Mar 22, 2014

Lemony Scented Adventures: Fiore de Muntagna


On these curvy roads, it was bound to happen. But the surprise is that it's not me or Gigi but rather Pippa who gets car-sick and vomits all over the interior of the rental. And I do mean all over. She manages to hit not just her entire outfit, but also her booster seat, the car seat under it, the floor, the seat in front of her, the window, and even the ceiling. The road has no shoulder, so despite the warning she gives us, we have no choice but to keep going forward till the next turn out. Gigi goes into a nearby store and buys tons of bottles of water, and they also give her some paper towel and a sponge. Once Anthony and I have gotten the car (and her) relatively clean, I have the brilliant idea to use a travel-sized bottle of moisturizer I carry with me in my backpack. It is an old hotel-freebie to be used in dry-skin emergencies only, since Anthony nearly gags at what he calls the "lemon balm". Or is it "lemon bomb"? I'm not sure what he's been calling it, because both are apt. In this case, we moisturize the car seats with it, assuming it will improve matters. But this is putting lipstick on a pig, and now -- let's face it -- we're driving around in a lemony-vomit-scented rental car. In desperation, we each smear a little bit of the lemon balm/bomb beneath our noses. I'm not sure if this is an improvement or not, but let's just say that we drive with the windows open.
Pippa changes into an extra sweatshirt we brought with us and wears my fleece jacket tied around her like a skirt. But as we are driving, we come across this Defimode store. At which point angels start singing.

I find out just how heaven-sent (and heavenly-scented) it is when I see it's a French equivalent of T.J.Maxx or Ross Dress for Less. 14€ later, the Pipster is wearing comfortable and cute lavender pants, and we are -- finally -- ready to make it to our destination, the Indian Forest Acrobatic Park.
This oddly-named place is one of several ropes courses in the heart of the Dordogne. The courses are labeled like ski slopes. Officially, the red and black courses are meant for ages 12 and up, but the first time we go, Gigi -- then age 8 -- is allowed to do them because she is 50% monkey, 50% mountain goat. And 100% fearless. Pippa -- then age 6 -- is allowed on the blue course, whose posted minimum age is 9, because she is also a monkey-goat hybrid, but not tall enough to move up to the red and black courses. As it is, she is on tippy-toes for a few of the passages, and Anthony or I have to try to pull the ropes down for her. Some of these things are really quite high up, and we keep saying that my mother would be having a heart attack if she were here.

The girls pronounce this their favorite part of the trip to the Dordogne and predict it will be what they remember best. Sure enough, wen we return to the region, this is a must-do on their list. Now that they're taller monkey-mountain goat hybrids, they're excited to see what else they can do on the course.

A lot, it turns out. Gigi can do everything but the course meant for 15 year olds and up. She gives that one a try too, but it is immediately too big and hard for her. Pippa meanwhile, gets off the green and blue courses she did last year and is able to do the entire red course and part of the black course. Her greatest success, however, is not throwing up in the car on the way to the Indian Forest, and after we pass the  infamous vomit and the store where we bought emergency clean clothes, she lets out a big victory cheer.

Even I can't do the whole ropes course, since there's one part of the black where the staff member -- who is taller than I am, naturally -- says he has to go on tiptoe. Only Anthony, who is part Tarzan/ part Spiderman, can do the whole thing.

Having tried it both ways, we prefer our forest adventures pine-scented, rather than lemony.

THE CHEESE: Fiore de Muntagna

Fiore de Muntagna is a brebis, that means a sheep milk's cheese, in this case raw. It's a Corsican cheese ("Don't call it French!" says a Corsican in the cheese shop) made in a small, artisanal fromagerie called Baldovini Xavier. The farm is situated on the eastern side of the Ile de Beauté, with the famous Corsican scrub (maquis) all around -- ideal for sheep grazing. The cheese is made seasonally, when the sheep are milked from November through June.

Though it's a hard cheese, it's creamy in the mouth, not dry or chalky as you might expect looking at it. It's on the stinky side, with an acid finish, that you might even call lemony. Good, but not our favorite.


This is not a local cheese, but then again Accrobranche ropes courses are not a purely local phenomenon, either. They can be found all around France and farther afield in French-speaking places: We've also climbed in Burgundy, and our most recent tree-climbing experience was in Senegal, for example. There are others in the area we never got to try out: l'Appel de la Forêt in nearby Thenon, and Airparc Périgord. So why this cheese? For a story of courses, a cheese of Corse. Of course.


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