After the opulence of Versailles, the gilded molding and crystal chandeliers seem downright restrained. My favorite room is the library; books stretching up and along the walls, far as the eye can see.
The grounds are beautiful, even in winter, but the biting wind sends us back into the car and the rest of the afternoon is spent roaming the countryside, with a small detour to FB's hometown.
As night falls we make our way into a quiet old village and pull up to a brightly lit wine and gourmet foods shop.
We are met with a huge smile and exclamations of welcome. My shoulders are grasped and my cheeks emphatically air-kissed, once each. The shop's proprietors are old family friends of FB's, and thus we're welcomed in and given free reign to explore the shop, the wine cellar, and the private living quarters upstairs.
Madam's KitchenWooden beams and hanging copper pots -- are you kidding me? I thought this kind of kitchen only existed in artfully shot Tuscan cookbooks.
Kitchen Table(Who us? A still-life waiting to be painted? Oh no, we always look this perfect. This is life in rural France, cherie.)
No words. In fact, I'm sorry to even share this with you. Avert your eyes from the unspeakable deliciousness before you.
The proprietress also happens to be god's gift to cooking, and we are treated to a series of simple but swoon-inducingly delectable dishes that she whips together from the confines of her industrial stainless-steel refrigerator.
While French Boyfriend studies the wines, I gather an armful of jams, candied jellies, biscuits, teas, mustard, and sea salt caramels to take back as gifts for family.
Loaded down with bags of goodies and a crateful of precious bottles, we bid her adieu -- this time I receive not one but two kisses per cheek (a sign of approval, I hope) -- and turn the car back towards home.