Living abroad definitely has its advantages. In addition to opportunities to travel and learn other languages is the added benefit of getting to know new and interesting people. And the nice thing about meeting other foreigners is that, as strangers in a strange land together, you have an instant bond. You speak English? I speak English! Okay, you’re my new best friend, call me every day from now on. And sometimes, as you get to know these new people, you discover that you have more in common than you ever could have guessed and find that you have made what will be a friend for life.
The downside to these multi-national friendships is that your friends sometimes decide to go home. This was the case over the summer, when our dear friends Adi and Frits decided it was time to return to Australia. There was a brief moment of hope, when it looked like they might instead move to Frits’s hometown of Amsterdam, which would have put them a quick and cheap plane ride away. But the siren song of Perth’s beaches and abundant employment opportunities was too alluring for them to resist and Adi’s Australian family and friends ended up the winners.
We’re very disappointed, naturally, but rather than dwelling on the negative, I thought I’d tell you instead about the lovely going-away lunch we enjoyed with them. We were joined by two other ex-pats, a French couple and Adi’s Australian friend, Sharls, who was in France for a last visit before the big move.
Never one to skimp when it comes to occasions to celebrate, Adi had chosen Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle as the venue for their farewell lunch. The restaurant is one of the many Michelin-starred gems in internationally renowned chef Alain Ducasse’s crown. According to the restaurant’s web site, “This is a place of idyll, an exquisite eulogy to carefree living, to true, inspired laziness: the shaded terrace, the magnificent pool and the sound of the breeze caressing the leaves of the chestnut trees produce a feeling of calm and tranquility that sends us back to they mystery of the past…”
Our meal started with champagne and thinly sliced toasts spread with fresh hummus and tapenade (olive spread)
. The first course was a mélange of dainty spring vegetables lightly coated in a caramelized vanilla sauce, followed by red mullet fillets served on a bed of ratatouille.
The main course consisted of slices of rosy, tender lamb with a chanterelle sauce, accompanied by thinly sliced vegetables layered and baked into a neat little circle and topped with fresh tarragon. Fresh seasonal cheeses and green salad followed, as did a dessert of vanilla, strawberry and pistachio ice cream layered with white chocolate and covered with plump raspberries. We finished with espresso and raspberry macaroons. Need I even say that the wine was flowing? It was.
If you have to say farewell, this is the way to do it. But I’m not calling it “goodbye,” since we know we’ll continue to be friends no matter where we all live. Let’s just call it “bon voyage.” Bon voyage, Adi and Frits!