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OSTERIA DELL'ARCO, ALBA, ITALY: WHITE TRUFFLE FESTIVAL RESTAURANT REVIEW

Truffles, like wine, create an almost cult-like atmosphere when their devotees gather.

The connoisseurs of both truffles and wine converse in specific and mystical languages. They may wear badges and ritual clothing. They take that which is common out of the realm of the ordinary, elevating it to heavenly status. Cult-like. Am I being serious? Kinda sorta. Anybody who grows grapes can make wine. Anybody with the patience to plant and nurture an orchard can produce truffles and train a pig or a dog to find them.

OK. Maybe making good wine is a complicated chemical process requiring precision timing from harvest to vinification. And it's certainly true that if truffles were as easy to farm and as plentiful as grapes, they wouldn't be quite so expensive even without what I consider their artificially constructed mystique. But you get the picture. We're talking about products of nature here, known to mankind for centuries. We don't have tasting contests for peanut butter. …
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PELOSI, OCASIO-CORTEZ, GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES, AND SOCIAL MEDIA

First of all, some housekeeping...

This post will be rather lengthy and rather dry. There will be no pictures of food and very few, if any, zingy one-liners. So settle in. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em. You'll be here for a few minutes.

Secondly, I will provide no citations. This is not my doctoral thesis. If you feel the need for citations, provide them in your response.

Onward.

If you have ever captained a team, managed a staff, or chaired a committee, and if the people that you were engaged with varied in age from the Greatest Generation to Millennials, and if you were at all effective, then you spent the time necessary to understand the differing attitudes that differing ages present. If you were effective without consciously considering those differences, God bless you. You are either an outstanding intuitive leader or you were lucky as hell. But it seems to me that today, given the headlines and the ruckus on social media concerning the new US Congress, it pays to take the…

CHRISTMAS MARKET NARBONNE 2018

The afternoon was clear and warm for late December between Christmas and New Year. The crowds were a bit thin, to be expected in the twixt holiday lull. But the little huts were all open and the proprietors were happy to be of service. Enjoy the pics.


BROWNS AND TANS (AND A HORSE): A FEW PICS OF WINTER IN THE VINES 2018

In the summer, the landscape is a symphony of greens. Every shade imaginable. In winter, browns and tans preside. Here are just a few pictures taken on my walk this morning to illustrate the point. And yes, I do bring apples with me for the horses and the donkeys and the Shetland ponies.




CHRISTMAS WALK TO VIEW OF THE PYRENEES: 2018

Cathey said that it was OK for me to take my usual Tuesday morning walk on Christmas Day. I could help set the table and perform other minor tasks necessary for a satisfactory Christmas dinner with friends after I returned. So off I went. Temperature 40℉ at the start near sunup. 50℉ at the finish a couple of hours later. No wind. Blue skies. This was the winter that I came to France for.

The walk can't really be called scenic. Just through the vines until you get to the headland opposite the village. But the closer that you get to the top, you begin to see the Pyrenees peeking through. And at the top, it's a 360° panorama.







CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…