Memorable Meals: Episode 4, Tasting Paradise

It was our first time in the south of France and I remember that I had to keep pinching myself. What fascinating beauty!  What deep blue skies!  What amazing scents! I was convinced we had suddenly taken an unexpected turn into paradise.
The day had been spent driving down from the Ardèche and making little stops along the way to experience new and wonderful things from up close.  We marvelled at the rows of fruit trees and olive trees in Nyons and I vividly remember when we once stopped by the side of the road to visit a stand selling all things having to do with olives. There were kilos worth of cherries for sale as well, too irresistible to pass up.  I bought a large bag with the huge bottle of oil and the jar of black, wrinkled little olives.  Never had I tasted such sweet, fleshy cherries or such fragrant olives.
In Montélimar we treated ourselves to chewy nougat and at wine meccas such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas we bought fabulous, hearty wines and took the time to admire the vineyards from up close.
Decidedly hungry (even after all the tasting), we stopped for a bite in Orange and found the perfect little restaurant, La Sangria, in the city center.  It was extremely hot and dry and the air was heavy with the faint scent of lavender and thyme.  I will never forget the extraordinary power of the mistral wind and how amazing it felt to be sitting right in the middle of a mini-hurricane.  If it wasn?t for the cutlery and wine glasses on the table, the vibrantly colored tablecloths would have been flying all over the place.  
The plat du jour was a trio of légumes farcis served on a bed of lettuce. What a simple, delicious meal!  The vegetables were sunny and full of flavor and in the meat filling I could taste the region- thyme, rosemary, sage! We washed the meal down with the only logical choice, a few glasses of light pink rosé. Dessert was kept fresh and fruity- a small bowl of fromage blanc topped with a tangy coulis of red berries.
The food and wine were lovely, but Interestingly enough, the one thing I remember most about that meal was not the meal itself, but the actual trip that took us to that restaurant. The colors we saw along the way, the things we tasted and the heavenly aromas of a place that would forever stay etched in my memory.  If I close my eyes, I can still escape to this place of unprecedented beauty.

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