|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter PAGE THREE|
Returns to America!
The authentically reproduced frigate, Hermione, an exact duplicate of the one that brought Général Marquis de La Fayette to the American colonies in the late 1770s, will arrive again at our shores ~ a voyage of 7500 nautical miles that will take four months. This amazing reconstruction, built entirely as it would have been in the 1700s and entirely by volunteers, is scheduled to arrive in Yorktown, Virginia, between the 5th and 7th of June 2015.
La Fayette (the family spelling of Lafayette) and l'Hermione participated in the battle of Yorktown, the first stop on this voyage, which was decisive in the United States War of Independence. The other ports of call and the dates are listed below.
In 2011, we visited Rochefort where the frigate was being constructed, and this article in our Autumn 2011 newsletter showed the work in progress. We were pleased to join the Association Hermione-La Fayette and make a donation enabling us to have our names on the Hermione flag. Now, proven seaworthy over the past year, the Hermione will make its maiden Atlantic voyage, departing from Rochefort to the Canary Islands, and then it will sail from the Canary Islands to the Chesapeake Bay ~ 17 years after the construction began.
We hope that as many of you as possible will be able to see the Hermione for yourselves, and we encourage you to do so. This is an important piece of the unbroken friendship between France and the United States ~ an alliance that has lasted more than 238 years ~ and it represents the incredibly close bond between the Marquis de La Fayette and General George Washington.
[We want to thank the Association Hermione-La Fayette for its dedication over many years to make this ship a reality.
The craftsmanship, hand work, authenticity of materials and design, and the tens of thousands of hours devoted to
this noble cause by all who participated is greatly appreciated by those of us who have followed its progress over the years.
Appreciated, too, are the many thousands of people who donated money to fund the project.
We thank the Association for providing us with the information to pass along to our readers.]
BOOKSHELF: A Mule Across
the Water: Real Food in Sussex and Normandy
a book by Rob Silverstone
The December 2004 issue of this
newsletter included an excerpt from Rob Silverstone's book, A Mule in Rouen,
his recounting of the time he spent in Normandy. For those of you
who may not have seen this snippet from his book, click here to
enjoy a few moments with Rob's lovely prose. We didn't say it
then, but we should have: he is a chef by vocation, but he has
successfully joined it with his avocation - writing - to create
enjoyable books that take you immediately to Upper Normandy, France -
and, in this case, Sussex, England.
A Mule Across the Water
begins in a comedy club in Brighton and a seafood restaurant in Dieppe,
and his descriptions of the clientele and waitresses provide
instant images for the reader, transporting one happily into each
scene. Of course, menus and food play a major part in each story.
The book lingers awhile in each place and then dashes across the
Channel for more of Rob's adventures.
Of course, no visit to Normandy
would be complete without ingesting the cheese. Rob writes, "Pont l'Evêque and Livarot are both
good when warm as freshly-baked bread. But the prize cheese is
Neufchatel, named after the little market town in the heart of the Pays
de Bray. Neufchatel is a taste explosion, blowing the roof off
your head. Patched up and sedated, you have to go back for
more. The perfect cheese is meltingly ripe, maturity taking the
edge off the cordite, leaving your tongue intact. The last
Neufchatel I bough smelt and tasted of the farmyard. A live,
almost carnal food, rich and deeply authentic. Tucked away in the
hills near Bellencombre, snowy white goats command your affection as
they clamour and roll in the hay. This is where the Bazin family
makes their famous 'chèvre'. Ladled into moulds, and
in ash, it bears no resemblance to the sharp, acidic mass-produced
logs. Sun-kissed on a summer picnic, the skin barely manages to
contain its creamy centre. If ever there was a cheese like
nectar, then this is it."
humor won't escape you either - he can describe an ordinary
scene, and you will laugh out loud. Rob tells of a time when
were burning tires on the bridges across the Seine. With traffic
backed up for miles, those sitting at café terraces shook their
heads in resignation, "resignation
tinged with pride at La France, a refined state of order always
bubbling on the edge of rebellion." You find yourself in
the company of the author in offbeat little places, definitely not
frequented by the tourist trade. He introduces you to obscure
shops on both sides of the Channel, on ferry trips from Newhaven or
Brighton to Dieppe, into pubs and tiny eateries, to an oyster farm, a
renovated barn now a theatre in Brighton - even a Scallop
Rob rides a bicycle from place to
place on both sides of the Channel, which, after one Brighton
excursion, makes you admire his stamina. "The bus fuming in gridlock, inching
forward painfully with each jarring squeal of the brakes. Catch a
lung full of the black exhaust; it's got to do you good".
The book includes three better
bike routes that follow railway lines - from Polegate to Heathfield and
Shoreham to Guildford in Sussex, and Dieppe (partially on the coastal
road) to Rouen. He is also fond of trains, and, of course, boats.
There are excellent black and white
photos - Rob's other passion - in this book of 254 pages. Beginning
with Chapter 3 the book is dedicated to myriad specialty food shops
where you can buy everything from fish to ice cream, outdoor markets in
hamlets and villages, producers of wines and beers of Sussex, a few
good restaurants he personally recommends, and Les Produits du Terroir de Haute Normandie
- something very close to his heart as Rob is a strong believer
in healthy food and nutrition and using only fresh, local products for
Chapter 5 offers a glimpse into Rob
the chef - it is a treasure trove of his recipes, again based on local
produce: Soups and Starters
(Celeriac and apple soup is one), Meat
(do try leg of lamb cooked in hay), Fish
(Cod mornay), and Desserts (Crêpes Normandes).
And there is even a 12-page section on Vegetarian recipes which, we were
happy to hear recently, is cuisine that is finally catching on in
France. Try Aunt Val's Cheese & Chutney Tart.
This is the third in the "Mule"
series, and thoroughly enjoyable. Rob has a real writing talent
combined with the ability to see the funny side of almost any
situation. It will especially appeal to anyone interested in food
and who might like a little guidance to find those out-of-the-way
specialty shops and restaurants along the Channel. In addition
to this book, he has also published A
Mule In Rouen - A Discovery of Upper Normandy which we
mentioned earlier, and (for you Anglophiles) A Mule in Brighton - A Taste of the Downs.
to buy any of Rob