided to read the manual for the car; it has no handbrake! Les commenced today's blog continuing to make in excess of 10 grammatical errors once again. In the background he heard the seductive clanging and clancking of pots and crockery from the direction of the kitchen.
It turns out that Jean-Pascal loves to cook, and cooks extrememly well. It turns out that we love to eat, and eat extrmely well. We were feasted to a number of courses a mure and sparkling wine, a champagne, a 1998 French red, a Nuits St Georges 1st cru, Chateau Brie-Caillou medoc, and Bordeaux sauvignon and a old calvos (an apple brandy. The courses were delicious, restaurant quality and some are here below:
The night of eating, drinking, talking, laughing and listyenening to a mix of English and French went from 8pm to 1am. Olivier, who resides here duriung the week then returns home at end of week had littel English but we all had fun and stimulatoin with various translations occurring. It was a superb night. The cheese platter was varied, brie, camembert, mimolette, roquefort, rocmandour and so on. it was a night of extravagance from a peasant's point of view.
prawns and things
cherry tomato dipped in toffee
pork wellington and sublime sauce
Pears in sugar syrup with sechuan pepper and chocolat fondu
Jean-Pascal was an officer in the army for some 25 years. You just would never pick it. Alaine has trained in NLP; Caroline now trains corporate staff in stress management; Olivier works as electrician in a management role; ... and later Alaine asked us bout the idea of a philosophy cafe. He doesn't think there is one in Paris. Does anyone know of anything like this in Australia :-).
Olivier and Caroline and John
Karen and Alain and a pleased Ingrid