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Ahhhh, Provence

November 7, 2006

On Monday, we drove down to Provence from the Dordogne, about 5 hours. We arrived at the lovely as always, Oustau de Baumanière in Les Baux.
The furniture The bed The manoire

 Bill in les baux Steve Les portelets The car in les baux


Our room in a magical castle on the Dordogne

November 6, 2006

Ch de la Treyne

We arrived at Chateau de la Treyne and it has been magical. Although this morning (Sun) we went for an aimless drive and ended up at a grand restaurant for lunch discussing furniture goals which made us both a little miserable.

View over the Dordogne View from our room over the misty Dordogne

Last night at the castle was truly magical. After checking out our room we wandered around the grounds for a while. The sunset over a hill while we were on the banks of the river was a moment of true peace. Bill used the jetted tub while I did a little yoga. We then dined in the castle’s restaurant which was wonderful. We had the same things, a languistine risotto followed by a wild duck and sour cherry dish. Delicious desserts – a tarte citron with tea ice cream and a sable aux figues with banana ice cream. Great coffee, decafeine pour moi. We took a lovely walk outside in the brilliant but chilly moonlight which was perfectly framed over the well coiffed garden. We watched as a plane left a band of smoke that was illuminated right over our heads. Then, we had some armagnac (62 & 64) when the power went out. After looking quite pathetic, we were finally offered a bougie, a word Bill couldn’t rememeber, for our room. Tres romantique.

Steve in le chambre “Scribe”

Siteseeing in the Dordogne included Rocamadour.  Below, Bill makes his way down the ramparts of a fortress above the town of Rocamadour.

The Loire

November 5, 2006

Les Hautes Roches

We travelled on to the Loire for a few days.  Our first hotel was at Les Hautes Roches in Rochecorbon.  The room was carved out of the rock!  We spent a few days driving around and visiting chateaux, and eating of course.

A Chateau

Versailles & Chartes with Luke

November 5, 2006


As soon as we rented the car, we headed straight out of Paris for Versailles. Then, because we felt like it, we continued on to Chartes with Luke. Most of Versailles was closed, the fountains were turned off, the statues wraped up, and the grounds were being “renovated”. However, it was still over the top. The most bizarre thing though was that blue mushroom…

Love Temple Blue Mushroom                            Chartes

The Meals

November 5, 2006

Bill after Taillevent Bill in a stupor after Taillevent

This post is all about the meals. It is long and probably only interesting to us. We include it only to help us remember all the sublime sensations we experienced during the trip.

The Complete List of Places We Ate

  1. 10.27 Taillevent (3 etoiles)
  2. 10.27 Au Pied de Couchon – Late dinner/soupe d’oignon
  3. 10.28 Guy Savoy (3 etoiles)
  4. 10.29 Brasserie Balzar
  5. 10.30 Ch. de Noizay – Rochecorbon, Loire
  6. 10.31 Les Hautes Roches – Rochecorbon, Loire (1 etoile)
  7. 11.1 Charbonnel Freres – Brantome, Dordogne
  8. 11.2 La Metairie – Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Dordogne
  9. 11.3 La Madeleine – Sarlat, Dordogne
  10. 11.4 Ch. de la Treyne – Lacave, Dordogne (1 etoile)
  11. 11.5 Pont de L’Ouysse (wandered in for lunch – Lacave, Dordogne (1 etoile)
  12. 11.5 Le Petit Relais – Cales, Dordogne
  13. 11.6 L’Oustau de la Baumaniere – Les Baux, Provence (2 etoiles)
  14. 11.7 L’Oustau de la Baumaniere (again)
  15. 11.8 L’Epi Dupin – Paris

Notable Wines

  1. Taillevent. White, Meursault Charmes 1999 (Burgundy); Red, Gevrey Chembertin Reniard 1999 (Burgundy). The Meursault Charme had incredibly complexity, and was indeed “charmant” as the sommelier had advertised. The 1/2 bottle had a wonderfully worn label. The Gevrey Chembertin was an excellent complement to the wild duck. It had wonderful earthiness and roundness in the mouth with a lovely long finish.
  2. Guy Savoy. White, Chassagne Montrachet 1997 ( by Joel Noel Gagnard; Red, Cornas Les Ruches 1999 by Jean-Luc Colombo. The Chassagne Montrachet has a wonderful aged mellowness, unlike any other white wine we had ever tasted. The Cornas has a big, gutsy spiceness, which we needed to accompany our gamey, bloody, rich main courses.
  3. Ch. de Noizay. Vouvray Taille aux Loups 1999. This place was about 2km from Vouvray so we had to drink the local wine. This was a fairly dry, vouvray sec. It was pleasant and bright, but the impression we had, especially after Bill had a glass of a sweeter vouvray with dessert that vouvray is probably better off sweeter.
  4. Les Hautes Roches. St. Nicolas de Bourgueil Vieilles Vignes 2003 (Loire Valley)
  5. Brantome. St. Julien Ch. Beychevelle 1997 (Bordeaux). The wine stood out after drinking wines from the Loire. It had very nice balance, but Bill thought it was a little tight.
  6. La Metairie. Bergerac , Pecharmant 2002 (Dordogne).
  7. La Madeleine. Cahors, Ch. de Grezel 1999 (Dordogne).
  8. Ch. de la Treyn. Cahors, La Vierge Preiure de Cenac 2000 (Dordogne).
  9. Le Petit Relais. Ch. Margaux Les Bourillants 1998? (Bordeaux).
  10. Les Baux. White, Ch. Neuf de Pape. Red, Cote des Baux de Provence (Provence). The Cote des Baux was a little minerally in a great way. It has a very nice round, suptle quality. It was really fun to drink.

Menus & Memories

Taillevent (Lunch)

Remoulade de tourteau a l’aneth – Sauce fleurette citronnee

Langoustines roties – Barigoule d’artichauts poivrade

Coquilles Saint-Jacques dorees – au cresson

Canard Colvert roti – aux epices

Ossau Iraty – Confiture de cerises noires

Croustillant de poires au fenouil

Feuille a feuille au chocolate et aux marrons

The meal was absolutely sublime. We had slept in, so we basically woke up, put on our suits andheaded towards Taillevent. We did grab some coffee at a cafe on the way. The room was beautiful. They asked us if we wanted to sit face a face or both tucked into the banquet. I (SZ) sat facing out and Bill sat facing in, so he didn’t get to enjoy the room as much as I did. I particularly enjoyed the quality of the difussed light coming in through the curtains in large windows. I looked out at a great painting that was yellow and blue. The room was completely full. There was a table of 3 french guys sitting on one side of us, and a japanese couple on the other side. They called a taxi to take them directly to Charles de Galle. There were several other tables of Americans and Japanese, including a table of two great looking older American ladies who mentioned something about the Cascades. They really seemed to be enjoying themselves.

I had to include the email exchange reserving the table, because it was so fun. There is no one better to go to Paris with than Bill.

—–Original Message—–
From: Taillevent []
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2006 7:13 AM
To: ‘William L. Fleming’
Subject: RE: Reservation?

A l’attention de Monsieur William Fleming

N/Ref : JCV/JB

Cher Monsieur Fleming,

J’attends votre nouvelle visite avec grand plaisir, ayant réservé à votre intention une table de deux personnes à déjeuner vers 13 heures et ce, vendredi 27 octobre prochain.

J’espère que Taillevent sera une fois de plus à la hauteur de vos élogieux commentaires et que vous passerez tous les deux un très agréable moment en notre compagnie.

Vous serait-il possible de nous reconfirmer votre réservation lors de votre arrivée à Paris à moins que vous m’indiquiez comment vous joindre à Paris ?

Vous souhaitant un excellent séjour parisien, je vous adresse à tous deux l’assurance de mon respectueux et cordial souvenir.

Jean-Claude Vrinat

De : [] De la part de William L. Fleming
Envoyé : mercredi 18 octobre 2006 03:31
À :
Objet : Reservation?

Cher M. Vrinat,

Nous nous trouverons heureusement mais brevement a Paris vers la fin de la semaine procheine et, s’il soit possible, voudrions bien dejeuner a votre etablissement (notre prefere du monde entier). Une table pour deux, vendredi le 27, vers 13 heures?

Dans l’attente de votre reponse nous vous prions d’agreer, Monsieur, l’expression do nos salutations distinguees.

William Fleming
Seattle, Washington


Part 1: The tasting menu

  1. Kir Royale by the fabulous fireplace, with tasty tidbits
  2. Amuse – Pumpkin soup with the best parmesan crustini
  3. Foie gras with a great fig gelee
  4. Yet another St. Jacques, this one with a cepe sauce, I believe
  5. Yet another fish course, this time a rouget with a crispy skin and fabulous basil/thyme sauce
  6. A cote de boeuf, using Black Angus beef from America, with a heady tomato and champignon-based sauce
  7. The inevitable cheese cart, emphasizing local chevres
  8. A fabulous coffee arabiaca and chocolate dessert with a caramel sauce, all floating on a somewhat gimmicky dry iced container

The whole meal unfolded beautifully. The flow and ambiance were as conducive as the food itself. After yoga and a warm sudsy bath to soothe my aching back, I dressed and descended for an aperitif in front of the lovely old fireplace, while Steve took his time getting ready (lots of hair product, I suspect). There was a Chinese American family with Dad, the wine collector, holding court and making a great show of ordering the most expensive bottles of Bordeaux and Bourgogne.   Otherwise,  serenity reigned throughout the  gorgeously ancient yet updated  dining room.  After  Steve  joined me by the fire for  a kir royale,  we were  escorted to our table in the very corner of the room by the window, from which we could survey the entire  scene.  The service was solicitous but never too much.  Each course was announced with the flourish of a metal cover removed to reveal the next work of  culinary art.  The sommelier did not appear to remember the embarrassing Cotes d’Aix wine incident of  our  2001  visit.   Cette  fois-ci,  tout s’est  passe comme dans un reve.

The next night, we again started with aperitifs (un coup de champagne) devant la cheminee and proceeded to the same table, notre table.  But we couldn’t consider another tasting menu.  Instead, we ordered a la carte, starting with a shared assiette de legumes d’automne (after the obligatory amuse-bouche of a rich and creamy veloute de cepes), and culminating in the amazing colvert a deux.  It’s like eskimos with a whale: you end up using every part of the animal.  The head waiter was teaching his apprentices how to carve and serve the bird.  The retired baker/entrepreneur and his wife from NJ, who travel to France and Italy three times a year and apparently eat only in Michelin two and three star restaurants in France (one of which he described as “two going on three”), also ordered the colvert.  They didn’t drink much though; we suspect they had a run-in with the French police after drinking and driving on a previous trip.

We ended both dinners at l’Oustau with digestifs before the fire — cognac the first night and bas armagnac the next — to complete the perfect arc of the meals.

10th Anniv – Arriving in Paris

October 27, 2006

Our flight via JFK was quite smooth and pleasant. Business class using miles is great. It is 70 degrees here, crazy for the end of Oct. The 60E taxi ride from the airport took forever due to traffic. We have a petite mais mignone pink room at the Duc de St Simon.

The rest of the day was spent trying not to nap. We took a nice stroll by the river, had a snack and went into Musee D’Orsay for a couple of hours. Then an early dinner with William and Ryan who are here for a few months. St Germain and the left bank are as lovely as ever.


Hello world!

May 1, 2006

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