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Second week in Nice update, plus Mimosa from Cambodia

(Written by Dave)

First, an update on our wine tasting… We are now four bottles into research. We have had a couple nice drops but I am sorry to report that we really still have no idea what we are doing. Everyone says “you can’t go wrong with a nice Bordeaux”. I’m not sure if Bordeaux is region or a flavour (or perhaps both?). In the bottle shops there are many many bottles from Bordeaux. Every single one seems to have some random chateau name at the top of the bottle label and of course a lithograph image of said chateau. The wine makers are pretty clever. They know that “a nice bottle of Bordeaux with a chateau name on top” will sell. In our shops at least, these bottles cost as little as 2 euro and as much as 25 euro (we don’t have any fancy shops near us). I’ve started taking photos of every bottle we drink – at least when we find a flavour we like, we can hope to find it again.

Today we had our first proper French lunch. We met Jan after class at a restaurant near our school. It was recommended by our teacher and was very crowded when we arrived. Today is the first day of the January sale here in Nice (“soldes!” signs appear everywhere), so everyone is out shopping. We settled into a table in the back and got stuck into interpreting the menu. There was no English but we had our dictionary and are now gaining some vocabulary of our own. We had three dishes picked out before the waiter came looking to give us a hand (steak frites, salmon and mullet & cannelloni). Food here is completely different than SE Asia. More expensive, no chillies and more sauce. Good, but very different.

And the wine. So we think we are getting better and today we end up drinking “Cotes du Rhone 2010 – poignees de raisin – dom gramenon”. This was recommended by the waiter. We think it is from the Rhone and is from 2010. It has something to do with raisins. We are not sure what flavour or grape variety it was. It tasted good, as most wine would over a 2 hour lunch, but we know no more about French wines than when we sat down to eat. No big deal, part of the research is to find something we like even if we don’t know what it is.

Class still going ok. We are now moving into new material and find 4 hours sometimes quite hard. At different points one of us is almost always confused. Our instructor is patient and others in class are clearly worse off than us. We’ll soldier on. Quite oddly, our class is mostly Swedes and Brazilians. Not sure why but two more students joined us this week, one from Sweden and another from Brazil.

On to our museum treks. So far we have visited the Massena and Matisse museums. The former was royal family chateau in from the 1700s through to the 1940s. It was pretty interesting in that you were allowed access into the rooms and you could take all the photos you wanted – not much was roped off. We couldn’t read as much as we wanted (though we did try as French practice) but we got a good idea of how folks (royals) would have lived a hundred years ago. The chateau is in a prime position right across from the beach with a large garden – would have been a great spot to live.

The Matisse museum was also worth the trip. Matisse started as a classical artist, move to impressionism and some stippling and finally much later in his life to Picasso-like abstracts. In the end he was most famous for his work with cut out stencils We were not allowed to take photos but I snuck one of a group of school kids making their own cut-outs. We walked away thinking how odd art is. What made this one artist and what was essentially cut-out craft paper so famous? Even though I had a couple of years of college art school, I’m not sure I get it. I had an art professor who used to say “deal with it” whenever his less sophisticated students started asking questions along the same lines. I may have said that to Nancy and Jan a few times yesterday – though I wasn’t sure myself. Nancy thinks perhaps we should get buy some scissors and some coloured paper and see if we can create some “art” to sell to finance a few more years on the road?

Finally, a note about mimosa (for the plant aficionados out there). I’ve been meaning to post a story about the Cambodian plant we found called mimosa. This is a very interesting plant that retracts its leaves when it is touched or when it senses motion. I did a little reading and discovered that this plant originally comes from Central and South America and is now considered a weed in virtually all of the tropics. Scientists don’t know why the plant evolved as it has. It is not a flesh eating plant. We saw quite a bit of this plant in Siem Reap and Ankor Wat.. We overheard a guide showing it to folks while we, and everyone else, was gawking at the temples. I found a large patch later and took the before and after photos below. A video would be great, but we haven’t worked out how to share these yet.

PS – Happy Half-Century to our friend and reader Inge Costa!!

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10 responses to “Second week in Nice update, plus Mimosa from Cambodia

  1. You really need John. Boy would he enjoy himself! You are right that what you like is what matters. But I think he could help you with selecting what you like. He is really into Bordeaux.

  2. Still faithfully following you two!
    I’d have been entertained as a young ‘un by making the leaves fold on ‘sensitive plant’ at Eimeo near Mackay, Qld. When I was old enough to want to pull it, I discovered the tiny sharp thorns on the stems.

    Love reading about French food as much as Asian (and B& E rolls for that matter).

  3. I also enjoy the food pictures! Thanks for the half a Century wishes! Haven’t noticed any difference from the forties yet!! Can’t wait for some comments on a favorite wine. Any standouts so far? I’m not sure if I have ever tried a French Bordeaux…

    • According to the LWOP resident wine expert (John), California Cab Sav and Merlot are the same grape varieties as a French Bordeuax. We’ll post his whole summary soon – it’s given us a nicehead-start.

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  4. Love the pictures of the plant and of the children at the art museum. I also noticed you seem to have some warmer coats on. Where did you get them? Is it a bit chillier than when you first arrived?

    • Winter coats were brought over by Jan. Until she arrived we were wearing all of our clothes, except riding rain coats. Nonoticeabletemp change since arrival. We’ll probably mail coats home before heading to Turkey.

      ________________________________

  5. When Andrea and I were in Beaune we did a tour where they tried to explain the naming of the wine to us. I couldn’t remember exactly how it worked (where the grapes were grown had something to do with it). Maybe this will help.

    http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/understanding-how-french-wines-are-named.html

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