Fall of 1970. Grade one at the Volkschule Hinterstoder. 18 kids and Frau Schulrat Seuffert. Taken 44 years ago and amazingly I can remember the name of every single kid in class. But don't know what I had for dinner last night? Long term memory is the last to go they say. Row 2, second from the left. C'est moi.
A transcontinental move is never easy. When we moved to France in 2011, we had a hard time fitting our belongings into a 40' sea container. This time around we make it much easier, partially because we will set up two homes which allows us to enjoy the best of both worlds , versus moving completely. Makes things MUCH easier. I posted a picture of the early packing stage on FACEBOOK a few days back and one of my friends commented about the vodka bottle that I am taking. Judging by the color he thought it might be Raspberry Absolut, but it's Victoria's 30 month old Vanilla she set up back in early 2012. That's almost VSOP Cognac age ..... And I am taking a couple of bottles along for the trip, which I am certain will make my suitcase smell the best of all on the plane. I opened the lid this morning, before I am sealing the bottles with duct tape to avoid spilling. That aroma! Vodka and tons of Vanilla beans. Nothing else. The way Victoria does things. Can't wait for cake.
Lunch for one. While every hole in the wall in the US has a lunch counter for solo diners, in France where lunch is more often a serious event and not a 20 minute food intake, it's different to eat alone.
While I do not mind making my food at home since the girls have left, once in a while I do enjoy eating something different than my routine staple rotation of those five dishes I am capable of making.
We went to the Alambic here in Jarnac very infrequently for coffee or drinks as a family, but we never really dined at the place, most likely due to the fact of our food limitations. I've walked by the place many early mornings over the years, either with the dog or picking up my car from our garage around the corner and the owner/chef always, always greeted me on sight, even if I hardly ever stopped in. A nice gesture by friendly owners.
This past July, their Bar/Bistro (no food service at night except Saturdays) was the local hangout of choice for watching the World Cup and me rooting for Deutschland, in the midst of it.
It was during those weeks that I started to take notice of the food being carried past me and it all looked amazing.
And when they confirmed back then that I could be served food in the bar area even by myself, I knew to come back to check it all out. It may sound as if I have no friends here, which to a large degree is factual and the few buddies I do have, seem to lunch at work or home more so than going out much. Beer and Cognac yes, food, no.
So in the past few weeks I enjoyed solo lunching at the bar a couple of times already and before I am following the family to different pastures soon, I'll go back again for sure.
The owner makes all foods from scratch and while you may not deem french fries judge worthy, I do. Fresh cut, perfectly fried and seasoned, to me they are a test for how good a place can turn out the rest of their dishes. Sort of like Victoria judges a Patisserie by their Vanilla Macaroons. If they screw that up......the rest usually sucks too.
And in case of the Alambic, them Pommes Frites confirm all visuals I had back in July. Best Fries in the Charente by far.
Today's leg of lamb was a huge chunk of perfectly flavored meat on the bone, with tons of rich gravy for the fries, a side of carrot mousse (I hate carrots, but their version is very good) and a mixed salad with enough roughage, Madame Edlinger would be proud of me eating it....
The desserts so far have all been standouts as well, last time it was fresh baked Profiteroles with house made chocolate sauce and today I had a warm Almond cake with chocolate chips and quetsch (plum like) sauce. All made by the Chef himself. A multi talent if you think about it, not many Chefs can master savory and sweet parts of the kitchen on a commercial level.
No website I could find (not really a priority in small town France) and the last update on their FB page goes back to 2012. But Jarnac is a petit village, they are conveniently located in the Bermuda triangle, Le Place du Chateau ( with five Restaurants and Bars to choose from), and you have to look past the 1980's socialist chic decor, because dollar for donuts they serve the best food in town.
AT THE PLACE DU CHATEAU, JARNAC
A LOCAL PATRON
BUSINESS LUNCH CROWD
THAT CHARME OF THE 1980'S MITTERAND ERA
INCLUDING THE PRERQUISITE DOG
BEST FRENCH FRIES IN THE CHARENTE
A MASSIVE LEG OF LAMB
WARM ALMOND CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS AND QUETSCH SAUCE
While I just use a nice multi blade razor with shaving foam bought at a supermarket, there seems to be a whole revival of wet shaving culture happening these days. I think it's a good idea, if one has the time to go through the whole procedure from whipping up the cream to carefully shaving with one of those blades that are better known for their clean kill use in Mobster movies than for romantic morning hours in the bath room. Just imagine a store created by men for men, where women patiently wait around until their partners have decided which items to try and buy. Men asking their wives for advise which shaving cream smells better and what color leather bag to buy for storing all of the tools when you travel. Yep, so witnessed in Paris last month, right by the hotel I stayed at in a store called Planete Rasoir. Established 1966, long before hipster was a word, it was one of the exciting discoveries in that city. I'd say the store was at least 250m2 full of all things shaving, from creams and lotions to blades of all kinds and shaving brushes made from badger hair. If you'd pick top of the line items, we are talking iPhone pricing here, so yes, I found it amazing and one could almost call it a "revenge store" after visiting all those fashion shops downtown and Gallerie Lafayette for hours at end. While the store does not offer shaves ( a completely different license in Europe), the vendors were full of advise and explanations. But they do offer sharpening services for those blades. I ended up buying nothing, but for sure was tempted to change my shaving habits. Next time. When I am there with Daniela.
Just a quick post with some images of my week in Austria. This would be my last visit back for a while. Having visited the home country four times in less than 24 month and with a pending transcontinental move again, I won't be back for while.
It was a great visit as it usually is, now that I am driving back to France, all I can think of is what would have been if the Austrians would not have had their teeth kicked in during WW I.
What an EMPIRE it was at that time. Just imagine the food from all corners of Europe, of which now all you find are remnants in Austria. Nationalism is on the rise once again i say, let's see what happens.
I visited an acquaintance in a valley not far from Hinterstoder, where he purchased a property. Almost historic in age, the house is full of Empire memories. Less than 140 kilometers a drive, the place is well known to religious pilgrims and I have never been there. Well worth a visit.
I said good bye to friends and family for a while, they all had a chance to visit me in France, now they have to catch a plane to meet up again. Knowing that we won't be back for a while, I made the most of my meals, at home with Strudels and other home made treats, in restaurants with more complex dishes.
The weather was not the best, so most of the exterior pictures are greyish. Enjoy the images, next Austrian post is undetermined.