Week 24 (12–18 June 2023)
First full week back! Like I wrote in the mini Weeknote #14 part 2, things are busy, not exactly the rest I was expecting after our long trip. I'm slowly catching up sleep and desperately trying to wake up early (aiming for 6 am with sunrise) to beat the heat in the garden, but circumstances are against me (read: busy evenings that keep me up late).
In the universe of Miyazaki (and food)
My aunt K was visiting this week and we took the chance to book seats for a Miyazaki film score concert, part of Labaume en Musiques, an established and well-known yearly music festival in the area (this was the 27th edition!).
In preparation we (re)watched Howl's Moving Castle at home with K and F, after an amazing apéro dînatoire that involved:
- vine leaves stuffed with rice, herbs, raisins and pine nuts (F's recipe)
- zucchini tagliatelle with lemon, ginger and sesame seeds dressing (Groovy Vegetables N's recipe)
- sauteed chanterelles (we went mushrooming again this week and found some)
- sourdough bread (Edible Alchemy A's recipe, from 157 year old1 starter Cornelius)
- a sour cherry and juneberry clafouti
- wine cheese fresh veg from the garden and more
The concert, Le monde musical de Miyazaki, was held at the Commanderie de Jalès, one of the oldest commanderies in France, established by none other than the Knights Templar in 1140. It's incredible and quite unique to go to a concert in a place like this—one would expect it to be a museum with an entrance fee and plenty of do-not-enter do-not-touch signs around. Instead there was a Japanese food truck2, a stall with books about Miyazaki and the Studio Ghibli, and a pretty big crowd packed in the courtyard where the stage was, grass growing over the old stones and swallows flying overhead.
For about an hour, starting at sundown and ending in the dark, we listened to an amazing string quartet, the Quatuor Debussy (two violins, a viola and a cello), accompanied by 40-odd-people Schola Cantharel choir, interpreting themes from Miyazaki films from Nausicaä to Ponyo via Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. It was interesting to read about the relationship between Miyazaki and composer Hisaishi, that the concert booklet compared to Leone—Morricone. I liked the choir but I loved the quartet, they had an energy and amazing connection/cohesion between them.
After the Saturday morning market at Les Vans we drove to the nearby village of Chambonas for the first edition of the nature wine festival Quilles. The idea was simple: 15 local winemakers invited 15 winemakers from elsewhere in France, all sharing the philosophy of nature wines.
So we ended up at the Camping La Surre3 where 30 small stalls were installed under the trees, a tasting glass in hand. We went around the stalls once to taste whites, had a swim in the Sure river, and went back for reds.
We knew of many of the local winemakers already, having bought their wines at the shop in Rocles or at the wine store in Les Vans. One of them, A, is a neighbor and harvests a couple of vineyards right in Joux. It was nice to put faces on domaine names4, though! The young sommelier-turned-winemaker from Les 2 Fauves, the couple from Vin des Pauzes, the winemaker from Mas de l’Escarida and his partner who distills the failed cuvées into liquors, etc. We talked with a lot of people and took a lot of business cards and phone numbers, so we can visit the vineyards in the coming months! As for the invited winemakers from the rest of France (mostly the Southeast: Héraut, Drôme, Vaucluse, Haute-Savoie, Ain, Tarn etc), we talked and tasted and brought 8 bottles back home. And we'll know where to start if we visit their areas on weekend wine trips at some point!
Something interesting: some winemakers focus on the raw grapes, their wine reflecting their vineyard on any given year, the final outcome being somewhat of a surprise even for them year after year. In contrast, others have a more specific vision for their wines (going as far as thinking of food—wine pairings ahead of vinification) and intervene subtly in the cellar, varying techniques and methods to shape the final result into the wine they want to make.
- Howl's Moving Castle (2004) by Hayao Miyazaki
- John Wick: Chapter 4 (2023) by Chad Stahelski
- Decision to Leave (2022) by Park Chan-wook
Back to it! Also we went to the library so we have tons of graphic novels and other books again. Also also I started to give a gut feeling rating to books so I remember how much I liked one or the other in the future—adding it at the end of book notes from now on.
for future reference, Cornelius is turning 158 later this year. He was brought from the Basque country to Iceland back in 1865. ↩
disappointing unfortunately—to have good Japanese food around here we'll probably have to cook it! ↩
an amazing camping! There's plenty in the region but this one was particularly nice: small, lots of trees and shade, by a small river, right by Chambonas and very close to Les Vans ↩
not to be confused with domain names ↩