Monday, November 17, 2008

Clearing the Trail (and the Lunch that Followed)

Periodically, a group of volunteers goes out into the countryside and clears an overgrown walking/riding trail. A bit after 8:30 on Sunday morning, a group of us of various ages met up at the Salle Catalpa. Coffee and croissants first (of course) and then we drove just outside the village to where an old trail had grown over and needed reopening. 

Saws, axes, secateurs and clippers were all put to use on this golden November day. We chopped through brambles, dug up weeds, sawed through branches so that the trail would be clear not just for hikers but for riders too. At one point, we came around a corner and came on a view of the Pyrenees that left us all breathless. Snowy peaks, blue sky: every travel writing cliché in the book.

Then, we drove back to the Salle Catalpa for lunch. We began with anchovies on baguette and a chequerboard of black and red fish roes on bread plus plastic glasses of muscat. Next, along with big pottery jugs of rosé and rouge, came a salad of smoked salmon mousse (the mousse layered with slices of salmon) and a radicchio salad. The main course was hachis parmentier, the French version of shepherd's pie, but made with duck confit. Cheese next. Then a wicked chocolate tarte with crème anglaise followed by coffee. Then home. And a nap. 

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