Final Days at Les Battees

27 Aug

Wow.  It is hard to believe it is the end of August already.  Time feels full and good.  I am doing my best to stay grounded as I walk through my final days at Les Battees, making the beds, cleaning the kitchen.  The weather is amazing as I breathe in the fresh clean country air that by now I have become accustomed to.  It seems that summer is beginning to slide away here in the Burgundy region of France as you can feel something fresh in the air ushering in the new season.

Thankfully there have been a few breaks in the busy Les Battees schedule these last few days.  Time to catch up on a few things like cleaning the kitchen,washing all the sheets and towels, and breathe and rest a bit preparing for the new set of guests.  The relentless nearly unstoppable pace of July and early August has dwindled.  It seems now the is a day or two to take a break.

Life has been good here at Les Battees.  Roy, my host has been quite busy lately preparing dinners for guests known in France as table d’hote, which literally means “host’s table”. He offers an optional vegetarian meal to guests who stay here for an additional cost.  Over the summer I have come to appreciate Roy as a chef.  Now also mind you, at his root he is a scientist with a Ph.D. and background in food science and research.  His scientific manner bleeds through in his cooking, methodical and precise, but also consistent and filled with the utmost care and concern for the quality and authenicity of the meal he is preparing.  Roy has a policy with the food her serves at the table d’hotes… he never serves a recipe or meal to a guest without first testing it on friends to make sure that it is a high quality, enjoyable meal.

One of his favorite dishes lately has been a polenta and olive dish served with roasted vegetables (sweet potato, fennel and red peppers) accented with yummy goat cheese (you haven’t eaten goat cheese until you have visited France!) and a fresh mint herb salsa on the side.  The dish is a real treat to eat.  It is an earnest pleasure to enjoy the meal surrounded by other guests appreciating the care, freshness and taste of the meal.  I caught him once dipping his bananas into orange juice as he was preparing a dessert featuring bananas.  “What are you doing?” I asked him… wondering if perhaps the ceaseless days of work had finally gotten to his head.  He informed me that dipping the bananas into the orange juice keeps them from turning brown.  That is the kind of care he puts into his cooking!

Over the weekend Roy and I took a quick escape on Sunday to the local brocante.  A brocante in France is somewhat like a rummage sale or an antique or flea sale in the states.  It is a mostly organized occasion with local people bringing their antiques, finds or excess items to sell.  I have come to love these events as I can pick up a little of this or a little of that for extraordinarily good prices.  I bought a camera at a brocante and at this most recent brocante I found a sweater that I liked for the outrageous price of 1 Euro and a  jacket as well for 2 euros.  As someone who has been living for the past year solely on work exchanges, it is a joy to make little purchases that fit into my traveling budget!

 I have learned that wherever I go, wherever I travel… I am unmistakably American. Being American is something that leaks out of me as I try to speak French making a purchase at the local brocante.  It is distinct as I speak to guests visiting here at Les Battees from Begium, England, the Netherlands.  “You’re American, aren’t you” they say.  Roy informed me that the giant size dishes that we use to serve dinner, the dishes that are too big to fit into the dishwasher and have to be washed by hand, are called by the French “Les Americans”.  Funny.

I have just a few days left here at Les Battees.  My plans are mostly set although I find I am still a bit quite about them as the final details weave and fold into place.  But for now I am content to breathe in the fresh French air and let myself be for a bit.  Feeling the excitement of the time I have spent here and the good of what is to come welcomed in by the brisk almost autumn air.

The photo is of a beautiful blossoming dahlia in the gardens of Les Battees.  Always the source of information, Roy shared that dahlia’s used to be grown for their somewhat potato-like root and eaten.  But apparently today they are mostly enjoyed for their beautiful bloom.

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