16 August, 2010

In which I scream for grown-up joe.

This may be the most pathetically inadequate set of photos ever, which is a real pity, as Arles is a sweet, very walkable, very old city. Yes, it can be quite touristy too, but with a bit of effort, you can escape the near-ubiquitous van Gogh postcards and kitschy bull-fighting paraphenalia. But back to the inadequacy of this photo sampling: after about, oh, the fifth shot (and twenty minutes into my visit), I ran out of camera juice. This may not seem earth-shattering--alright it isn't--but I was astonished. Crushed. An hour or so from home, and I didn't even have the foggiest notion of where the spare battery might possibly be. I thought of you, fervently, because it was a beautiful day, and I was in a beautiful, ancient space.
And I. Couldn't. Take. Photos. I did masochistically, compulsively take note of all the photos I would have taken (just so you realize, there were some real prizewinners)...until finally I shook myself out of it and got myself something to eat.

Arles has a lot of restaurants; you can easily lose count. Unfortunately, most appear rather mediocre at best. When you're only there for the day, you don't want to spoil your visit with poor camera planning AND a bad meal. I wandered in circles until I decided upon something charmingly off-kilter: a tiny restaurant that serves Provençal and Japanese food, in the form of salads, sandwiches and sushi. (Have you culinary purists lost all respect for me yet?)

But wait--one of the owners is actually, truly Japanese. And I didn't have any sushi anyway; in fact, we all chose sandwiches. By God, if these weren't the finest sandwiches I've had in a very long time. Simple as all get out, but with the perfect baguette (i.e. ideal ratio of crispy crust to soft, non-doughy interior) and well-chosen, high quality fillings. The baguettes were topped with finely chopped tomatoes sprinkled with fresh-ground cardamom and pepper and a judicious lashing of superb local olive oil (which the shop also sells). Never before has lunch at a randomly chosen restaurant been this degree of satisfying. We argued loudly over whose sandwich was the best. Run, don't walk: go pick your own favorite at Fadoli et Fadola, 46, rue des Arènes.
One of the Roman amphitheaters, nearly 2,000 years old and in beautiful condition, is now used for bull-fighting. The image above is just inside the main entrance. If stones could speak...
In fact, many of them do, with intriguing, scratched-in tags. En bref, Arles a un charme fou (basically, Arles has a crazy amount of charm), not least for the history buff, with its seemingly endless pile of gorgeous old buildings. For those of us overheated and recovering from our own small follies, however, there is this to come home to. Luscious, almost slushy, darkly, deeply caffeinated, with the slightest grownup edge of bitterness and a pronounced liqueur accent that elevate it beyond a regular sorbet and make this concoction damn near irresistible. Not to be shared with munchkins--especially when they beg.

Café hyper-glacé pour les grands (Frozen Coffee for Proper Adults)
Number of servings varies widely.

1 ½ cups fresh-brewed strong coffee, chilled
1 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahluá
¾ cup condensed milk
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine all the ingredients, pour into your ice cream maker and churn. That’s it.


  1. OMG, we're planning to make this exact coffee/kahlua ice cream today!! great minds think alike...we would love to be in position to take those "inadequate" photos :)

  2. That ice cream looks fantastic! Why do you taunt me like that when you know I don't have an ice cream machine?

    Thanks for thinking of me when you were in Arles anyway. I'm sure you know I would have loved to see more, but sometimes it's nice to not have to worry so much about taking pictures. You can just sit back and enjoy.

  3. I love Arles. Some of my Facebook photos were taken there. Are you on Facebook too?

  4. I would've tried to find a disposable camera and taken photos anyway. But then, I'm much less likely to go back than you are so I have to document travels as much as possible. I remember accumulating 23 rolls of film on one roadtrip across Europe and several months in London. I'm worse now that it's all digital.

  5. Hi RC,
    The funny thing is this started as a sorbet (using extra expresso leftover from a tiramisu recipe). The generous amount of liqueur meant the mixture stays fairly soft, it's sort of a sexed-up Frappucino. It isn't normally so liquid as in the shot (Still. Hot. Here.) Whether mushy or more solid, it is really a heady treat. I keep the servings on the small side. How did yours turn out?

    Hello Rose,
    I nearly had to smack myself, I kept obsessing about all the 'missed' photographic opportunities. I would have been more relaxed with a functioning camera, darn it! Perhaps Santa needs to know about your [shocking!] lack of a ice cream maker. Or make your luck happen: keep trying freecycle. Or start making granitas; then you won't need a machine, and you will still be enjoying cold, sweet stuff when it matters the most--now.

    Hi Nadege,
    Arles is indeed lovely, which is why I was so peeved about the camera thing. Instead of a bouquet of Arles images, I hand you side-views and a back alley or two. Ah well. Haven't done Facebook for this blog.

    Hi WC,
    If I were further from home than I was, I would have done it your way. Digital has really drawn out the compulsive side of me. 23 rolls? Nuttin', honey! I just wish I had a digital camera back when I was working in Africa...

  6. Thank Gawd I don't have an ice cream machine!
    I just spent oodles of time I should be painting researching your Fadoli et Fadola...
    Are you near the Luberon?
    More time wasted perusing maps...I hope to be there painting next Sping if I stop eating out ever again..it may happen.
    I want one of those sandwiches!
    My lunch here is looking very inadequate indeed :(

  7. Hello PB,

    Oh , honey, ice cream machines? They're a GOOD thing. You can be virtuous and only make sorbets. I've even been known to make orange sorbet from bottled pure juice (so no added sugar). And those sandwiches? Seriously divine. Fadoli & Fadola is a tiny place, barely more than a hole in the wall (albeit a very colorful one) so no website, and no surprise it took you time to find info.

    Now that I think about it, I want one of those sandwiches too. And it's 10.30 pm here...

    PS I'm in the Cevennes, less than an hour from the Luberon.


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