21 April 2010

Following in Proust's Footsteps

En français ici.
After the frenetic rehearsals of hell week, and then the encouraging opening weekend of Memory Motel, I took a mini-break from theater early this week to pursue another passion of mine: Marcel Proust (oh, did you think I was going to say cooking - don't worry, there's food involved).

D. had two days off and so we decided to go in search of lost time... er, no I mean... we decided to go to Illiers-Combray, a village an hour and a half from Paris where Marcel Proust spent part of his early years visiting his aunt and uncle, and the model for Combray in his novel. The town, originally Illiers, was renamed Illiers-Combray in his honor. There, we visited Aunt Léonie's house (though her real name was Elizabeth) and the Marcel Proust Museum. And, of course, we tasted the famous Combray madeleines in the form of scallop shells - rather different from my unorthodox butterscotch madelines - but delicious.

After this little pilgrimage, we made our way to the absolutely charming bed and breakfast, Le Moulin de la Ronce, where we relaxed amid weeping willows and blooming magnolias, listening to the sound of the little waterfall that used to turn the mill. As if the scenery wasn't enough, the owners welcomed us warmly and fed us a delicious organic breakfast, complete with homemade jams and local honey (I told you there was food involved)!

In the evening, we had dinner in Chartres (only 20 minutes away) at a restaurant with "southern-inspired" cuisine called Les Picholines. We got the tapas menu and the selections were tasty and subtle. I had: scallop carpaccio with lime, duo of tapenades, patatas alinadas, sea bass with fennel, chorizo, pastis-battered shrimp, blackcurrent/violet sorbet and warm grapefruit.

When we got to the grapefruit I even had my very own "madeleine moment" when all of a sudden it came back to me how my mom used to cut grapefruits in half and broil them drizzled with honey. I loved that taste! The tapas version was also sprinkled with a little mint. Very yummy.


Julie said...

Hope - This sounds wonderful. I love visiting towns and staying in bed and breakfasts. I can only imagine how great this was. Glad you were able to take a break!

Tony said...

I'm jealous!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you got a much-deserved break! And I love that you had your very own Proust moment. How poetic. :)

Kristen said...

What wonderful photos! What a great way to spend a break.

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

Sounds awesome - so good to just enjoy a well-deserved break de temps en temps, n'est-ce pas..?!!

Hopie said...

Julie - I know, bed and breakfasts are the best! It was a much-need break!

Tony - Aw, I wish you could come visit. I'd take you there!

Camille - It certainly was appropriate :-)

Kristen - Thank you! It was wonderful.

Here, There...: Tout à fait ! Je suis quand même contente de retourner à mon blog aussi :-)