Monday, October 16, 2017

CROIX DE JUILLET WALK AROUND QUARANTE REDUX: NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN

There's a new sheriff in town!

His name is Bill. And he's from Texas! Walk Meister Roger has motored off into the sunset. But fear not. The walkers of Quarante have a new Meister. Bill has made certain that we don't skip a beat.

How about doing the Croix de Juillet again?

So off we went. The route was slightly different, a bit easier and a bit shorter, but still clocking in at close to five miles. I only took pictures that show the difference. You can see our full previous Croix de Juillet walk HERE.

New Sub Meister?

Start at the co-op as usual.
But this time take the paved road all the way to the top. Walking trails are marked in blue.
Autocross grounds.
More red dirt.
Co-op falls behind quickly when the way is paved.
But along the vines as ever.
Fancy that! A road sign to point the way.
And there it is.
And there we are.
Still color in the vines.
A bit hazy.
A bit of rain, not too heavy, and the color might get more intense. It's been SO dry.
Back to the co-op.
Many townspeople have small garden plots among the vines just outside of the village. This old gent's plot showed recent end-of-season work - planting late lettuce and hanging on to that one, last tomato...





Wednesday, October 11, 2017

COUMIAC, CESSENON SUR ORB: 8.3KM WALK WITH PICS

How did exercise become so popular? It seems that more and more folks in Quarante have heard of our little walking group and want to participate. So when Walk Meister Roger announced the latest in the series, nine people signed up. Since a tenth would bike from Quarante to meet the group as the walk finished, joining us in Cessenon sur Orb for coffee (or beer for 7 of the 10 of us, as it turned out), we had to decide whether just two or maybe three cars were in order.

Transportation arrangements settled, we left for Cessenon on a brisk October morning. The weather and the walking warmed us quickly, though, as one by one jackets and fleece and long-sleeved shirts were shed. Check out the BLUE sky. By the end, the beers (and the coffee) in the little bar/cafe in the center of Cessenon were most welcome. Between the beverages and the pain au chocolat picked up from the bakery across the street, we'd squandered any weight-loss benefits that the walk may have provided. But the sun and the scenery and the companionship were well worth the time spent and the effort.

You can learn more about the walk entitled Coumiac HERE. Enjoy the pics.

Nine walkers, two cars.

Parking facing the Orb across from Cessenon's center.

Off we go.

It looks like we're headed into the woods.

The Orb flows and murmurs off to our left.

Wait a minute. Flat and headed to a suburban development?

Yep. A very suburban development, French style.

OK. Out into the vines.

Flat but getting scenic.

Another stone wall for my collection.

Interesting rock. We need our resident geologist John. But he's back home in the Lake Country.

Color in the vines persists.

Still flat.

Still flat

Still flat...but starting to get some scenery now.

Could this be a hill?

Finally, the view begins to open up.

That's the Orb down there

I wish that I was a better photographer with a better camera to show you that single, yellow-leafed tree on the distant ridge.

Can you see the drip irrigation hose running just under the leaves?

Here's a better shot of it. Why irrigate vines already harvested? The drought?



More walls. Well maintained. Maybe for terracing?

There's town. Roger's leadership justified.

Bathtub in a driveway picture. Why not?

The bells of Cessenon struck noon as we arrived back in town.

The view of the Orb from Cessenon's iron bridge as we crossed to make our way to the bar downtown.

Monday, October 9, 2017

AL CATALA, CERET: RESTAURANT REVIEW

Ceret is the cherry capital of France. When the first cherries of the season are harvested, a box is taken to Elysee Palace and presented to whoever is in charge of receiving such things now that there is no king and DeGaulle is dead.

OK. That's out of the way.

Ceret's town center stretches for a pleasant few blocks with shops and cafes and a couple of fine butchers/charcutiers. The Museum of Modern Art (Not NYC's MOMA but a MOMA nonetheless) has been featuring their Dali collection this season - extensive and quite interesting but over now. I'll post a few pics in the days ahead. So we easily passed a full day, including lunch.

There were several choices, from snack bars to bar/restaurants to a salon de the and more. We walked a bit off the main drag to Al Catala. When in Catalan, eat Catalan. We were seated in a well-hidden but surprisingly spacious back courtyard with comfy seats and plenty of shade on a day that the sun finally peeked out. The service was pleasantly leisurely but not comatose. And although the menu looked interesting, the lunch formula has always been our friend where ever we have gone.

Connie and I started with a charcuterie plate that came with a nice little bit of salad. Four pleasant meaty morsels that were clearly locally sourced. (The spicy bits of chorizo hid from the camera.) The salad chevre chaud was a proper portion, not designed to fill you up with green ahead of the main. And the mains worked well. Tasty pulled duck confit nestled under creamy potatoes accompanied by properly cooked veggies, just past al dente. We don't remember the name of the eel-like fish that Cathey chose. She's had it before. A bit bony but nicely prepared and sauced.

If restaurants don't take proper care, the ice cream may refreeze or age and come with ice crystals. Not here. Smooth and creamy. Essence of pistachio and cassis. My bit of chocolate cake, though somewhat dry, benefited well from the spoon of berry sorbet.

The total tab, including two (yes, two) 500cl bottles of house rose, came to 58 euros.

Recommended.

You can check out Al Catala's website HERE. For more of my restaurant reviews, click HERE.