CHATEAU DU PUITS ES PRATX - RESTAURANT REVIEW


This is a ticklish one.

We went to the Chateau to hear an Indian fusion jazz concert. We could have booked for just the concert but we decided to try the dinner menu as well. We experienced a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. Let's see if I can make sense of the evening for you.


The venue is in some ways unique. The chateau sits just on the outskirts of Ginestas, a rural Languedocian village with a surprisingly robust English contingent in residence. The restaurant is situated in what had been the winery of the chateau, behind the main house. A conversation nook with a wood-burning stove greeted us on entry. The walls of the large space are well-pointed stone and the dining room is surrounded by the trappings of a major wine-producing facility - casks and cuvees (large vats) abound. Set up the way that it was, about 30 or 40 people could have been seated. We counted perhaps 25 attendees total as the concert commenced.

It's a very inviting space.

Cathey chose the 26 euro menu, starting with an assiette of tapas that was light and refreshing. Her main featured chunks of a white fish in cream sauce baked with melty cheese and a crisp crust. I went for the 36 euro seafood infusion, featuring some common and uncommon denizens of the deep, followed by duck breast with red wine reduction. At the finish for us both, a chocolate torte. With a pitcher of rose, the tab totaled 97 euros.

The food was competently prepared. The service - by our obviously British host - was prompt and timely. But I have three quibbles.

The meal was not worth the price. We don't usually eat dinner out, so perhaps I'm mistaken. But if the same meal had been served at lunch, I would have expected to pay no more than 20 euros per person.

I did not expect to pay for admission to the concert as well as dinner. I guess I didn't understand the blurb on the website.

Finally, the audience was one of the most inconsiderate in memory. We've been to free concerts nearby with a couple of hundred folks in attendance who were quieter and more attentive than the 25 or so at the Chateau. There were a few of us who came for the music. The rest acted like an American dinner theater audience, more interested in being heard than in listening. Maddeningly distracting given the quality of the music.

In sum, a night that started out with great promise given the venue and the musicians soured quickly given the nature of our fellow diners and the cost. A shame...

Read more of my reviews HERE.


GANAPATI - CONCERT REVIEW


If you've been following this space, you know that I have been very favorably impressed with the quality of live music that is available to us here in the south of France, particularly given that we don't head for any of the venues in the larger cities. Instead, we go to local venues, churches and libraries and community rooms in small towns. Often the concerts are free, staged by regional tourist or cultural associations. Sometimes, you have to pay. To see Ganapati, we paid. It was worth it.

I'll talk about the venue in another post, Chateau du Puit in Ginestas, a bed & breakfast with a restaurant/event center attached. But this is about the music.

Bernard Margarit is a regionally recognized jazz guitarist. He joins with Débojyoti Sanyal (Tabla ), his sister Joyeeta Sanyal ( Sitar ), and American Stanley Adler ( Cello-like strings ) to form Ganapati. They all have other gigs. For instance the Sanyals often perform in their native India as a duo. But Ganatapi gets together every few months to tour as they can, starting from Margarit's base in Carcassonne, about an hour from us.

I like this sort of jazz - rhythmic, melodic, accessible fusion. Everyone gets a chance to shine. But what really shines through is that they enjoy each others music. They make space for each other. They smile. Good stuff.

I had a chance to talk privately with Débojyoti. He's never been to the States but he'd like to go. He has friends - musicians - in New York. I hope that he makes it one day. With Ganatapi. Book 'em, Danno.

CHRISTMAS MARKET - LE SOMAIL 2015

Le Somail sits astride the Canal du Midi, a touristy little village as so many are that are situated along the Canal. There are two fabulous community yard sales, spring and fall, that attract sellers and buyers from far and wide. The Christmas Market is more restrained. It's December after all. But quality exhibitors attend and plenty of bright, shiny objects are on display for those inclined to be distracted by such things.















ANOTHER FRENCH COMMEMORATION - NORTH AFRICA

Again, folks gathered in Quarante's place de la mairie (town hall square). Again, flags waved, flowers were offered, and speeches given. This time, the dead that were honored were those who died in French North Africa - Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Perhaps, when our American culture is as old as the French, we'll have as many occasions to honor dead soldiers.








A TASTE OF LOCAL CULTURAL EVENTS: COST OF LIVING IN FRANCE #4

In the USofA, we lived in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton metropolitan area. The State Theater in Easton brought in class acts like Preservat...