Fifth Annual Hudson Valley Dance Festival

Earlier this month we attended the Hudson Valley Dance Festival at historic Catskill Point in Catskill, sponsored by Dancers Responding to AIDS.  Stanley and I are members of the host committee.   This is the second year that there were two performances, and once again both were sold out.  Between the afternoon and evening performances there was the usual outdoor reception, and once again the weather cooperated.  The reception featured a nice spread of snacks, wine and a special cocktail, much more food than in previous years when it was just cheese sticks.  This was very nice, and available to anyone who bought an orchestra seat.   Seven hundred attended in total, and ticket sales and donations resulted in nearly $150,000 being raised, again surpassing previous years.

 

 

After the reception, we moved indoors for the performance. This time, there were nine performances, by eight different dance companies, and all of the performances were quite impressive.

The following photos of the performance are by Francisco Graciano:

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

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Cirio Collective

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Joshua Beamish – MOVETHECOMPANY

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Manuel Vignoulle – Mmotions

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Marty Lawson, Abigail Simon – Choreography by Rob Ashford

MOMIX-Hudson-Valley-Dance-Festival-2017-photo by Francisco Graciano-8686b

MOMIX

MOVETHECOMPANY-Hudson-Valley-Dance-Festival-2017-photo by Francisco Graciano-6194b

MOVETHECOMPANY

New-York-Theatre-Balley-Hudson-Valley-Dance-Festival-2017-photo by Francisco Graciano-6431b

New York Theatre Ballet

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Tayeh Dance

Following the performance, we headed to the VIP reception at W + G Space, an art and photography studio in downtown Catskill.  Another change this year was that instead of a buffet at the evening receptions, there were only passed hors d’oeuvres.  But what fabulous hors d’oeuvres they were!  We made a perfect light dinner of them.

 

To view the Hudson Valley Dance Festival website:

https://www.dradance.org/hudson-valley-dance-festival-2016

B & B FOR SALE – CHERRY VALLEY, NY – THE LIMESTONE MANSION – $549,000

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The Limestone Mansion Bed and Breakfast is a stunning 1870 Victorian house situated on an acre of land in the center of the charming village of Cherry Valley. Its proximity to the Glimmerglass Opera Festival (10 miles) and Cooperstown (15 miles) makes it an ideal spot for visitors to unwind after a performance or a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the numerous museums in the area. Rooms are already booked 2 years in advance for the Summer season.

The main house, with approximately 8000 square feet, includes 12 air-conditioned bedrooms, 6 full baths and 2 half baths.  There are 4 dining rooms, a restaurant kitchen, and a basement tavern room. The 2500 square foot carriage house contains an events room with bar and wide-screen TV, seating for 50, a half bath, and an apartment on the second floor with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths.

The house has been lovingly maintained and restored, with every architectural detail intact. There are 2 Italian marble fireplaces, all original butternut woodwork including recessed window shutters, etched glass doors, original crystal chandeliers, elaborate moldings, ceiling medallions, and polished hardwood floors. The bedrooms and public areas are furnished with beautiful period antiques. All mechanical systems are up-to-date and in excellent condition.

The owners also ran a successful restaurant on the premises. A new owner could easily do this, as there is a demand in the area for fine dining. After 25 years in business, the owners are ready to retire, and are offering this extraordinary property at an unbeatable price. The Limestone Mansion presents a wonderful opportunity to take over a turn-key operation, and enhance it as desired.

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To view the listing, click here:

http://www.wohlfarth.com/property/33-main-st/

Europe 2017 – Part 4 – Back to Paris

Friday, September 29

We left Dinan early this morning, stopping in Chartres before continuing on to Paris.  First we checked out restaurants before visiting the cathedral.  The last time we were here was almost thirty years ago, and we immediately noticed a major difference.  They are in the process of cleaning and restoring all the interior stonework and the painting on it. Much of it has been cleaned and some of the upper columns have been repainted.  One of my photos shows a cleaned area with a patch of the original painting left on.

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We had decided on Le St. Hilaire for lunch, and returned there after the cathedral.  Unfortunately we underestimated the popularity of this rather out of the way place, and hadn’t reserved.  They were fully booked.  Lesson learned, we headed back toward the cathedral, where most restaurants were clustered.  We ended up at Brasserie des Changes, which turned out to be a very good choice after all.

Lunch at Brasserie des Changes

We shared beef carpaccio with greens and parmesan, I had filet of sandre, he had a “Frenchie hamburger”, and we shared rice pudding with caramel sauce.  With a 50cl pitcher of Cahors, and coffees, total was 56, a delicious and inexpensive lunch.

Continuing on to Paris, we got stuck in a rush-hour jam (at 3:30!) that delayed us an hour, but we got to Ana and Bertrand’s in La Varenne in time to get ready for dinner.  We dropped off the rental car at Gare de Lyon, and drove with them to Les Enfants Rouges in the Marais.  This is a small and crowded, very popular place, serving French food prepared by a Japanese chef.  A three-course menu is 48 euros.

Les Enfants Rouges

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Dishes we had were marinated chinchard (horse mackerel), a slice of boudin noir with nuts that is fried and served with cornichons, beets and carrots, corn soup with powdered chorizo, saddle of lamb with foie gras and bok choy, blanquette de veau, croustillant of lotte, baba au rhum, lichee mousse with grapefruit topped with an orange tuile, pistachio semifreddo with figs Paris-Brest.

The food was interesting and of high quality, a good value, service was a bit chaotic, seating very tight.

Saturday, September 30

Light rain ended by mid-morning.  We planned a day of visiting two chateaus, La Roche-Guyon and Domaine de Villarceaux, both west of Paris.

La Roche-Guyon

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Le Donjon – Exterior

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Le Donjon – Interior

After the chateau, we had lunch at a delightful restaurant just down the street, Les Bords de Seine.

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Photo Sep 30, 12 34 00 PM.jpg Les Bords de Seine

We had intended to have a light lunch, but the smaller menus offered on weekdays do not apply to weekends, so it only made sense to order the three-course lunch, still not a bad deal at 25.50 euros.  The food was excellent and the selection extensive.  We had fried whitebait with aioli, saucisson a l’ail, poached skate with caper sauce, chicken breast, moules frites, rhubarb tart, coffee and caramel sundae, and cafe gourmande (coffee served with a brownie and creme brulee).  A bottle of the house wine from Southwest France was very good.  The total for the four of us was 116 euros.

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http://www.bords-de-seine.fr/

After lunch we headed to Domain de Villarceaux, where we took a guided tour that turned out to be very long.  While it was interesting, we ended up spending much more time than anticipated, and walking very long distances.

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So, after hurrying off just as the tour was ending, we ended up in a traffic jam heading back to La Varenne.  We were exhausted, still full from lunch, and Stanley’s knee was aching terribly, so we ended up cancelling our plans to have dinner at La Ferrandaise in Paris, and instead made a dinner out of what was in the refrigerator, which turned out to be pretty good.

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We had chicken breasts, sauteed with spices and topped with a tomato cream sauce, fettucine, and a casserole of eggplant, cream, cheese, herbs and bread crumbs. We even started with some pate de foie gras and duck rillettes with foie gras. A light dessert of vanilla ice cream with rum was a nice ending.  A relaxing evening at home was just what we needed.

Sunday, October 1

Awaking refreshed on Sunday, we went to the market in La Varenne, where we bought things for the afternoon meal and evening supper.  Head cheese, supremes de pintade (breasts of Guinea hen), cherry tomatoes, potatoes, and cheese curds for making aligot.  We stopped at the patisserie to buy a gorgeous chocolate cake.

Bertrand made a shoulder of suckling lamb from the Pyrenees, with cepes that he picked in the Foret de Rambouillet. We had the head cheese to start, and the cake for dessert.

Later, for the evening meal, Stanley and I made the pintades, with a parsley cream sauce, sauteed cherry tomatoes, and aligot.  We finished off the cake for dessert, with ice cream on the side.

ana

And now, we are off to bed, looking forward to our last day in France, and lunch with John Talbott and his wife at Ze Kitchen Galerie.  John’s blog, John Talbott’s Paris, is a major source of information on Paris restaurants.  For anyone unfamiliar with it, here is a link:

http://johntalbottsparis.typepad.com/

Monday, October 2

We packed our bags and set off with Ana and Bertrand to meet the Talbotts.  We had a most wonderful lunch at ZKG.  Stanley and I had been there years ago, and it has obviously held up well.  The menu at 49 euros for three courses is reasonable considering the quality.  Wines are pricey, with the lowest red, a Cotes du  Roussillon, at 49, so that is what we ordered, and it was excellent.

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Chef/owner William Ledeuil

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My choices were pasta, the fish of the day, which was rouget, and gianjuja.  I didn’t get to taste everyone else’s dishes, but we were all very pleased.  We were also given a small extra course after the entrees, shrimp with coco beans in a broth that tasted of Thai spices, delicious.  With two bottles of wine and coffees, the total for six was a bit over 400 euros.

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http://www.zekitchengalerie.fr/en/

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We strolled back to the car, got our luggage and caught the train to the airport, having had another memorable vacation.

EUROPE 2017 – PART 3 – BRETAGNE (BRITTANY)

After touring Mont St. Michel in the morning, we drove to St. Malo, found a place to park, and quickly searched out a place for lunch.  There were three restaurants within the walled city that are listed in Michelin and open Tuesdays, so we checked them out and settled on Autour de Beurre.  This is an adjunct of the Bordier store next door, where they sell their famous butter and cheeses, along with other gourmet items.  The restaurant is a beautiful space with stone walls and soaring ceilings.

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I don’t normally photograph food, but I couldn’t help it when presented with this assortment of 8 different butters, flavored with various herbs and spices.  Every one of them was delicious, and we finished them off with the excellent bread.

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We both had the lunch menu, two courses at 17 and three at 20, marinated salmon served on cole slaw, hanger steak with carrots, poached pears and mushrooms.  We shared one dessert, baba au rhum with fruits and whipped cream.  It is an incredible deal, and we had a nice bottle of Cotes de Bordeaux for 21.  With coffees, the total was 62 euros. Photo Sep 26, 1 25 58 PM (2).jpg

http://www.lebeurrebordier.com/en/bistrot-autour-du-beurre/

We strolled a bit more after lunch, and checked out the cathedral.

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Next, we drove over to Dinard, which is more of a beach resort.  It’s not as interesting as St. Malo, but I took a couple of photos looking up at the houses on the cliffs from the bayfront.

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From Dinard, we continued on to Dinan, where we would be staying for the next couple of days.  Our hotel is actually in Taden, but just a few hundred meters outside the town of Dinan.  Our room at the Campanile was better than the one where we stayed in Caen, larger and with more storage space, a bathroom with a tub, hair dryer, and heater, and a phone.  The non-refundable rate of about 49 euros a day is a bargain.  The beds are very comfortable, and the location is very quiet.

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Dinan is arguably the most charming town in Brittany.  The historic center is very well preserved.

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For dinner we chose Auberge du Pelican, a modern restaurant serving creative dishes.  The room was nicely decorated but suffered from the French curse of blindingly bright lighting.

Auberge du Pelican

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Assiette de Fruits de Mer, foie gras ravioli in mushroom cream, choucroute de mer, chicken breast on tagliatelle, fromage blanc with raspberry sauce, strawberry Bavarois.  The chicken was poor, and the tagliatelle served with it spent too much time under a heat lamp, but everything else was delicious.

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We love Bandol, and this one seemed like a bargain at 30 euros, but it was oddly unexceptional.  The total bill was 87 euros.

Wednesday, September 27

The weather was more promising to the South, with rain predicted all day in Dinan, so we headed down to Vannes, with fog lifting and sun poking through on the way, as we passed through countryside and a couple of picturesque villages.  Vannes has an attractive historic center, and today was market day, so it was quite lively and we enjoyed looking at all the food in the two enclosed markets.  We also wandered up onto the battlements and into the Cathedral of St. Vincent, which, being built on a slope, has three distinct floor levels, with the high altar at the lowest level.

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Another reason we chose to go there is the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Roscanvec, which has a three-course lunch menu for 30 euros.

Roscanvec

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Soft-boiled egg topped with a wafer, Foie gras mousse with sangria glaze, poached shrimp with fennel cream, barbecue sauce, on a bed of tabouleh, stuffed saddle of rabbit on a compote of peppers, onions, and black olives, with sauteed girolle mushrooms.  Variation on peach melba, chocolate and mint evoking an “After Eight” mint.  It was a great deal for a starred restaurant.

With a bottle of Cahors for 25 and coffees, the bill was 95 euros.

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http://roscanvec.com/

After lunch we attempted to find the scenic coastal road from Vannes to Auray, but it proved impossible, so we drove directly back to Dinan.  Most restaurants here are closed on Wednesday, and we were growing tired of all the gourmet food anyway, so we decided to find a simpler traditional place.  Michelin was no help in this regard, so I resorted to Tripadvisor, which I treat with some skepticism, but have sometimes found useful.  Creperie Ahna got pretty much all rave reviews, so I made a reservation.  It turned out to be an excellent choice, with a lively and convivial atmosphere.

Creperie Ahna

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We both ordered leg of lamb and a mixed salad.  The lamb was served with a gratin of leeks, potatoes, and three sauces.  The lamb is brought to the table as three raw slices. and a hot stone is provided to grill the lamb to your taste.  It was delicious, and the sauces made it outstanding.  For dessert, we had a crepe, La Stephanie,  which is bananas with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  With a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, the total was only 64 euros.

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Thursday, September 28

We took off in the morning on a drive along the Northern coast, eventually reaching the charming port of Paimpol.  We followed a meandering route through some lush countryside, part of which looked like the Cotswolds, both the landscape and the stone houses and villages.  We strolled around the harbor and old quarter in Paimpol before going off to lunch.

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The restaurant Le 360 in Pointe de L’Arcouest, which I found in Michelin, offers a nice menu at 30 euros, with several choices for each course.

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View of Isle de Brehat

While we sat, two ferries pulled in, disgorging and receiving passengers for the Isle de Brehat.

Stanley had a duck breast tartare, while I had a platter of three preparations of salmon, smoked, slightly cooked, and tartare with orange and grapefruit.  For main courses, we had lamb shank and monkfish, and for dessert opera cake and apple turnover.  The first two courses were very good and interesting, but the desserts fell short a bit, tasting like something from a commercial bakery.  Nonetheless, a nice lunch with a beautiful view.

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With a bottle of Muscadet at 18, and coffees, the bill was 82 euros.

http://terrasses-brehat.fr/en/restaurant/

On the way back to Dinan, we stopped in Dol de Bretagne, which is supposed to be one of the most charming towns in Brittany, but was not all that interesting.  Dol was rather dull.

Tonight’s dinner was Stanley’s birthday celebration, at the Michelin one-star Maison Crouzil in Plancoet, about a fifteen minute drive from Taden.  Our meal was by far the most spectacular of this trip, and though pricey at 68 euros for three courses, it was worth every penny.

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Since it was a special occasion, we had aperitifs, Stanley a glass of Champagne and I a kir.  Canapes were served, then an amuse-bouche.  We originally thought we would order the menu terroir at 38 euros, not realizing it is only served at lunch, so we went with the 68 euro menu, which was impressive.  For appetizers, he had grilled scallops with lentils, and I had lobster stew, which was spectacular.  Next, I had filet of St. Pierre with girolle mushrooms, and he had sweetbreads., both beautifully prepared.  For dessert, I had a religieuse, which is a large cream puff resembling a nun.  It was filled with salted caramel cream, and served with caramel ice cream and dots of chocolate mousse.  He had a souffle of “exotic fruits”.  Mignardises were served after.

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The service was impeccable, and the atmosphere elegant.  With an excellent bottle of Montagne St. Emilion at 32 euros, the total came to 190.

http://www.crouzil.com/fr/

 

 

 

 

Europe 2017 – Part 2 – Normandy

Saturday, September 23

We got an early start this morning and drove to Caen, arriving in time to do a little walking tour before lunch at Bouchon du Vaugueux.

Caen took a severe blow in the Normandy invasion, and the surviving bits of the old town are stitched into modern buildings in a tasteful manner that maintains the original scale and style of the city.

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Bouchon du Vaugueux

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This is a very small and charming place, with warm and caring service.  The many choices are listed on blackboards.  We chose the two-course menu at 25 euros, starting with a chunk of lightly smoked salmon with black caviar and ginger, and foie gras. Next were veal kidneys and steak.  The food is simple but very tasty.  Accompanied by a bottle of Cotes du Rhone, Domaine des Violettes, and coffee, the bill came to 70 euros.

 

http://www.bouchonduvaugueux.com/

After lunch, a quick drive to Bayeux, a lovely town but a bit overrun with tour buses, etc.  The Tapisserie de Bayeux (Bayeux Tapestry), depicting the events leading to the Norman conquest, is a must see.

 

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We also stopped into the Cathedral.

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Saint Robert

Back in Caen, or Saint Contest to be more precise, we checked into the B&B Hotel, no frills but quite comfortable and cheap (43 euros a night), just a few minutes drive from the center of town.  It’s also totally quiet, and the beds are especially comfortable.  We asked for extra pillows, as we always do, and slept very well.

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Dinner was at Le Dauphin, where the specialty is the tripe.

Le Dauphin

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A nondescript hotel dining room, it offers a menu at 30 euros that is quite satisfying.  We began with a presse of chicken, and salmon with small shrimp and avocado.  Next we both had the famous tripe, served in a jus with carrots and potatoes, very good.  Dessert was a pear mousse on a cake base with ice cream.  With a bottle of Beaume de Venise, the total was 88 euros.

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http://www.le-dauphin-normandie.com/165-le-restaurant

Sunday, September 24

Today our plan was to visit Honfleur and Deauville, with stops in a couple of charming towns, Pont l’Eveque and Beuvron en Auge.  We set out in the morning and programmed the GPS, or “Madame”, as we decided to call it (due to her tyrannical insistence on directing us to toll roads, even though we had programmed it to avoid them).  Unfortunately, this meant we had to ignore her and rely on our map and the road signs.

The first stop was Pont l’Eveque, where we stopped to stroll and take some photos.

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Then on to Honfleur, where we walked around the harbor before lunch.

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St. Catherine church

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Bell tower

After checking out several restaurants, all from the Michelin guide, ignoring the hundreds of others which looked like tourist traps, we settled on L’Ecailleur, and it turned out to be a fabulous choice.

L’Ecailleur

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From the 31 euro menu, we chose the oysters and a combination of shrimp and sea snails to start, then had cod on a cream sauce with Middle Eastern spices, ratatouille, and mashed potatoes, and a breast of pintade (Guinea hen) with fried sweet potatoes.  For dessert I had a molten chocolate cake, very intensely chocolatey, with ice cream, and Stanley had an apple crumble.  With a bottle of Cotes de Provence rose and coffees, the bill was 96 euros.

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Service was perfect, and the decor evokes the inside of a yacht.

http://www.lecailleur.fr/

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After lunch, we drove along the very pretty coastal road to Deauville, and not finding a place to park, continued on through as far a Villers sur Mer.  Then, after some further difficulties with Madame, found our way to Beuvron en Auge, passing through some very scenic countryside.

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Back in Caen, we chose Le P’tit B for dinner.  Michelin showed no restaurants in Caen that are open on Sundays, so I had to resort to Tripadvisor, where a poster noted that this restaurant was a cut above the tourist traps that line Rue du Vaugueux.  It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Le P’tit B

The 31 euro three course menu offers many choices.  I started with six oysters, while Stanley had a vichysoisse with crab.  He had a duck breast with cherry sauce while I had skewers of rouget and shrimp, with saffron risotto.  For dessert, another molten chocolate cake, this one less intense but good nonetheless, and a strawberry “tarte” with white chocolate in a white chocolate shell on top of a nut and crumb base.

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With a bottle of Coteaux Bourguignons, the bill was 88 euros.

The atmosphere is charming and service attentive.

http://leptitb.fr/

Monday, September 25

The day started out drizzly, so we visited the Abbaye aux Hommes in Caen in the morning where we encountered that charming French habit of ecclesiastical Muzak.

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Tomb of William the Conqueror

then set out on a scenic trip southward, and as we drove the weather improved, getting sunny on and off during the afternoon.  We passed through some charming old villages, stopping for lunch in Flers, a nondescript town, but one with a restaurant with a Bib Gourmand in Michelin.

Au Bout de la Rue

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We loved our table because we could see directly into the kitchen.  It was fun to watch the cooks at work, and note that it was so spotless and well organized.

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The weekday lunch menus, at 19.50 for 2 courses and 24.50 for three, are a great bargain.  Stanley ordered the three-course, but I was tempted to splurge a bit by ordering the day’s specials a la carte.  I had the ris de veau (sweetbreads) with broccoli (15 euros), pickled red onion and greens in a vinaigrette, and lieu jaune (yellow pollock) with trumpet mushrooms and spinach (18.50).  Stanley started with smoked herring in a “cheesecake” with beets, then had a slow-roasted loin of pork with an orange sauce (utterly superb).  We shared his dessert of raspberry semifreddo with raspberry coulis.

With a wonderfully intense bottle of Madiran, and coffee, the total was 93.20.

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https://www.auboutdelarue.com/

We then made our way back to Caen through more scenic countryside, confounding Madame as much as possible.  For our last night in Caen, dinner was at Villa Eugene, a modern restaurant on the outskirts of the city.

Villa Eugene

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This was another great choice.  The extensive menu is entirely a la carte, and quite reasonably priced.  The decor is someone’s idea of hip, not mine, but it’s nice that the lighting is not harsh like in so many restaurants in France, and there are candles on the tables.  A cordial welcome and nice service are pluses.  The food is French but with some Italian overtones.

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We started with vitello tonnato and croque monsieur of langoustines, then had ris de veau with langoustines, and  filet of Saint Pierre (British name John Dory).  I was thrilled to find Saint Pierre, which is similar in flavor and comparable in price and quality to Dover sole, for only 22 euros.  It was a real treat.  Desserts were le St. HO, a variation on St. Honore cake, cream puffs topped with whipped cream and served on a shortbread, and a white chocolate sphere filled with raspberry sorbet and topped with a hot raspberry sauce that melts the sphere.  As you may have guessed, the cooking here is creative.

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With a bottle of Cotes du Rhone for only 21 euros, the total was 108.50.

http://villa-eugene.fr/

Tuesday, September 26

Heading to Dinan in Brittany (next post coming soon) , we stopped at Mont St. Michel on the way.  I was there thirty-two years ago, but it was Stanley’s first visit and I enjoyed  seeing it again.  I would highly recommend arriving early.  We got there at 10:00 and it was not yet crowded, but when we left around noon the tour buses had arrived and the hordes were swarming up the hill.  I won’t do a detailed description as the photos pretty much tell it all.

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Restoration of the cloister in progress.

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