Le Somail (June 12, 2013)

Day 12: Books, art, music, good wine, and good food. A nearly perfect day.

We all got a fairly late start, and the boat headed for Le Somail. We passed Domaine du Tresor (the winery Mike had fallen in love with last trip, and wanted to help them get impored to the states), but decided 10am was earlier than any of us wanted a some tasting and that we’d be back. So: on to LeSomail.

We bought more water and bread (the eternal staples) at Le Tomate (epicerie flottant), and then split up with Aatish and Carolyn heading to the bookstore, and the rest of us going to the tourist info building to get directions to the hat museum.

The ceiling in the tourist info office was really awesome.

The tourist place had awesome art — some beautiful paintings and sculptures, including a blue woman playing the violin, and a red woman with a fencing mask. I had to go show Kendra. They also had honey and jams and hand-turned wood objects but sadly informed us that the proprietor of the hat museum died, and the museum was now closed. Carolyn and Aatish were still browsing the bookstore when it closed for lunch. So we all went to lunch, which was unquestionably the best meal we’d had this trip. My “local platter” had two types of olive tapanade, tiny goat cheeses in honey, jambon cru, a salad, chickpea puree, and st. Jean minervois muscat sorbet (!!!). Eric and Ben both got the moules en creme entree, which turned out to be an entire platter of moules with a cream-chorizo-tomato sauce drizzled on top and was straight-up amazing.

Carolyn’s gazpacho had a scoop of some vegetable sorbet in the middle and her foie gras was the best we’ve had this trip. Then came the main courses. Eric’s duck breast had a spectacular green peppercorn au povre sauce to die for, and apparently the pork was fork-tender and perfect. I’d joked at the beginning of the meal that we should come back for dinner, but by the end everyone else agreed with me.
Our plan, since everything was closed for lunch, was to go to the winery, taste and buy, then head back to LeSomail for more books, art, and dinner.
Domaine Tresor was just as pleasant as previously reported. The merlot was fascinatingly tasty – unaged and very fruity. The chardonnay was also tasty, as well as their champagne take on the chardonnay. They also did wine coolers, peach, grapefruit and strawberry, which were so much better than anything like them in the states. The chardonnay champagne was called “scent of October” so I bought a bottle to have for my birthday. They also had an adorable dog.

We drove back to LeSomail. I dragged Carolyn back to the tourist office, to show her the amazing puppets they had there. They were incredibly cleverly painted, animals in historical costumes, including a cicada ballerina, and a fish dressed as Napoleon. Ben bought a small wooden mouse, and we all admired the art some more. Then everyone else went to the bookstore and Ben and I went back to the gallery we’d checked out in the morning, where he’d admired several paintings and I suggested maybe I should get him one for his birthday. So we went back and admired many awesome paintings and he picked out the one that he both liked best and looked most like the Canal.

We meet up with the rest of folks at the bookstore and spent a couple hours staring at the pretty.

These were the lightshades on the overhead lamps in the cases with the illuminated books.

The shop’s offerings are almost entirely in french, but they had a wide variety of art books, and huge strangely-curated collections of ephemera — old postcards and photographs, illustrated plates from antique art books and botanical tomes, engravings and paintings by local artists mixed in with magazines from the 1960s.
I was tempted by many things but didn’t end up buying any. They closed the shop down around us, and we all went to another gallery and then sat by the canal listening to a nifty band warming up while waiting for our dinner reservation.

Eric went back to the boat to get his clarinet, but they were playing a paid gig so it didn’t seem like the right context to attempt to jam with them, alas.
Dinner was just as good as lunch (with a number of overlapping dishes, since the moules en creme were so good we had to have them twice, as was the foie), and dessert was wonderful ice cream concoctions.

Ben’s was extremely green.

We slowly rolled our way back to the boat and had a nice time sitting on the deck drinking more wine as the sun finally went down around 10:30.