Saturday, 26 June 2010

Holiday's end

Yesterday was a stinker, up to 32 degrees in the shade, one of those dead, heavy heats which really isn't conducive to any form of activity whatsoever. Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, as I did take the pooch for a little wander amongst the vineyards ...and was tempted by the nearly ripe figs which were hanging heavy on the treesbut covered all of 1km before we turned back to seek sanctuary in the blissful coolness of the house again, me dripping with sweat in a most un-ladylike way and the pooch with his tongue hanging out as if his life depended on it. But fortunately Andy and I both had work to do so time was not wasted. I also had 'Caves' to visit and wine to buy in the afternoon. My main purchases were from the Mont Tauch vineyards up the road at Tuchan where I bought a mixture of everyday drinking rosés, whites & reds plus 2 bottles each of Corbières and Fitou red for winter consumption with rich meat dishes. I also bought from Bertrand-Bergé, a producer in Paziols, but their prices were somewhat higher.

For our last evening 'on holiday' we drove 10 minutes to the village of Tautavel for dinner at a highly recommended little restaurant called 'Le Petit Gris'. It is in a fantastic setting, overlooking the bolted crags of Tautavel (over 230 sport climbing routes, folks!) to which we have made a note to return in the future when Sadie is up and running. But I digress, where was I .... ah yes, dinner. My entrée was foies de volaille (chicken livers) panfried with raspberry vinegar and local herbs accompanied by a simple salad followed by slices of cooked salmon with a vegetable thian and mushrooms and finishing with the Catalan version of creme brulée - all in all, rather scrummy. Andy enjoyed a bowl full of around 30 'petit gris en estouffade' otherwise known as small snails in a Catalan stew sauce followed by 2 spatchcocked quail cooked over the woodfire with a beautifully light vegetable thian and Catalan chips which were actually hollow - don't ask me how they managed that as I have no idea! We had a half litre of the house rosé which was produced in the local vineyards. Superb food and wine all round.

But today, it was time to make our way home. We decided to take the scenic route which included a diversion to the coast where we stopped off at Argèles-sur-Mer for lunch. We stumbled upon a little restaurant off the main boulevard which welcomed dogs and at which we could eat outside in the shade - a plate of anchovies (delicately dressed with vinegar and a light oil) followed by an enormous pot of stonkingingly big moules catalanes and chips for me, Coquille Saint Jacques in a bechamel sauce followed by some tasty squid with the trimmings for himself. Other than that, Argèles was no different to any other 'sur mer' place on the Med Coast and we did not linger for long.

The next step of the journey home is not one that I would recommend. Amélie-les-Bains to Bouleternère should be avoided at all costs. 43kms of winding, ascending, descending, narrow roads through indifferent scenery which mainly consisted of, well, trees and not a great deal else! Tedious! The rest of the trip home was also winding ups and downs but thankfully through rather more interesting scenery but it had still been a pretty long day by the time we got home this evening. More hot weather here over the coming few days but with a bit more cloud which should make a roadie outing or a run more practicable.

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