Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quest for vinegar good excuse for trip along Côte Vermeille

Yesterday we took a trip up the coast road to France. There were lots of signs of spring on the way with the mimosas almost in full bloom and the broom starting to cover the hillsides.

Our first stop was Banyuls sur Mer where we hoped to buy some red wine vinegar from the local shop that sells all the vinegars made not far from town, up in the hills. Of course the shop is shut until April. Even the local shop that sells all the local products was shut until next weekend.

By now it was almost 1:45 and we hadn't had lunch. Not that we were terribly hungry, but we knew that by 2 pm we wouldn't find anywhere open for lunch. Luckily, we found a place right on the beach, where we had some champignon omelets and a glass of wonderful pale pink French rose. Satisfied, we returned to the car and drove farther north to Collioure.

When we arrived at the front, lots of people were just sitting sunning themselves. What a beautiful day. We decided not to visit the fortress but just to have a walk along the promenade and around the town. Unfortunately, we could not see any commando training going on today. That is always entertaining. A few restaurants and shops were open on the front. In the narrow, winding streets of the town just about everything was shut. We did pass some demijohns stacked high on the terrace of a building. A sign said that this was special home-made wine made just as the grandfather made it. These demijohns stand outside year round in all weather for four years before the wine is bottled. This is really unusual, since most wine is protected inside. I wonder what it tastes like?

Our next stop was the big fishing port of Port Vendres, where several boats had just arrived. We stopped at the wonderful fish market, where the local fish is beautifully presented. Part of the market is for shellfish and a huge local food section. Here we found the red wine vinegar we were looking for. The market also has a sizable take-away section. We succumbed and bought some Coquilles Sant Jacques in a puff pastry and some fideua, a dish typical of the Valencian region. It originated in the 1920s in the city of Gandia when thin noodles like vermicelli were used instead of rice in the popular dish paella. This one had scallops, shrimps, clams, squid, mussels and fish with some saffron. Delicious.

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