Come Share with Carole & Bernard! The Owners of Good News Cafe Invite you “Home”
by RONA MANN
The French have a word for it: partager.
Actually the French always seem to have a word for it; and in this case they are spot on, for partager means “to share.”
For the last 24 years Carole Peck, renowned chef of Carole Peck’s Good News Cafe in Woodbury and her husband, Bernard Jarrier, have invited diners from all over the world to come to beautiful Litchfield County and share in their pride. Good News Cafe has become somewhat of an institution in these parts for incomparable lunches and dinners made simply from the freshest ingredients. But understand, Good News Cafe is not a hush-hush, pretentious restaurant. Instead it is a warm, welcome place where singles, couples, and groups encompassing every demographic meet to laugh, to relax, and to share in Carole Peck’s outstanding culinary offerings. It is fine dining, presented simply and deliciously by a culinary master.
In its 24 years the restaurant has been named Restaurant of the Year by the National Restaurant Association, won a passel of statewide awards, and earned kudos in reviews ranging from Zagat to the New York Times. Carole has appeared on radio and television citing The Today Show and the Martha Stewart Show among a host of others.
Since people tend to want to label everything, Bernard was asked what kind of food Good News Cafe presents. “I would call it ‘Modern American.’ The technique is French, because the chef is classically trained.”
Carole Peck, the much-acclaimed chef who trained at the world’s premiere culinary college, Culinary Institute of America (CIA), offers this statement. “My cooking – it is what it is. Handcrafted, seasonal, local, and as organic as possible. It is definitely natural, love-inspired, pure and truthful, genuine, and sophisticated.” There. Now why would you not want to have your curiosity peaked, your taste buds titillated, your love of fine food satiated with a trip to bucolic Woodbury?
But Carole and Bernard are about a whole lot more than this acclaimed restaurant. Busy people need a retreat…a place where they seek out beauty, pleasure, and relaxation. A place that is all their own. Bernard and Carole found such an enclave some years ago in Bernard’s homeland, tucked away in a tiny village in Provence in southeastern France. Situated just 15 minutes west of the walled city of Avignon, it was the original manor house of the Prior of the Order of the Templars, the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades.
Carole and Bernard’s retreat, aptly named The Prieure (prior) Notre Dame, is a wonderful place to host others; and that is precisely what the couple does several times a year when they joyfully throw open wide their doors, welcoming an intimate group of people to share in the beauty, food, and culture of the region.
The Prieure is located directly across from the 12th century church at the center of the peasant village of Montfrin. “It is the real France,” says Bernard, “surrounded by farms and vineyards.” The village is at the center of a triangle formed by the cities of Avignon, Arles, and Nimes; with Carole and Bernard’s home right in the middle of it all.
Completely restored to its 12 century origins there are six suites, all with private bath and maid service daily, a library, dining room, conservatory, wine tasting cellar, dining room, and of course Carole’s kitchen which is state-of-the-art. The courtyard that surrounds the house is enclosed, boasting terraces, palm trees, and a swimming pool. It is paradise, and a paradise that Carole and Bernard long to share with others.
Hosting these quarterly culinary and cultural tours, they bring together people from all over the United States and around the world to their home for a week filled with activity, relaxation, gastronomy, and wonder. “The itinerary varies,” Bernard informs; “but all they have to do is get here, and everything else is taken care of.”
And the “getting here” is quite simple as Bernard explains that by flying directly into Paris, you will find the high speed train station right within Charles de Gaulle Airport. A short two hour ride later, you are met in Avignon by Bernard and a driver, and your journey is about to begin. You are welcomed at the mansion by Carole along with delicious hors d’oeuvres to get your palate ready for the adventure that lies ahead…and of course plenty of local regional wine.
Each morning a lavish breakfast is laid out for the guests before the start of the day’s activities. These may also include cooking classes, both with Carole or Chef Cedric, and are hands on, so everyone participates in preparing lunch or dinner.
Driving around the historic area provides guests with opportunities to photograph Roman aqueducts, to visit churches, chateaus, and parks, and to stroll ancient town squares, exploring local boutiques. But always, always, there is the food. Cooking demonstrations, meals lovingly created by Carole, trips to bistros, and forays into the wine cellar.
There is a trip to Nimes, home to one of the best covered markets in France. Here guests feast their eyes and appetites on a vast array of cheeses, charcuteries, fish, shellfish, and more. It is color, abundance, and freshness all under one roof.
Another day Bernard hosts a trip to nearby Marseille where Bernard strongly promotes a local waterfront restaurant that provides, “the very best bouillabaisse..ohlala!”
You soon realize this is not your typical escorted tour. It is personal, it is unique, it is custom designed for each intimate group Carole and Bernard host. It is a veritable snapshot back to the Middle Ages, yet with all the luxury and individualized attention that can be afforded you. You are part of a very special place and a time in history seen through the eyes of those who know it best. You are eating the freshest food grown in the region, drinking its wines, and enjoying the company of two people who happily welcome you into this very special place.
The Prieure Notre Dame cannot merely be called a “trip” nor “vacation,” for it is so much more. Once there, you are in another world, steeped in history, surrounded by unfailing natural beauty, eating the purest, most natural food of the land, and completely in awe of it all.
The French also have words to describe this magical, incomparable, once-in-a-lifetime trip back to the 12th century to experience Carole and Bernard’s beloved Provence. It’s sejour inoubliable(unforgettable stay), in a endroit tres special(a very special place).
Carole and Bernard therefore invite you to “Venez partager notre maison!” (come share our home)!
For further information, questions, or to sign up for the next trip in glorious spring, contact Carole and Bernard at:(203) 266-4622 or email to [email protected] Bon voyage!