Friday
May122006

Ousteau de Baumanier 

Tucked into a cliff-hollow below the village of Les Baux is the Relais & Chateau hotel restaurant Ousteau de Baumanier. We had last dined there perhaps 15 years ago. Six of us sat in the welcome shade (on a 95+ day) of the ancient spreading plane trees and umbrellas on the restaurant terrace, overlooking the stunning Alpilles rock formations. Champagne cocktail maison comes with ameuse bouche and menus, and we proceeded to meander through a three-plus hour feast.

A trio of tiny cups of mushroom soup, seafood ceviche and mousse de foie opened the meal. Terrine de foie de canard maison, ravioli with black truffles & cream, and a “salad” of caramelized leeks, eggplant & artichauts with chard were all delicious entrée’s, accompanied by the epitome of rose—Domaine Tempier.

The winelist, as with all starred restaurants, is outrageously expensive, but gave up some “value gems” to study. A Macon De la Forge was substantial, minerally, fruity and balanced. The Aloxe Corton from Tollot Beaut (one of our favorite Burgundy houses) was a € 85 standout bottle swimming in a sea of €150-200 fish. Perfumed, still with body, and delicious!

Crispy, pan-roasted sweetbreads in a reduction sauce delighted the three ladies. Croustillant de Pied de Porc with foie gras (boned pig’s feet meat formed into disks) enticed a fourth of our party (known for eating “parts”) and two of us shared one of the house specialties—Gigot d’ agneau lait en crout—an entire, tiny boned leg of suckling lamb, roasted in a lacey pastry crust just to pink and served with both a jus and a mustard cream sauce—absolutely sublime!

The cheese charriot here is superb, but we couldn’t possibly do it, and succumbed to share just two desserts—crepes soufflé with crème anglaise, and a warm soufflé fruits rouge—raspberries, blackberries and frais du bois—tiny wild strawberries. A truly memorable luncheon, and, as Michelin says “worth a detour”.

Sunday
Jan092005

3 Kings in Segovia

The frigid Spanish night air is filled with giants and angels. Tall, stilt-walking fire-breathers and jugglers spider in and out of medieval-costumed drummers and robed torchbearers. Angelically dressed children and turbaned pipers dance and weave as torches flare and drums thrum deeply. The crowd cheers wildly as three huge catafalques snake through the twisting medieval streets bearing the trio of costumed nativity Kings—Gaspar,  Melchior and Balthasar—showering trinkets and candies outward in the Procession de los Reyes on the eve of epiphany in Segovia.

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