Monday, June 22, 2015

Bring on the Barbecue (and a dash of Culture)

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: April 19, 2015

Once again, I awoke to another to another glorious spring day in France! Happiness and contentment washed over me as I made my bed and opened the shutters to the morning sunshine. After a cup of coffee to further brighten my day, Darcy, Mathieu, and I walked over to the market to purchase items for a lunchtime barbecue. We also picked up some pastries for breakfast. I chose a Paris Brest, and even though it came from the supermarket and not a patisserie, it was still pretty good. I love that toasted almond flavor.

Paris Brest, a delightful toasted almond pastry.

Chris and Mathilde were expected for lunch, so we spent a bit of time straightening the house. Darcy and I assembled the barbecue grill and carried it and a bag of charcoal down the stairs to the courtyard below. That charcoal was not in the form of tightly compressed bricks like we use at home. It was in the natural wood shapes, which meant that some of the smaller pieces kept dropping through the grate. Darcy made a tray of aluminum foil, into which she poked holes for ventilation. We piled the charcoal back on and managed to ignite it with no trouble. When our guests arrived, we put the marinated pork steaks onto the grill and as they began to sizzle we sat down to have a beer and some chips, but we soon discovered that the coals were out. I had neglected to open the bottom draft! Darcy and I took the steaks upstairs to cook. At least they had been over the charcoal long enough to acquire that smoky flavor we liked. Meanwhile, Chris and Mathieu had managed to get the coals going again and had put the sausages on to cook. When everything was ready, we sat down to a feast of tender pork steaks, Toulouse sausages, roasted potatoes, and broccoli raisin salad. Everything was quite tasty and we enjoyed visiting around the table as we passed the dishes around for seconds. We finished the meal off with refreshing ginger floats. 

Chris, Mathieu, and Mathilde in the courtyard. 

After Mathilde and Chris had departed, we spent a pleasant hour talking to Craig. Then it was time to leave for an afternoon concert, which featured music played on a beautiful harpsichord. Darcy had been tutoring English to the talented musician of that instrument, Beatrice, who teaches at Julliard. She was accompanied by her husband on the violin, and there were two other musicians as well. One woman played a cello and the other sang. They did many numbers together, and though I did not recognize most of the compositions, I enjoyed the concert immensely. 

Leaving the music hall, we went out to dinner at a sushi restaurant. I am not a big fan of sushi, but there were many other delectable items on the menu. I was quite happy with the dumplings, sweet fried noodles, and cheese maki. We watched a movie after we returned home. All in all, it had been a fun and relaxing day.

Travel Tip: If you take prescription medication, it is a good idea to pack a paper copy of your prescription. It will be much easier to get the prescription filled should you need to. Make sure you also have your doctor's name and phone number.

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