Friday, November 8, 2013

12th Century Chateau, A Memoriam to a Great Man, Anthony C. Tirri -- R.I.P

It was 2 years ago we met Tony Tirri and 1 year ago we posted this to our site. Anthony C. Tirri passed away this week SEPT 19, 2014. We feel so fortunate to have spent a short time with Tony, yet he will have a lasting impact on us, just like everyone who came in contact with him. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tony's family and friends. A huge loss, way too soon, and yet a great life lived to the fullest.

I am trying to fall asleep on a 17th century bed in a room played in by a 12 year old Alexandre Dumas, who pretended to be a Musketeer or imagined the Man in the Iron Mask. Crazy way to start our adventure, in France at Chateau Villers-Helon, one hour outside of Paris. A 12th century Chateau built and used as a Templar house during the Crusades...Yikes!

The village of Villers-Helon is so filled with history from those early days of the 12th century,
(the eastern edge of France being the battleground for so many wars) and WWI, and WWII  being a large part of the Chateau's history. The Nazis took over the Chateau and used it as a POW camp, and there are caves with cartoonish drawings where the soldiers partied. You can look through holes made in the walls for rifles and see the bullet holes of both sides. As you look out over fields recently plowed you can imagine troops approaching and gunfire going off as bullets whiz by your head. You can feel the centuries of history around you.

The owner, Anthony Tirri ( a man who deserves a book, not just a Post) is the father of a client of mine and was so generous to invite us to begin our journey at his home. A self-made man who reminds me of George C Scott, with a resume of Police Detective, PanAm Pilot, (certain undisclosed Gov't activities), and successful land developer. His passion for history (he has authored historical reference books on the Chateau as well as for Middle Eastern weaponry) has lead him to refurbish a dilapidated Chateau and renovate it to its 17th Century splendor. A magnificent work with antiquities and paintings completing the estate. 

Thanks Tony and to Barbara, his girlfriend and Chateau Manager, we feel so fortunate to have met and shared time with you
Merci Beaucoup.

Tony, Barbara, Hazel, Gerald, Rich, and Renata.
The Templar "Safe House" Stone

Outside of Chateau

Visiting the underground caves where it is believed the German soldiers hung out 

German soldiers artwork found on the cave walls

Rich could not keep up with Aoife and Gerald in a game of Giant Chess-
 both beat him rather quickly - actually Gerald beat him in 5 moves! 

Richard with the family pet Obama, looking for a hand-out. Obama-Care in action.

Hazel and Renata in front of the chateau

Visiting a nearby castle Pierrrefonds

As Rich said, Tony is a person of mystery and amazing talent!  He is also a man that loves to cook and cook and cook.  I think he thought there were 10 of us dining.  (Oh, that's right, Richard eats for 4 anyway) Everything from Crepes, Waffles, and Croque Monsieurs for breakfast to Coq au Vin, Spicy Lobster, Eggplant 3 ways, and numerous specialties for dinner. Check out his table.  (It was like this every day!)

What do you do in the French countryside everyday?  
I know what I did- I enjoyed great company and ate!  We discussed and consumed quite a few of  the recipes that Tony is assembling for his book.  I tried to take notes on my favorites, but like a magician, he is quick and sleight of hand (you never see a measuring cup) - one of my favorites was the fish soup, I at least got what he puts into it:

Fish Stew/Cioppino/Bouillabaisse/Brodetto: This  French/Italian favorite was the fisherman's way to dispose of the ugliest unsalable fish of the days catch. Ugly fish, tomatoes, onions, garlic and white wine along with whatever shellfish is available and you have a southern European favorite. A variation would be to use simply shrimp, scallops and a hard kielbasa type sausage.

Bon Appetit!

Bon encore une fois ma belle femme, un festin digne des rois.