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Summer in France 2011 – The Birthday

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BirthdayMy birthday began with yummy croissants and a visit to Alet-les-Bains and their ancient Abbey. Not too much of the structure remains, but the crew of workmen there were busy restoring it to its original beauty. The plans looked quite impressive…and getting a tiny key to unlock an iron gate to enter the centuries-old courtyard was very fun. The village proved more interesting with a lovely hotel and restaurant (which we plan to visit for a dinner in the near future), narrow winding streets and Medieval buildings faced with half-timber and mud, and an ancient Gite rumored to have housed Nostradamus!! How cool is THAT?

From there we headed up to Limoux to explore their weekly market (score! Fresh red currants and strawberries), wander the centre-ville, and enjoy a yummy lunch. We shared a table with 2 pleasantly chatty couples, one from England and the other from Ireland. After lunch we headed to St-Hilaire and the Benedictine Abbey where sparkling white wine, Blanquette, was born in 1531. Those monks knew what they were doing!! and the Abbey is beautifully preserved and worth the small admission fee.

A quick stop home to freshen up, and we off to Gincla for dinner at Hostellier du Grand Duc. This tiny, tiny village features an upscale hotel/restaurant with lovely gardens, and appeared to be quite the ‘get away’ for people seeking peace and quiet. Our multi-course dinner is listed here…we split up the options so that we’d get to try everything on the gastronomique menu. It was awesome and a good value for so many courses! Have fun with the translating 🙂

Menu gastronomique: à 49 € ea

Gambas au caramel de soja et son mesclum


Duo de foie gras


Crumble de cabillaud , étuvée d’oignon et d’abricot sec


Médaillon de lotte aux morilles et Chardonnay


Faux filet aux griottes


Medaillon de veau, petit jus reduit au romarin


Ronde des fromages


Petite gourmandise facon a la after eight


Brochette de fruits frais

When we got to the cheese course, they wheeled over an enormous cart filled with cheeses.  I took a rather safe road, choosing mostly cows milk varieties with creamy soft flavors.  Joe, being bold and adventurous, choose a variety of dangerous looking, sharp, and stinky cheeses….one of which was actually marinating in a science project jar of liquid!!  Let’s just say that the version of Roquefort that is served here is WAY more ‘in your face’ than what they send to America.  *WHEW*

It was a lovely and filling dinner…thanks Joe for a wonderful day 🙂

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