My wife and I were presented an anniversary gift from her sister Isabelle (merci beaucoup Isa!) during our last trip to Provence. (as an aside, Isabelle is a successful entrepreneur who has built an on-line clothing empire called Boutique Magique, specializing in unique wedding ensembles for the attendants to the bride and groom).  The gift consisted of a day touring an area of the Drome region of Provence located not terribly far from the area of The Wine Road discussed in my last blog.

The first part of the day was a visit to the Domaine St. Luc near Solerieux. (Both the Domaine and  Solerieux deserve blog entries unto themselves, so more on these later.) After the wine tasting and tour, we hit a short stretch of back road to enter the medieval village of La Garde-Adhemar from the south. 

Une Village Medieval

La Garde-Adhemar was a 12th century fiefdom of the Adhemar family and an outpost that guarded the southern route to the Adhemar’s residence in Montelimar.  I have always wondered whether the writers of the film A Knight’s Tale borrowed the name from this village and used it for the name of the villain Count Adhemar, played by actor Rufus Sewell.

The Black Count

After circling the tiny medieval roads of La Garde in our rental car, we finally parked at the top public parking lot near the North Gate of the village and took a quick promenade inside.  You could easily spend an entire day at La Garde-Adhamar wandering the sleepy hamlet, being stared at from local cats hanging on the balcony’s of quaint renovated apartments and choosing a shady alley bar to hang out and sip on a pastis, a Cotes du Rhone, or perhaps a nice Tricastin.

Ricard Pastis

Our little walk was short-lived when a local explained to us that our dinner destination was back down the hill towards the A7.  So down we went wondering where on earth the destination of our coveted gift certificate would be.  To find Le Logis de l’Escalin, one has to have a bit of the chasseur de truffes (truffle hunter) in them.  A couple of switchbacks down the hill we finally spotted an open gate and a narrow and concealed driveway heading into the hotel property.  We parked and sauntered down a short walk to what looked like a bed and breakfast.  Stepping through the landscaped entrance we found ourselves on a sprawling stone patio with fine linen tables and a small crowd of people thoroughly enjoying a brilliant orange sunset on the other side of the Rhone valley.  Wow, what a view!  We were given a patio table for two. 

The first gentleman to hit our table asked us what we would like to drink and I requested a Cote du Rhone from the Rochegude area.  He paused and explained “one moment while I ask.  I am the cheese expert.”  I knew at that point we were somewhere special.  This was a gastronomic meal that lasted four hours.  It was absolutely “over the top” magnificent.  I did not know that fois gras could be prepared in so many ways.  There seemed to be about 12 gourmet courses, but I lost count.  We had fois gras fried, layered with delicious fig, plates of assorted Provencal delights such as olive tapanade, pates and sun-dried tomato crostinis.  The main courses (yes of course there were two) included a delightful filet of beef and a succulent fish similar to a Chilean sea bass.  We had our cheese indeed.  The gentleman we initially met wheeled out the table.  It looked like a live encyclopedia of cheese.  He took the time to walk us through the varieties, but unfortunately that far into such a meal we could only whimper out a request for a few small slices of a chevre (goat) and a vache (cow).

Then came the unexpected.  The garcon approached the table with what appeared to be a watermelon puree cocktail and an assortment of delightful cookies.  Just as it seemed we had arrived at the end of the meal, he informed us that this was only the “pre desert.”  Following the pre desert was the dessert boat.  There were 7-8 small assorted desserts arrayed on a long white plate that looked like a work of art.  Sugar wafers in balls of ice cream, banana creme, fruit mousse, chocolate inventions and small pastries were all lined up and ready to go.  By the way, we each had our own plate of course.

Just as one’s mind cannot sufficiently wrap itself around the concept of the heavenly realm in a manner worthy to describe it, my description of the cuisine at Le Logis de l’Escalin cannot even begin to adequately describe our experience.  During our meal we were able to look through the large glass window of an addition to the original home and watch the head chef, his assistants and the sous chefs working like a well oiled machine moving hard throughout the evening.  They were absolutely incredible in their creations and control of the timing, temperature and delivery of every single item. 

Unfortunately we did not spend the evening there, but I would highly recommend Le Logis de l’Escalin to any traveler looking for a cool spot to crash for a night or two at the outskirt of La Garde-Adhemar.  And by the way, even if you are not a “chasseur de truffes,” you can always start any good meal with a champagne laced with oil of truffles…it is called a “Black Diamond” and it is out of this world.  According to P.T. Barnum in his book The Art of Money Getting, “You can’t work if your sick.”  Neither can you enjoy a vacation in Provence if you aren’t feeling well.  So we always start and end our day in France with a Reliv…unless you just at like we did and then it can be a bit of a challenge.

Ciao for now!

For a real TechVoyageur experience visit historic Rochemaure Castle in the heart of Provence!