Saturday, February 3, 2018

Father's Day in France

Pages From Jan's Travel Journal: Sunday, June 18 2017

Father's day! It was a lovely morning and Des suggested that we take our breakfast to the nearby Jardin des Plantes. Janey wanted to sleep in, so it was just the three of us. Desmond knew of a bakery that was open on Sunday, and it just happened to be on the way to the garden. We carried our box of pastries through the parc and found some seating beneath a huge weeping fig tree. It was a cool and peaceful place to enjoy our morning treats.

Yes, it was delightful!

A small sculpture at Jardin des plantes, Orleans
After that sweet little breakfast we explored the beautiful gardens. There were many lovely trees and flowers to admire, as well as some amazing dry-stacked stone arches. Herb gardens, fruits and vegetables, a grape arbor, fountains, and ponds all combined to create a special place in which to linger. There was even a maze created out of small hedges.

The dry-stacked stone was impressive.

A soothing picture beneath the fountain.

The guys had to check out the windmill.
We walked slowly home and then finished packing for our little jaunt to Amboise. Janey enjoyed the train ride, and when we arrived at the station in Amboise she discovered a baguette vending machine. Of course, she simply had to try it! We all sampled the baguette and agreed that it was not very good. But then, what can you expect when you buy bread from a machine? Oh, well, it gave us something to nibble on as we waited for a taxi to take us to our gite. And waited. And waited.

Janey bought a baguette from a vending machine.
We did think it was odd that there were no cabs parked in front of the train station, but it wasn't until Des made a few phone calls that we learned very few taxis are available there on a Sunday. At long last a friendly cab driver arrived. He kept up a lively conversation with Desmond, who translated some of his funny stories. My favorite was the one about the viagra-shaped chocolates!

The gite we had rented was on the very edge of Amboise. It was an old vintner's cottage that had been beautifully renovated. That little house was very charming and scrupulously clean. But also very warm. Craig and I had the upstairs bedroom, and there was plenty of room for Janey to sleep on an air bed on the floor.

Our gite in Amboise had a nice kitchen,
though it was too hot to cook.
Our hosts had shown us a path near a small river that would lead us into Amboise. It was time to explore. Had the weather been cooler, the trek into town would have been sheer pleasure. We were walking mostly through the countryside, with the stream on one hand and tilled fields on the other. Colorful poppies bloomed along the path. It was a very warm day and we were grateful for the shaded farm track which led us into Amboise.

Pretty poppies bloom along the stream.
As a special treat for Father's Day, Desmond had made reservations at a Michelin starred restaurant called Le Patio. It was situated along a lovely cobblestone street. The decor inside the restaurant was done in soothing shades of gray, with soft lighting and subtle touches of color everywhere. After we were seated, the waiter brought a carafe of ice water to the table and we wasted no time emptying it! And then our meal began.

Walking toward the restaurant in Amboise.
We started with the house cocktail; a delightful combination of Vouvray and creme de framboise, with a liqueur - soaked cherry at the bottom of the glass. Smoked trout rillettes and toasted baguette slices accompanied our drinks. Next up was a platter of amuse bouche which consisted of small rounds of goat cheese covered with sesame seeds, some tiny puff pastries rolled around pepperoni, and miniature cups of cold tomato soup. Along with all of that was a basket of sliced baguette and lots of fresh butter. We were off to a great start.

Our appetizers arrived, and they were as tasty as they were attractive. I had chosen the cold crab meat with grapefruit, avocado, and radish. It was delicious. Desmond ordered escargot fritters. They smelled fantastic, and when Des offered a taste I did not hesitate. Yum! Janey decided that she couldn't visit France without trying escargot, and it was rather hilarious watching her work up the nerve to taste it.

An interesting appetizer.

Janey laughs as she
works up the nerve to try escargot.
Desmond had ordered a bottle of wine, which we enjoyed with our main course. He and I had selected the lamb shank in a candied thyme sauce, with grilled asparagus. Craig and Janey had chosen a fish dish which was served with a saffron sauce and a vegetable melange of celery root, carrots, and zucchini. By the time we had finished that, we were practically groaning. We declined the cheese board, knowing dessert was yet to come!

Craig and Des had chosen an interesting dessert of chocolate rice pudding which was garnished with popcorn and drizzled with caramelized Carambar. Janey and I had selected the cake, and it was beautifully decorated with lemon cream, strawberries, and lime zest. By the time we had finished we were actually looking forward to the walk home so that we could work off that decadent food.

How's that for a decadent dessert?

We didn't expect a dessert after dessert!
Imagine our surprise when yet another tray of amuse bouche arrived at the table! Oh, my! Des said he had never heard of a dessert amuse bouche, but there It was. It was all we could do to eat it, though I have to admit those little bites were delightful. We were treated to peanut cake pops,  miniature glasses of chilled watermelon juice, and the most amazing raspberry marshmallows anyone could ever imagine! They were so soft and fluffy that it was difficult to pick one up. At last, our incredible meal had come to a close.

We strolled slowly through Amboise and arrived at the gite tired but happy.

A baguette from a vending machine
 makes a good footrest.

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