Bastille Day Bash

19 July 2021 / Story: Chris Fondum and Dace Abolins; Photos: Anda Clayton

Bastille Day Bash 14 – 15 July

The South Coast Chapter’s Bastille Day Bash began at the Clyde River village of Nelligen, and ended at the historic town of Bungendore.  The aim: to celebrate France’s national day at the French restaurant, Le Tres Bon.

While we had grander plans, Covid restrictions meant that when the day arrived our bastille storming party comprised only two couples – our most venerable convenors, Anda and Brian Clayton plus your humble correspondents.

The drive up the Clyde along the Kings Highway from Nelligen to Braidwood is a great stretch of road for MX-5s if slow traffic is avoided. We were lucky to have the Nelligen bridgeworks traffic attendants clear the road so we could really enjoy the drive up the mountain in our zappy little cars.

The 2019/2020 bushfires were particularly fierce on the Clyde so it was reassuring to see how much the bush with its lush understory of bangalow palms was restoring itself.  A cold fierce wind blew as we whisked past the fields and bush at the top of the mountain, through Braidwood and on to our destination. Hot drinks at Bungendore refreshed us, before we booked into a local hotel and prepared for dinner.

Evenings in Bungendore in July are always cold, but the temperature and atmosphere inside Le Tre Bon was warm and welcoming: the champagne cocktails were perfect, and the food and wine that followed was wonderful.  Tartine de rillette, then creamy cauliflower, potato and leek soup – a dish dedicated to the favourite mistress of Louis XV - followed by beef cheeks en daube and finally Kugelhopf  d’Alsace. Yum! 

To add to the ambience a piano accordion player entertained us throughout the evening, with our co-host, Chef Christophe Gregoire, making a speech to mark the occasion.  It only remained for the accordionist to playLa Marseillaisewhile Chef Christophe made appropriately symbolic body gestures, in lieu of any audible singing (banned because of Covid).

We had a very pleasant breakfast next morning at The Gathering, a café almost next door to our hotel.  Their coffee, eggs, toast & muesli were very tasty, and fuelled our small group as we said our goodbyes and headed home.