Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying new wines in Banyuls sur Mer

At last a day without winds. We decided to drive up the coast to explore  Banylus sur Mer, a town we drive right through every time we go up the coast. There were lots of motorcycles on the road today and we were just in front of a group of BMW and Ducati riders ready to test their skills on the mountainous, twisting road up the coast. Seamus, obviously missing his motorcycle, decided to become part of this motorcycle group for a while before they all passed us. Sometimes I have the misfortune to suffer from motion sickness so ignoring the vineyards and the views over the clear, blue bays of the Mediterranean, my thoughts were elsewhere. At the 8 kilometres to Banylus sign I was repeating to myself, "I can do this." And I did.

Today the people of Banylus live off fishing, viticulture and tourism but for two centuries Banylus was a big centre of smuggling from Spain. We wandered around the marina and visited displays of local water colour artwork. After a walk along the beach we were ready for lunch choosing a restaurant right on the sea front with it's own Sebastien wines. The best option is always the menu of the day, a set menu, and this restaurant had an excellent variety. We both started with a lovely salad with lardons. Lardons are little cubes of pork fat, very well cooked and tasting a bit like salty bacon. Perhaps not terribly healthy but we did drink some red wine to combat it. For main course I had two selections from the tapas menu, a brochette of crevettes or shrimps done in a spicy sauce, and calamari frite. Seamus, a true meat lover, was more exotic choosing longue de boeuf with frites. Halfway through the meal he said, "I think this is tongue." It was. It was slow cooked and quite tasty but had a different texture to it. We finished with isles flottant and creme catalan, which is similar to creme brulee.

Since we hadn't actually been in to the town of Banylus and in much need of a walk we headed down a narrow street into town passing some magnificent old houses. There were several winery stores open for tasting and purchasing. Banylus is known for its dessert wine, which we think tastes like a sweet sherry. We sampled some of the dry reds and made a couple of purchases from the storekeeper, who had been watching a Boston vs Montreal hockey game.

Now it was time to wend our way back home. When we arrived in Llanca, our neighbouring town, we were very nearly part of the Carnival parade. With quick thinking from Seamus we took the one back route through the totally empty town to miss the parade. Our parade watching will be tomorrow in Roses.

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