The First Answer Is: Bordeaux

Hi, folks!

Last time I shared that I would be on an adventure and I gave these two pictures as clues:

clues to my adventure

What could these mean?

Well, no big surprise – part one of the adventure involved wine tasting.

In Bordeaux! More on that in a minute.

Part two of the adventure, symbolized by the scallop shell, had us hiking the Camino of St. James, a pilgrimage trail through France and Spain. Truly a once in a lifetime experience, the Camino needs its very own post so I will share that story soon.

But first, beautiful, fabulous Bordeaux.

Welcome to Bordeaux

Our group of 7 hired a private guide, Claude, who came highly recommended. We corresponded with him for months and months and were giddy with excitement, anticipating our tour of Bordeaux.

Peter and I were the first to arrive at the Bordeaux airport. We grabbed our bags then started looking around for Claude.

We looked and looked, but no Claude.

Instead we saw an adorable French woman holding a sign with our name on it. She introduced herself as Claude’s wife, Ghislaine (GG for short).

It seems that Claude had undergone emergency surgery a few days earlier and would not be able to join us. Claude and GG didn’t let us know before our arrival because they didn’t want us to be alarmed.

The trip would go on just as planned but GG would be our guide instead of Claude. GG’s brother, Jean Pierre (JP for short), would be our driver.

GG and JP

We are a pretty intrepid group (plus, at that point we really didn’t have a back up plan) so we just went with the flow and let GG and JP lead the way.

And we had the time of our lives.

Following the spectacular itinerary set up by GG and Claude, we were pampered and delighted at every corner.

Have you ever been on a trip during which you feel totally cared for, like you don’t have to think about a single detail?

That was this trip.

For starters, we stayed in this gorgeous place, the Château de La Rivière.

Chateau de La Riviere

Château de La Rivière

We had the place all to ourselves, occupying 4 of the 6 rooms in the chateau. The innkeeper, Natalie, provided us with a delicious breakfast every morning

Château de La Rivière breakfast

and a fabulous multi-course dinner on our last evening. These appetizers were as yummy as they are beautiful.

Château de La Rivière appetizers

Each morning GG and JP would arrive to whisk us off for the day’s adventure.

We enjoyed tours and wine tasting at chateau after chateau, including:

Château Pape Clément which was named after its most famous resident, Pope Clement V.  It is one of the oldest vineyards in Bordeaux – first planted in 1252.

Château Pape Clément

Château Carbonnieux which also dates back to the 13th century.

Château Carbonnieux

Our very own Thomas Jefferson visited Château Carbonnieux during his wine tasting trip through Bordeaux in 1786. According to his diary, he was a fan of the wines produced by the Benedictine Monks who owned the vineyard at that time.

These same clever and enterprising monks produced an almost clear white wine that they marketed as “mineral water” to sell in places that prohibited or heavily taxed alcohol. The story goes that a Turkish prince at the time said, “I don’t know why the French bother making wine when their mineral water tastes so good.”

We visited Château Troplong Mondot in the Saint-Émilion appellation.

Chateau Troplong Mondot

And traveled by ferry across the Gironde to visit Château Lynch-Bages where we had the opportunity to see the team at work.

Chateau Lynch Bages

We took a tour of the wine cellars at the Château de La Rivière at which we were staying.

Château de La Rivière wine cellar

There are over 7 acres of cellars under the Château. During World War II, Jewish families and members of the French Resistance hid in these cellars while Germans lived in the chateau above, oblivious to the existence of the caves below.

We toured the picturesque town of Saint-Émilion, including the world’s largest monolithic church, a gigantic structure “built” by digging out the side of a cliff.

Saint-Émilion

View from above Saint-Émilion

After our time in Bordeaux, GG and JP drove us to Lugo, Spain where the Bordeaux 7 would meet up with the rest of the Camino group.

Along the way to Lugo we stopped at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes where we attended Mass (in French), collected holy water and lit candles.

Basilica at Lourdes

close up view of Basilica at Lourdes

inside the Basilica at Lourdes

candle lighting at Lourdes

The next day, we stopped at the Sanctuary of Loyola in Spain, the home of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We visited the gorgeous Basilica, attended Mass (in Spanish) in the Conversion Chapel and toured exhibits chronicling the life of St. Ignatius and the history of the Jesuits.

Basilica at Loyola Sanctuary

Inside of Basilica at Loyola Santuary

Loyola Sanctuary Conversion Chapel

Finally, we were on the road to Lugo and saw the first sign of next part of our adventure: The Camino de Santiago. Stay tuned for that story…

First sign of the Camino

I have to be honest, I had a tough time writing this post. It has taken me weeks and weeks to get it done.

Not only was the volume of photos to show and stories to tell overwhelming, but, more importantly, I had no idea how to put into words the sheer magic of this part of our trip. It’s impossible.

And it was all thanks to JP, Claude and GG.

JP is a Frenchman right out of central casting. Handsome, charming and a bit mischievous. He kept us in stitches the whole time, even though he doesn’t speak a bit of English. As a lifelong resident of Bordeaux, JP knew all the shortcuts, history and secrets of the place. As a former vineyard owner, he knew everything about wine making in the region. He even gave us a couple of bottles of his wine from his personal cellar. We will never forget him!

One of the truly unexpected treats of our time in Bordeaux was when we stopped for a short visit with Claude as he recuperated from surgery. We were thrilled by the opportunity to meet him in person.

And then there’s Ghislaine, GG.

This amazing gal took such exceptional care of us. She made sure we got the most out of every single experience and every single moment.

GG indulged our collective sweet tooth with frequent stops at boulangeries along the way, brought us to the most fabulous French wine shops, kept us well supplied with treats, showed us places that only the locals know about and made sure that we immersed ourselves in the food and wine of her beloved homeland. She is an angel, for sure.

Absolutely nothing was impossible for this team.

And they blessed our group with memories that will last a lifetime.

Bordeaux 7 with GG and JP

Merci beaucoup!

 

Thanks for stopping by,
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Places To Visit

Hi folks! I’m currently working on an adventure that is keeping me away from the keyboard. Details to follow but here are a couple of clues:

Mocadeaux wine glasses

and

Mocadeaux - shell

No, we are not drinking wine on the beach. Keep guessing.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you just a few of the places I like to visit in blog land. For more of my favorites, check out the blogroll on the sidebar over there 

The Enchanted Home – Tina shares ideas on decorating and fashion. She has a shop featuring all sorts of gorgeous things for the home. I always look forward to her Seven on Sunday posts in which she shines a light on her favorite things. It’s Tina version of Oprah’s “O List” and it is fabulous!  Every week I discover new Instagram pages to follow thanks to Tina’s curation.

Preppy Empty Nester – It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of my dear pal, super-model trophy-wife Katie Clooney and her hilarious stories. You will also want to check the virtual tour of her Texas and Massachusetts homes and the photos of her adorable pups, Chowdah and Chili.

Kelly McKenzie – Just Typikel – This sweet and very talented Canadian spitfire is a self-described “Quirk Magnet” who tells tales about the pickles she has gotten herself into and her adventures with her 93-year-old mum. She is also a published author having, among other things, an essay published in Chicken Soup For The Cat Lover’s Soul even though she doesn’t own a cat. Just Typikel.

You May Be Wandering – This is my very favorite travel blog. The photos make me want to pack a suitcase and go! In addition to tempting destination ideas, Sandy posts great travel tips about everything from planning to packing and all things in between. Sandy is also a fantastic travel agent who can make your travel dreams a reality. That might be a hint but I’m not saying.

Coach Daddy – Eli writes about “Fatherhood, Futbol and Food”.  (I feel a kindred spirit-ness with Eli, having bonded over our love of pizza.) I especially love Eli’s “6 Words” challenge which requires participants to craft a 6-word answer to each month’s question. It is way harder than you would imagine. I love participating for that very reason because it is such good exercise for my old and addled brain.

That’s all for now. What about you? What are your favorite places in blog land to visit?

See you soon!

Thanks for stopping by,
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Beef Tenderloin and Cabernet Sauvignon

Beef tenderloin is my very favorite cut of meat.

And it scares me to death.

Beef tenderloin can be culinary bliss or if cooked improperly, the most expensive mistake you’ll ever make.

So, when I recently prepared a beef tenderloin dinner to celebrate having the twins and their parents in town, I turned to the wise and wonderful Barefoot Contessa for advice.

Seriously, is there anyone better at instilling confidence in home cooks than Ina Garten? Her soothing voice. Her “keep calm and trust me” demeanor.

She is simply the best.

Ina’s recipe for beef tenderloin calls for four ingredients.

  • 5-pound beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter at room temperature
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Ok, that’s the easy part.

I’ve made beef tenderloin enough to know the drill: take the meat out of the refrigerator several hours before cooking to let it come up to temperature, slather the tenderloin with butter, generously salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan and you are ready to go.

The very, very, very tricky part of cooking a beef tenderloin is the temperature at which to cook it.

A Google search for “how to roast a 5-pound beef tenderloin” brings results ranging from 250° to 500°.

Quite the range, eh?

Now you know why I turned to my culinary spirit animal, Ina Garten.

I will let the expert show you how it’s done.

Our crowd favors “rare” so I cooked my tenderloin at 500° for EXACTLY 22 minutes as Ina instructs here.

It turned out perfectly as I knew it would and we gobbled it up before I thought to snap a picture.

One little side note.

Because I was terrified of overcooking the main course, I used not one but two meat thermometers.

The standard, every kitchen should have one, old-school meat thermometer

Mocadeaux - meat thermometer

and the fancy-pants, set it and forget it, remote meat thermometer.

Mocadeaux - remote meat thermometer

Both were brand new as my old ones had gone caput within days of one another.

At the precise 22 minute mark, the low-tech thermometer registered a few ticks below 130°, just where I wanted it to be.

However, the high-tech device registered an alarming 86°! If I had relied just on that thermometer without the backup thermometer and the guidance of my mentor, Ina, my precious tenderloin would have been destroyed. Shoe leather.

Lessons learned: Always have a backup thermometer and always trust Ina.

Now, about the wine…

A dinner featuring my favorite meat needed to also feature my favorite wine – Cabernet Sauvignon.

Peter reached deep into the wine cellar and picked out two gems.

2007 Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon

Mocadeaux - 2007 Quintessa Cabernet Sauvignon

and

2009 Darius II Cabernet Sauvignon

Mocadeaux - 2009 Darius II

Both of these beautiful wines are definitely special occasion gems pulled from the top shelf of our cellar. But you can find great bottles of cabernet sauvignon at your local wine store. Always remember to ask the staff for suggestions.

Check out my recommendations, including “Everyday Cabernet Sauvignons”Chimney Rock which always rocks and “A Red Wine Lovers List of Red Wines I Love”.

Mocadeaux - red wine list

With a perfectly cooked beef tenderloin and a thoughtfully chosen Cabernet Sauvignon, you can’t go wrong.

By the way, be sure to send a note letting me know when dinner will be served. I wouldn’t want to be late!

Thanks for stopping by,
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Hug The Glenview Bear

I’m a strong believer in geographic karma.

I think we each have some place that speaks to our soul like no other.

Perhaps it is a family vacation home where memories were made and traditions passed down through the generations.

Perhaps, like my blog pal Barbara, it is a place you have visited as a tourist but hope to return as a resident – if even just for a little while.

For me, the place I feel most connected is Glenview.

Mocadeaux - Glenview banner

My kind of town. Glenview, Illinois.

It’s the village in which Peter and I bought our first house, raised our children, have made great friends and fabulous memories.

Twice job situations took us away from Glenview but each time we made it our goal to return. And both times we did.

We are not alone in this devotion.  I know at least a half dozen other folks who have also moved away and come back. There is something about our little Glenview.

Peter and I settled in Glenview in 1981. With our first baby on the way, we looked for a place to raise our family.

The fall of 1981 was not a good time to be buying a home. Mortgage rates were at an all-time high of, wait for it:

18%!!!!

I’m not kidding – google it. That’s like financing your house on your credit card.

Mocadeaux - our first house

After lots and lots of looking, we finally found an adorable, small brick ranch that came with a very attractive quality. An assumable mortgage.

The sellers had a mortgage with the rock-bottom rate of 8% that we were able to assume and blend with our new mortgage so we could get down to the low, low rate of 12% making these two accountants giddy with excitement.

Those were NOT the days…

Still, we were thrilled to put down our roots in this special place.

So what is it about Glenview?

In no particular order here are just a few of the reasons that I love Glenview:

The schools – Our children were lucky to have attended wonderful schools from pre-school all the way through high school.

This is a town where education is valued. Both academic and extra-curricular activities receive great support and the schools have received national recognition because of it.

We also have a pretty fabulous library.

Mocadeaux - Glenview Public Library

The Park District – We have a tennis center and golf courses, summer camps and swim lessons. We have walking trails, playgrounds, pools, a skateboard park and fishing pond.

Oh yes, and we have a farm. Right smack in the middle of Glenview, less than 15 miles from the heart of downtown Chicago, sits Wagner Farm.

Mocadeuax - Glenview Wagner Farm cows

Now owned by the Glenview Park District, Wagner Farm is a very popular place; excellent for visiting grandsons!

Mocadeaux - Wagner Farm tractor

The Glen – For many, many years the Glenview Naval Air Station occupied over 1,100 acres of the village. Naval planes flew overhead and the Goodyear blimp parked there when it was in town.

In 1995, the Glenview Naval Air Station was decommisioned by the Navy and the land was deeded to the Village of Glenview.

Imagine, suddenly having the opportunity to redefine the landscape of 12% of the area in your town – a blank canvas. Well, not totally blank. The village had to tear up about a million cubic yards of concrete and tear down a bunch of Navy buildings, but still.

Through careful planning and execution, the area was transformed into The Glen.

Featuring homes, apartments, a new school, the park district fitness center, senior center, pond, sportsfields, a gold course, two retirement homes, Kohl’s Children’s Museum, shopping and dining, The Glen has something for everyone.

The Glen is home to some of our favorite restaurants and the fabulous shopping mecca Von Maur, where gift wrap and shipping are always free.

 

But most of all, it’s the people – Glenview’s motto is, “Hug the Bear” referring to this guy.

Mocadeaux - Glenview bear

“Prairie and Lehigh is the corner where it’s at.”

The statue, a gift to the children of the Glenview from an early resident, Ed Jackman, has come to symbolize the community spirit in the hearts of the fine folks of Glenview.

For Peter and me, Glenview is home to many of our oldest and dearest friends. Our children all grew up together here, creating family memories like moms and tots parties, slip and slide baseball, the 4th of July parade and fireworks. Baptisms, graduations, weddings.

Glenview is the place where we see familiar faces everywhere we turn. A place of great comfort. Home.

Paris is lovely but my heart belongs in Glenview.

Mocadeaux - Glenview home

What is your favorite place?


I am participating in the “Who I Am” series. This writing project is the brainchild of Dana of Kiss My List and Bev of Linkouture. Each month we are given a prompt regarding some aspect of our life. This month it is all about our favorite location. The goal is, at the end of the year, to have twelve chapters in the book titled Who I Am.

Thanks for stopping by,
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