Monday, November 1, 2010
Yesterday it rained most of the day, and today too. Not nice to take photos so there are no additions to the Picassa web albums.
It was supposed to be the last day many of the artisan ateliers were open before closing for the season, and Sunday they are only open in the morning. We drove around in the rain and – guess what? – we got lost again. We managed to find a couple of the places but they had already closed.
Not much to do in the rain so we decided to drive to “L’isle Rousse for lunch. On the way, slopping through the rain, we stopped at a cinema Melinda had spotted. Darn, it was closed except for a kid’s show Sunday afternoon and some French movie, one showing in the evening. We were consigned to French TV for our entertainment.
Guide books at the ready we found a restaurant near the port that seemed to have a fair review. Oddly, most of the restaurants close the end of October, guess there is no business for them afterwards. It’s sort of odd as there is a big hoop-la about Christmas celebrations in Calvi and environs so it seems strange that the restaurants would close. Many of the storekeepers told us that October 31st was the last day of the season and they were closing until Easter brought the tourists back. It’s not everyone so when we look at the guide books it’s not easy to figure out who is open and who closes. Seems rather a hit and miss affair.
The Residences where we are staying seem to be filled with families. Good for them.
Anyway, we found a restaurant by the port and had a nice lunch. They were doing a brisk Sunday lunch business with almost every table filled. I had a good carpaccio, raw beef sliced paper-thin and sprinkled with olive oil and lemon juice, and then thin sliced Parmesan cheese spread on top. It was delicious! My main course was a very simple pasta with plain marinara sauce. It was a bit too simple but OK. Melinda had good ravioli t stuffed with Bracciu, a Corsican cheese, and probably spinach – hard to tell. She had a small pichet of the local red wine and I had a Corsican beer, nice amber color and full flavor that I like. It was a good lunch and not outrageously expensive. Back home we were able to go to the office and do a little work on the computer. There was a warm fire burning in the fireplace and after an hour I couldn’t take the smoke any more. A very annoying side effect of having given up smoking years ago is a sensitivity to smoke of any kind. Cigarettes, pipe, cigars, whatever, all make my nasal tissues burn and swell and my nose runs. It’s very unpleasant and uncomfortable for me. I didn’t realize that a fireplace would do the same thing. It was very disappointing to have to leave the warm cozy atmosphere but it was so uncomfortable I had no choice.
Today it rained like mad again. It’s now five o’clock and I can finally see the sun breaking through the dense cloud covering that we have been smothered in. Maybe we’ll be lucky with the weather tomorrow.
For lunch we had a Cassoulet which is a divine concoction made of pork, potted duck, sausage, lard and white beans. It is from the area of Toulouse and is great with good glass of wine. We went for a Corsican rosé from Domaine D’ALZIPRATU that was just right. It is called a Cuvee Fiumesecca, light, fruity but with a full taste that reminds you of lunch on the beach in sunshine. Perfect to cheer up a rainy day.
A few days ago on one of our jaunts we happened to spot a sign for a winery so we had to stop and check it out. It was at the end of a very rutted and twisty road, but, thankfully, it was not steep. We followed signs pointing us down a dirt road and finally to a open area with a hand painted “Park” sign. So we did. Melinda spotted a very nice looking dog so we decided to follow it into a barn. There were two ladies presiding and it was a rustic tasting room. It reminded me of the old days in the Santa Ynez Valley before the tasting rooms became chichi and Yuppified so they could charge for tastings. This barn was filled with cases of wine stacked along the walls and back in another dark part. There was a table set up with some written information and a couple of wine bottles with indications of the prizes they had won.
We started speaking with one of the ladies, the other was busy with what looked like a wholesale customer and we didn’t want to interfere with her business. We tasted two of the reds, they were all right, one way to strong for my taste. They both had interesting flavors, different grapes from the merlot, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sirrah and Grenache that we are used to in both California and France. Maybe closer to some of the Italian grapes, I don’t know. Then, the lady who had been helping us looked at us with a twinkle in her eye. She pulled out a bottle with a light color contents, sort of a very pale orange/apricot color. “This, this wine is our prizewinner too this year.” She announced proudly. “It is an orange wine, use it for aperitif. Here, have a taste.” And she dumped out what had been in our tasting glass and gave us two new ones.
It was like drinking a little bit of heaven! Smooth, cool liquid, orange flavor, alcohol and light with a natural sweet. It defied description. I wanted to try and figure out how to bathe in it. Maybe just climb in a vat and stay there? How much would Homeland Security let me bring back to the USA? I was in love. Talk about delicious… We left with one bottle, I know where the place is and I want to drink the one we have and bring another one home. If I manage to bring a bottle home, dear friends, although I love you, I might just hide my prize in some deep dark corner of the house. Since it is high in alcohol, it will stay for a long time and not go bad as wine does. If I manage to bring some home and offer you a sip, take it and know I love you! If there is a heaven and there is booze to drink there – this is it!
After a little more conversation with the ladies of the winery, they asked us where we were staying. When we told them, one of the ladies laughed. “That’s my sister’s place.” Small world.
As I look at the window, it seems that the sky is really trying to clear. There are birds flying around when before they were all huddled under the trees. Maybe there is hope for tomorrow. If we don’t get out it will be a problem, we will run out of books to read sooner than we had thought. Also, there are places around Calvi that we haven’t had a chance to visit yet so we have to get cracking as long as we are here. We can sit home and read anyplace. But then, I remind myself of the cassoulet…and think of the pate to come for dinner…and maybe a little of the orange wine with it. Life is not too bad after all, with or without rain.