Life in the Loire after lock-down. 13th May. Day 3 of déconfinement.

Putting together my educational wine notes this morning for the Montdomaine Guided Tasting case.

The history and provenance of grape varieties is really interesting. There are always several theories as to how each grape established itself, where and when, and then of course there’s the DNA parentage.

My bible for this is the wonderful book Wine Grapes. “A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours”. Written by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz, it’s a tome for the wine nerd. Packed full of interesting information, history, viticultural characteristics and origins.

My focus this morning is on Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Three classic varieties from the Loire valley (or maybe not!).

I caught up with my parents in the UK at coffee time. They seem as confused as us about what they can and can’t do following Boris’s latest statement to the nation. Mind you, at their age, they’re in the most vulnable category so should pretty much continue to ‘stay at home’ for the forseeable future. They’re managing to keep on top of the housework between them but I think the lack of social contact is getting them down. We do plan to pay them a visit as soon as things are clearer and we are also in a position to see my boys, Nigel’s brother and parents but what we can’t do is put them at risk.

Beans on toast for lunch today. Homemade beans and homemade sourdough toast. Amusingly someone pointed out on Twitter this morning that my dinner last night (corned beef hash cakes, beans and a poached egg) didn’t really illustrate much commitment to the French way of life!

Homemade baked beans on sourdough toast

It’s true on the face of it.

But, the beans were homemade using little Coco de Paimpol white beans. There’s an appellation for Coco de Paimpol beans (just like with wine) that controls its zone and method of production. The beans must be hand harvested and are wonderful cooked from fresh. These ones were dried.

I finely diced an onion and sweated that in a little olive oil for a few minutes before adding a couple of big cloves of finely chopped garlic. I then added a couple of tablespoons of tomato purée and half a tin of chopped tomatoes, a little chicken stock and then added the beans that I had already cooked in water with a bay leaf. That then simmered for a while before I added a dessert spoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and some sea salt and pepper.

The egg was local and organic.

I can’t really defend the corned beef hash cakes!

Sometimes you just need comfort food. Last night was one of those nights.

Tentatively making a few more plans to reconnect with friends but mostly for a walk. We’re not rushing into dinners at the moment. It seems everyone has been tending to their gardens. We just need the return of warmer weather so we can show them off to each other!

We plan a trip to Tours tomorrow to buy cheese from our favourite supplier in Les Halles, the covered market in the centre of town. The last time we went into Tours was the day before the lock-down. That seems like a long time ago.

Dinner this evening was a fridge and freezer rummage that turned out rather well. I had a fillet of Julienne and some parsley sauce in the freezer, fresh spinach and rocket in the fridge, new potatoes in the cupboard.

I boiled some new potatoes, put them on one side while gently heating the parsley sauce and pan frying the filet de Julienne in a non-stick pan. When the fish was cooked I removed it from the heat and dropped in the spinach and rocket leaves for a couple of minutes to wilt down. I drained off the excess liquid, added a large knob of butter et voila!

New potatoes in the bottom of the bowl, a layer of spinach and rocket on top, the fish and then the sauce poured around. A table.

Filet de Julienne with parsley sauce, spinach and rocket

Julienne is a meaty fish. Tighter and firmer than cod it has great flavour and is really tasty. It’s hard to get the little bones out so you have to be a teensy bit careful when eating. I think it’s called Ling in English. It also holds its shape well when cooked, a real plus.

Chateau de Fesles Anjou Blanc was a nice pairing. A dry Chenin from Anjou that has been 50/50 fermented in stainless steel and oak barrels. It has a nice citric nose and is full bodied.

The evenings are still chilly so we lit the fire this evening. It’s that rather frustrating time of the year when it’s too cold without one but when you do light one you spend the entire time opening and shutting the door and putting on and taking off clothes!