The day after Christmas we were supposed to go to either Bern or Freiburg – but we were still too sick. So we decided to at least get out of the house. We headed up a nearby mountain and went for a walk.
We started out on an old segment of roman road. It was not as long as the one we saw in Beurre, and much more overgrown – but still very cool. I love how we can see things like this only a 15 minute drive from our home. I am so very grateful for Mr. Liberty! He lets us have these adventures so easily.
We separated in the forest and tried out Zander’s new walkie talkies. They worked great and it was fun to test them out.
Then we headed in the opposite direction toward the Grottes St. Léonard. There were some beautiful views along the way. Below you can see: a typical farm, the Doubs with Mount Faucon Castle on the hill and the Doubs with the Citadelle looking over Besancon.
We soldiered on, and I could tell I had been sick since I was feeling winded and tired from walking for about half an hour! I was a bit concerned when we passed a gate marked “Prive. Garde. Attention Viperes” The ‘private’ part of the sign was common enough – but watch out for poisonous snakes?! I mean, I thought that they didn’t exist in the Franche Comté! And wouldn’t it be pretty easy for them to slither under the chain link? We bravely went on and soon reached the cavern entrance. A long steep path, rusted guard rails, a yawning overgrown hole…. (not to mention the snakes). Perfect for us, right?
André had the foresight to ask us to bring flashlights – so we had 2. Neither Callie nor Griffin much wanted to venture inside the cave – but they were overruled by the rest of us. We figured it would probably not be very deep, but we were absolutely wrong. I tried to find out more about the cave – with little result. It is listed often as one of several places for claustrophiles to go and discover around Besancon and is mentioned as the result of a karst deposit – which I think means it is a natural fissure – but no clue as to why it is named St. Leonard or its history. We cautiously walked on and on until there was no sign of light from the entrance at all. The way was both steep and slick with water. Callie and Griffin were really scared – but not scared enough to stop going. We went on for about 10 or 15 minutes, and we were continually expecting the next curve to reveal a dead end. One of the flashlights started to run low on batteries, but Zander and Daddie still wanted to go on. I was beginning to think the tunnel cut all the way through the mountain to the other side! Finally, we agreed I would stay put with Callie and Griffin while the other adventurers forged onward. We turned off our waning flashlight and watched Zander and Daddie walk further and further away down the tunnel, turning from figures into shadows and then disappearing completely. We couldn’t see the light from their flashlight at all – but we could still hear their voices echo. I must admit, this was more than a bit freaky – although the kids seemed to be less scared, alone in the pitch black leaning against me, than they had been when we were moving with the flashlights. Maybe their fear was of a hole in the floor or something. I however, felt nervous being separated from André. We sang songs to pass the time and tried to see our hands in front of our faces. Luckily, it wasn’t too long of a wait since the tunnel soon narrowed to a point where they could no longer easily proceed. So, the fearless explorers were forced to return, and we made it back to the surface alive. We did see one other explorer at this point – but he was the only other soul we chanced upon that day. Zander was thrilled to discover a huge icicle hanging in a sheltered corner – we love icicles.
It did not seem very cold, but I was enchanted by the frost covering everything on the mountain – and tried to get a good shot of how beautiful it was…. this is a typical example of a time when I took about 30 shots – and you get to see three.
By the time we got home, it was time to make the goose. I had been referring to it as ‘the goose that laid the golden egg’ since it cost us 70 Euros. That’s over 120 dollars – for about a 10 pound animal. Our turkey, at Thanksgiving, seemed too much at 35 Euros – this was double! I read a bit about geese and it turns out they take a long time to mature and have to have lots of room to run around or they develop a fungus. So, rest assured, if you eat a goose, it is a free range goose. I had wanted to make goose since I love duck and I wanted to try something new. I impulsively ordered it and then researched it. Big mistake. All I got online were horror stories on the greasy mess I was getting myself into. I was terrified! André graciously agreed to assist me and the kids played on their own while we first steamed and then rotisseried our goose. We had to dump the fat about every 10 minutes so the entire room wouldn’t catch on fire.
I used the fat, though, to delicious results making side dishes of honey glazed carrots, fried new potatoes – and – absolutely one of the most yummy things I’ve ever eaten – baked apples. I used this recipe since it is a traditional Alsace recipe to have with goose. I figured I should make as French a goose as possible! You put 6 tablespoons of goose fat in the bottom of your baking dish and fill it with peeled chopped apples tossing them in the fat. Then you sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon and slide it right under the rotating goose. The rest of the dripping fat goes right into the apple dish while it is baking – and man – those things were amazing.
The goose itself came out pretty well – everyone liked it and Callie and I loved it. I don’t know if I’d do it again though. The amount of work it took – and the price?? Most likely not…(but I do keep on thinking about those apples….)