If You Knew Suze

razac bar
We’re still rushing to get all the parts together for this album – I’m kind of embarrassed to say this is the first time I’ve ever actually put out a record without the help of a record company and it’s a huge amount of work. There’ve been a few for-fans things I’ve copied and sold at shows and from my site, the 45 we pressed up a few months back too, but to try to coordinate the manufacturing, the downloadable album, the finances, the publicity, the licensing etc and cap it all off with a tour – have to keep calm and putting one foot in front of the other.

Took a break from it the other day for our anniversary and headed to the Dordogne to eat and spend the night at Rouge in Tocane Saint-Apre. I’d heard about this place from Kim and it was lovely – run by a NZ couple Paul and Janice who’ve resurrected an ancient building with their bare hands and have good food, a chambres d’hotes w/charming decor and a swimming pool.

Monday we went with Emmanuel to just outside Perigueux to see Graham Day & The Gaolers. The posters, calling them “The Goalers”, had the concert starting at 7:30 PM – we rushed down there, arriving before the band themselves. In a search for something to eat, impossible in a small French town on a Monday evening, we ended up in a classic old bar. So often these days you walk into a bar or cafe and wonder what mid-century glories the proprietors trashed to achieve a decor of beige tile, smoked mirrors and taupe plastic, but this place was perfect.

Ever since I saw the art nouveau Salers bottle in a cafe and Emmanuel explained to me about gentiane and all its varieties, I’ve wanted to try it. Apparently it’s very good for the digestion. What better place than a bar where the owners were so involved in a card game when we walked in, I wondered if maybe they didn’t want to serve us. To the contrary – once the game had ended they plied us with drinks, helping me hit on the right combination of Suze, ice and pastis so that I am finally able to say I have tried gentiane.

Loved Graham Day and his group but can’t say it was fun. Typical of concerts in France, everyone stands outside the antiseptic “salle” until the moment the group starts playing so there’s no chance for any ambience to build. The second the music ends, the room empties. The DJ, Alain Feydri, played some very cool records but it felt disjointed, with the turntables set up in the room with the bar, the smokers standing out on the steps. Wished it could have all been combined, and I’d have thrown in the bar owners, their 50’s moderne wallpaper and ancient telephone, and the Suze too.

I’m back to playing the computer keyboard now. Eric’s making a new radio show downstairs – hooray! We will get this stuff done and be on that plane to the US in exactly…twenty days. Maybe I’ll be toting a bottle of Suze or Salers – in lieu of a t-shirt, “I spent the last year in SW France and all I got was a new album, and this lousy bottle of digestif.”

14 thoughts on “If You Knew Suze

  1. amy

    Ah Cynthia, I've checked and supposedly french customs have released them – still haven't turned up in the mail though. I'll let you know, soon surely.I think it is the perfect solo, Fly – standing alone at the bar or to nurse at a cafe table. Something about the glass…

  2. Ed Ward

    I don't react well to alcohol and sugar, and was talking this over with the barman at the Vert Anglais here one heure d'apero and he found a dusty bottle of Suze on the shelf. "Sorry, this is all we have." We concocted a thing made of Suze, fizzy water, and a slice of lemon and I loved it. When he came out to check on how we were doing I ordered another one. "You actually LIKE that stuff?" he asked with amazement. But yeah, I do. It's not as sickly sweet as the German gentian liqueurs and it's a great pre-meal, hot-day thing to sip. When you guys come down here, we'll storm the VA en masse and DEMAND it. Take that, Philistines! I'd say "break a leg" for the tour, but, um, given everything I read here, you might just. So, no. (WR: fabli. Have a fabli time!)

  3. amy

    Finally caught up with your five-day restaurant fest post, I really do look forward to visiting Montpellier Ed!I'd like to try that Suze w/"tonique", the bar owner's wife insisted that was the way. With cassis was definitely too sweet, the pastis combo worked, oddly.Yes, absolutely no broken limbs for this trip. Happy we'll get a whole two days in Austin, let me know your #1 recommendation food-wise?

  4. Ed Ward

    You cannot beat the La Michoacana Meat Market for breakfast and lunch tacos. Can't be done. There's on on E. 7th St, but they're all over. It's a grocery store, actually, but there's a big island in the center of it with a steam table with a dozen and a half compartments going at any given time. You go over there, check out what you want, go to the cooler to get something to drink, and then stand in line at one of the checkouts, and when your time comes, pay for your drink and say, for instance, "Three corn tacos." Then you hand your receipt to the nice lady behind the steam tables and pick the fillings you want. When she makes them, say yes to onions and cilantro. There are tables between the island and the meat counter. Lemme think about dinner.

  5. Ed Ward

    You'll be perhaps not too shocked to learn that the women who made Las Manitas a success were turfed out of the place a couple of years ago so the city could build Yet Another Hotel. Which, of course, wound up not getting built. But you can pay $5 and park on the parking lot that's where Las Manitas used to be!

  6. Ed Ward

    Business as usual in Austin, I'm afraid. Look what happened to Armadillo World Headquarters, for instance. As for dinner, if you want good down-home Southern cooking, I recommend Hoover's, on Manor Road. Chicken-fried steak, barbeque (not the best in town, but quite credible), catfish, stuff like that. Incredible vegetable sides. Mark Rubin turned me on to Enchiladas y Mas, up on Anderson Lane, where the fajitas are spectacular. Great Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch at Tâm Deli, on Lamar just north of 183, and dinner at Sunflower, on 183. And Mexican for dinner at Tequila Azul, on Ben White and Lamar, in the shopping center with Target. It's also a mariachi hangout, so there may be some music committed. Have fun!

  7. amy

    thanks for that Ed – of course what I meant above was I haven't been to SXSW in 5 yrs, that was the one chance I usually had to get around town and eat a lot. We managed some barbq somewhere and a gin & tonic at the Driskill 2 yrs ago, but this time we'll have a full 3 meals' worth of time! (and a gig, June 15 at Mohawk, pls let anyone down there who might be interested know)

  8. Baroness V.O.

    Oh, Amy, I just checked in (so late!; apologies!). Not sure we ever discussed but I do love the gentians. Alas, Suze is unavailable here in our land of plenty. Perhaps we should begin to grow herbs and flowers in the shadow of the BQE & LIE for infusion; an NYC aperitif with a dab of carbon monoxide and soot might get over….- Karen

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