Friday, March 30, 2007

post from Pons

All you have to do is guess which country has Pons in it. No Wiki checking! I am helpful, I give photo hints:

This morning, I eat an early stand-up breakfast here:

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early illy

Tired and, I admit it, a little cold, I nonetheless continue on my journey. I hesitate only half a second before deciding I should pick one of these up for the ride:

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By mid-afternoon, after a bus, a plane and a train, I am almost there. I do the last short lap by car. This one. It's my partner for the week:

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It would have been less than an hour on the road had I not stopped to admire these:

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spring vines

Now you’re thinking – wine. It’s all about wine. She’s doing her vineyard visit thing. Next thing you know, she’ll be pushing one wine or another and telling everyone what to drink.


In truth, I am so very close to the place where Ann’s favorite post-dinner beverage is made. It's all about the c word here. This is serious stuff. Take a look at the selection from local producers, displayed at my evening meal in Pons (some 20 kilometers from the town of Cognac):

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I’m not here for long – just one night. I am waiting for my house rental to become available on Staurday. That will be in the deep Perigord Noir (the black Perigord). Okay, in case you haven't quite located it -- it's in the southwest of France.

Most people regard the Perigord region as the place which gave us overfed geese with huge livers. I prefer to associate it with cepes (the mushrooms) and berries. But all that should be talked of tomorrow. Today I am at the edge of it, closer to the Atlantic coast.

Pons has a very nice little restaurant (indeed, I chose it because I am a huge fan of small, regional restaurants with rooms). Nothing fancy, nothing elaborate. Just a place to take your dog or spouse to when you want to step back from your stove for a bit. Inside and out, it looks like a million others.

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Hotel de Bordeaux: no, it's not in Bordeaux, but close

But the kitchen is not a run of the mill place. In my opinion, it is outstanding, even for this side of the ocean.

Around me, I do not hear much English. True, there is a British couple right at my side. Easy to spot. She orders a plain salad. Perhaps she is on a diet. She is thin, but you know how odd people can be about maintaining a good weight. (If I were her, I would maintain the good weight while in England and chomp away here, south of the Channel, but that’s just me.)

A groan is heard. A loud one. It’s from the dog by the French speaking table on my other side. Meanwhile, its owner is surveying the cheese board. She asks for recommendation from the young waiter. And I mean young. How sweet to have confidence in what he has to say about cheese.

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Oh, but this country is insane about food. The restaurant is packed (with two Brit-occupied tables, a dozen French settings, and of course me). We are in the middle of nowhere and people are lining up, as they are in the town next to this and the next one and the next, just to have themselves a fine meal at the end of the day.

And it is a very, very fine meal. Carpaccio of scallops with shrimp and carrot mousse, fish fillets over braised endive with cocoa and orange sauce, crepes stuffed with a Grand Marnier soufflĂ© – those are just my main dishes. Well worth the long, long trip over to small, insignificant Pons.

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I am falling over from tiredness. I didn’t even try a cognac. I know, do as the locals do. But for me, the day ends with an Illy noisette and a dish of cookies. Too tired to contemplate anything else. I post an unedited post from Pons and collapse. Tomorrow – the Perigord.

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