Thursday, June 28

Bargain Hunt

Three boxes full of yarn and new plates have been mailed off and I've got a fourth waiting to be filled with a years' supply of local soap, a salad bowl and my latest fashion finds. There are two local producers of provençal fabrics/clothes that have pricey boutiques in Paris and in the more touristy towns. One is Les Olivades and the other is Soleiado. Now, if you ever find yourself in Tarascon or Arles and see all the locals wearing brightly patterned shirts you may think they're a pretty well-heeled bunch around here as these shirts usually go for 70 dollars or so. Thanks to a casual mention at a dinner party, I found out where and when that most sacrosanct of local bargain hunting was to be found--the Soleiado factory warehouse sale.

I left the kids, I left the husband, I even left a full glass of rosé behind at lunch as I took to the wheel of our dusty rental car and set out for the second roundabout after Les Olivades and next to the Formule 51 hotel in a zone industriel outside of Tarascon. And there it was, a nondescript warehouse with a parking lot full of dusty Renaults, Peugots and Citroens with packs of Marlboros on the dashboards. Inside bins and bins of bright yellow, green and fuchsia shirts and skirts with shelves of tablecloths, placemats and fabric. The most expensive thing was maybe 15 euros---paydirt, baby!

As the shirts were 5 euros, there was a certain amount of jovial jostling as I elbowed my way in among the Tarasque housewives, grandmothers and daughters. Husbands were milling around and patiently standing by as their wives held up shirts that look more suited for back-up singers at Dollywood than the local plumbers, electricians and boule players. I always buy the largest sizes as the French have yet to recognize that big-boned American gals are a head taller and 4 sizes bigger than their gallic counterparts (those French are all convinced that they wear a 36 or 38 regardless of age). Two shopping bags later, I returned to base camp and that glass of rosé.

So, the next time you're in Austin and you hear some broad humming "Jolene" in a bright green paisley shirt and hot pink leggings in the wine section at Whole Foods, it will be yours truly.

Friday, June 15

New York-Milan-Provence

New York--Enn Brasserie(great fresh tofu, soba noodles with warm duck broth), Barney Greengrass, Spicy and Tasty in Flushing, brunch at Resto. Lots of baby doll tops with leggings or tight jeans. NOT a good look for anyone over 25, although we had dinner with a woman who solved the problem by pouring her ample bosom into a neon orange bra that she wore under her filmy top. It certainly drew the eye away from what looked like her third trimester.

I did check out Yarn Co.(row counter) and Knitty City(bryspun circulars, 4 skeins bamboo) on the Upper West side for some, ahem, supplies that I forgot to pack. The Barnes&Noble nearby has a surprisingly good selection of knitting books where I picked up a copy of Alice Starmore's Ganseys book.

Milan--tight suits with heels, models past their sell-by date accompany wealthy older men to meetings, dinner and ? Speaking of food, this begins Mr. Mary's assault on the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna. He has brainwashed Bandit into joining him in this task while I sample salads at lunch and go easy at dinner.
Bologna--great university town with a maze of medieval streets and lots of bookshops.
Pisa--Hotel Queen Victoria is a wonderful old hotel complete with a plaque from the Automobile Club of France from 1951. Rooftop terrace is a riot of vines, bougainvillea and potted plants. Yep, the tower's still there.

Provence--alfresco lunches followed by a nap before watching Mr. Mary whip up another regional dish. And yes, I've been knitting furiously on the swatch. This cable is a 12/12/12 plait that involves ersatz short rows on the crossovers and I'm mulling over the possibilities of a 5/3 cable knitted through the back loops for extra pop. I plan to cast on this weekend.

Anny Blatt Factory Outlet field trip is scheduled for next Thursday. Please dress casually and wear comfortable shoes. We'll be stopping afterwards at a local cafe for a light lunch and a possible side trip to Monoprix. Trip price doesn't include wine. Meet at the Mausanne post office at 8:30 am sharp.