Tag Archives: travel

Six and Seven Makes a Weekend

14 June 2010 Sunday

01:38 Toulouse


I apologize in advance for rather spewing out the contents of my weekend.  They went in at random; they may as well get back out in a similar fashion.

Saturday evening (and by evening we mean from maybe eight until around two) we went to a benefit dinner out in Le Fucking Nowhere (a village known as Bonrepos Sur Aussonnelle).  This small village puts on a benefit dinner for a fund which helps the local children to study abroad.  Eric has friends out there and makes new friends easily; we were a hit.  I had mistakenly left my camera behind when we left the apartment and that bummed me out, but the evening was was grand adventure regardless.

We were four (Eric, Julien and Maëlys, and myself).  We met loads of folks who live there and many folks in the aerospace industry (Airbus has works in Toulouse).  The wine was good and the music was an interesting combination of different cultural classics (including an AC/DC track) from around the globe.

If you want to know more about the association you can visit the blog maintianed by Muriel, De Bonrepos à… Tout Enfant Vivant Ailleurs or TEVA.

What a wonderful way to discover a new place.  We all had a great time, and I got to see a fabric of life in France that would otherwise have been utterly unaccessible to an American tourist.

Saturday morning we started by driving over to the Capitolium (Le Capitol) downtown.  We partked in the parking garage under the square.  There was a band playing in the square, playing (obscure to me) songs in English.  There was also a wedding in progress in the Capitolium and so we couldn’t tour the whole building.  Nous retournerons.  “I hope 2010 will be a good year for you, my friend, but at the mid-point it ain’t too bad”.  Yes, Eric; I concur.

We also ran into a group of Frenchies giving away free hugs on the capitol grounds.  Free is a nice price to pay for a hug.  We left before they kicked us out for fondling les Toulousainne.

We rather just wandered around, me sight seeing and Eric with his mental list of new apartment shit, and let the winds carry us which ever way it was willing.

We visited a crepe stand and talked to the couple who have run that stand for 35 years.  They are a minor celebrity here as they and their stand appear in a book on world cuisine.  I’ll try to dig up the title later.  Nous retournerons.

Also we dropped in to make a brief visit to a friend of Eric.  Her name is Sonia and she is about as stunning as my eyes could stand.  Polish and Tunisian by blood, and French (even Parisian) in her soul.  She was beautiful; her cohorts were beautiful; there is so much eye candy here I need to brush my eyes regularly to avoid cavities.  Ah, for A Night in Tunisia

Afterwards we found Julien and Maëlys, piled into  the car, and made our way out into the countryside to find the aforementioned little village.  Oh, I found some notes about what we had out there.

There was a punch which consisted (according to my taste buds) of cinamon, orange, and rum.  They served curried lentils as an entrée, then the main course was a simple chicken and rice, and finally the dessert was a yogurt, coconut, and fruit concoction.  We had some label-less red wine because we all preferred to have red.  The village is located in Gers (that’s a department or county near Gers).

Also I found out an interesting association.  The parents of Maëlys live in the village depicted (and used for filming) from Le Retour de Martin Guerre.

I made a brief note also about the music at the association benefit.

“A fascinating mix of French, Spanish, and American hits.  It’s all about the groove but they don’t quite get the groove.  It’s almost like they are one groove over trying to see [into] the next valley [through] the mountain peaks.”  [02:16 AM; on the drive back]

I should add a little to that.  I liked the music more than what I would expect to find here.  The reason is that here there would be a pile of useless, grooveless 80’s music choking normal folks and encouraging zombies to twitch.  Is my bias showing through?  Anyway, this music was generally dance-able; I merely take issue with the jagged segues.  Again, we all had a good time.

Dropped J & M off and headed back out to Bonnefoy.  Eric has been having this problem with his passenger window and it picked this lousy opportunity to fall off track.  We jury-rigged it near enough to closed for the night and hauled anything and everything out of the car (just in case).

So that was more or less Saturday.

I thought about getting up early on Sunday, but since we didn’t even get back here until three something that didn’t come about.  I don’t know, maybe I got up around half past ten.  Eric and I talked a little about the window problem.  He’ll have to call the insurance folks and visit a glass shop on Monday.  Annoying.

I left him to manage some paperwork for his job and also to call the insurance people. (Insurance here is handled by banks, but he was able to call them on a Sunday for whatever reason.)  I walked down Bonnefoy toward the center of town to visit Julien who agreed to walk around with me and show me whatever we could see near his place in the afternoon.

Bonnefoy changes names a few times and makes some interesting turns, but finally after only a handful of errors and unnecessary switchbacks I found chez Julien.  They were just waking up from the afternoon (after lunch) nap.  I felt a little bad but he assured me I was right on time.  We walked around the city center for a couple of hours at least.

We visited Jardin des Plantes (essentially a well manicured park in three parts).  We also stopped into the courtyard of the there contained natural history museum for some new tastes.  I had a cider from Breton, a juice (apple, grapefruit, and something else), and a little sweet called clairfruit (like a custard with whole cherries baked in).  The cider was dry (it came it doux and brut; I took brut) and had a very unique flavor.  Not what I have come to expect from hard (apple) cider.

Walking through the ancient streets of Toulouse you can see the brilliance of hundreds of years of architects and other builders.  It gets hot here.  Sunday it was hot (25.5 C or 77.9 F), and this is only June.  They have built the buildings close together leaving narrows openings for the passage of air and to ensure shade and to control humidity.  The places where the sun was slowing us down and driving the water from deep in our bones to the surface of our skin were only the exposed places: the squares, the boulevards.

Julien knew his neighborhood very well and he took me down some of the smallest streets and around such peculiar corners; it was a promenade of delight for one with my particular tastes.  And of course when it is near 80 degrees those femmes toulousainne ne portent pas boucoup.  In the battle between skin and cloth, skin was winning for the day.  Vive la revolution!

Finally we stopped for a quick beer at an English pub, one where Eric and I had stopped on my first night in, and then back to Julien’s place.  He explained to me the five stages of the day as concerns the stomach.  You begin your day with le petit dejouner (like a light breakfast; sweets and coffee typically), then around say ten you have collation (maybe some fruit or bread or something else small), then comes dejouner (lunch, usually big followed by a nice nap under ideal conditions) at say 12:30, then comes the goûter around five (basically a little snack of fruit or cheese or sweets or what have you), and finally dinêr around nine in the South and a little earlier as you move North.

Of course since it was after five we went back to his place for goûter.  We had some brioche, some cherries, some cookies with raspberry jelly (they looked like tiny tarts), and two wines.  We had another Corbières and a Bordeaux (which remended me of certain Pinot Noirs I’ve had from Oregon though it contained no Pinot grapes).

He then introduced me to a show called Kaamelott.  It’s a humorous episodic retelling of the Arthurian legend.  The episodes are maybe ten minutes each and it ran for five seasons.  Since there were no subtitles I did lose some of the humor because humor requires a more adept understanding the language, but I was able to follow along well enough and will try to find it in English when I get back home.

I think I had pretty much exhausted Julien and so I made my way back toward Bonnefoy so I could get in a quick rinse in the shower and think about the next meal.  We ordered sushi delivered.  Though I admire a city where sushi can be delivered, you don’t fly 9000 miles to France to eat sushi.  There is a reason for that.  It was a rather like Safeway sushi.  I’m a bit spoiled living so much closer to Japan and having such a large Asian population with food passions.  But they delivered.  It was excellent.  Or it would have been had we not had to wait hours for it.

Don’t get me wrong here; the delivery folks did their job.  They prepare it to order and so it took them just under forty-five minutes to put it through our door.  The problem arose when Eric’s friend Jeff arrived about thirty seconds before the food.

Well, again I should offer some more details.  Eric has looking for this and that as is so famously his way, and it took nearly two hours for him to decide what we would order and how to order it and how to pay for it and who knows what else.  So we finally got the food ordered and I was busy rejoicing, thinking of the inevitable rise in my blood sugar that was coming within forty-five minutes.

But during the looking phase, you remember that bit that took not minutes but hours, Eric had also talked to his friend Jeff.  Jeff was on his way over.  It was a race.  Jeff won.  My stomach took the bronze.  I passed out never knowing who took the silver.

Politeness would not allow us to eat until we had sufficiently socialized with Jeff and his companions.  Sufficiently here means until they departed of their own freewill.  My stomach retired, resolving to get its revenge at a later date.

Jeff was pretty hip.  A restaurant industry person.  His girlfriend is named Florienne and they arrived also with her sister, XXXXXXXX.  Both girls have the beauty hanging on them like a smooth diaphanous film.

They were all pretty nice folks.  All from this area.  The accent here is a sing-song accent and it’s a little more difficult for me to understand it.  Répétez, s’il vous plaît.

They left. We ate.  We retired.  That was Sunday.


Five Is Cinq

12 June 2010

01:34 Toulouse


It’s funny.  We sit here all night drinking wine and talking about the things two old friends talk about, and this is a conversation experience whatever we could have on Mars.  It is a mere accident of history that we are sitting in this particular Toulousianne apartment drinking this particular wine and eating this particular cheese.

Time is not important when you are living in time.  Space is not important when you are living in space.  As the Taoists would say, it is not in the sides or bed of the cart where you find usefulness; it is in the empty space within where usefulness resides.

It seems so easy to be at peace.  I am baffled why I this is not the default state.  It was a quiet evening in the end.  Eric has been moving all week and is rightly tired.  I wasn’t all that motivated to insist we ‘do something’ on a Friday night knowing how stressful it is for me to be in a crowd.

We finished the Fronton, devoured a baguette and a half, and exhausted our two cheeses.

Eric is the master marketer.  He laughed and reminded me that our superb feast was costing us all of about six dollars.  About eight if we add in both bottles (though we haven’t finished the Fronton).

My friend Nadia tells me this is her definition of bon viveur (usually now bon vivant) and I have to concur.  One need neither overindulge nor squander resources in order to live the good life.  It is as though the good life were auto-limited by simplicity.

My poor ally is once again crashed askew on the couch.  I love the man, but he can fall asleep on a subway platform at rush hour.  I don’t know how many times we drew on his face for having passed out after a night of partying.  Turns out they did this tough-love on this side of the Atlantic as well.  Oh, the things that have been drawn on his face…

What makes this lights-out for Eric so particularly priceless is that we spent the better part of the afternoon getting his bed and putting it together.  “Finally, I am going to sleep in my fucking bed, Jim”.  Not!

I’ll be laughing for days.

Let me fill you in a little more on the day.  We went to the appliance place to get the now arrived dish washer.  Funny place.  You order your appliances on-line and they are shipped to this little lay-station (warehouse?).  You can arrange to borrow their van (the previously mentioned Mercedes) to bring your stuff around.  Eric borrowed it with some extra time bargained in so that he could get other things.  Today it was the bed from Florent’s place (where Eric used to live).

Eric’s bed is a reflection of, at least in part, his new interest in Buddhism.  It is a very low flung futon with tatami mats (which smell wonderful by the way).  It completely disassembles so it was easy enough to transport.  The rolling and schlepping of the mattress was the toughest part.

This morning, what I saw of it, was hot and sunny; but in the afternoon it stormed a bit.  We managed to miss the storming during the periods when we were actually in danger of getting wet.  Mostly it rained as we drove between the warehouse and Florent’s and then from Florent’s back to Eric’s.

I left the skylight open and had to soak up a bunch of water after bringing all the stuff up from the main floor hallway.  These things happen.  Leave sunny, a bit of a storm, and an ass load of water to soak out of your carpet before you put socks and and regret it.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a thousand details.  My apologies.

I’m getting tired myself.  While Eric was napping I watched the season finale for My Name Is Earl season two and the first two episodes of season three (which I haven’t watched yet).  Love the Earl.  Great stuff.

Can’t get over this radio station though.  I’ll be streaming that when I get back home.  There was an American DJ this afternoon.  I just can’t imagine a French DJ (speaking French) on the air regularly in Seattle.  Fascinating.

Ok.  Keep safe, kids.  I’ll be writing more soon.


Today Is Five

11 June 2010

21:43 Toulouse


Slept in late.  Fond memories of wine and friends and duck hearts kept me from leaving slumber too rapidly.  I spent some time adding details I had overlooked in my last post.  As a matter of fact I am going to add some more in a minute, but let’s talk about today.

We went out for one more appliance (a dish washer ) which hadn’t arrived with the others, and we went to Florent’s place to get Eric’s bed.  Brought those back here and moved them up, put them together, and had a bit of wine and cheese to celebrate.

We drank the last of our bottle of Corbières Rouge from last night.  With that we had a couple of cheese and baguette.  The first cheese was a Cantal (a region); it is a subtle mountain cheese from happy cows which goes really well with cherry jelly.  The second cheese was a Camembert (from Normandy).  A fine strong ladle made cheese also from very happy cows.

After finishing this fine repast, we did our various computer duties and broke out a bottle of Fronton (Carte Noire Fronton 2006).   Earthy and similar to certain Pinot Noirs.

Being Friday we’ll likely go out for dinner around ten this evening.


For Four

02:12 Toulouse

11 June 2010


Spent most of the morning listening to this radio station here.  The French love their hippityhoppity music, but someone needs to teach them what a playlist is supposed to be.  It’s really hard to find out what is currently playing.  You can get some useful information from their twitter posts.  The problems are that a) it’s not perfect and b) I had to a lot of research even to get that far…  Regardless, great music most of the time.

Heard an excellent version of Sunny, but I’ll be damned if I’ll be able to figure out which one it is.

Eric.  What a man.  The confidence of Zeus and the stamina of a wilted lily.  Again he slumbers on the couch unable to defend himself against the slings and arrows of his closest friends, with his shoes on.  “But we are nice people.”  I’m quoting him.

So, what a night.  I don’t even know where to begin.  Let me tell you first that I was on the verge of tears at moments for reasons I wasn’t able to parse.  But let’s talk about food.  The whine can come later.

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  If quality exists, something in me insists that things should towards that ideal, whatever lies at the pinnacle of the quality path defined by that thing.  I don’t know; maybe it’s that competition is alive and well in France.

Julien has been making his own spiced rum (rhum) for some time now.  He gets rum from the store and spices it himself.  We had several different concoctions.  Now, Seattlites, this is perfectly legal even under our drakonian laws.  You take commercial rum and add whateverthefuck you want.  We had one that was peppers, black pepper, and cinammon.  Spicey.  Best with a bit of ice.

I don’t even know what I’m listening to…

Oh, this is starting far too deep into the night.  Day is one life; night is the other life.  Of course we had to run around doing more of that domestic bullshit.  That’s how life works.  Every time you have plans life puts a cactus up your ass and you have to dig out all the thorns.  Crap.  That’s brutal.

Anyway, so Ikea, Babou, Go Sport, quisaisqua, and back to the homestead.  Left-over flam-flam.  Fuck, it’s excellent after a day of running around in the blazing sunchine.

Back to the pad to assemble a bunch of mass consumer crap and make the pod maximus glorious.  Fill in the details at your will.

I’m sure there was some sort of preamble.  I know I snagged a pair of Eric’s shoes.  We are the same size and I traveled light.  We were going to a fancy joint.  No table clothes mind you.  But they did have nice glass topped tables and a lot of chrome aesthetic.  Et les femmes.

Les femmes… I realized earlier that I am standing in a country where all the girls surrounding me speak French.  And they each kiss me on each cheek like I was a child about to fall into sleep.  I am ready to rest.  Let me fall.

Where was I?  Oh, the tapas place with the awnings.  Right.  We had several bottles of the same wine there.  It was a Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil from the Loire valley (Domaine du Grollay).  It was very dark (fonce), but it was was soft and crisp and so very fruity.  We drank four bottles between five people and then a fifth bottle between seven.  (Eric and I, Cedric and Celine, Florent, and finally Julien and Maëlys.)  It was a vivid night.

But the food.  We started off pretty light.  A plate of sliced aged sausages—a trio of stuffed intestinal yumyums—and a bit of some sort of port encased sausage, grilled.

(In fact: Assiette de charcuterie espagnole (Lomo, Salsicha, Chorizo) and Petites Saucisses de Magret de canard (duck).  Also there was Rillettes de Saumon (Salmon) Fumé.)

The conversation was challenging.  I followed along like a puppy following a morsel.  Ma vocabulaire est très miniscule.

When I studied French at Seattle Central, I was under the impression that studying a language could help me in my pursuit of poetry.  I can’t say why I thought this.  But as I studied French I recognized that there was a shift in my writing.  I have always thought to associate it with the discovery of a new and viable sentence structuring technique.  What a fucked up theory.  Just a random dart throw really.  It turned out to work, so I can’t complain.

Yet there is an interesting compliment here.  My skills as a poet assisted me in speaking with these folks who don’t know what it’s like to try to talk to me.  Don’t pity them; they clearly had the advantage.

Damn it.  I was talking about the food.  I was asked to select a new item from the menu.  I perused said menu (carte).  I found a dish with duck hearts.  I shook my head to clear my eyes.  Yes, duck hearts.  This region is famous for duck.

Brochettes de Coeur de Canard (skewered grilled duck hearts).

What choice did I have?  I ask you, what could I do?  They came with big salt crystals falling from their surfaces.  Surely that can’t be even sort of bad.

Ces ete le paradis.  Je pleure.

It is possible that I will encounter something in the next month that will change my opinion on this, but those duck hearts were certainly the hight of my trip thus far.  I can’t say how many I ate after the first, but I can say that I have been transformed.

There were also more of the both sausage plates and some calamari.  Someone also ordered Assiette de Couteaux (a thin, rectangular shell fish so named because they look like a small knife); in English we call these razor clams.  They were merely delicious.

You remember I told you about getting the couch?  That couch came from Julien and Maëlys who live exactly across the street from the tapas joint (L’Annexe).  Or at least exactly across when you can’t quite walk in a strait line.  Back up all those stairs knowing I didn’t have to carry anything back down with me.  That was a bit of pleasure in and of itself.

Turns out that Julien makes his own spiced rum.  I rather already talked about the spiced rum, but there was other stuff once he saw I was interested.  Out came  a calvados (apple brandy approximately).  Delightful.  Then a wonderfully soft Scotch.  Oh, and prunes macerated in armagnac.

All good people have to go to bed.  And these were all good people.  I perhaps am not.  Eric and I tooled back toward chez il and found an excellent parking space.  Almost right across the street.  We walked back down to this little almost convenience shop who stays open past eleven and picked up another bottle of Corbières Rouge.  We talked with the Chechnyan who runs the place.  He is a pleasure as always.

Back at chez Eric we had a sip of wine and discussed the lighting for the thousandth time (really challenging lighting with these low fucking ceilings).  And Eric, wait for it, passed out on the couch sporting his fanciest shoes to date.  I charged passing strangers to rub his thighs.  He’ll feel so violated.

This leaves me on the roof deck, sipping wine, listening to this crazy radio station, and telling anyone who will listen that I’m alive and doing well.

I should also say that Eric—after years of being tormented by friends on multiple continents—has finally learned not to pass out with his shoes on.  He has solved this little problem by taking his shoes off as he enters his home, Buddha style as he might say.  Regardless, please forgive me this minor indulgence in my story telling.

Oh, and to my newest friends: I look forward to your Seattle visits.


Day the Third: Part Deux

10 June 2010

00:54 Toulouse


And a relaxing evening it has been.  Listening to this radio station here, the Toulouse University station, has been an interesting ride.  All over the place but true to college radio form very eclectic and clearly driven by individual passions.

For instance, a ska version of the Hazelwood/Sinatra classic Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).  But I digress…

Toulouse night like a Seattle August after a light rain.  Yes, the gods are smiling down on me.  I reward them with my fatigue.  Apparently it’s hipper than ambrosia.

We ordered a pizza-like deliciousness.  Came in cardboard boxes.  It’s called La flammekueche (à la maison) and the delivery joint is called Flam-Flam.

A flammekueche (literally flame cake) or tarte flambée (recipe) is a kind of baked flat bread with sauce, cheese, and other toppings.  Where pizza would use a tomato based sauce, the flammekueche uses a crème fraîche based sauce.  We ordered a Gratinée (oignons, lardons (basically cubed bacon), fromage râpé emmental) and (Eric’s choice) a Tex-Mex (oignons, pommes de terre (potatoes), viande hachée (could be anything), épices tex-mex (hard to imagine), fromage râpé, maîs (maize), poivrons (bell peppers)).

…or this Portuguese (?) version of Sixteen Tons.  Digression is my middle name.  Seriously.  You can look at my birth certificate.

What I appreciate the most about la flammekueche is that they call it la flammekueche and not a Look-at-our-fancy-dead-rat pizza.  Things can use that construct and not be pizza and somehow still be delicious.  The problem is there are no pizza laws and so you can make anything you want and call it a pizza.  Cowards!  At least rent a pair.

Well, true to form Eric has passed out on the newly installed couch (shoes on) mumbling his last sentence: “We’re gonna show those fuckers tomorrow what Seattle is made of”.  Where does he get all this energy?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the wine.  We drank a two Euro twenty bottle of Corbières Rouge.  Table wine (vin du table) but excellent and easily drinkable.  Where are my $3 bottles of red in Seattle?


Day the Third

9 June 2010

20:54 Toulouse


You know it’s going to be a good evening when your host interrupts your blogging to announce “life is tough in France” punctuating this remark with a plate of sliced baguette and pâté plus a glass of wine.  Yes, tough indeed.

Today was brutal but it’s repay day so I don’t mind at all.  We moved three appliances (fridge, washer, and dryer), a portable closet thing, a sectional couch/hide-a-bed, and the two tables we picked out yesterday.

Let me explain more.  We drove to the appliance warehouse and exchanged the BMW for a Mercedes van and drove back with the three appliances to the Ikea in Roque where we picked up the two tables, then moved to a different part of that mall to get his closet thingy.  After that, back to Toulouse into the downtown area where we hauled the hide-a-bed down four flights of steps, steps worn from centuries of wooden burden.  Then Eric ran to get the van where he had left it.  He stopped the van in front of the building and we took this modern couch out of that medieval door into that medieval street into our modern van and tooled away before we caused too many Toulousiannes to diminish their smiles.

Raced back toward Bonnefoy to stuff the items into a hallway in the building so that Eric could get the van back to the appliance people (who had another customer waiting).  While he was doing that I managed to get all but the four largest pieces up the two flights of stairs (or four depending on how you count them) to his apartment.  Then he and I did the last four pieces.  Exhausted, we worked on what remained: assembling, arranging, and garbaging.

Eric and all his friends seem to occupy the top floors of buildings, and I haven’t seen an elevator since we left the airport.  Don’t get me started on these tiny windy stairwells.  Great to look at, pleasant for a nice constitutional, but lousy drunk fucked in a ditch for moving.  Then again I just don’t see any fat people.  I guess I’m just lucky they are in short buildings.  Some of these have eight stories.

Off we went in search of a little lunch.  It was after two so all the major restaurants were closed due to the siesta.  We walked down Bonnefoy toward a grocery we had noticed yesterday.  Instead we spotted a nice looking boulangerie (bakery) where we had panini (baguettes with ground beef and emmental) and I had a pleasant layered apple pastry.  Having eaten we no longer felt like walking to the store, so we walked back and resumed what remained.

Finally had a shower to clean off all that nasty labor and again I feel human.

There is talk of he and I hitting the town tonight, being Thursday and all; but I think it’ll be pretty chill considering all the calories we’ve sent back into the atmosphere.

His apartment is finally looking like it’s occupied by humans and less like a Habitrail for ROUS‘s.

What a good friend I am, but how can I help it when I have such good friends myself?

Au revoir, mes amis.


Day Two

9 June 2010

02:10 Toulouse


Tom Waits is singing somewhere else in time and I am listening.  Sitting on a rooftop in Toulouse.  Feeling the slightest mist on my face.  Côtes du Marmandais in my hand.  Not a bad way to end a day.

The chair I am sitting in we picked up at Babou, I don’t know, maybe ten hours ago.  It is a set of four chairs, a table, and an umbrella.  It was metal poles, a glass disc, and a pain in the ass to get into his BMW.  We tested it all out earlier, before we went to dinner.  The umbrella goes up and down.  Mission Accomplished!

Dinner was wonderful.  We went to a little restaurant we picked mostly at random walking along Faubourg Bonnefoy, the street where Eric lives.  The proprietor and the menu were based on foods from Cap Vert.  Well the proprietor wasn’t exactly based on the food.  I had a great bit of grilled steak with exotic fruits and a sweet sauce: Bife à Casa (entrecote grillée, fruit exotique, sauce roquefort, sucrée salée—fruit was fried banana, mango, sweet potato, papaya, pineapple, and one other).

We talked with the proprietor and we agreed that sweet and sweet can be complimented.  Then we talked about heat being a compliment to sweet—mmm, the sweet heat.  He told me he didn’t use the peppers for his French audience (cream lovers!).  We talked a little about Thai food and New Orleans food.  This lead to an offer of some of his home-made pepper sauce, with which they normally accompany the dish.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  He said it was jalapeño, but it neither looked like jalapeño nor tasted like jalapeño.  It was delicious regardless.  The sweets and the heat fell into a pleasant dance which I chewed myself into cuisine oblivion.

He invited us to a little party they are having on Saturday at the restaurant, but we have different plans for that evening so we had to decline.  He is going to see about having the next one (which happens approximately monthly) before I leave.  I hope to go again and try some more food.  Maybe something off-menu.

But dinner is too late.  What about breakfast?

Brioche.  I stayed up until something ridiculous after having been awake for near 30 hours.  I was fall down tired as we wandered around St George last night, but I still managed to get a couple of items posted before calling it quits.  Woke up once and it was still dark.  Strange toilet in the dark.  Groggy.  Survived.  Woke up again and it was light.  Felt good enough to start again.  Brioche.

Eric insisted on coffee.  Apparently this is what gives him all that energy.  I confess ignorance to the source of my own.  He’s in bed now.  Has been for an hour.

Anyway, after breakfast we walked down Faubourg Bonnefoy.  He doesn’t know his neighborhood yet as he is just moving here.  But he knows what to recognize.  So we walk South and I listen to Eric talk about the street, France, and his prowess.  I’m not clear how they are related, but I feel if I just listen long enough it will all make sense.

Our furthest point of venture was a little open air spontaneous market (well, spontaneous every Tuesday).  There were charcuteries, fromageries, and all sorts of things you’d always hope to find in a ring of wagons around a dried up well.  Nice to see it.  Salivated profusely.  Profoundly even.  Bought a loaf of fouasse and tried some cookies which reminded me of cookies my grandmother used to make and which are flavored with anisette.  The fouasse was similar in ways to brioche except its a loaf and encrusted at the top with sugar crystals.

The better part of the day day was spent getting mish-mash for Eric’s apartment.  There is this business, enormous, called Babou.  I don’t know, I suppose it’s somewhat like a large Fred Meyer or large Target (sans food).  Large at any rate.  We picked up mops and buckets and trash vessels and a lot of other objet plastique.  C’est drôle.

Also, I can confirm that Ikea here is a lot like Ikea in South Center.  The bunned sausages were different.  Eric tells me that the French just don’t understand the whole hotdoggie sausage thing.  My protest is that they are not selling hotdogs.  They are selling slender chicken sausages.  They could use some work.  But we didn’t only go for sausages.  A couple of tables and some other Ikea classics.  Yeah, Consumers!

Finally we walked around a mall of some sorts (le centre commercial Roque or le grand Roque).  At one end was a store.  Again, a bit like a mammoth Fred Meyer.  Only this place has pig hind quarters.  The yogurt aisle was more like a yogurt isle.  It was twice as large as the cheese section and that was larger than the vast majority of beer sections I’ve seen.  Pig’s heaven.  Well, except for the whole dead relatives thing.

Brought our bounty back from the epic euro shopping center and did the aforementioned patio furniture test.  Eric rolled a blunt but I really just can’t stand tobacco.  The weather upon arrival was too hot for long pants or a jacket (even well into the night), but today it was scheduled to rain.  Apparently the rain here is the only thing without a good union as the rain started ahead of schedule.  Being from Seattle has its advantages.

Sometimes in Seattle we get this mist where you can walk around and very nearly forget it’s actually dampening everything.  I call it mobile humidity.  No need to wipe eyeglasses.  That was the sort of rain that greeted me eating a little nibble under the newly installed umbrella.  I pushed my chair out from under the protection and enjoyed the cooling mist dissipate the heat from the several three story trips up the winding stair.

Signing off to Reservations by Wilco.

What a life.  I wonder who is living it?

For those interested, the Côtes du Marmandais was from Château Briolet (2006) and was picked up at basically a convenience store (run by a Russian immigrant) around 23:00 for six euros.


First Day … Landing

8 June


Then I found Eric. Or he found me. Depends on who you ask. Back to his place to brush my teeth and wash my face. Then it’s off to his friend’s place for a quick beer and to grab some of his stuff. He’s just moving into a new place and we grabbed his gear from this great little country estate. We talked about raw milk and they told me about a place up the road where I could, I’m not kidding you, get the milk directly from the cow. Take that weird anti-raw milk weirdos.

After we delivered the clothes and such Eric took me to an old part of town with windy streets where we proceeded to his random interesting places and have little nips and bites. Let’s see. Some accents. I had a armognac from 1979. Super yum. I had some duck with raspberry confit at a tapas place. Oh same tapas place I tried four different cheeses from chez Betty (a local cheese producer). A goat cheese, a camambere, a brie, and cantal. All excellent and all likely from non-pasturized milk. Well that brings us to around 2 in the morning and I am spent. I don’t know what time it is as I’m typing this out (my clock says it’s 6pm still) but I’ll ty to connect in the morning and get this actually posted