A Travellerspoint blog

July 2011

Escape to Uzes

Provence France

Do you ever play the “could I live here” game when you travel? You know. Where you fantasize about retiring or merely running away and living in a place. I have found a few locations that meet my imaginary standards. My criteria admittedly is elusive. I require charm, places to walk to so I don’t need a car, non-touristy, good restaurants, some culture and maybe even an artists’ enclave. I guess I have lengthy list.

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I found one such fantastic place in the village of Uzes in Provence. First of all, it’s in the hills of Provence. It’s gorgeous and sunny and has lovely streets dotted with boutiques and shops. There are small bars and restaurants that made me want to sit and linger and watch the world go by. If I ever disappear…

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Posted by teethetrav 09:21 Archived in France Tagged food france travel provence uzes Comments (0)

OLIVES: New York City Restaurant Week

Living as I do a train ride away from Manhattan I need no excuse to come into the city. But three or four times a year, the restaurants lure me in with Restaurant Week when hundreds of the best offer prix fix menus for lunch and/or dinner. I have eaten at many of New York City’s best restaurants this way for a fraction of what you would usually pay.
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Last week I ate at one of the best I’ve ever tried. It was a gorgeous July day. The sun was shining and there was no humidity. We landed tickets to Anything Goes and headed to mid-town for a matinee. We stopped, as we always do, at Ruby Foo’s for a snack and a Ruby Foo cocktail. Dozens of people were seated outside in Times Square watching the women play France in the World Cup finals. A group roar could be heard over the traffic when the women scored.
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Anything Goes with music by Cole Porter is a tap-dancing, foot-tapping, hum along show that was everything I’d heard it was. See it while Joel Gray and Sutton Foster are still in it.
Then it was downtown to Union Square to eat dinner at Olives, Todd English’s restaurant in the W Hotel. This was my first time here although I’ve eaten at his Blue Zoo in Orlando and loved it.
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EVERYTHING about this meal was incredible. Each dish is layered in flavors and it’s really difficult to explain the complex deliciousness of each course. A basket of breads is brought to the table and while I usually pass on the bread, I couldn’t pass on this basket. Focaccia glazed with caramelized onions, two kinds of flatbread, and two kinds of olive tapenade to spread on the bread is more than I can resist.
I also ordered flatbread with prosciutto and chard for my appetizer. It was a huge portion and I ate nearly the entire thing. I also tasted the consommé with fresh peas. It was light and flavorful; the perfect summer soup.

I had the incredible pasta for my main course. Just what I needed; more carbs. It was so worth it. This was the best pasta I’ve ever eaten anywhere, including Italy. The other entrée I tasted was the pastrami beef which was melt in your mouth tender.
I’m not usually a dessert person but—you guessed it—I ate every morsel of my pineapple upside down cake. Maybe it was because the pineapple was doused in bourbon which gave it an irresistible flavor. The other choice was a strawberry concoction that was fabulous, as well. TJ_in_Olives.jpg
I will definitely come back to Olives, restaurant week or not.

Posted by teethetrav 11:17 Archived in USA Tagged nyc times_square tourist_sites olives restaurant_week todd_english Comments (0)

Searching for Van Gogh in Arles

Wandering through the town of Arles, it’s easy to understand why Van Gogh got so depressed here and killed himself. Oh sure, he was fueled by absinthe and he was probably bipolar, but even with that, I can totally see how this town would depress someone after spending two years here.
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VG spent two years living and working here. He supposedly had no friends. Now maybe that was his fault, but the French are not the friendliest people in the world. I don’t find them rude, as some have said, but they seem to merely tolerate anyone non-French or from anywhere other than their home town. In Arles, they have to be polite. Their source of income is completely tourist-driven at this point. Back in Van Gogh’s day, they didn’t even have to be pleasant in order to make tourist dollars. There were no tourists. Gauguin came to visit VG in Arles and hated it. cafe__de_nuit_.jpg

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Arles locals are visible and they are clique-ish. If you are there off season as I was, the locals hang out from early in the evening when they meet to have a pastis or an espresso. Everyone appears to know everyone in this tiny town, and no one makes an effort to speak to you. If you spend a few days there, you feel like an outsider. I empathize with poor Van Gogh who spent two years in this isolation.
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Posted by teethetrav 07:52 Archived in France Tagged art france arles van-gogh Comments (0)

Arles Market Day

Markets in Provence

Arles Market Day
The first Wednesday in any month, the open air market in Arles stretches as far as the eye can see with all types of goods. Two main streets are a tangle of shoppers and vendors vying for your euros. You can separate the tourists from the serious marketers easily. The regulars all come prepared with their wheeled baskets to get their fill of produce, spices, meats, cheeses, fresh breads, olives, and fish.
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Stands are organized by their products. Fish vendors line up next to one another, as do the cheese vendors and the olive vendors and so forth. I was especially intrigued by the stands that specialized in garlics. Who knew there were so many kinds of garlic?
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The aromas fill the air; herbs de Provence, lavender, the pungent olives, and fish all tempt you. I purchased aged gouda, a boule, olives, and a small jar of tapenade and made a picnic lunch. The olives were the best I’ve ever tasted. The bread was crisp on the outside and airy on the inside, as only French bread can be. The warm cheese and the bread melted in my mouth.
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Further down the rows, there were dozens of tables filled with clothing and shoes. There were nice things, but no real bargains as far as I could see. I did buy a pretty scarf for two euros though. There were several bargain tables. Anything on the table was one euro. There were the predictable vendors selling table cloths and napkins made of Provençal fabrics. They were all pretty and inexpensive. The only problem was choosing which one to buy.

There was a family showing a goat and asking for donations to “save the animals.” Whether or not the money goes to this cause, I gave them a couple of euros. I figured the goat had earned it after standing around being gawked at. DSC03139.jpg

The locals warn you to beware of pickpockets here, since it can get fairly crowded. The general food market is every Wednesday and Saturday.
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Posted by teethetrav 07:07 Archived in France Tagged markets france spices goat provence arles gouda french_bread Comments (0)

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