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Showing posts from April, 2015

RESTAURANT LE 29 AU BORD L'ETANG, BOUZIGUES - A REVIEW

Bouzigues fronts the Bassin de Thau, a saltwater lake (etang) separated from the Mediterranean by a strip of land that reminds one of the Outer Banks. The waterfront is lined with restaurants, all featuring the oysters and other seafoods from the etang and the Med. It's not the most picturesque of villages but the flavor of the place is certainly more inviting than the more crassly commercial towns directly facing the Med. There are souvenir shops to be sure, but they are somewhat restrained and don't appear to be the raison d'etre of Bouzigues. Rather, the work of harvesting the bounty of the etang and the sea seems to take precedence.

Cathey and I both chose from the 22 Euro menu at Restaurant le 29. Cathey started with the plateau de coquillages (6 oysters and 6 mussels served on a bed of ice). The oysters were as advertised. Bouzigues oysters are recognized as about the best to be had in the region. It was Cathey's first try at raw mussels on the half shell and, w…

RANDOM #1 - CRUZ/CHRISTIANITY, SNOWDEN/OLIVER/WIKILEAKS/SONY & REAGAN/CLINTON/OBAMA

CRUZ/CHRISTIANITY

Ted Cruz is reported to have said that there is no longer room in the Democratic Party for Christians. If I were a practicing Christian, I would be pissed that the litmus test for being a Christian has become adherence to the laws of the Old Testament rather than an understanding of Christ's message of grace.

For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

SNOWDEN/OLIVER/WIKILEAKS/SONY
Folks like Jon Stewart and John Oliver appear to delight in insisting that they are not journalists, even as they do the very jobs that journalists ought to be doing but are not. For instance, it took Oliver just minutes to burst the bubble of righteousness Eric Snowden and his admirers have erected around his actions. Having admitted to Oliver that he hadn't read all of the documents that he leaked and that it is at least possible, perhaps likely, that bad things will happen to good people as a result, Snowden admitted to having to…

RESTAURANT AU PETIT GAZOUILLIS, CASTELNAUDARY - A REVIEW

Less than a week after our first visit, we unexpectedly found ourselves back in Castelnaudary for lunch. The first time through, on a Thursday, Au Petit Gazouillis was closed. Tuesday? Open.

A small sign along the main downtown drag in Castelnaudary points to Au Petit Gazouillis, tucked out of the way on a side street. It's a funky, family operation in a small, dim (but not dingy) dining room.We were first in, at about noon, but the room quickly filled with a combination of locals and tourists.  The maitre d' and the single waiter were kept hopping. Even so, service was timely and gave the appearance of being unhurried.

We chose the 13.50 Euro menu. For starters, a charcuterie plate, slices of a variety of processed, store-bought meats with a bit of greens and crudities. Filling if not noteworthy. Cathey opted for the house cassoulet (for a 2.50 supplement). I went for Toulouse sausages and frites. The cassoulet came bubbling hot and quite meaty, a perfect portion for Cathey.…

FRIDAY FLOWER MARKET, BEZIERS - APRIL 2015

RESTAURANT LE TIROU, CASTELNAUDARY - A REVIEW

Three different towns in the south of France each produce slightly different versions of cassoulet, that hearty, beany casserole named after the cassole, the earthenware bowl in which it is traditionally cooked and served. Having visited Carcassonne and Toulouse prior to our permanent move to the region, only Castelnaudary, which lays claim to actually having invented the dish, remained.

Le Tirou chef/owner Jean-Claude Visentin is a Maître Restaurateur, a prized title not taken lightly. It's a curious place with odd, slightly chintzy furnishings that embellish otherwise standard restaurant table settings. And you can't miss the petting zoo in the back yard on display to the entire dining room. (Roosters and an alpaca (llama, maybe) and a statue of a cow and more...) But, like 90% of the restaurants in Castelnaudary, whatever else that it's about, it's about the cassoulet.

Brought to the table with some ceremony in the appropriate cassoles, properly crusted, the …

GREGORIAN CHOIR OF PARIS AT THE ABBEY FONTFROIDE - A REVIEW

Every concert review could begin with the words,"This type of music might not be to everyone's liking." Taste in music is highly personal. My wife Cathey considers anything composed after Bach to be jazz. On my desert island, I'll be listening to the fragile voices of Joni Mitchell and Neil Young as well as Grace Slick in her full-throated glory. But in this case, it must be said. An hour and a half of Gregorian chants might not be to everyone's liking.

Now that that's out of the way, the traditional Easter Sunday concert by the Choeur Grégorien de Paris (Gregorian Choir of Paris) demonstrated both the appeal of that particular form of worshipful music and the amazing acoustic properties of the Abbaye de Fontfroide.

Let's start with the Abbey itself. Set in the midst of wine country west of Narbonne, a visit to Fontfroide makes a great day trip. The grounds are immaculate, the buildings well preserved and with fascinating histories. Just a couple of pict…

RFRAs: LEARNING FROM LED ZEPPELIN, THE PILGRIMS, AND LESTER MADDOX

TRYING TO RECREATE HISTORY
Have you seen/heardStairway to Heaven performed by Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson at the Kennedy Center the night that Led Zeppelin was honored? If you haven't, take a few minutes and check this video out.


Powerful, huh? But now that The Rolling Stones have announced the dates for their tour of the US, I just have to say it. I cringe when I see Mick Jagger strutting on stage these days. I do. It's involuntary, like a gag reflex. Jagger has become a caricature of himself and it's sad.

Picturing Jagger strutting on a stadium stage to the signature strains of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction forces me to give a pass to Robert Plant for his antipathy toward the idea of a Led Zeppelin reunion. Plant's just not that shirtless guy wearing low rider jeans any more, screaming into the mic, brushing his shoulder length, curly locks off his face with an almost effeminate flip of the wrist. He realizes that he can't be that guy again without beco…