Monday, 20 June 2011
Food, glorious food
sunny, warm, temps 24
Not a hot day, but neither is it humid. Fresh and warm. Breakfast by the pool before the blackflies know we're there. Hardly any wind, so very peaceful too. Birdsongs...and the happy hummmm of the new heat pump. I find that very comforting.
Had a huge long, and hugely fun day yesterday. Joanne Sasvari, who is head of the Canadian travel writers association, came from Vancouver and is doing a story on the locations in the townships that have inspired the Gamache books. Well...
Michael and Danie Beliveau of Tourisme Eastern Townships joined us for breakfast at the Auberge West Brome - then Joanne and I jumped into the beetle, put the top down, and started the road trip. First to Sutton and a stop at La Rumeur - this magnificent old bakery (where michael and I have an account and have apparently racked up 14-hundred dollars worth of charges over the years. And not for lettuce.) wonderful breads, pies (sugar pies!!) Cheese from all over the world, but specializing in small Quebec fromageries. Pates, quiches. Dear Lord. Our tour almost stopped there. But we went on to Muriel's chocolaterie - handmade Belgium chocolates...we bought two boxes - one for us, one for Michael. Then to the Atelier Bouffe - a lovely kitchen wares store just down rue principale.
then home for a glass of something cold on the screen porch, before heading the scenic route to Knowlton, and seeing Danny at Brome Lake books. Again, we stopped and had a glass of sparkling water and a basket of chips by the river that runs through town.
Then onto the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Benoit du lac...Brother Charles met us and as you can see - elevated us above our normal position. He literally, after the hellos, whisked us behind the locked doors and into an elevator where he brought out a key and got access to an area clearly not open to the public. As we went up he asked Joanne - are you afraid of heights?
My mind screamed...Joanne!!? Joanne??! Who cares if she is - I'm already faint with fear!! Me, me, me!!! And then the door opened and - voila.
You can see the photos and a sight few ever have seen. It's from the top of the highest tower, where there's a roof-top area, and then a sort of catwalk - to a glass enclosed turret. I made it to the stone balustrade, but no further. Brother Charles and Joanne strolled across the catwalk and I could see them inside the glass. He was pointing and describing and talking.
But I was perfectly happy where I was!
Can you believe those views? And the perfect day? It really was heavenly. And so peaceful. Breathtaking.
After we chatted with Brother Charles for half an hour or so it was time to head onward. We'd eaten half the chocolates, but offered the rest (about three) to him - and then noticed they'd all but turned to chocolate soup. We also made plans for Brother charles to perhaps visit us for lunch later in the summer and help with some of the editing of the manuscript. some large questions, some smaller...like the porter at the monastery. I have it as 'Porteur', but I noticed it is 'Porterie' - and the monk on duty is known as th 'portier'.
but I also have larger questions...it would be wonderful if he could visit us, we'd have a barbeque and a relax by the pool and I can pepper him with questions.
But, back to Joanne and me. Back into the car and off to Georgeville - a lovely, small village on the other side of Lac Memphremagog. Up and down and around the winding road around the lake - then we arrived and went into the general store, which is the inspiration for Monsieur Beliveau's general store in the books. Indeed Georgeville is one of the inspirations for Three Pines. We wandered around. I bought a warm blueberry pie to take home (they're famous in the area for their baking) - and Joanne and I each got an ice cream bar, for the road.
so far, lunch had been chocolates, potato chips and now ice cream. And she's a food writer. Oh dear. Still, I have to say, they were yummy!
From Georgeville we visited a place I'd never been - so it wasn't an inspiration for the books, but the Tourism woman seemed keen for us to go since we'd be in the area. and are we ever glad we did! It's called Bleu Lavandre. Blue Lavender. It's this HUGE lavender farm (ranch?). Absolutely gorgeous....acre after acre. Like landing in Provence.
They distill the flowers down to the oils and make soaps and creams and essential oils and even this wonderful hand sanitizer I also bought (Lise, are you reading??) two large lavender plants for our gardens. We actually already have a lavender 'bed' but I just couldn't resist.
It was getting late, so we scooted cross country and arrived at Hovey Manor around 5:30 - we were both pooped so while Joanne went to her room (a cabin right on the lake) I relaxed in the library and called Michael. Then we met for dinner at 6:30. She started with a frizzy salad with pate, and had the fiddlehead soup with lobster. They sent out an amuse bouche of cod on black garlic. then the main course for Joanne was venison and I had the halibut. Perfect! We had a window seat looking over the rose garden and Lac Massawippi.
for dinner Joanne had the poached pear and I did a strawberry and rhubarb aspic. And coffee and tea.
It was after 10pm and I still had an hour drive home. but it was a quiet, lovely night - an easy drive after a long, but very happy day. Joanne is wonderful company. We talked about the books, but mostly we talked about travel and food, great locations and great restaurants. How perfect.
Today is actually a day 'off'!!! No social engagements. Not much work. Sunny day. Laundry on the line. Heat pump on. Michael beside me. Georgeville General Store blueberry pie in the fridge.
All is right with our world.
Hope it is peaceful and gentle and kind in yours too.