Do you remember days when you set out on a mission to do something but you end up somewhere completely out of your range? Well, that happened to us. My friend, Bonnie, had fallen the previous week, while visiting our beloved Cathars and injured her hand. Our hostess at Moulin de la Roque, Gaby, had sweetly offered her services to translate all injury-related issues at a nearby clinic in Avignon. Country driving suites me just fine but navigating in rush hour traffic through roundabouts with honking horns set my nerves on edge. We finally made it to The Clinic in the early evening only to find it was closed. Quel dommage! Ok, so we will table this visit until tomorrow. Since we were so close to a Geant, I asked if we could pop in to see if I could get some help with my Samsung camera that I had purchased in Carcassonne when my Nikon bit the dust. AS fate would have it, my Samsung shutter also failed after six days. Gaby asked if she could drive our car (I secretly think my city driving alarmed her!) and she took us straight away to the nearby Geant. Unhelpful, they said that since it was day eight, I could not return my camera. Had it been day seven, I could have exchanged it for a new one. One day shy! Strike two! Hungry to pick up dinner, Gaby asks if we had ever been to a big super market and we said ‘no.” She proceeded to take us to Hyper Marche, a store so large and overwhelming, it made Super Target look like a puppy whining for its dinner.
On an interesting note: Gaby told us that all the warehouse, mega grocery, box-type stores are all congregated together, usually outside of town so as not to interfere with the ambiance of village life. You will never find a “strip mall” randomly placed alongside the road for convenience. All you will find are hectacres of vineyards, lavender, olives, cow, sheep and other lovely vistas.
The first thing I loved were the carts on wheels so you could pull your groceries along instead of lugging a handcart. Why don’t we have these here?
Next, the cheese selection was like being at an outdoor market with a knowledgeable and happy person eager to explain which cheese to buy for which course. Next stop, the fish department. I was expecting a shabby selection of ancient seafood but was blown out of the ocean by the fresh offerings beautifully displayed. My eyes fixated on the Raie. Glowing and almost still quivering, its eyes spoke to me and said, “Try me tonight.” So I did. I have had Raie before but have never attempted to cook it. Gaby suggested lightly sautéing it, then scraping the meat off the cartilage. Let’s see, capers, butter, lemon, finished with Fleur de Sel. My taste buds could not wait.
Gaby was anxious to show us her favorite aisle in the store – the yogurt aisle. Almost twice as long as our average freezer aisle, the yogurt aisle is lined on BOTH sides with every kind of yogurt imaginable. Cow, goat, sheep, unpasteurized, with cream, with fruit, for breakfast, for dessert, in beautiful glazed ceramic jars – anything your heart desires. She tells us the French are crazy about their yogurt and now I can see why. There are as many yogurts as there are wines. We choose a few to try and can’t wait until breakfast.
On the way out, the wine aisle lures us in. Displayed in only a way the French can, bottles pop out of the shelf with a handwritten tag describing the contents. We learn that in Provence, 60% of the wine that is sold is Rose, that beautiful light pink softness of dry that resembles nothing of our Rose here. In fact, in most restaurants we frequented, the favored wine was Rose. I am now a fan – of French Rose.
Back in our comfy apartment, I took on the Raie, cooking it to perfection, finishing it with a dash of cream and butter, and a smattering of capers and lemon slices. Delish. How I wish this fish would swim our way!