Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marseillan Plage and Picpoul de Pinet

The day is gorgeous, low 70's with a breeze and the early clouds in the sky have disappeared by the time we leave at noon.

We all slept in this morning, had our usual trip to the boulangerie followed by breakfast. Once dressed, we headed to the market for fresh produce. Today there were 2 trucks - the usual fruit and vegetable man and a chinese foods truck offering all kinds of oriental foods like egg rolls and spring rolls and dumplings. We purchased what was needed for dinner, stopped at the butcher for some canned tomatoes and black olives for tonight's dinner (a recipe of Chris'), and are finally organized for the day.

Marseillan Plage is a beach about 40 minutes away up the coast toward Sète. As we pull into town, we see the tourist bureau and stop, but of course it's closed until 2. But we notice that the grape vines planted in front of the tourist bureau are about to flower and set grapes. The vines have made much progress from their dead stump stage to setting leaves and now ready to blossom.

Without benefit of a town map, we head toward the Mediterranean and park within a block of the beach. This beach has dunes and some houses that are right behind these dunes.

Great location (and most had for rent signs on them) for a summer stay. We walk the beach, littered with sea shells, check out the marina, choosing the boat we'd like to be ours, and then walk back to the main street to have lunch at a little café. Chris, Ron and I order omelets, Dave a panini (which doesn't look much like our panini's).

We spend a long time over lunch, partly because it takes a long time to have our order taken and filled, and partly because we are having wonderful conversation in a very comfortable place. We finally ask for the "addition" and pay.

We've decided to head for Pomérols to see if we can find this wine we've been hearing about called Picpoul de Pinet. Twelve km later over scenic roads filled with vinyards, we arrive in Pomérols and follow signs for the wine cooperative (we're getting clever we think). We find the coop, taste some of the wines, several of which are award winners (médaille d'or, médaille d'argent - gold medal, silver medal). We come away with 15 bottles of wine, some of which Ron and Chris will take home with them. The wines are 3-5 Euros per bottle. Besides the Picpoul, we buy a dry, full-bodied rosé for drinking with foods, a Merlot-Cabernet red, and a Syrah. We decide we'll have the Picpoul for dinner.

We mosey home driving through what has become typical French countryside: gentle slopes filled with endless vinyards now showing greenery among the light brown of the dirt and near black of the vines themselves, occasional rocky hills of brushy trees, small villages of dusty pale yellow stuccco-ed houses with brightly painted shutters of blue, purple or red and dirty grey old buildings whose stucco is faded and aged to the color of cement.

Once home, we gravitate to the terrace for aperos of cheese, bread, and rosé wine.

We start to cook at 7, Chris preparing a baked chicken dish with crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion, red and green peppers and black olives. The Picpoul goes great with the meal. It is delicious with the fresh salad, balsamic vinaigrette and our last baguette. Dave makes expresso and we finish the strawberries for dessert.

We check out the photos Chris and Ron have brought of their kids, grandkids (adorable), family events and travels. We show them some photos of French Quarter Fest in New Orleans and decide we will meet there next year. After checking out today's photos, we must go to bed as tomorrow we take the boat on the Canal du Midi.

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