France - Right Where I Need to Be

With vacation over and the family back across the Atlantic, I began to make my way back to France.  I wanted to dig deeper and really get a good grasp on charcuterie. Dominique Chapolard had agreed to take me on as an apprentice at his family’s organic pig farm and charcuterie production facility for a month. It was tough parting with my family.

There is nothing in Texas for you right now, my mother reminded me.

And she was right. Deep down, I think I was really just hankering for one of Lola’s breakfast tacos and a big, sweet iced-tea.

I rented a car in Toulouse with a standard transmission since automatics are twice as expensive to rent. In all my time in Austin selling cars, I never learned how to operate a vehicle with standard transmission. Now I had to learn while driving in France! Let's just say it took me 20 minutes to get out of the parking garage because I didn't know how to shift into reverse. Next,  I stalled out at two traffic lights…

Well, you get the picture.

 My Volkswagen Polo that I rented in Toulouse.

My Volkswagen Polo that I rented in Toulouse.

Somehow I made it back to the Kitchen-at-Camont, the culinary retreat and home of Kate Kill. I didn’t dare pull into her driveway because I was still overcome with fear of putting the Volkswagon Polo into reverse.

As usual, Kate had a full house – the two guests of note on this occasion were Camas Davis and Tim Clinch. Camas originally took a course with Kate back in 2009 then went back to the Northeast and started the Portland Meat Collective, a hands-on meat school and community dedicated to whole animal butchery and the slow food movement. Tim is a well-traveled British photographer who now resides in Bulgaria – He and Kate were in the middle of a week-long food photo shoot for their upcoming book Food Stories from Gascony.

 Kate Hill's lovely home, Camont, in the Gascon region of France.

Kate Hill's lovely home, Camont, in the Gascon region of France.

Other new faces included Dylan Joyce-Ahearne, an Irish writer who has been remodeling Kate’s barge, and Catherine Manterola, Kate’s social media wiz, foodie, and fellow Texan.

 Kate's barge, which is situated on the canal just behind her house.

Kate's barge, which is situated on the canal just behind her house.

And would you believe it, the menu that day was pulled-pork tacos on fresh, homemade tortillas by Catherine? My Tex-Mex craving was filled!

Later that day, I made my way to Nerac, where I would be staying for the next two months. After inspecting my new digs, I strolled out onto my private balcony and peered out at my incredible view. I realized this is exactly where I needed to be.

Mom was right. Texas can wait - I have the rest of my life to spend in the Lone Star State.

 The view from my window in Nerac.

The view from my window in Nerac.

 A shot of the local church during one of my evening stroll through Nerac.

A shot of the local church during one of my evening stroll through Nerac.