As with many of the places I visited in France, Nyons had a specific feeling.
I started my trip riding with friends along lavender scented roads through the foothills of the Drome region. Here, it seems like there is a small town at the crest of every hill, with vineyards spotting the valleys in between.
We arrived in time for dinner at D’Un Goût à l’Autre. Aperitifs to digestifs – the magic of the night was the conversation flowing as the wine and rain outside kept us cozy. The sassy and knowledgeable Chef Christophe Malet served us and worked with his stagiare dedicatedly in the kitchen. We all greedily discussed food between courses. At one point our conversation about wasabi earned us small cups of light green granita on the table – letting it melt on our tongues, the sensation of wasabi burned open our sinuses and we laughed together. The cuisine was hyper-local, from wine to cheese course to digestif.
As the restaurant inched toward closing, we sat outside chatting with Christophe and a man who had been sitting alone reading his book in the darkened street. I struggled to keep up with political discussion in French (even though they were mostly speaking English for my sake), emboldened enough by wine not to mind how my accent sounded. I talked with Christophe about the quest for perfection and he told me that he still doubted himself everyday. He left me with good advice, “Go left or go right, don’t bother with the middle.” Franck and Françoise dropped me at my Airbnb house and I quickly slept.
In the morning my hosts, Babeth and Andre served me breakfast alongside a soup bowl sized coffee. An older couple, they both had a joyful youthfulness which was reflected in their house, decorated with motorcycle memorabilia and Americana. We sat and talked, red-haired Babeth in her leopard print top, Andre in black t-shirt and jeans, and connected despite the language barrier.
I started my day with a hike up the hill to Tour de Randonne in the distance – wandering streets with doors randomly chiseled into stone walls. Sweating in the sunlight and covetous for what would appear around every corner, I was constantly surprised.
My journey led me back into the downtown – shops with hand-painted signs, old and new, butchers, bakers, produce shops.
After stopping at the olive museum and shops in between, La Flamme du Boulanger caught my eye from down the street with its crafted metal sign:
In broken French, I asked the bread baker if it was strange to request a picture of his dough-caked hands. He replied, “Non, c’est authentique!”
One kamut loaf later, I left. By the time I was ready to settle at a cafe, my arms were loaded.
When I returned to Lulu Hazard, I made a planche of the Nyons products for my coworkers. I sautéed the zucchini blossoms lightly in butter and finished them with fleur de sel and basil. Alongside were thin slices of moldy, salty saucisson – complimented so perfectly by the Tanche olives. Olives de Nyons are beautiful – salty, sunny, not very bitter, a touch toasty. I rubbed olive oil, garlic and spices on the kamut bread and toasted it lightly.
With those tastes I was hoping to share the feeling of my trip: the sunlight that sprouted those zucchini blossoms, speckled itself on the apricots, that stained my shoulders red. History: the art of bread and charcuterie, the alleyways, the artifacts.