Chateaux and raclette

Trip Start Jan 13, 2013
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19
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Trip End Feb 04, 2013


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Flag of Switzerland  , Vaud,
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I slept well during the night, and Wednesday morning I started out early for another busy day. We breakfasted on toast and Swiss cheeses: Emmenthal, Gruyeres, and a round cream cheese, good strong coffee with creamy Swiss milk. It was a lovely way to start the day; I'm very partial to Swiss cheeses. Then we said goodbye until later in the day and I started out for a long day on the road.

I drove about 4 ½ hours to the west, past Geneva, Lyon, St Etienne and about halfway to Clermont Ferrand, to the site we have reserved for the Feast of Tabernacles this year. Choices were limited for 2013 since the festival falls in September and there are many tourists still using such facilities at that time. Still, I wanted to see this one in person before signing the contract. It is in the village of Saint Jean-la-Vêtre; the setting is bucolic and beautiful. At an altitude of about 3000 ft (1000 m) there are lovely views of the hills from the VVF Vacation colony site. The restaurant and bar area looked good, the lodgings are what we are accustomed to have with VVF, a kitchenette in each lodging, and the meeting hall quite adequate as well. There is a heated swimming pool, a small gym, an exercise and weight room, and all the usual games and activities. This will do nicely for us, especially since we will have the exclusive use of the site.

After the visit to the VVF site, I drove to a few possible sites of interest for excursions; one of which was the chateau of the d’Urfé family, most famous still for one of its sons, Honoré, who wrote what was possibly the most important novel of the 17th century, certainly in the French language, entitled Astrée. The novel is still frequently studied and an award-winning film was made from it as recently as 2007.

I will still need to research more of these possible excursion sites. I plan to do this during the summer; there is still time for that. Vichy is not far from the site and there are other sites of interest as well.

After about 2 ½ hours of looking around, I started the drive back to Geneva, then north a few minutes to the house of the Vernaud family, who had invited us for a raclette, my favorite Swiss meal and one of my favorite meals period.

When I arrived Jean Marc Vernaud was showing Mr. Giauque some new things on his computer, clarifying issues and troubleshooting. As a joke I ask Mr. Giauque what he was teaching Jean-Marc which wasn’t really that funny – I admit, but they chuckled politely anyway.

In case you don’t know what a raclette is, allow me to describe it. The meal originated in the Alps where farming families would make their own large wheels of rich cheese. In the winter when they needed rich food to stand the cold, they would cut a wheel of cheese in half, prop the flat edge of one half toward the fireplace and wait until the cheese began to melt and bubble. Then they would scrape the cheese with a small wooden scraper (to scrape is racler in French, thus the word raclette, the ette ending meaning small) onto bread of potatoes.

Today, raclette is almost always served with small firm potatoes, pickles and pickled onions and sometimes with smoked meat, especially thinly sliced smoked beef from the Grisons region of Switzerland. It is usually accompanied by a dry white wine, especially a fendant, which is my favorite with the dish (my wife and I have several raclette machines and we usually host at least one raclette evening each winter). The melting is done with a variety of heating machines, often with individual trays so each diner can have his own, and can thus pace himself as he eats.

Mr. Giauque and Mr. Gantelme came as well, so there were eight of plus three dogs who would love to have shared the raclette and possible a cat or two as well.

The conversation was animated as we enjoyed the meal, as usual we talked about many things: memories of Mrs. Giauque, world events, the rising cost of living in Switzerland, insurance costs (a particular burden here), travel in Africa and in other places in the world (everyone at the table had traveled fairly widely), prophecy, various Bible passages, and how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

It was a truly delightful evening, which we wish we could have more often. Mr. Giauque lives 90 minutes away by car and gasoline is running over USD 8 per gallon, so car travel is not to be taken lightly. I’m able to come here two or three times a year, which isn’t much either, so we really cherish the moment we can spend together.

An ice-cream cake and coffee and teas concluded the meal. By this time it was after 10:00 pm. I was to have an early start in the morning for my ongoing trip to the UK where if all goes as planned I will spend the Sabbath, meet some friends, and shoot some photos and hopefully video that we can then have available for our media productions. There are many biblically significant historical artifacts preserved from antiquity in London. 
Slideshow Report as Spam

Comments

Tess Washington on

Thank you Mr. Meeker for all the photos. Thank you for more lessons in culture and gastronomy in this part of the world...I love cheeses too...good to know about our brethrens in this part of the world! I'm glad you got some rest & needful sleep! Looking forward about your trip to England!

Mary Hendren on

Hi Joel,

Thanks for the commentary and interesting photos from the Feast site in Saint Jean-la-Vetre. What a beautiful venue with a number of side attractions. We enjoyed seeing photos of the brethren and your descriptions of the meal and fellowship. What a blessing that you all met together in joy and shared encouraging conversation.

Regards,
Mary

Lenna Slaughter on

I am so glad your travels have gone well. It is nice to hear about brethren in other parts of the world. I remember Mr. Giauque from several feasts in France and am so happy he is holding fast. The feast site looks lovely. Wish we could be with you again this year. Safe travels!

Hervé on

Merci pour les nouvelles. Comme il est bon de voir nos frères et soeurs réunis autour d'un bon repas!

Ted Franek on

Thanks so much for keeping so well informed of your travels. Never traveled outside of US so I have learned from your trips how to appreciate the foods and customs of other countries. The cheeses really sound good. Anxiously awaiting your update on the UK.

Marguerite Evans on

Hi Joel,
The view from the new Feast site looks lovely. I'm happy also that the brethren will be able to use the site exclusively. Just hearing the word "raclette" makes me want to have some. Glad you were able to share this special meal with the brethren in Switzerland. Hearing how much Mr. Giauque pays for his gas/gallon made me a lot more thankful for what we pay here in the USA. Wishing you a restful and uplifting Sabbath in England.

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