Friday, 17 November 2017

A fellow wine lover

It’s a bright morning. I’ve got one eye open for our gardener. She’s not been yet this week &, to me, it looks as good a day as she’ll get this week.

Yesterday we didn’t get out. Instead the man came to service our central heating boiler & gas fire. We arranged his visit at the beginning of September. It’s taken until now for him to finally get here. He always does a thorough job but the long wait got to us. Next year we will maybe try to find someone else, someone less busy. Admittedly I suspect he would have been straight round if we’d said the equipment was misbehaving & we were cold, without heating or hot water. Anyhow we’ll decide next year.

The plumber who came part owns a wine shop. His enthusiasm for wine is great. It may be something to do with his Spanish heritage - his parents are Spanish. Certainly we both smiled when we heard the pop of the cork coming out of the bottle the Fox was decanting in the kitchen ready for dinner. It’s always nice to find another wine lover.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Thoughts of food & France

Yesterday’s dinner turned into a disaster. I don’t know how often I’ve made this pie, always with great success. We were both really looking forward to it. Instead of which, this time the pastry was black in parts & hard, the filling so dried out it was almost impossible to separate it from the pastry to eat it. Even the gravy was unable to penetrate to soften it. You needed a chisel or a drill to break into it. Our knives were certainly not up to the job! For a while I’ve been uncertain that the thermostat on the small top oven is working properly. This has increased the doubts.

I’m now hoping the more questionable dinner of today, venison medallions with beetroot, works out better. It certainly can’t get much worse.

Maybe I was just too tired. Certainly I have not been sleeping well (due to pain either in my knees or my breast or both). Last night I was in bed before ten & not up until 8.30am. I slept solidly most of that time. I feel much more myself so maybe, just maybe, dinner today won’t be a disaster.

Meanwhile I’m off to Brittany by novel. This one is “The Little Breton Bistro” by Nina George. I read her “The Little Paris Bookshop” a little while ago & enjoyed my float along the canals from Paris down to Provence. I’ve only just started but I’ve just got off the train from Paris to Auray.

 I’m reminded off my readings about Brittany before our first trip to France in the 1990s. I had anticipated spending part of our holiday in Brittany. Instead we got as far as LonguĂ© near the Loire between Angers & Saumur & there we stayed. We made friends with the owners where we stayed so never moved. Indeed the following year they invited us for a free holiday with them.

Since those days I’ve often thought we maybe should visit Brittany properly rather than just driving through on the way from St Malo to LonguĂ© or La Rochelle (where our French friends subsequently moved to). It seems to be an area with a very different, very distinct, character from the rest of France, a reflection how, for so long, it was a different kingdom with different rulers & traditions.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

One of the joys of foreign travel

The chicken pie is all made, ready to go into the oven this evening to cook.

Yesterday I was back to our more usual carer, Tasha. I was surprised to hear, that when she went on holiday to Mallorca earlier this year, she hadn’t tried any of the meat or other local foods at the hotel – she doesn’t eat fish of any sort anywhere. She reckoned it didn’t look right so the only time she & her children ate a proper meal was when they came across an English pub. There they gorged themselves on good English food.

I couldn’t help thinking what a pity. Foreign food may look different, even taste different, but that’s not to say it’s bad. Indeed it’s often wonderful. The locals manage to eat it & not get food poisoning all the time so why should you. Personally I would be more suspicious of the food at that English pub.

Indeed I regard one of the joys of foreign travel is trying new tastes, discovering new food horizons. If we hadn’t been abroad we would never have discovered the joys of mussels, oysters, frog’s legs, limoncello etc. We don’t always enjoy them – snails are not something I can get excited about – but we do at least try them to find out. There are just so many culinary wonders, different methods of cooking, different combinations of flavours. Food is such an essential part of life it’s a pity not to get the most out of it. It isn’t just fuel to keep the body going. It should be one of life’s greatest little joys.