Life in the Loire after lock-down. 1st June. Day 22 of déconfinement.

Another order for the Summer Guided Tasting case came in this morning, this time from the UK. It was from my sister in law’s dad John. It brought a tear to my eye.

Yes, I know. Silly maybe. I’m ridiculously emotional (ask Rosie she’ll tell you). But it’s so nice to feel supported and it means a lot to us.

So that’s a good start to the day then.

We’d planned a bike ride together a bit later on this morning. Determined to get back to cycling on a more regular basis I was all set and ready to go after we’d had a coffee.

Shorts on, hair tied back (well it is most of the time now anyway it looks dire down), suncream on, mobile in pocket, off we go. But no – when we go to get our bikes out of the atelier, we notice a sprig of brambles caught between the wheels of my bike and – it has a flat tyre. Nooo, I had so got myself ready for that.

And so Nigel went off on his bike for a ride and I went for a walk through the vineyards. One hour and twenty minutes later after 6,7km, I got back home. I enjoyed the walk, it was sunny but not too hot. I took a different route just trusting my homing pigeon instinct choosing paths I hadn’t been down before, vineyard trails that led to nowhere and then to somewhere.

Another couple of orders for the Tasting Case have come in. Excellent.

We fancied something comforting but not too heavy this evening so I decided to make a spinach and ricotta lasagne.

Spinach and ricotta lasagne with a rocket salad

I made a classic bechamel using 50g of flour and butter with 800ml of milk (the cheat’s way putting everything in a saucepan together from cold and stirring constantly until it boils then bubbling it for a couple of minutes).

I cooked 350g of frozen leaf spinach that I let cool and then squeezed out the excess liquid before mixing it with a 250g tub of ricotta, a ladle full of the bechamel, lots of grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. It needs seasoning generously.

Then the layering began. A ladle of bechamel on the bottom, three sheets of pre-cooked lasagne, a layer of spinach and ricotta, a layer of bechamel and a generous grating of Parmesan. The same layering again finishing with a layer of pasta, then bechamel and finally Parmesan on top.

That went in the oven for about 30 minutes at 190°C until brown and bubbling.

I served it with a rocket, cherry tomato and spring onion salad dressed with a mustard, garlic and lemon juice dressing.

A glass of Chateau de Fesles Chenin Blanc 2016 was a great pairing. The age of the wine is really beginning to change its characteristics now. Lovely citric notes of lime cordial on the nose backed up by a rich palate and nice finish. Cracking value for money.

Another couple of orders just before bed. Great news.