From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Food, Glorious Food... and some wine too

Snow fell last Tuesday and temperatures promptly plummeted, I think the lowest so far was -10C overnight.

It's pretty similar to the big freeze in Ireland last year, apart from one major difference - it's not a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence here, so these guys can cope!  The main road through the village was cleared straight away.  The minor roads were cleared as the day went on.  The footpath on the main road had a walkway cleared by hand on the first day which has been kept clear and gritted ever since.  Our drains have not frozen - oh how I remember THAT particular gem from last year!  Nobody seems to have frozen pipes in their house and wonder of wonders, the village water supply hasn't frozen either!

Despite all this wonderful French efficiency, we've still been fairly restricted by the weather.  I have to confess that I am petrified of slipping on an uncleared patch of ice and breaking something else!  Anne, meanwhile, lives on one of the steepest streets in the village, and has a sheet of ice to contend with every time she leaves her apartment.  With hindsight, she should have cleared it when the snow fell, but at this stage it is compressed into solid ice and is quite impossible to clear.  It is a labour of love for her to get Fionn and Roxy out a couple of times a day, especially with Fionn towing her along enthusiastically!

So with riding and walking both well nigh impossible, what else could we do except turn our attention to food and wine?

Chateau La Canorgue is an organic vineyard which my brother discovered while he was climbing in this region several years ago.  It is near Bonnieux, which also has a very nice wine co-operative selling for several different local producers.  The LongSufferingHusband and I have been determined to visit both since we got here, and Saturday seemed like a good day to do it.

We went to the Co-operative first, did some tasting, bought some wine... then we went looking for La Canorgue, and eventually found it - it's quite near the Pont Julien, which is a really impressive Roman bridge, still in excellent condition.

Pont Julien, over the frozen Calavon River

We carried on to La Canorgue, did some more tasting, bought some more wine and promised to return in March/April when the next batch of red wines will be available.  That'll be a very different trip - no snowy vineyard scenes in March, I hope!

View across snowy vines towards Bonnieux from La Canorgue

There is a restaurant near the Bonnieux Co-operative which was mentioned by Peter Mayle (more than once!) in A Year in Provence.  That was also on our list if things we'd like to do locally, so we swung by to see if it was open.  There it was, the Restaurant de la Gare, open for business, so in we went.
Perhaps looking a little run down from the outside, but there is a new premises alongside waiting to be initiated!
I will need a crane to get back on Flurry if I carry on eating like this!  We had the menu du jour - for €15 each we had yummy vegetable soup, a selection of starters from a self service buffet, braised chicken served with choucroute (cabbage), dessert and a half bottle of wine between us.  It was a fantastic meal - simple food, well-prepared, and such good value that it made coffee at €2 each seem expensive!

Love the Cafe de la Gare tiles!  I'm on the left with the Hyper-terriers tied to my chair
We brought the Hyper-terriers in with us, which is quite accepted in France, but they attempted to assault the resident Yorkshire Terrier as we were supping our coffee, so we knocked back the coffee and left before they got us barred.  We definitely want to go back there again!

Sunday's outing had been planned since we got here.

Anne: When I was here last year I happened on the annual "Fete des Truffes" in nearby Mane, and was  really upset to discover that there was a "Gourmet Repas" to go with it for which of course I hadn't booked. So this year I was determined to go again and this time sample the gourmet lunch, at which every course has truffles except the dessert! But the French can be quite secretive about these things, not intentionally I'm sure, and when I finally discovered it was in Oraison this year, the website was very sketchy and had no details of how to book. So I kept checking and eventually the website was updated, so with my best French I phoned to book 3 places, but of course they didn't take credit cards, and we have no French cheques, so a quick visit to Oraison was made and the lunch tickets secured, with good old fashioned cash!

Today was the day, so off we set in sub zero temperatures, with local writer Elizabeth Bard to sample the food, this guy was selling dried fruits

While these ladies were wrapped up really well against the cold

This stall was selling local dried hams and many sorts of saucisson, including wild boar saucisson, with hazelnuts, I couldn't resist that! Elizabeth and I are at back left.

Then of course there were the all important truffle vendors, with their wares on display, but the best way to buy your truffles is by the smell, so some offer you a closed container full of truffles, you lift the lid and inhale...pure magic! And it's legal!

Then there is the truffle hunt, here Elizabeth and I are watching the sow searching for the truffles. This of course is a demo, and the sand is seeded with the provencal black gold before the sow is brought in.

She delicately lifts the sand with her nose, while "Le Truffeur" stands by with his spike, to quickly lift the truffle away from her before she can eat it!

La truie is then rewarded with a tasty titbit to reward her for her work.

One of the many truffle hunters

George and Martine headed off to put the dogs in the car, and we were to meet them at the school where the lunch was to take place, but neither Elizabeth nor I have a great sense of direction so we sought advice from this lovely man, who pointed to a sign behind us indicating the way to the Repas a Truffe. Oops.

The lunch was amazing, you can see the menu here, and here's a pictorial flavour :

Starter of Chicken Terrine wrapped in jambon cru,
with foie gras & truffles, served with truffled
creamed celery on the side
Dessert - A variety of apples, stewed (on the bottom),
dried, glacee (and turned into a mousse) and caramelised,
my favourite, like a mini toffee-apple

We were surrounded by locals, who made us very welcome. With a few glasses of wine inside us we all got to chatting, and the lady opposite me, who was probably only a few years older than me had been liberated, as a child,  by the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a Hawaiian regiment of the American Army in the Vosges in 1944. She had tears in her eyes as she recounted how her parents had suffered during the occupation, but a smile for the Hawaiian soldiers who had brought American chocolate bars to the children.

Another amazing day in Provence.

All Photos on this post are courtesy of George Greenlee.


  1. Great blog and, as usual, lovely photos. SO glad you enjoyed the Restaurant de la Gare at Bonnieux - it's one of our favourite places and Monsieur and Madame are so kind and friendly. Repas des Truffes sounds fun too - glad the weather is not stopping you from getting out and about.

  2. I was so jealous ! Mind you home made tomato soup and local pate wasn't bad either !

  3. There are thousands of fab little restaurants in France like that all serving ridiculously good value lunches, it'd be rude not to try as many as possible really!

  4. I totally agree, Helen. Flurry might not, though!