The Engineer and I were finding it hard to leave our perfect little cottage in the quaint village of Caunes-de-Minervois - and not for the reasons you are thinking of.
We couldn’t leave the other day in the morning because the house is just too sweet and perfect.
Then we couldn’t leave in the afternoon because we had eaten too much.
Back to the first reason: the perfect cottage. I love it I love it I love it. I mean just look at it!
Ingrid Hudson has lovingly restored three beautiful homes in the village and we had chosen Le Savetier. We loved it because the house itself (an old shoemakers cottage) was three levels that allow for some much needed time apart. Don’t get me wrong. I love the Engineer. He loves me. But we’ve spent nearly 24 hours a day with each other since March 28th.
On level one we have the kitchen and the patio where we have eaten a few meals. Plus the satellite television that gives us several hours of awesome British programming. I realize this is wrong. Therefore we are only allowed to watch television at night time and while making tea. The Engineer builds a fire and we watch the telly.
We both really love British television. You know the stuff: ‘How Clean is Your House?’ or ‘Three in a Bed’ – the new program about three bed and breakfast owners in the UK who must judge each other. Okay, enough about TV.
Then there is floor number two where I put all my clothes and holds the evil washing machine that I broke.
Finally, level three and the master bedroom. We spend most of our time here. Again, not for why you might think. It’s massive with a lovely window where we both sit and work on our computers (see? Not for what you thought). It has a vanity where I get ready (eeeee!) and a lovely enormous bathroom.
The house is packed with books and decorated like La Vie En Rose. Therefore we have been bad tourists. It’s just so lovely relaxing in a French village. Every morning I walk to the boulangerie for our morning croissants, saying ‘Bonjour’ to all the people I pass. (Most of which are very old. To give you an idea on the demographics of this town the other day I needed to get feminine products from the Farmacie and tampons were outnumbered by Depends 3:1). Then to the market held every other day in the parking lot to pick up local berries and melon. Chez Marlene by the Mairie for my milk and voila! My morning is set.
I picked some wild lilacs so that when I sit at my little table in my little white chair I can smell pretty things while writing.
And I need to smell pretty things due to reason number two of not leaving the house.
The other day, the Engineer and I devoted the day to eating French food. So far, we had stayed in and cooked our own meals (for reason one) but I felt it was important to sample local cuisine. We were to have lunch at the local Hotel D’Albertie then dinner up the road 10km to a family-run restaurant where there is no menu.
Lunch was quiet at the Hotel. It is run by Frederick, who has run it for 16 years. But it has been in his family for 120 years! WOW! He apologized that it was just us but it was so nice. He talked to us about French culture, was excited that we came from both Vancouver and New York where he listed off his favourite restaurants (Gu in Vancouver ranks the highest), and translated the menu for us.
In the first course list was ‘tete a veau’ or calf’s head/face. He looked at the Engineer and said, ‘You from Japan?’. The Engineer: “Uh no, China. Sort of”. Frederick: “Ah, then you can eat. You people ate anything. You will survive.”
Even without this encouragement, the Engineer did actually want to eat the cow face. Why? I have no idea. I was safe and ordered the asparagus and mushroom soup. Plus a cassoulet while the Engineer was going to have duck l’orange.
Well, the first course comes out and my soup is enough for a table of eight! It came in a lovely tourine (the ONE time I don’t have my camera!) where I could help myself to all three of my servings. The Engineer had two servings. Along with his cow face. You might think that because this is France, the cow face might actually look appetizing. No. It looked like what you think cow face would look like.
But he ate it. All. I tried some but all I could taste was face. It was gross.
Then our second courses. Dear god. HOW ARE FRENCH WOMEN NOT FAT??? My cassoulet was massive, and delicious. Frederick had to pack it in a special box (as long as I promised to return the dish) along with the rest of my wine and my lemon tart.
The Engineer polished off his duck and his crème brulee.
At this point, we both thought we might just explode. Lunch had taken nearly three hours, we were so full we rolled home, and dinner was at 7:00.
Step one: cancel reservations.
Step two: lie on stomachs on bed
Step three: nap. After all Miss, this is France.
We slept and slept. Woke up and we were still full!!! I have never been so full in my life. And I was full of beans. OH GOD.
The Engineer and I finally ate the leftovers late at night. My lemon tart was AMAZING – covered in broken meringue. Delicious. And the cassoulet was even better reheated.
But then we were both full of beans. Bloated on beans. Not a good thing. Very late at night we both regretted eating. Ever. The Engineer in pain over eating a face and my tummy so full of beans I looked five months pregnant.
Thank god for an open window and wild lilac.
Oh and as an aside – I asked for just a glass of rose. But he could only give me a small bottle that I could ‘take home’. Right. I drank the whole thing. Wine at lunch is my new favourite thing. Wait; make it a rose at lunch is my new favourite thing.