Friday, Part 3: The Party

Friday night we gathered at Le Volant, a Basque restaurant in the fifteenth arrondissement not too far from the Eiffel Tower. Jack from Trufflepig arranged the fête, which began with drinks and copious charcuterie. Cathy welcomed everyone and introduced me, and I croaked out something incoherent about how happy and grateful I was for the experiences of the week. There was much chatter and merriment, and eventually we sat down to dinner.

I was delighted to finally meet Emma, who is every bit as insane as her blog would have you believe. I made sure to send her lots of pictures of taxidermied animals in the weeks leading up to the trip so she would like me. We made plans to collaborate on a perfume called Existential Dread™, which will smell like money and come in a bottle shaped like Munch’s The Scream. The lovely and talented Rosa (who joined Jack and me for dinner earlier in the trip) also came, and I met some other members of the expat blogger world including Stephanie and Alison from LaMomParis and Heena, who is studying pastry and plans to open a pâtisserie in Bombay when she’s finished.

The warm and witty David Lebovitz already wrote an excellent post about the party, and Cathy did a recap for Food52, so I’m going to keep this brief and thank everyone who made this trip happen.

Here’s Jack, who could not have been nicer, and who is getting married in just a couple of days. I wish him a fabulous wedding, and many years of marital bliss. The trip was flawlessly organized and he provided dozens of restaurant recommendations. I need to go back to Paris again soon just to eat at more of them.

As part of the prize, Florence Castarède gave me a bottle of their Armagnac from my birth year: a marvelous gift, and one that I intend to savor. Ariane Daguin, founder of D’Artagnan, was also there, and she was delighted to have offered discounts to all the competitors over the course of the year.

Kate Hill was an incredibly warm, generous, and knowledgable host for the Gascon portion of the trip. She drove, guided, fed, and educated me during four full days of bespoke culinary exploration. I will spend months processing all that I saw and learned. Anyone interested in Southwestern French cuisine should go spend some time with Kate at Camont and soak up some of her expertise and joie de vivre. She will change the way you cook.

And finally, none of this would have happened if it were not for Cathy Barrow. Besides co-conspiring with Kim to create the whole contest, she landed the sponsors and wrangled the whole thing into one perfect package. The trip was brilliantly conceived, flawlessly executed, and an absolute joy from beginning to end. It’s fitting that she has parlayed the publicity surrounding this contest into a burgeoning career as a writer; her savvy is formidable and I look forward to seeing what great things she accomplishes. She is also a tattoo artist.

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in making this possible, and thanks to all of you for voting for me and reading about it. I’ll probably have more to say about the trip in future posts, but normal programming is set to resume tomorrow.

9 comments to Friday, Part 3: The Party

  • Anna Dibble

    Thanks so much for the armchair trip. REally loved it. Just wished I could somehow magically eat the same food you did.

  • Really fun times-please enter the contest next year and come back. We need more parties. And Armagnac.

  • Peter, thank you for your kinds words. It really was a blast. And we’ll always have Paris. (hey, someone had to say it.)

  • Glad you had a good time. Heaven knows, you tried hard enough to win!

  • John

    Reading his review of the party, I suspect David had an eye on your Armagnac. – Excellent travel log. Thanks.

  • Peter

    Anna: Thanks for reading. It was challenging to document in real time; if there’s another such trip I’ll be better at it.

    David: Sadly, I think this might have been a one-time thing. But I’ll be back in France, no question.

    Cathy: Thank you. And yes we will.

    Zoomie: What matters is that I annoyed you.

    John: I’m glad you liked it. And yes, everyone had their eye on my Armagnac.

  • Thanks for the winning trip, Peter. I cannot wait to read your future posts which I know will be inspired by this incredible experience.

  • I enjoyed meeting you, Peter, and absolutely loved the Ham and Antiques Market. We are still eating the salami we bought there! I did end up going late to the Porte de Vanves and scored a tiny oil painting and a miniature dice set, as well as yet another piece of French enamelware. But the best part was being shown antique pornography by one of the vendors. He loved my immediate gasp in English after I’d carefully spoken French, and went around imitating me, “O my Gawd! O my Gawd!” with his dealer friends. And, no, I didn’t buy the porn.

  • Peter

    Linda: Some will, that’s for sure.

    Francesca: It was great to meet you too. I was too hungover to make it to Vanves, but I think I know the porn dealer you’re talking about. My boss used to go check out his wares every time we went.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

Rage Against The Vitrine

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