Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vinegar quest good excuse for trip to Banyuls

Since it was overcast today we took the coast road up to Banyuls sur Mer to stock up on some white wine vinegar, which we use in our gazpacho. Once on the winding coast road we had the misfortune of ending up behind an RV, which can often slow down the drive. This was not the case today.The RV had Italian license plates and at every strip of flat road the driver booted it. We could hardly keep up with him. Ah the beauty of Italian drivers.

We interrupted our trip to visit the marine reserve between Cerbere and Banyuls. This is a spot where you can go snorkeling along a marked course that tells you what is at each station. You can even get a "tuba FM" to put in your ear so that you get the full description. The course is fully marked and easy to follow. We are looking forward to bringing our snorkeling gear some sunny day to see all the fish and underwater plant life.

Once in Banyuls we walked along the promenade by the marina looking for one particular art gallery owned by an artist from Edinburgh that was only open on weekends in the winter. There was a sign that the owner would be back at 2 but it was nearly 3 and he wasn't there. Perhaps next time.

We stopped at Bla Bla, a lovely waterside restaurant with lots of cushions to sit on, somewhat like a harem. We both had a caramel crepe, he caramel served 'on the side' in a little mason ware jar. Delicious but oh my, so sweet. We ate about half the caramel and washed it down with a glass of milky pastis.

Finally we walked through the back streets to La Guinelle, the shop that sells our world famous vinegar. Since we usually always have a bowl of gazpacho on the go we are now stocked up for our summer gazpacho making. We also picked up a little jar of marmellatta that is made from the leftovers in the vinegar barrel and is used on cheeses. It is quite a treat.

Now our stores are replenished. The weather is going to be 30 degrees and up for the foreseeable future with little wind. Beach time.

A funny thing happened this evening when I was walking to the kitchen. There on the dining room floor was a snake, almost 3 feet  -- 90 centimetres -- long, just lying there not moving. I'm not afraid of snakes but it did take me aback. So much that I found myself standing on a chair. I asked Seamus what he was going to do. What else but take a picture? We opened the front door and with the help of a sweeping brush and dust pan Seamus swept the now angry, hissing intruder out the door. I suppose that is the downside of having the sliding doors wide open. We have found out that is was a serp blanca or in English, ladder snake that is native to the Iberian peninsula and southern France. It is aggressive and will bite but is not poisonous. Thank goodness. We are thankful that it wasn't a full grown adult that grows to over 5 feet, 150 centimetres.

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