Wednesday, September 2, 2015

0 Jack's Top Ten: Provence

10.  Chateau des Baux de Provence

The catapult was threw the ball in the air.

9.  Keyboard at our home in Arles

I liked pressing the buttons to make music.  I liked being able to do it with Chugster (Charlie).

8.  Leading the way home

I liked being the leader and I had some help from the streets I already noticed

7.  Palais des Papes in Avignon

I used to not know what a courtyard is but I loved this one.

6.  The Camargue Races at Arena d'Arles

My favorite is when the bull jumped over the fence.

5.  Mousse au Chocolat at Le Menestral

The chocolate was moussy.

4.  Dinner at Fad'oli

The woman there was nice and she loved Chuggy (Charlie).  And she spoke English.

3,  Carrières de Lumières

Standing on the walls and people thought I was in the show.

2.  Place de la Republique

It was tall and pretty with a nice view.

1.  Date night and gazpacho with Mommy at Cuisine de Comptoir

It wasn't so was so so cold.

Friday, August 28, 2015

0 Jack's Top Ten: Paris

10.  Korean BBQ at Garden

"We could cook the meat....that's so cool."

9.  Chez Janou

"The mousse au chocolat was yummy but I didn't like the snail meatballs."

8.  Striky Bowling

"I was pretty good."

7.  Vaux-le-Vicomte

"The fountains were so nice and smooth.  I wish I could touch it."

6.  Rooftop Terrace at Gallerias Lafayette

"We were so high and we saw all of Paris."

5.  Luxembourg Gardens

"Lots of fun things in a beautiful garden."

4.  Grand Mosque of Paris

"The ceilings were so could see the sky but you were inside."

3.  Clocks at Musee D'Orsay

"They were big."

2.  Eiffel Tower

"The holes were like windows."

1.  Monument Mini Golf

"It's just so fun."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

0 A Perfect Provencal Lunch

It began with Charlie falling asleep as we searched for a restaurant. We had just spent the morning hiking up, down, and around Nimes' spectacular Jardins de la Fontaine, a large park built around Roman bath ruins. Jack got to climb up the Tour Magne watchtower at the top; Charlie got to climb over ruins rubble in a hermit crab crawl. Everyone was a winner.

But now we were hungry, and all we could find open on an August Sunday were tourist-trappy restaurants, suspicions confirmed on TripAdvisor to serve awful food. But just as Charlie's eyelids fell, we turned onto another empty street...almost empty, but for two older French ladies gossiping over a bottle of rose. There were just three small tables outside Le Menestrel and the proprietress warmly welcomed us to settle in for lunch. Patrick wedged himself into a seat with a limp, snoozing Charlie still strapped to his chest.

This was our chance: we ordered up three courses from their formule du midi. And maybe because he is just such a stellar kid, or maybe because he knew mousse au chocolat was coming at the end of the meal, Jack was being a total charmer. Emboldened, we mimicked our neighboring table and ordered up our own bottle of rose. It was crisp, refreshing, and most of all totally luxurious to sip as we enjoyed the quiet afternoon together as a family.

Oh, and the food! I've never been one for vegetable "pasta" (spaghetti squash spaghetti...what a bait and switch!) but their tagliatelle aux courgettes wasn't trying to hide anything. A celebration of zucchini, it was a delightful al dente perfectly seasoned and drizzled with balsamic and roasted pine nuts. A hit with all ages. We had a super tender, red wine bull stew (a provencal specialty) and a steak that was exactly the right side of rare served with a roquefort sauce I slurrped up like a soup. At some point in this food parade Charlie woke up, bright-eyed and happy to join our leisurely meal. He was a big fan of the table bread.

Jack was barely able to stay in his seat as the mousse au chocolat was brought to the table. Silky, chocolatey, and served in one of those spherical dessert dishes they use in France that makes everything look that much more elegant. We made it all the way to Jack's last scrape of the bowl before Charlie began to squirm and had to be walked around as I paid the bill.

90 glorious minutes of lunch. Sometimes, the stars align.

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