What a year! It is now well into 2013, and I can comfortably look back on 2012, and exclaim that The Goose in Toulouse has had quite a fantastic year!
Having the first year completed I want to remark on the growth of The Goose in Toulouse:
- It's an official, tax-paying business!
- In the summer of 2012 several "trial" tours took place, providing much needed feedback and polishing
- The year has been bountiful in research, providing more cheeses, wines, and dishes to taste, and churches, landscapes, and cities to view then could have been expected.
- In November, 2012 we ran our first official tour with an alumni group from the University of Chicago
- We've had thousands of blog and website views from all around the globe
- Looking into 2013, several groups from the US and Europe have expressed interest in organizing tours
I want to take this time to thank all of you who have been crucial to the developments of 2012.
Firstly, thank you to Agnes and Stan whose ideas sparked the founding of The Goose in Toulouse and whose generosity, originality, and energy are stitched throughout our creation. Without this family there most certainly would not be a Goose in Toulouse! And thank you to her parents, Madame and Monsieur Bordeau of Hotel Eychenne who became my family. Our daily lunches and dinners at Hotel Eychenne were inspirational for these gastronomic tours. I have learned much (not just for the Goose in Toulouse, but personally) from their elegance, joie de vive, generosity and down-right amazing taste! It is their spirit of hospitality that I wish to share with each and every guest who joins us on a Goose in Toulouse tour.
Thank you to Sylvie, Directrice of Hotel Eychenne, who tirelessly helped me to meet local farmers and producers; always provided a hand translating; helped me with the daily nitty-gritty work of contacting vendors and negotiating; and provided friendship and hospitality for which I will always feel grateful! Sylvie and Gil provided me encouragement, many great meals, confidence and love, without which life would have been less graced by butterflies in fields of long-grasses with a belly full of garden-fresh foods, and the resources to pick-up and carry on.
Thank you to Lola Vardigans, a true mentor! Lola's ideas, expertise and suggestions are written all over the future direction of The Goose in Toulouse. She was a crucial co-guide on the UChicago Tour, sharing with us her research on the local resistance movement during WWII, welcoming us into her lovely home Chateau du Bardies, and accompanying us with her knowledge and love of life. Lola is a true inspiration to me: she alone is proof that it is possible to live a life filled with pressing intellectual pursuits; great meals on a table surrounded by company; a tireless desire to learn, question and appreciate; and the courage and confidence to grab a hold of life and let one's self adventure!
Thank you to Stephen Bolger, COO of Chateau Lynch-Bages and founder of Crushpad France, for the collaboration and organization, particularly during the November tour. Stephen is a true innovator! It has been a pleasure to work with him, and I look forward to another year of more visits.
Thank you to Jean Moueix, Elisabeth, and the Berrouet Family of Petrus for opening doors for me in Bordeaux and for the enlightening visits. I cannot wait to work with you more in the upcoming year!
Thank you to Chris Freemont who has fed my passions for good eating, and who gave me the encouragement to try. His impeccable taste, knowledge, conversations, ideas and support have been immeasurably inspiring. I'm still waiting for him to come out here and co-host these tours-- there is no better person in the world to share a meal with!
Thanks to my parents for the endless scanning, mailing and driving around States-side. And to my sister Tracy who was always ready to give advice, listen to ideas, and provide contacts.
Thanks to Gleb Kozyritsky for always offering a helping hand! To Kara Mallia for the blog advice and encouragement. And to Analisa Lafontant for the encouragement, helpfulness, and cheese!
Thank you to the Hotel Eychenne kitchen for the great meals and cooking lessons. You have spoiled me silly! Life will never consistently taste so good.
Thank you to Federico for the support, sacrifices and encouragement. In more ways than I immediately realized you have given me the drive to keep at The Goose in Toulouse.
Thank you to every farmer, cheese maker, cow herder, boudin noir-maker, escargot raiser, cheese refiner, market stall keeper, oyster harvester, enologist, waiter, sommelier, izard hunter, chef, and dining companion who has given me so many memorable meals and pleasurable tastes. Life has been a dream! I can't wait to share the fruits of your labors with more people.