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As world travelers and photographers, Henderson Productions joined forces with our friends from Poggio Amorelli B&B to explore culinary France.  Master Chef contestant Angela Perkins contacted chefs in five distinct regions and asked us to design and document the trip.   We knew it would be a journey for our senses: to see, taste, smell and touch France.   Above all else, we aimed to enjoy the adventure.  We are delighted to report those goals were met and more.   Along the way many chefs gave us permission to include their recipes to help you recreate some of our experiences.  We invite you to appreciate the bounty of their gifts.           Bon Appetit et Bon Voyage.

Pas de la Cas Andorra with plenty of skiing in late spring

Back out of the Niaux Caves and happy to have experienced something so unique we pressed on to Andorra and the border ski town of Pas de la Casa just chockablock full of duty-free grocery and alcohol stores.   We hadn’t known until we began the ascent the full extent of 20% cheaper plus no taxes but clearly every French family – and Spanish as well from the other direction – knows to come and purchase delicacies and essentials.

And really it was ridiculously priced.   We bought all sorts of stuff from boxes of Sangria to a couple less-than-half-priced Bushnell binoculars we had been hunting for years.    As a couple examples: a 12-pack of beer was four Euros and a bottle of Gran Marnier for 12.  We saw Russian vodka for 4E on a sale rack and picked up saffron for a quarter of stateside prices for la Chef.

Beer sales in Andorra

We popped into a restaurant bar for some drinks and checked off one of the three essentials – according to the British ski club – of snow, sex and sangria.   We managed two of the three and will leave it to you to sort out which!

(But Alex, the Cuban bartender, told us the ‘secret’ recipe for sangria is the cheapest possible bottle of red wine mixed with Fanta and Oranjina (a diluted orange juice) and lots of fruit.   The cheaper the wine the better – even indicating homemade wine was perfect.)

Alex taught us the secret to the best sangria

Back down the mountain and learned a little about Gaston Frebus, Count of Foix and Viscount of Bearn.   His surname was his own invention derived from the Occitan for sun and celebrating his long, golden hair.   He is most remembered for his lack of hubris including authoring a book on hunting as an example of many “self-help” books for image-conscious nobles of the era!   His great ambition was to create an autonomous kingdom of the Pyrenees, adding by conquest to his inherited domains but it was made impossible by the Hundred Years War which divided the loyalty of his subjects.   Poor Gaston.

The view from our mountain cabin

Back up to our blissful abode with a full load of supplies and groceries, dinner included chicken breast and at least one of the many bottles clinking in the back as we twist and turn our way home to our tiny village of Labourie – 2.8 km up the mountain from Castle Durban.