~my crooked features~

May 3rd, 2008

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We do a lot of driving on these trips. I’ve learned to do much from a moving vehicle–edit manuscripts, serve thoughtfully prepared snacks, take in the view, photograph it at 120kph. I’ve even overcome my sad public school grasp of European geography. It is different when you are…There. I often feel like a dog with his snout poked out the window, ears flapping in the breeze.

This little movie was shot from the rental car roof, of a favorite tree-lined hwy (D-99) from St. Remy to Cavaillon that we traveled before finding the winding back road through the eerie and gorgeous Foret de Venasque. It is dedicated to my favorite driver, who sang this Marianne Faithful song (My Friends, whose lyrics lent this post its title) at the top of his lungs with me on our way to the tiny village of Venasque.

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We pilgrimaged there to dine at a place I researched called La Maison aux Volets Bleu, not realizing they (not a restaurant) are only allowed to serve to their house guests. We met the owners, Martine and Jerome, and were so simpatico they said we could come anyway, under strict orders (“Torture!” Martine said, drawing a finger over her throat) to tell not a soul. So mums the word, please!

We had some time to be still, and it was heaven. Barefoot, wind-blown, slightly sun-burnt, so good! We wandered the gorgeous hill-top town, with its 12th century church (complete with gargoyles), winding, narrow streets, and views of Comtat, the Dentelles of Montmirail, and Mont Ventoux. When we found just the right spot, Ali napped with his head in my lap while I read.

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At the dinner hour, we headed back to the enchanting maison, and found a kitty named Pepsi (Coke now dwells in the Elysian Fields) drinking from a fountain filled with fish. There is also a sweet canary in a dangling cage and fairy lights and climbing ivy everywhere.

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Inside the dinning room is cozy and nouveau and wild. I especially liked the flowers hanging from the ceiling, which I learned were not clover (as we had speculated grows along the road here), but Immortelle, as Martine said, “No death…”

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The terrace was heaven. The food was also. Martine cooked a fish soup–uncanny as Ali had had it for the first time the night before and said “I want more of this in my life!” It is served with outrageously garlic-y aioli and toasts. There was turkey and couscous. There was an incredible pear tart.

When Jerome came to take our plates he saw the olive pits in my spoon and tossed them in the canyon saying, “They will be trees when you return.” He had already sung the happy birthday song when delivering the amuse-bouche of smoked salmon, caviar, and fresh cream dollops. Later he lounged about with the guests (many of whom were from Switzerland, oddly) and talked France. Very cozy.

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nothing crooked about it, the chin conquers all!

We had a serious Gigondas red, the poor man’s (ha!) Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Both regions are just over the hill. Pepsi kept us company as the lone farmer (way down there) put away his tractor for the night and the sun sank behind the hills. I said the Swallowtails looked like bats, and as though on cue, the birds I could watch swoop silhouetted all night exited stage left to make way for…fat and wild-flying bats. Magical!

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It was a heavenly evening and a fitting fin to our wineland adventure. Five cicadas.

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