Quotes

Apr 28, 2014

Magic on the Med: Compostelle

THE STORY:

The girls' favorite part of the whole Languedoc trip is at the end: two really magical days in the picturesque Mediterranean beach town of Collioure.
 
 

Anthony works on all-important rock-skimming techniques with the girls, and Pippa decides it is of utmost importance to collect every possible piece of sea glass. She bypasses any shells and heads straight for the greens, blues, clears, and occasional yellows and violets, going at this task with the dedication of an athlete training for the Olympics. She is a champion sea-glass-finder.

 

It's the perfect kind of town for relaxing. Normally on our vacations, we are so busy seeing and doing that we end up nearly as tired as we started (but much happier!). So every once in a while, we welcome an actual day of rest. This is the kind of place we hang out on the beach, shop for summer clothes and souvenirs in the little streets, and eat -- frequently. 

  
 
 
It's a charming town and, frankly, we are glad for the respite from education and castles -- so much so that we never even manage to step in the 800-year old Château Royal here, though we walk by it dozens of times and certainly photograph it enough.

 
 
Collioure is a bright spot on the Mediterranean, and even in April, it's warm enough to hang out on the beach. But only children can go further in the water than their ankles. I once got hypothermia (true, profound hypothermia) by scuba diving just a tiny bit further south from here in a Spanish small town with a big name -- Torroella de Montgrí i l'Estartit -- in the spring. And I'm not about to make that mistake twice. Don't believe what anybody says about the Mediterranean; if you want to swim, it's South Pacific all the way, baby. This sea is cold until mid summer!


We are starting to feel like real Frenchies: We are about as far south as one can go and still be in France, over 800km from Paris, yet Gigi runs into a former Parisian classmate on the beach.

  

And now goodbye to the four Cs (Catharism, Carcassonne, Catalan and Collioure) and the cold seas, and we're on our way back to the land of the four Ps: Paris, pollution, and pavement. Yes, I know that's only three.

THE CHEESE: Compostelle

This is an unusual looking cheese, and also one that should make the Top 10 Most Beautiful list, thanks to the impression of the scallop shell in the cheese. It makes quite an impression on me (ba-dum-bum).


Compostelle is a raw goat's milk cheese made by the Fromagerie Etoile du Quercy, in Lot, on the path of the famous pilgrimage to Compostelle. The rind is delicate, and so is the flavor and smell -- both lightly goaty and fresh. It's a dry-creamy cheese, as opposed to oozy wet-creamy. Etoile du Quercy also produces Saint-Marcellin, Saint-Félicien, Rocamadour, and other better-known cheeses, along with this more unusual and distinctive one.

THE CONNECTION:

Though this cheese comes from a couple departments to the west, it reminds me so strongly (for obvious reasons) of the ocean and of Pippa picking through the seashells to find the glass that I simply have to use it for this story. Do I wish there was a sea-glass themed or crystal green colored cheese? A little. Am I afraid that I'll wish I still had this cheese available to me later on for some story about scallops, or seafood? A little. But Colliure deserves a gorgeous, sea-themed cheese, too.

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