Saturday, August 30, 2008

Duck, Duck, Goose

With a full Saturday before me, I decided the time was ripe for two projects: One, an immense decluttering and purging, and two, cooking a duck for the first time ever. (This second, I will admit, was helped along greatly by the fact that Nate had bought a duck and then left it in the fridge, ready to be cooked.)

Anyhow, I'm very pleased with the results of the project one: I'm only sad that I didn't take any before pictures of the messes that were the hall closet, bedroom closet and wardrobe so that the pictures below would seem all the more impressive:

Seen in vignettes as such it doesn't seem like this could be an entire day's work, but yet it was. Although I did draw three to-scale floorplans of the apartment, so there's that.

Project two I am willing to consider fairly successful as well. Given very straightforward directions (season the duck, sear it, then roast it over low heat in a pan over celery, carrots and onions), I followed them to the letter. I also made a quick salad by mixing the leftover corn, parsley and tomato with a little red onion and some olive oil and cider vinegar.

Since Nate was home earlier than expected (hooray!) we ate the corn salad over some greens as an appetizer while the duck finished cooking. Then we had the duck (nice and juicy, although perhaps benefitting from a little more time in the oven), with the vegetables (all delicious in the fat from the duck) and baked potato.

We washed it down with the last remaining Amstel -- and at this point, I think we may have finally cleared out all the second-hand beer.

For dessert, yogurt, of course, with some of Nicole's Haagen-Daas to follow. And tea, in the lovely teapot the Gauvrys gave us as a gift. A very fortifying drink, tea. Just what one might wish to imbibe before taking a stab at the entry way closets...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Patented Goodbye Mixed Grill

Tonight was a very special night. We had plans to have dinner with Nicole and Aaron. Nicole, our great friend, is moving back to Rhode Island. She moved to New York shortly after I did and has been a great neighbor ever since. We use the term neighbor to identify anyone who lives within 100 blocks of us since we live in the far reaches of Manhattan where man seldom dares to travel. She lives barely within the 100 block limit (88 blocks) but is still one of our closest neighbors who has not abandoned us by moving away to a far away borough with a strange-sounding name such as Queens or Brooklyn.

We tried to put out one of the tapenades we'd gotten in France but we were foiled at every turn. We didn't have enough bread, and the bread we had was of low quality. We opened up a box of crackers but they were remarkably stale so that was out. So we put them on the table while we tried to find an accompaniment then we ended up just putting the tapenade away. So it goes.

Jen had the idea to use the celery to make a cream of celery soup. I was skeptical about this but we did have an abundance of celery and it sounded interesting to make something that featured it prominently. Celery is always playing second fiddle to something else. Why not give it a chance to shine?

However, my instincts were telling me that celery is not very tasty or exciting so I was reluctant to do this. Abundance eventually beat out common sense and I elected to make a cream of celery soup. Normally I would use something like celeriac to lend a bit more flavor to celery which is generally watery and tasteless. The celery we got from the farm share was so flavorful that I thought it might stand a chance on its own. Besides, I wasn't about to get off my lazy behind and get any celeriac so it would have to do.

It was pretty simple, just garlic, onion, celery, chicken stock, skim milk and a splash of dry vermouth. The result: celeryish. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing or a bad thing.

For the next course: salad! We finished up our red leaf lettuce, some mixed baby greens and some of the farm share tomatoes with a balsamic mustard vinaigrette. More importantly we got to use the salad bowls that Nicole had gotten us for our wedding. How's that for appreciation? We invite you over, cook dinner for you and use the kitchen gadget(s) you give us as a gift.

Note: This offer stands for anyone. Particularly if you wouldn't mind getting us a Viking range and convection oven. We'd be happy to roast you a chicken for dinner. Just please bring wine over -- that's just proper etiquette.

For the main course we got to use the plates we'd gotten in France again (and forgot to mention last time).

Right before we'd gone to France I picked up some nice lamb rack and pork tenderloin so that we'd have the opportunity to make a couple of nice dinners when we returned. Instead of using them separately I opted for the third option: mixed grill! I haven't actually ever made a mixed grill at home before. I've only ever done it at work so I thought this would be an interesting experiment and, more importantly, allow me to have enough dinner for four people without leaving the house. I truly am a sorry, lazy man.

To accompany the meats I made a tomato and parsley risotto with just a splash of sherry and a healthy amount of grated Parmesan cheese.

Also accompanying the risotto was some steamed corn on the cob with melted butter and olive oil, and some garlic sauteed green beans. I know this is a repeat of Monday's dinner but when the vegetables are as tasty as the ones we've been getting it's a waste to doctor them up too much outside the realm of their natural state.

We paired this up with a wine that had far too many syllables in its name. I just call it "That Fratelli Wine." It's much easier that way.

We watched the US Open while we ate and I, foolishly, did not get any pictures of Nicole or Aaron on Nicole's last night in New York. For that I feel like a prize fool.

For what we lack in pictures of our friend we make up for in ice cream that she brought over for dessert that we were all too full/tired to enjoy. So I guess as we eat that ice cream over the course of the next few weeks we will think of Nicole and how life is treating her in the great state of Rhode Island.

Good luck! I hope they have Häagen-Dazs there too!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Today was a bit of a rush. Jen thought she was going to beat me home from work but she failed! I was able to use my Zipcar to bob and weave my way through New Jersey traffic and get home early to get a head start on dinner. I think it was just the awesome power of the Subaru Outback.

While I made a very quick pasta, Jen put together the salad of red leaf, sliced tomato, and chopped almonds.

I concasséed some tomatoes, browned some garlic in butter and olive oil, then chopped the tomatoes and simmered them for about ten minutes. I used a little dried sage and some of the fresh parsley. I tossed in some fresh capellini and served with grated parmesan cheese.

Jen opened a bottle of Our Daily Red. It was organic and far better than the last organic wine we tried which tasted a bit like doody.

This is Jen. I would just like to point out that Nate may have beaten me home, but I clearly prepared 2/3 of dinner (salad, wine). So, really, who's the more efficient one now?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You Say Tomato and I Say Tomato (Because We Have a Lot of Tomatoes)

After two weeks of not getting our farm share pickup we are back in the country and back in the kitchen to bring you another stimulating episode of The Race To Use Up Vegetables Before They Go Bad.

I got to the pickup around 4:30PM to discover that they weren't set up. As they were a bit behind I helped them unload the vegetables off the truck, muddying up my pants in the process. After everything was put into place I started filling my bags. At first I thought I was reading the quantities wrong but it said on each box what to get. It ended up being a tremendous amount of tomatoes: 3 large, 3 medium, 3 small, 3 plum, etc.

We ended up getting 1 eggplant, 1 bunch of carrots, a hundred tomatoes of various shapes and sizes, 2 peppers (1 purple, 1 reddish), 1 head of red leaf lettuce, 2 pounds of green beans, 5 ears of corn, 2 pounds of plums, 1 head of celery, and 1 bunch of parsley.

Whipping up a salad was pretty easy with those ingredients. I sliced up some of the celery which had a very strong scent to it and, like most of the vegetables we've been getting, had far more flavor to it than what we are used to. I cleaned up the lettuce and made a salad with some assorted tomatoes, celery, and grated carrot. I grated the carrots as finely as possible in hopes of flavoring the lettuce with some of the carrot juice. It turned out pretty well. And, as always, I used some lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper to finish it off.

I was awake at 4:00AM this morning courtesy of a tremendous bout of jet lag so I got the market just as it opened and bought some cod which looked fantastic. That was the only ingredient I knew for sure I'd have for tonight's dinner. Everything else came from the share.

I sliced some of the larger tomatoes and layered them on top of some of the portions of cod loin, drizzled with some olive oil, salt, pepper and parsley and baked at 450 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. It came out pretty tasty. I also took some of the onion, garlic and celery and threw it in the bottom of the roasting pan for flavor. The garlic and onion held up pretty nicely over the past two weeks.

I steamed up the corn then tossed with olive oil, butter, salt, pepper and parsley then did the same with the green beans (minus the parsley). Served with an all-purpose baked potato, it was a pretty nice last-minute meal.

Now that I know we're swimming in tomatoes I'll need to think of something to do with them later on this week. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back in New York City

Sunday began very early for me. I suspect that I may have contracted a touch of food poisoning. Let's just say that I spent the majority of the night doing something other than sleeping. Eventually I got to sleep somewhere between 4:30AM and 5:00AM and slept until about 9:00AM.

I blame the crappy jambon cru sandwich I'd had the previous day. Something was not right about that sandwich.

It was raining in the garden outside our room when we woke up. We had breakfast downstairs at the hotel and even the yogurt and muesli wasn't ready to sit with me. We went back up to the room after breakfast. I left before Jen so I could lie down and watch the Olympic basketball gold medal match. Jen came in very quickly after an awkward fight in the dining room between a couple at breakfast.

Our plans of touring Les Invalides were scrapped as we stayed in our room just about until it was time to check out. By that point I was feeling a little better but not quite ready to eat anything that wasn't bread or crackers.

After checking out late and watching the French handball team win the gold medal we headed out and walked down the Champs-Élysées. It actually rained on that last day in Paris after being told it would rain our entire trip and being a liar every time.

We were having lunch with Jen's old host family when she lived in Paris. Jen had really been looking forward to seeing her old host family who she's talked about a lot over the years. I was looking forward to meeting them and enjoying some of their famous cooking. Unfortunately I was not nearly well enough to do anything but try little samples of everything. It might have been one of my favorite meals we'd had if it hadn't for feeling ill.

They started out with various olives and crackers. The first course was a great smoked salmon mousse with a great simple salad. Jen had always said that her host mother made amazing salad dressing and she was right. Next we had duck confit with little hash browned potatoes. Then a cheese course and finally a chocolate gateau with some sort of Spanish cream (similar to Creme Anglaise). We finished with coffee and tea and, sadly, had to be on our way.

We picked up the cab back at the hotel and I slept most of the ride to Charles de Gaulle. When we got there we realized the cab driver had dropped us off at the wrong gate so we had to drag our luggage across to the other terminal and then take a shuttle to the gate. I had the privilege of then being put through secondary screening which meant I had to delicately unpack my entire carryon bag which had been very neatly assembled as to fit the tremendous amount of merchandise I was carrying back.

After that it was still a while before our flight so we snacked on something called Chipsters, which were not very good, and waited to board the plane.

Once we reached cruising altitude we were able to use the in-seat TVs to watch mediocre American television. The highlight was a recent episode of The Simpsons.

We were served a strange dinner. The goat cheese and tomato crumble was a little odd but it was all right. It also had some really thick nectar-like juice which had orange, carrot, and maybe apricot in it. It was strange but I felt like I could use the sugar. The main course was pretty tasty, just grilled chicken, rice, carrots and broccoli. Probably another thing I needed to keep my stomach at bay.

After dinner I fell asleep and made up some of the lost sleep from the night before. I woke up in the middle of the night to discover Jen playing Mahjong on the games section of the seatback TV. I hadn't thought of Mahjong as being her cup of tea so I got excited and found out that she had taught herself to play.

Then, of course, I started my own game, and that pretty much occupied the rest of the flight.

We landed at JFK and, after an excruciating wait at the baggage carousel -- where they appeared to dispense approximately three bags every five minutes -- we caught a cab back home. One of the cabbies and one of the women directing the taxi line got into a big fight while we waited and we knew it was good to be back home.

We got home and immediately went to sleep. We didn't really even open any of our baggage, just straight to bed. When we woke up this morning we unpacked our spoils to appreciate their majesty.

As we finish up our laundry and look back at the week we are happy to be home and extremely grateful we had the opportunity to take this trip. Luckily we we seem to have avoided any serious jet lag at least of the sleep variety. We do appear to be suffering from stomach jet lag though as both of us were starving at 10:00AM this morning for dinner which, at 4:00PM would have ended up being our afternoon snack.

This evening we may even have dinner in the neighborhood of 6:30PM. Just don't tell any of our Parisien friends we did.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Farewell to Châteauneuf

Saturday morning was the day we were not looking forward to: checkout day at La Magnanerie. We woke up about 8:00AM and finished the packing we'd started the day before.

After bidding farewell to Ulrike and Châteauneuf-de-Mazenc we headed out of town to Cleon to their post office where we were able to ship our two tiny, expensive packages back to the United States. We then drove back to La Bégude-de-Mazenc and purchased one more exorbitantly priced prepaid package and squeezed two olive oil bottles, a container of lotion and some jelly into it. Then, because of the lousy construction of the package it sealed itself while not being entirely closed. The woman at La Poste was a little miffed about the fact that the package was still open on the sides, something that perhaps she should take up with the designers of said package. However, she still allowed us to send it even though it weighed more than it was technically allowed to.

After our morning tour of post offices in La Drôme we headed out early to Valence for a scenic drive that saved us the 5€ we would have had to pay otherwise. By the time we got to Valence we needed to get some lunch. After driving by one sketchy looking brasserie and an aborted attempt to find a Flunch we decided simply to have lunch at the train station.

We had lunch at the Pain de Soleil at the train station. It was okay but leagues beyond train station food we've had in our native country.

One complaint I would lodge is with the quantity of jambon cru in my jambon cru sandwich. I was not expecting a sandwich of the overstuffed American variety but if you take all the slices of meat in a sandwich and lay them flat, one high, they should, in theory, stretch for a greater distance than the size of the bread used in making the sandwich. Another complaint about my sandwich is that they seem to have put two tiny slices of jambon cru in the sandwich, run out of jambon then filled the rest of the sandwich with butter, thinking I wouldn't notice. I did notice. I was not impressed. Jen's sandwich seemed to be loaded with ham, cheese and butter and the Suisse chocolat was great. This was a far cry from the jambon cru on poppy seed baguette I'd gotten from Paul in Paris.

After our lunch we brought back the rental car. This was also a very different experience from returning a rental car in America. Here you wait in line for about thirty seconds, give them the key, they say thank you and then you leave. No checking of the gas or the condition of the car. No one tries to nail you with extra gasoline charges. No one tries to convince you preexisting damage was your fault. No one even just makes you stand there while they enter endless data into a computer. I'm not so sure all of that is in their best interests but it sure makes it a great experience as a customer!

After that we boarded the TGV and zipped along to Paris at 150 kilometers an hour. There was child behind us that was traveling with his father. Note the white thing in the space between our seats. That was the child sleeping, completely unconscious, when we boarded the train. He stayed like that for about one hour. Then he woke up and didn't stop making noise for the rest of the trip. Jen was amused by how often he said, "Oh là là!" I was not amused by how often he kicked our seats, slammed the trash can lid, shouted something in French and stuck his matchbox car between our seats.

We traveled in first class which meant that, again, walking to the train we had to walk to the furthest possible car from the station. Arriving in Gare de Lyon we also had the longest possible walk back to the station. This was compounded by 87% of the people on the platform smoking and traffic drawing to a stand still every twenty or thirty paces, possibly because the train was also seemingly filled with young teenage girls on many camping trips. There was also an ill-behaved child who was trying repeatedly to ride his father's rolling suitcase as his father pulled it. Eventually this lead to his mother saying something in French that translated as: "It is impossible that you should act this way." And: "It is insupportable that you should act this way." When she gave the child a light swat he returned the favor, and that went over about as well as could be expected.

Being the last people out of Gare de Lyon, we were the last people in the line for the taxis. We managed to make it through in about 15 minutes while some drunk Frenchman holding a nearly empty bottle of some unspecified hard liquor shouted things at everyone around him, mostly directed at the diners at a nearby cafe.

Back at the Hotel Varenne we checked into our new room which had a halfway point between the Gollum-style arrangement of our previous room in Paris and a standard shower. My take: It was about halfway as good as the median between those two points. Once they discover the art of attaching that sprayer thing to a wall we'll be in good shape.

For dinner we wandered down Rue St. Dominique and found a place called La Fontaine de Mars. It looked extremely busy so we figured all those people couldn't be too wrong. It was so busy, in fact, that while we sat and waited to be served they were bringing out little plates of sausage and glasses of wine and serving them to the waiting customers on the back of people's scooters that were parked in the street. This made me a little nervous until I realized that the stereotypical French scooter rider was probably not as physically imposing as the stereotypical American Harley rider. I think our waiter could have taken them.

We started by splitting the Battu de Chevre Frais aux Artichauts et Tomate which the waiter was nice enough to serve to us on two beautifully presented plates.

Jen had the Gigot D'Agneau de Lait as her main course. She wanted to know the difference between the scalloped potatoes on her plate and the ones we normally make. The only difference I could detect is that we generally use skim milk and they were using heavy cream. About 600 calories worth of fat does make a pretty big difference.

I had the Filet de Boeuf Grille Bearnaise, Frites Maison for my main course.

Jen was delighted to have crème brûlée once again.

I had the Croustifondant de Chocolate Noir because it was fun to say croustifondant. It was some sort of chocolaty pudding or custard with a walnut crust and a scoop of extremely dense, extremely dark chocolate ice cream on top. Unfortunately the ice cream was so dense it was impossible to take a scoop out of it to eat. As you pushed it down it sank into the warm custardy bit and melted. Eventually Jen got off a piece after causing a minor chocolate volcanic eruption on the plate.

After dinner we walked back to the Hotel Varenne and watched TV for the first time in over a week. Luckily it was our favorite, the German Olympic coverage segment called Zapping where they just show a bunch of interesting, strange or funny clips from that day's Olympic events.

Oh, Zapping. To think, that is the last time we will be able to enjoy your humorous takes on the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Oh, yeah, and we'll miss Paris too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

God Made Some Sober Winos

Friday began with a slightly later start than the previous day. Partially this was because we were sleeping off bellyaches from the previous night's enormous meal.

Corse Stuck Between Lavender and Wall

Partially it was because I got the car really stuck trying to get out of our parking spot at La Magnanerie. It looked at one point like there was not going to be any getting this car unstuck from the horrific angle I'd managed to wedge it into. After about 20 minutes of spinning tires and inching backwards and forwards in reverse and first gear, reverse and first gear, reverse and first gear, I somehow got the car out of the predicament and we were able to take off. I put the success to the logs I'd wedged under the tire of the car even though Jen confirmed that they were "not a factor."

Candy Vendor at Dieulefit Market

The day's market was in Dieulefit which wasn't very far at all. We had a very light breakfast of a tiny bit of yogurt with about three tablespoons of muesli and figured after the previous night's dinner that should hold us over just fine.

Strange Liver Forcemeat at Dieulefit Market

The market at Dieulefit seemed very sparse. It was much more spread out through the town than the previous two markets we'd been to and we nearly missed a large portion of it because we thought we'd reached the end. After about twenty minutes it became obvious why the market was so quiet, the clouds were now overhead and it became evident that it was going to rain.

Nougat at Dieulefit Market

We made the most of our trip, weather be damned. A candy vendor who was extremely convincing and good at what he did managed to convince us to buy some of his wares, which we were utterly not in need of. The cost for this candy was somewhat akin to putting a down payment on an automobile or perhaps buying an organ on the black market, but I must say this guy was a good salesman and he deserved every cent he got from us. His young son was clearly learning the family trade and was quick to shove out an empty bag and tell the Madame to help herself to whichever candies suited her.

Aperitruffe Truffle Liqueur at Dieulefit Market

There was a stand selling truffle-infused olive oil (normal), truffle-infused balsamic vinegar (something I'd never seen before), and a truffle liqueur (just plain crazy). He offered us a taste of the liqueur which he suggested as an aperitif for foie gras if my French is correct (which it probably isn't). After a little debate we (mostly I) decided that 18.00E was a bit of money but this was just too strange an item to pass it up.

Fill Your Own Liqueur Bottle

We went into one great shop that was selling all sorts of liqueurs which you could bottle yourself. They had a lot of great pottery as well. Unfortunately when Jen picked up a mug off the shelf a pair of tiny little ceramic spoons fell out and shattered on the floor. The woman at the shop was very nice about it which made us both feel guilty about slinking out of there without buying anything.

Dieulefit Market

We also picked up some vegetables for dinner at some of the few produce stands which were in shorter supply than at previous markets. We then decided we were done and picked up our pace to walk back to the car. One of the vendors mentioned that it was raining in Montélimar, a few towns over, so we dashed quickly and barely made it to the car before the rain started. At that point we had to drive the car through town, through throngs of shoppers who were very unconcerned with automobile traffic. I slowly learned that the trick was just to drive straight into the groups of people, slowly of course, and eventually they would get the hint and move slightly out of the way. It was a little unnerving as parents held their kids by the hand and let them be the ones to be standing directly in front of a moving car. This is not the method I would use if I were a parent, but perhaps when I do become a parent I too will not be overly concerned with the safety of my offspring. Only time will tell.

Cows That Hated Us at Mont Rachas

After we got out of town we stopped by a pottery place on the way back to Châteauneuf-de-Mazenc named Poterie Mont Rachas. When we parked the car there was a small group of cows hanging out right by the fence near to the parking lot. They were all lying in the grass and seeming to enjoy their afternoon. As soon as I approached they all slowly started to get up and walk away from me. There is something really humiliating about watching a cow slowly amble off into the distance, clearly unimpressed by you. When a cow insults you by turning its back and walking away it is painfully deliberate.

Mont Rachas

In the shop we debated for a while over a few dishes that we really liked. Before leaving, Jen's Uncle Gregg had warned us, "If you see something you like and you aren't sure if you should spend that much money on it, just buy it. We saw something there for 60.00E once and saw the exact same piece in Napa Valley selling for $800.00." With that ringing in our ears we spent a little more than we probably should have but got two very nice things, which we will be using for our next Thanksgivings whether they be Canadian, American or both. We nearly got some additional orange appetizer/salad plates but determined that they were not quite remarkable enough to make the additional investment. We'll see if that creeps up to give us a bite of regret on our future butts.

Fougasse at Bakery in La Begude de Mazenc

We stopped off in La Bégude to pick up some things for lunch and dinner, a fougasse with olives, a baguette for dinner, a brioche sucrée for my afternoon tea and a mille-feuille for an event to be determined later. Then we got home and had one of traditional hodge-podge lunches with leftovers and newly purchased goods from our trip.

La Poste in La Begude de Mazenc

Before setting out on our afternoon adventure to wine country which goes through apricot country (did you know the apricot was the orange of Provence? So a sign on the street announced) we stopped by the post office to buy some prepaid boxes for shipping things home. After waiting in line for about twenty minutes the woman was able to locate only one tiny box and one tiny bag to ship to the United States. The cost: 36.00E. Our feelings: totally not worth it. However, since we'd purchased them we loaded them up with about 12.00E worth of things we'd purchased and got ready to drop them off at the post office the following day.

View On the Climb to Vinsobres

Earlier we had gotten the directions to the Domaine du Moulin, a vineyard in Vinsobre whose wine we'd had earlier in the week. The drive was another slow, winding drive up the side of a mountain which brought us straight into the heart of Vinsobre. There was an incredible view going up the side of the exceptionally narrow road. The road, just barely wide enough for one car, was at times surrounded by rock on one side and a sheer drop off the other. Sometimes the sheer drop was on both sides. Fortunately for us we encountered precious few cars coming in the other direction.

Domaine du Moulin in Vinsobres

Our continued method of finding a town then assuming we would just stumble upon the thing in the town we were interested in paid off yet again. We found the vineyard and entered the cellar where a woman conversed for a bit with Jen and let us try five or six different wines before making our selections. We asked if the possibility existed to ship it to the United States which earned us a laugh from the woman. Although it was apparently difficult to ship bottles to the U.S. always, since September 11th it has become nearly impossible for them to ship anything to the United States. If they do it is at a cost so great that no one would be willing to pay. Turning that 4.80E bottle of wine into a $30.00 bottle is not a great proposition for business.

There was a helpful customer inside who offered us a few suggestions of what we could do to get the wine home, including buying the five liter bag in a box of the wine. Sadly, we were pretty sure we couldn't fit one or two bottles in our luggage, let alone a five liter bottle.

Jen Enjoying an Afternoon Snack on the East Terrace

When we got home we had a few snacks out on the terrace to try to clean out our fridge. We also did battle with a squadron of nasty bees, hornets and unnamed annoying bugs who frequented our east terrace and wanted to lay claim to the olives we'd brought out there.

Jen Wielding a Knife

Jen and I prepared dinner. I seared and roasted the veal while Jen did everything else. She made a stew of garlic, onion, zucchini and tomato based on a recipe my mother made very often during the summer when I was growing up. It was very tasty.

Ominous Clouds over Chateauneuf de Mazenc

The sun had just been covered by the clouds so the west terrace was much more accessible at that point and we were able to dine outside while we enjoyed, one last time, the view from Châteauneuf-de-Mazenc.

Morning in the Sunflower Residence

After dinner we began the unenviable job of packing for our train ride to Paris the following day. We had to be very judicious about what we packed, what we shipped, and what we left behind. Not much was going to be left behind. I did decide, however, to leave my clogs behind as they were already in rough shape before the journey to France and now, sadly, they were just about ready to fall apart. That would free up quite a bit of room in my luggage so that we could take home the incredible amount of merchandise we'd accumulated in the past few days.

Tired, we sat around and read while listening to The Butterfly Ball, ready to turn in early for our long journey back to Paris on Saturday.