Bonjour, Vaison-la-Romain! June 23, 2019

My teeth are stuck together from eating nougat, that oh-so-sweet French confection, via the Middle East, of honey, nuts and egg whites. We hit a nougat factory in Montélimar yesterday and bought it by the kilo. Multiple kilos. I can’t get enough.

Our four faves — dur (hard), tendre (soft), dark (like almond brittle – no egg white), and orange chocolate covered

Got to make sure it makes it safely home.

The house in Vaison-la-Romaine is great.

There are haunting Roman ruins across the street populated by 25 or more cats that I like to think are descended from Roman cats but probably aren’t.

They are wild but cared for (on the way to dinner last night we saw a chat lady deliver buckets of food and bowls of water that drew even more cats from the dusky shadows.

We are just a block from the heart of the town. You can walk everywhere.

Could not be in a better location except on our first night. Fete du Musique in Paris means a different musical treat on every block. In Vaison it meant blaring pop music in the village until 1:50 am. Ugh. When it stopped it was like someone suddenly not hitting me on the head steadily for hours. But morning came too soon. I woke up after too little sleep singing “if you like it you shoulda put a ring on it.”

We meant to get up and go out for coffee and pastries. Instead we got up and went out for pizza. I have to say, when Trip Advisor is right, it is right.

Le Gout de la Pizza is the best I’ve had in forever. Heavenly stuff. Confit eggplant and zucchini, spiced with a za’atar like herb mix, melted in my mouth and the crust was stunningly good. So good. And with really great salad.

Look at the colors of those chairs!!

Walking around town, peering in windows, I got inspired by a raw opal pendant for a raw stone jewelry design I think might work. That was good too.

Then we got ice cream cones (nougat ice cream!) and came back home. Jerry took a nap and I had a massive panic attack, the result of some medication adjustments I am making. It was incredibly unpleasant but I know what to do and eventually it passed.

When I could breathe again I took a nap too.

The sleep app that works with my Apple Watch makes it hard to hide a bad night, even if I hadn’t woken up late feeling like hell, so that nap was earned.

The afternoon’s plan was to hit the nougat factory. It had the advantage not only of ensuring that we won’t run out of nougat in this decade, but the drive, if you stay off the autoroute, is one of the most Provençal things you can do.

Lavender fields in full purple glory, scenting the air. Vineyards so thick you could trip on them. Orchards heavy with fruit alternating with the pale silvery green of olive groves.

And then there is my favorite goofy thing about Provence. The urge to memorialize what you are famous for by creating a sculpture of it at the entrance to town. The enormous Cavaillon melon as you enter Cavaillon at least looks cute. The black truffles in the center of the roundabout as you enter the truffle town of Richerenches are not cute. They look like the scat of a colossal bear, which I would find just embarrassing or annoying if it were my town. It’s not, of course, so I just get to giggle like a adolescent every time I see it.

Dinner last night was at a place called LUM (I don’t know why.). It is literally a half a block from our house. We could watch our front door from our table and see innumerable cats race out of the ruins and stroll up the pedestrian walk.

It was a lovely place to eat. Gorgeous space and really lovely place settings.

The food was pretty good — it was a great evening without being a great meal. Made us happy.

Lovely caviar d’aubergines with a curry twist. Mindful of the nougat feast waiting at home, I just had two starters. One, asparagus with a garnish of coconut, a bitter orange citrus and chilies was good, but odd. It was as if the asparagus and the garnish were strangers on a blind date, meeting for the first time on my plate only to find the chemistry was missing.

Ditto the next course. Raw tuna with pickles and pickled turnip and other tart things.

Jerry had a rich artichoke risotto with shavings of cured dried mullet eggs that he picked off as too fishy.

We skipped desert. All that nougat awaited. We walked the one minute back to our front door, dodging cats, and sat companionably reading on the couch, and sticking our teeth together with nutty confections of honey-laden meringue.

Late to bed because of those naps, but happy to sleep after a beautiful, tasty and emotionally wrenching day. I’ll be glad when I get these restless legs drugs adjusted. They are causing me some grief but I am determined not to let them ruin this amazing trip.

We woke up at a normal time today despite the late, late, late bedtime. The slam of the front door woke me up as Jerry came in with flakey pastries from the bakery up the road. We ate them, liberally covered with crumbs. Read depressing news about what’s happening on the US border.

Then Jerry decided it was time for a nap. I was going to stand strong against it but the sleep vibes wafting down the spiral staircase are potent. Maybe I’ll just shut my eyes. My watch will tell the tale.

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