I am one of the few people that I know of that would drink champagne day and night if they could. I LOVE it and for me a night alone with my knitting is as special an occassion as any other to pop open a bottle of the bubbly! So when my friend Anita told me we were going to Champagne for the next few nights I was BEYOND giddy.
Courmont (Asine) France is part of the Champagne country. Anything that can be considered (or legally called) champagne in France comes from this area of the Provence. About an hour and forty-five minutes out of the city this place is AMAZING. The people are some of the most inviting i have met since I have been here and the food was without a doubt the best! But a lot of this experience has something to do with the environment I found myself in.
So now I have been to two French parties in the country and I can tell you they are organized more like a weekend in the Hamptons than anything else I have ever experienced.
Parisians have parties out in their country house, an essential accessory of Parisian life. These parties last all weekend involving multipul meals and hours with all the members of the celebration. Even when the party appears to be for one night everyone stays the night at the house and stays until lunch the next day (which if you have been reading you know lasts about 4 hours so you don’t leave til 5)
For example this party that I went to at Xoph’s (inventive spelling by my dear friend) had 30 guests, which apparently was a low number from past years, that stayed at his country home for about four days. More later on where he put them all. They enjoyed every meal together which each was something wonderfully prepared by numbers of guests and afterwards they spent hours sitting around in different groups or doing activities like hiking in the woods, going to the rivers for swims, exploring a champagne house, or just simply taking in the sun. I was lucky enough to arrive for the highlight of the weekend: the lamb.
When we got there the night began with a toast and the opening of 24 bottles of champagne, what else. OH what a beautiful and movie like setting it was at the table. Long tables of people passing bottles of red wine, bread, plates of amazingly fresh green beans, white peas, corn and most importantly the meat, to one-another. The table lit only by mismatched candélabres but it is so dark that you can see every person perfectly all along the table, it was as if there shouldn’t have been that much light coming from such a small source. The taste of that food is indescribable and is making my mouth water as we speak but i must say that I have never tasted something like a lamb cooked meticulously over a wooden fire pit for hours. When everyone’s bellies were swolen and the lamb was practically demolished I managed to begin a song exchange. I was in such ecstasy over the food that I started to hum a tune with happiness. (no really I did) Xoph wanted me to sing the song I was humming. A song exchange erupted among all of the guests that continued well into the night. Xoph even took to walking on the tables around all the plates, bottles and candles during one of the climactic verses. I took a request for “a country song” from one of the guests and sang a well received version of “crazy”. French singalongs, rowdy rounds of Russian jigs and a cajun drinking song echoed through the French country-side that night as we all took turns sharing verses. This will be something etched into my mind forever.
These parties are a GREAT excuse to get out of the city But the up-sides are numerous and if you are lucky enough to be invited to a party out in the country don’t hesitate to accept. And one of the best things is that you find a new love for the city when you get back (at least for the first few days) = ).