Good Intentions Gone Astray

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Vaison La Romaine.  They call it that because it was a Roman town, now the site of some of the most important Roman ruins in the area.  We went there with every intention of visiting them, learning abut the history of the place, steeping in the ancient atmosphere.  Instead, food and wine captured our attention and, ruins be damned, we were forced, forced I say, to leave them for another day.

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Driving there we were surrounded by brilliant vines that reached to every horizon.  Unfortunately, when there are vines as far as the eye can see

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there’s likely to be huge wine production.  And huge wine production is, let us say, usually not the best.  Here in Suze-La-Rousse wine is being made in 80,000 litre tanks that dwarf our car.  I actually didn’t have the nerve to taste the wine here, but I think I’m safe is assuming that it’s not something you’d normally want to drink.  Even in France there’s plenty of wine that’s cheap and nasty, and this is sure to be in that category.

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But as a saving grace, the moment we arrived in Vaison we happened to park in front of this phenomenal cheese shop.  Madame Déal, whose shop it is, is a Meilleur Ouvrier de France, one of the best workers in her field in France. The Meilleur Ouvrier designation is very prestigious, and those awarded it wear a special collar with their work clothes, every day for life.  If you get a product or service from a Meilleur Ouvrier, it’s sure to be excellent.

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And indeed, the cheeses I bought from her were among the best I’ve ever had, good enough to have me thinking about making that 80 kilometer drive again just to stock up on cheese.

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But the thing that really derailed our good intentions was the fact that, unbeknownst to us, Vaison had chosen that very day to have a huge food and wine expo, with tastes and samples of almost everything.

I felt kind of guilty about it, since I knew I wouldn’t be buying, but I took the opportunity to taste some very nice Châteauneuf-du-Pape, something that’s normally outside my budget.  The foie gras folks weren’t giving out samples, but we bought a bit anyway, for the holidays.

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Shel didn’t feel at all guilty tasting from this stand, a small coffee roaster, because he fully intended to buy several bags of coffee.  For some reason there’s no good coffee in our town, and we got quite hooked during our time in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val on having a coffee roaster in the weekly market.  These guys did very nice coffee, and invited us to visit their shop in Avignon, which we might just do the next time we feel like driving for 45 minutes to stock up on coffee.

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There was all sorts of charcuterie and sausages

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and the knives to cut them with.

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There was a chocolate sculpting contest going on, and this carniverous-looking plant was made entirely of chocolate.

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There was beautiful dried fruit that looked like it had come straight from the orchard,

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and smoked black cod that had come from Alaska, although it must have been by some very circuitous route, because do you see that price?  At today’s exchange rate, that 109 Euros per kilo is $74 per pound!   The lady at the stand asked me if I were taking a picture because of the price, and when I admitted that was really my motivtion, she said “well, I can certainly understand that!”  Needless to say, they weren’t giving out any free samples either.

I do still feel a bit guilty about having missed those ruins though., and I’m sure we’ll be going back to see them in the near future.  The fact that we’re fresh out of cheese has nothing to do with it!

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4 Comments on “Good Intentions Gone Astray”

  1. Lori Says:

    Looks incredible.

  2. zuleme Says:

    I’m amazed at the autumn color of the vines. Kind of like a miniature New Hampshire. And I can just imagine that cheese.

  3. MJ Says:

    I live near Vaison-la-Romaine. The ruins at the top of the hill are nice, but don’t forget the amphitheatre and the city center at the bottom. I heard about Madame Deal’s MOF shop last year from a friend; it’s where when I’m hunkering for a great cheese to try. I hope you return; Tuesday is its market day.

  4. Eden Says:

    I don’t think you should ever feel guilty about accepting the serendipity that travel sends your way :> much less good cheese!


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