Monday, September 29, 2014

At the drop of a hat…

I will change my plans. Sometimes I think that my middle name is “flexible”. People ask what I am doing next week – or enquire about such and such several weeks later to which I usually have to reply, “oh, that was the intended plan, but actually I did …” I also have recently caught myself saying on a rather regular basis: I no longer plan on a weekly or sometimes even a daily basis as things have been known to change 360° on an hourly basis (hmmm… should that perhaps be 180°? 360° would bring me theoretically back to my point of departure, or the intended plan).
Yesterday I had planned another great walk (weather almost as good as the day before, few very vague smudges of upper-level cloud wisps, instead of totally clear skies), catching up on all those things that I didn’t do yesterday due to that walk and perhaps even start that which I intended to do when I arrived 4 days ago. 

All wiped out with the appearance of my landlord and her tentative question: “I have a proposition: how do you feel about having La Brisolée?”  The Valais canton in Switzerland has an autumn meal of roasted chestnuts, cheeses, seasonal fruits, walnuts etc. The largest event – totally dedicated to La Brisolée is held in Fully! (Where the motocross champion of yesterday’s blog lives). (the site is in French, but I am sure that if you need to, I can help translate).  

As is so often the case, I am very difficult to convince – like all of a two-second pause and then it’s to heck with what I had planned, this is so much more interesting, more delicious, more exciting, simply more whatever.

Since I missed it last year (o.k. the wedding that I attended at the Presidio in San Francisco was more than a worthy contender) and since I wasn’t at all sure to be able to get it this year, I’m like “where shall I be, when”?   

She went to call the restaurant and even managed to talk them into taking us – as long as we came early and would promise to leave by 14:00. After all two are almost always possible, even on a beautiful sunny Sunday.  That meant a very short, quick walk during which I managed to trip on stones three times and roll on sticks another two, but actually remained upright! 

Then we were off on an adventure: a lovely meal of roasted (on coals, none of this electrical stuff for us) chestnuts, 8 different cheeses and the local dried meats: the all washed down by the first press of the grapes with dessert being apricot or apple pie: hard to take, I know. Not only the once-a-year meal, but on a terrace overlooking the vineyards and the city of Martigny: I can recommend Café Plan Cerisier ( to any and all.

Café du Plan-Cerisier

The wine "pressers"

The restaurant's terrace - we had a table overlooking the valley

Option Brisolée Royale

8 different, local cheeses and dried meats

typical rye bread of the Valais

chestnuts roasted over coals

Dessert - either apricot and hazelnut tarts or apple, together with seasonal fruits

Swiss flag visible through the canape of the chestnut trees

The vineyard two feet from my seat

View of Martigny from my seat

But then it got even better: she took me off to see the vineyards that she and her husband had tended for many, many years (inherited from her husband’s father) and the Mazot ( a stone hut used to store hay, cereals etc. in many areas, but also used as live-in huts whilst tending the vineyards: the name “mazot” is often now used for restaurants selling typically Swiss foods) in which they spent nights when they didn’t have the time to go back up to the mountains (the trip today only took a half an hour, but it did involve leaving the mountain, crossing town and back up another slight mountain). All the years that I have lived in Switzerland I have never been able to wangle a look into one of these so was more than interested.  We got lucky as the couple who had bought it from her daughter were actually there and again, the wonderfulness of the small villages, the neighborhoods where everyone knows their neighbors, they invited us in, offered us coffee: ensued a discussion on the various persons and families still occupying the other huts, who had sold, who had come. History as it should be transmitted. I didn’t want to be too intrusive so didn’t take pictures inside, but did love the fun of stonewalls, low ceilings with beams saying 1700s redone to modern standards, i.e. the small wooden table in the living room held two laptops; plugs were in abundance and the coffee was from a Nespresso machine.

View from the restaurant. Their mazot is in the distance
A neighboring mazot

A typical mazot - yet another neighbor

The front terrace of their mazot

typical slate roof and stone chimney

Another view from the restaurant of Plan-Cerisier

Change my plans at the drop of a hat – always game, never disappointed.