Chateaux and raclette
Trip Start Jan 13, 2013
23Trip End Feb 04, 2013
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I drove about 4 ½ hours to the west, past Geneva, Lyon, St Etienne and about halfway to Clermont Ferrand, to the site we have reserved for the Feast of Tabernacles this year. Choices were limited for 2013 since the festival falls in September and there are many tourists still using such facilities at that time. Still, I wanted to see this one in person before signing the contract. It is in the village of Saint Jean-la-Vêtre; the setting is bucolic and beautiful.
After the visit to the VVF site, I drove to a few possible sites of interest for excursions; one of which was the chateau of the d’Urfé family, most famous still for one of its sons, Honoré, who wrote what was possibly the most important novel of the 17th century, certainly in the French language, entitled Astrée. The novel is still frequently studied and an award-winning film was made from it as recently as 2007.
I will still need to research more of these possible excursion sites. I plan to do this during the summer; there is still time for that. Vichy is not far from the site and there are other sites of interest as well.
After about 2 ½ hours of looking around, I started the drive back to Geneva, then north a few minutes to the house of the Vernaud family, who had invited us for a raclette, my favorite Swiss meal and one of my favorite meals period.
When I arrived Jean Marc Vernaud was showing Mr. Giauque some new things on his computer, clarifying issues and troubleshooting. As a joke I ask Mr. Giauque what he was teaching Jean-Marc which wasn’t really that funny – I admit, but they chuckled politely anyway.
In case you don’t know what a raclette is, allow me to describe it. The meal originated in the Alps where farming families would make their own large wheels of rich cheese. In the winter when they needed rich food to stand the cold, they would cut a wheel of cheese in half, prop the flat edge of one half toward the fireplace and wait until the cheese began to melt and bubble. Then they would scrape the cheese with a small wooden scraper (to scrape is racler in French, thus the word raclette, the ette ending meaning small) onto bread of potatoes.
Today, raclette is almost always served with small firm potatoes, pickles and pickled onions and sometimes with smoked meat, especially thinly sliced smoked beef from the Grisons region of Switzerland. It is usually accompanied by a dry white wine, especially a fendant, which is my favorite with the dish (my wife and I have several raclette machines and we usually host at least one raclette evening each winter). The melting is done with a variety of heating machines, often with individual trays so each diner can have his own, and can thus pace himself as he eats.
Mr. Giauque and Mr. Gantelme came as well, so there were eight of plus three dogs who would love to have shared the raclette and possible a cat or two as well.
It was a truly delightful evening, which we wish we could have more often. Mr. Giauque lives 90 minutes away by car and gasoline is running over USD 8 per gallon, so car travel is not to be taken lightly. I’m able to come here two or three times a year, which isn’t much either, so we really cherish the moment we can spend together.
An ice-cream cake and coffee and teas concluded the meal. By this time it was after 10:00 pm. I was to have an early start in the morning for my ongoing trip to the UK where if all goes as planned I will spend the Sabbath, meet some friends, and shoot some photos and hopefully video that we can then have available for our media productions. There are many biblically significant historical artifacts preserved from antiquity in London.