Tag Archives: escargot

Avignon – France

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Avignon  is located in southeastern France bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is a place I have dreamed of visiting since I was around ten years old.

When we checked into the hotel and opened the window, we were greeting with an amazing view of the Palais des Papes

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Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423 during the Catholic schism.

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Avignon is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts.

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In addition, its historic center, the palace of the popes,

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 and the bridge of Avignon………..

……… Pont d’Avignon  Only four of the eighteen piles are left; on one of them stands the small Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.are well-preserved.

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But the bridge is best known for the famous French song Sur le pont d’Avignon.

In 1309 the city, still part of the Kingdom of Arles, was chosen by Pope Clement V as his residence, and from 9 March 1309 until 13 January 1377 was the seat of the Papacy instead of Rome.

The Palais des Papes is an amazing building….

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By choosing to “move” the Vatican to Avignon Clement caused a schism in the Catholic Church.

At the time, the city and the surrounding Comtat Venaissin were ruled by the kings of Sicily of the house of Anjou.

The French King Philip the Fair, who had inherited from his father all the rights of Alphonse de Poitiers (the last Count of Toulouse), made them over to Charles II, King of Naples and Count of Provence (1290).

Nonetheless, Philip was a shrewd ruler. Inasmuch as the eastern banks of the Rhone marked the edge of his kingdom,

when the river flooded up into the city of Avignon, Philip taxed the city since during periods of flood, the city technically lay within his domain…..interesting tax laws!

Here the flood levels were recorded ….

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The Popes who resided in the Palais des Papes were

Clement V: 1305–1314

John XXII: 1316–1334

Benedict XII: 1334–1342

Clement VI: 1342–1352

Innocent VI: 1352–1362

Urban V: 1362–1370

Gregory XI: 1370–1378

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This period from 1309–1377 – the Avignon Papacy – was also called the Babylonian Captivity of exile, in reference to the Israelites‘ enslavement in biblical times.

The inside of the Palais is eerie and haunting…

europe2 799It feels strange to walk these empty rooms and hallways….

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….and of course there is the garden of the Rocher des Doms…

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Now time for some lunch at 46 Bistro……….escargot …….of course…

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…then a walk about town……to the place to be…………the Place de l’Horloge..

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….looks like these two have been sitting around here for a while…

…amazing Carrousel…La Belle Epoque…

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We visited the most wonderful Musee Lapidaire, CLICK HERE to read about that visit…..

……………..we encountered wonderful architecture, as we strolled about….

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….of course the cafes attract our attention….

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….and we decide to have dinner at lou Mistrau….beautiful outdoor dining with wind shields….good because it is quite nippy….

we begin with………….you guessed it escargot…..the best we have ever eaten…

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….followed by my very favorite dish on the planet…..Cassoulet……

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….then perhaps some beef and potatoes….

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……ahhh but let us not forget dessert and cappuccino ….

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walking about we encounter these wonderful ladies dressed in vintage clothing….

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It has been a most wonderful visit, filled with discovery, wonderment, lavender, culinary delights…..

…..but we must move on….

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Dinner at Ardigna – Salemi, Sicily

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During a recent trip to Sicily, my hosts decided to take me off to an adventure for dinner.  We drove for a couple of hours up these winding, tiny roads………….full of pot holes and parts of the road unpaved.  I was wondering what sort of culinary temple would be nestled up in this dense Sicilian forest and who in their right mind would EVER take the time, not to mention the risk of traveling to this outpost!  It was late at night, around 10 P.M…………remember the Italians love to dine late.   When the headlights shone off the edge of the road and there was nothing but darkness below,

I was reminded of my ride to the rainforest to visit my Aztec friends and wondered why I was alway being put at the edge of the abyss in my life!

After what seemed to be an all night excursion we rounded a corner and entered a parking lot FULL of vehicles!!!  There were others out there who would take this venture……..feeling more confident now!

We found ourselves at an ancient hunting lodge, in the middle of the Sicilian forest on a mountain top! 

The Ardigna was not always open to the public and for years was the private lodge for those who would hunt in these forests.

The interior was so very warm and inviting, the rustic charm so well blended with most incredible smells coming from the kitchen and the smiles of the staff……..


the meal began with a simple knotted bread, with the taste of pretzels and beautiful olive oil……

…oh a light dinner……..I thought…..

…………..and then it began……the virtual tsunami of antipasto………the first a tray of such incredible delights..quail eggs, some obscure meat on a skewer, grilled eggplant, prosciutto, delightful fresh tomatoes, fried mozzarella, olives and several items that were not of my known culinary universe……however they were delightful….

a stew of fresh lamb………..served in ancient copper pots…

………fava beans……….minus the hockey mask……..

…beautiful fresh cheese…

and we are so very, very lucky to have arrived during artichoke season and are rewarded with the most succulent, delightful artichokes……..

then……….oh might I swoon………..gnocci with saffron and pistachio……

followed by more pasta with fresh lamb………

and just when you think you cannot eat another mosel……….comes the platter full of meats that were hunted that day……
venison…….donkey……quail…….goat…..wild boar…..and more………

a most enchanting evening………oh did I mention the wine…….I consumed liters of it……most fantastic!!!