Deb and Jim’s wedding, who would have thunk , smoking dope is the norm. Single malt scotch is the rave . Technology is a sickness and being single is tabu, a mathematical optimization method. Seattleites are known to wear ear plugs while seating at a bar, drinking a fine glass of wine or scotch, and not socialize at all. They’re has to be an unground sub culture, or Seattle’s future will be a Michael Crighton Book. Oh, they’re already is one.
After leaving France in July, I went back to Florida and my family. I spent the last 6 weeks trying to put my Camino into prospective. Did I enjoy it? What did I learn? Am I glad I did it? And would I do it again? I know I’m feeling lazy since my return, I have very little ambition. I know what I need to do, I just can’t seem to be inspired. So I’m off traveling again to the great Northwest for inspiration.
My longtime best friend , Kim, lives in Kingston across the sound from Seattle. Another dear friend, Janet and husband Paul drive up from Eugene, Oregon to meet us and attend another of our childhood friend, Deb’s nuptials to Jim.
My first night in Seattle, I cooked a filet of Sockeye Salmon, marinated in orange juice, teriyaki and cayenne pepper on the grill. Fresh from the garden corn on the cob and Brussels sprouts, both tossed with lite olive oil, salt and pepper and also grilled. Simple, my friends are always blown away with how I can throw an awesome meal together in less then an hour. It’s what I do . Maybe I should do chopped and become famous, it could help cookbook sales. The meal was great ,served with a bottle of Sweet Cheeks Pinot Noir. The girls later danced on the deck under the moon to 80’s music, legally stoned in the State of Wahington. Great night😍
Tomorrow Pikes Market with a Camino friend, Jackon, local Seattle Atty, who I met on the trail in Spain.
Jackson is a Seattleite , who happens to love food and wine, so he promises to show me and my friend, the underground, of Seattle’s Best. I can’t wait, for me it’s more romance.
My mother was married to a Frenchman named Eddie Fayle , and if my memory serves me correctly , Eddie was born in Toullouse France, only a few km from here in the Pyrennies. It all makes sense now, Eddie loved food and wine. And my mother was very good at indulging his likings . However i do remember the constant argument over who made what recipe better. Ratatouille (french)or Caponata (Italian) sautéed eggplant with peppers, onions, tomatoes .they really are the same . I was raised on Italian Aglio Olio ( pasta or vegetables sautéed in garlic and olive oil, chili pepper optional, but mom later made French aioli ( garlic with emulsified olive oil, fresh parsley optional) for Eddie. (Very Catalogne) the trick is in the adding of the olive oil. it had to be by the drops while mixing to avoid separation. However don’t fret if it separates, its still edible. just takes practice. Ah, the Bouillabaisse, French people dispute over which region makes the best, but my mother definitely did, hands down ,Italian Style. I’m sure Eddie and his family conceded. I make our family recipe quite often at the coffeehouse. Start with a whole fish( gutted and descaled) garlic,chili pepper, onion, fresh tomatoes. Cook till fish falls apart. Drain, and keep broth, keep big pieces fish. Add squid, any shell fish, real good cooking wine and lemon zest, my mother added potatoes because she always had an army to feed, top with fresh parsley. If you want to do traditional French, don’t add potato and add fennel. Serve with fresh baked crusty bread. And a good dry white, Preferably a Souve Classico or Verdiccio from the Venito region in Italy , and if all else fails Pinot Grigio, or French wine Bordeaux .
My favorite part about my time in Mosset and travels thru Catalogne is no doubt the food and wine. Simple mediterrain cooking.
This was my last few days and Avery was a most gracious tour guide. She took me to an olive oil grove, Le Presbytere for oil tasting. Carmen the owner is native born Cuban, she was exiled to the US in 1968. She studied in France and met her now husband. They bought the grove 14 yrs ago and is now in the top 10 in France, they are known for they’re biodynamic methods as well as all organic.
With biodynamic method farming it is in harmony with nature and the human well being, and is now leading in the market.
Then off we went to a honey bee farm and met Vincent. His job is to make the bees happy, then steal they’re honey, over a million bees. I asked him, if he made any money, doing it. His response , was “i don’t need alot, so i make plenty”. He was quite the character and very good with showing us every thing about how to run a bee farm. Im thinking, as we are leaving, damn ” We ( the entire human race, that depends on plant life) needs this guy, and he doesn’t realize it yet. Wow. One of my all time favorite meals, ever. Foie Gras sautéed in butter, drizzled with honey infused with lavender served with toast point, and A really good Sauternes, (French dessert wine from Bordeaux, ) or Port. Yep honey is essential.
Then on to the beautiful French Mediterrain. Oh lala!
Later that day , we went to a concert at Domaine Treloar Vineyard. Friends of Avery and Andre. I cant remember they’re names, but a young British couple, who lost they’re jobs at Merrill Lynch in New York after 9/11 and said “what now “, so they bought a vineyard in France”. That night, they had a band playing called” No Sleep till Depford”, From the UK. Really, it was a bunch of old men playing rock n roll on electric guitars. They had fun , so did we , danced the whole night. Great fun. And the wine was good. I can’t remember the name of the wine, except it had Promise on the label and they won an award for it. Oops!
The next day I got to meet Pierre who had the best ass in town, The Catalonge donkey is the best in France, George Washington even brought one back to the USA, known for the wide strong back end. Pierre took us all the way up the mountain while the Donkey carried our packs (wish I had a Donkey a few weeks ago). Our guide was very knowledgable about the French history and the land. We ate a traditional French lunch of bread, pâté and cheese and wine. Could not have been a more perfect day.?
I’m pretty sure I tried every dish in Catalogne, except , the snails. With that said, it’s decided I have to come back. I have fallen in love with Catalogne, in particular , Mosset. I believe you can get this book named , Life in a Post Card, written by a local Rosemary Bailey. She does a great job telling about Mosset’s history, its people and the food. I will count the days. Meanwhile I will dream of Andres rabbit pâté . Adieu
For the last week I’m in a small village in Mosset ,France. Google it , really , cutest village in France. A province of Catalogne in the wine region of Roussillon in the Pyrenees mountains. Picturesque . It has me in sensory overload. I’ll explain and go into that later. The Pyrennees is the mountain range between Spain and France, the border. If you start at the Medeterrain and work your way west about 80km, thru the mountains you get to Mosset. I can see Mt. Canigou every morning from my window, and yes it still has snow. The folk lore is, the aristocrats who lived in the chateaus wanted Ice in they’re drinks would send runners up Mt Canigou to break off chunks of the glazer and run it down. So once a year in the entire Catalogne they have a festival to celebrate the ice runners. Even today, there is no ice for your drink. no such thing here. Unless you want to run up the Mt. Serious. In the summer they still herd( not truck) the cattle, sheep and goat to the mountain for grazing. All the livestock and poultry is free range. No slaughter houses. You buy the whole animal. Mosset is so remote and small you still go to the farm for your supplies, eggs, cheese and meat. Etc. Mostly everyone has an enormous garden and grows they’re own veggies. Mosset does have a ( convenient store)but it is open 8 -12 closes and then reopens 4-7 only. It is convenient but only sells local wares. It also happens to be the only place with wi-fi. The Post office is open 1 hr per day. You can drive 20 km down a winding very thin road with a sharp steep drop off (unbelievable scenic drive) if you want civilization and necessities. Otherwise Mosset is it. Time stopped in 1900’s.
It’s not very active, yet it does have a small population, not very visible, I’ve been told its very underground( I’m not sure what that means) . It’s definitely not touristy. It has one resteraunt , and all the locals hang out there. It also happens to be the cafeteria for the local school. 40 students from 1st to 12th grade. Very family orientated, a mix of earthy back to the land lovers to wealthy yuppie hippie thru backs to Artist to writers to Jungian Physiologist ( Avary’s landlord) to true artisan farmers and musicians. Blacksmiths, etc . It’s a real community.
I’m fortunate to have my friend Avery to show me the ropes and get me around. I’m also fortunate that a lot of the residents are Dutch and speak English.
The village of Mosset dates back to 10th century, but didn’t get its revival till 1960’s. Just like Spain , the area is rich in history. Old roman ruins to medieval Chateaus. I’m pretty burned out on picture taking, but I will post a few of a hike I did with Avery and Andre to a Roman Ruin called Chateau Paracoll nice climb thru beautiful French country. Both Avery and Andre are very knowledgable about the local foliage and plant life and What was edible. As always I was making that nights salad in my head, as we hiked, and how do i get it back to the states. We also walked thru a Therapeutic Spa Resort called Motif de Bain that has hot springs and botanical gardens. Originally built by the Romans, but then used only by the rich in the 1800’and early 1900’s. Now anyone can go, so whats an American to do, hiking the country side of France , check it out. Lunch was fantastic. Also on June 21st was the summer solstice celebration, again the folklore tells that the people on top of Mt Canague light a huge bonfire, then carry the fire to each village below to lite they’re to celebrate the summer solstice moon. Very mediaeval festival and alot of found, the whole town involved, free food and wine, dancing. And everyone in Catalogne celebrates. It’s also the longest day, and the most amazing Full moon, that seems to be here.everynight. Ive tried taking pics of it thru my bedroom window. it doesnt come out, so its my memory only. Hence the blog title ” under the Mosset moon, cute. And then of course, local wineries and tastings. The region has been producing wines for centuries, mostly amber sweet wine, very very similar to Cognac, but now it’s become the new hot market for French Wines, my favorite is the white Granche . Also leading the French market in organic wines. Look for wines from Roussillon in a coffeehouse near you. France’s hidden secret, yum.
Everyday I walk a beautiful country road to Avery”s place for either dinner or aperitif . I pass horses, donkeys and an abundance of wild herbs. Cherry trees are in bloom, and then every nut you can imagine. Pine, walnut, almonds, chestnuts. Plums , figs and Apricots are not quite ready yet. Wild field greens for the pick in. Sensory overload again, how do i get this home to the states. Avery is a fantastic cook as is her roommate, native French Catalonian Andre. He is a wealth of local knowledge and a really good cook as well. The two are putting together a cycling tour group thru the Pyrenees for next summer, of which i hope to join them as they’re personal cycling chef. if your interested. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
After my Camino ended in Ocebrero and I headed to France. It really was afterthefact an arguably unreasonable decision to take a long walk alone in a foreign country, undoubtedly unprepared in order to discover or possible save myself. l truly felt overwhelmed with the whole 31 day , 714 km backpacking experience. I did it and really just wanted to get off the trail. What the hell was i thinking ?
What did come out of it, is, I now have a mission and ready to move forward. This last stage in Mosset, ends too soon and makes me sad, it gave me the chance to relax, healed my aches and blisters . Im now focused, always hungry and driven to start cooking.
Avery happens to be a writer and a foodie and will be a big help with my new cookbook.
At this stage
I have an option to end this blog or continue under a different pretext. I can Write the stories and recipes and get your feedback. It will help generate interest for the book.
If you want to continue following me on the new journey, please let me know with your comments. Or just unsubscribe. I must say , I’ve been grateful so far, today I have over 300 followers and it does put a smile on my face when you do respond. Your the best!!’ Hope to hear from you.
Bon appetite !
My continued romance with Wine and food. U
My mother taught me lots of things. Sit up straight,
hold your shoulders tall. Always make eye contact. Keep your knees together. And , stuff I would never ,ever repeat. If you had been a friend of moms, you know, and are laughing out load. She said food and sex, was most important, everything else was secondary.
She also taught me everything I know about cooking. My mother fed 7 children on pennies a day, and always provided a delicious meal. She cooked for Kings, Governors, heads of States, Clergymen, and many more.
My mother was extremely smart, beautiful and very funny. Never politically driven, but definitely had a political opinion. My mother was a devote Catholic and raised her family as Christians, as I did the same. But my mother also was open to new cultures and beliefs, she was very much liberal but also a staunch republican. I learned as an adult to respect my mother, and her pagan Ways. She not only excepted but embraced her gay son, she also accepted a woman’s right to choice, as did the entire family. We just never agreed on party affiliation. I learned and choose to sit on the fence, with her, my family and politics.
Doing the Camino was definitely an experience. Not at all what I expected. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. Even after suffient prepping, I was not at all prepared . I did my best to be the true Pilgrim, I suffered thru the nasty hostels, French fries every night , shared my misery, aches, pains and blisters. I helped fellow pilgrims. I Suffered thru the pain of long hours of walking carrying my weight on my back. Froze in my bunk, and shared my small rations. I’ve also made so many friends, saw the most amazing countryside. Drank some really great spanish wines , ate some fantastic spanish dishes . Learned much about the Romans to Medieval Times History and how the Church played a big roll. I learned laughter is key in living. And mostly learned that I can endure the pain. I came to Spain with a broken heart and a mission to write the prologue for my new cookbook. This is the start. Titled ” The Holy Grail, an unfinished romance with food and wine”.
Most of you knew my mother wrote several cookbooks before her death , but never had them published. I want to follow in my mothers legacy, as I hope my daughters will follow in mine. The Cookbook will and The coffeehouse has linked 5 generations of amazing women to this moment. All with passion in cooking , and bringing people together. This cookbook will be about my mother thru us, our family recipes taught to me by her, and then I taught my daughters . It will have her philosophy woven into her cooking and how it effected all of us and still does at the coffeehouse today. I hope to weave in some great stories, some political, some funny, stories about the coffeehouse and life in the fabulous Florida Keys.
Some silly coffeehouse idioms, example. “Life is what you make it,”My Mother would say ” Shit or get off the pot”. My daughter, Michelle, would say ” coffee makes you poop”. I would say, ” Then sell coffee , so we have no problems.”.
The recipes will be easy, healthy and make cooking fun. Some traditional family recipes, some ethnic , and some of my own recipes. They will all have wine recommendations, because that is what I do.
My Camino was never a spiritual awakening. The long hours of solitude , the pain of suffering, was one thing, but the appreciation at the end of the day with a good plate of food, bottle of wine and friends, helped with the epiphany that hit me on the train to France.
I wasn’t following the way of St James. I was following in my mothers path. I learned my heart was not broken, it was Hungry. It Just has not been entirely full filled, and aching for more. I learned my heart aches for a different sustenance. The passion with food, wine and travel.
So the romance continues to France for more………..
The road from Villifranca was beautiful but long and hard. The first 15km was along a beautiful river, shaded by chestnut trees, elms, oaks. Little villages every 3km. I’m now in the Galician mountains. All 9th century, i think oldest structures still standing. there is some kind of big money , its evident of the new revival going on. reinforcing the old structures with new modern interiors. i love that spain wants to keep its history, by restoration. The language has already changed to Galega. The climb started around Valcarce, absolutely amazing green rolling hills, that went on forever and so did the walk. It took 12hrs to get to Ocebreiro. This village is literally on top of the mountain, had a population of 50, so they just cater to Pilgrims. The food was famous for the area . Pulpo (octopus over boiled potatoes with paprika) Yum, yum! The huge baked scallops in a yummy tomato sauce. The botillo marinated pork) pretty gross. Galicia stew , gallego ( thick rich vegetables ). And most have the Almond torte. Remember the cacabelos i mentioned in the last post. together we have eaten and drank every Galiacian delicacy possible. I could not have been with better company. George is a winemaker and has a great wine palette, Neil is a teacher of history and was on a quest of research and good eats, Allen was just freakin awesome and Nina decided early on, she was hanging. Smart girl.
The climb kicked my ass, the hostel I’m at was built in 9th century, oldest existing hostel, floors and doors creaked, smelled really musty. Bed was soft and hot shower . Between the 3 boys they carried me all night, I be leave I now have 6 toe blisters , And on both sides of my heals. My feet never touched the ground. Somehow I managed a sunset and a sunrise , serenaded by 2 Italian men, drank a lot of wine and had a blast.
It pains me to leave my new friends, but the pain in my feet is worse. This may be the end of journey.
Im in the Bierzo Wine Region. Between Panferrada and Villifranca , foothills of Galician mountains. Bodega wines. Several winery’s right on the Camino path, so of course I had to stop and sample. My favorite Arroya Family Vinyard. If I had room in my pack I would have taken a bottle. But soon to be sold at Leigh Ann’s Coffee House.
Also in this area is massive fields of cherry trees and roses. My day ended, sweet, pickled and rosey. Villafranca history is mostly the battleground for the 1808 Peninsular war between France and Spain. Of course more castles built by Galde. I’ve been in good company since Rananal with my new friends, Nina from NY , and 3 gentlemen. Neil from London, Allen from Dublin and George San Fransisco. We’ve named ourselves the cacabaros and lately causing suffient amounts of trouble. The mountains are over the next rise. Oh boy, wine, wine and more wine. Hey, the sun is shining. The gods are paying attention after all.
We are one human family .We are all on a journey, different, but the same. This was the sermon given last night by the local Benedict in Rabamal. Don’t narrow our vision in exceptance of others . The room was full of pilgrims only ( maybe 70 rough count).50% over the age of 60. The rest broke down by 50,40,30,20’s,. All over the world, I’ve met Jackson 62 atty in Seattle, Maxine 53 orthopedic surgeon , Brenda 54 Nurse Oregon, Nina 30 banker NY, Steve 59 Toronto, Tatiana 54 Australia, Neil 60 teacher England, George 70 retired winemaker California, Allen 58 hospitality Ireland. Annamarie 62 Denmark, Mary 60 Costa Rica , I can go on. All amazing people, all on a journey. Most I will never see again, some I hope to stay in contact via email. 9 days left and I’m feeling sad to have it end.
The closer west we get, the land is richer, the building better kept, even the 12th century homes restored better. I loved Astorga and Rabanal even better. This part of the country is almost all about the Roman Templalar, the Knights, and bridges they defended and the amazingly restored castles . Rich in history. From Rabanal we climbed 1500m to the famous Cruz de Ferro at the very top. We each left a token ( blessed by the monks , the night before) at the foot of the cross.
Very emotional and peak moment for me in my journey.
You my friends , my family , have told me . You believed in me, when I didn’t.
I do feel stronger, the pain has taught me , life is painful at moments, but we can still move on. I am an amazing woman after all, and i can do anything.
Together , you and I can make a difference.
Today I’m in Astorga, cute little city, did 31 km over beautiful farmland, foothills of the Galacian mountains. And yes they have snow. The closer I get, I keep thinking ” it will go away” . It hasn’t, worst spring/summer in Spain. Lots of concern for the crops, especially the vineyards . I’ve gone off the beaten path and stayed in nicer hostels , since Leon. Killing my budget, but I’m much happier. I will not do a bunk again !!!
I found I need a clean bed, hot shower and clean toilet, and some sense of privacy. I’ve discovered I’m high maintence. I finally feel I’m in a groove, no more complaining, I’m liking the solitude, enjoying the walking. Blisters, aches and all. However at the end of the day, I do look for old faces to connect. I’m also staying away from the pilgrim meals , so my new and old friends and i venture for a restaurant , couple bottles wine, laugh at each others stories. Good times. The funny thing I found, is i’ll never know if I’ll see them again. I can go entire day and not see a familiar face. Then at night still not see one, then days later, they’re they are. Best part. I have 11 days left before Santiago.