Life in the Loire after lock-down. Weekly update. 25th October 2020.

A busy week this week. I returned from my week in the UK on Monday night and since then it’s been a week of administration punctuated by a couple of days of pure indulgence.

On Wednesday I ventured into Amboise to meet up with my writers’ group. It’s the first time since February that we’ve managed to get together so needless to say there was much talk about everything else and little talk about writing.

A couple of coffees later we resolved to try and get together on a more regular basis either in person or virtually although we all agreed, the actual human contact option is preferable.

My writing is mostly here on the blog. I have to admit to have been rather unsucessful in writing anything else these past few months. I’m not alone. We’ve all found it hard to stay motivated despite having all the time in the world.

And so we resolved to be a bit more disciplined. Do some exercises every week. Make some progress with our individual projects. Write that cookery book. Send in that article.

We drove over to Angers on Thursday. It was our wedding anniversary and I had rather inconveniently arranged an appointment with the garage (still better than 2 years ago when we both forgot it completely).

The 5 year lease on our car has come to and end and we’ve decided to buy it personally rather than enter into another 5 year lease on a new car. It doesn’t seem prudent with things as they stand to make long term commitments.

We took the motorway over and came off at Bourgueil for a more leisurely meander through the vineyards. Stopping among the vines of St Nicolas de Bourgueil we enjoyed a picnic lunch (courtesy of our wonderful charcutier in Vernou sur Brenne) and a glass of Anjou Rouge from Leduc Frouin (which felt a bit disloyal to St Nicolas it has to be said).

Carrying on to Angers we arrived on time, spent half an hour filling in paperwork, handed over a cheque et voila! Mission accomplished.

Car now in our name we drove back to our old hamlet, Cumeray to have a cuppa with old friends and neighbours Laurence and Dominique. 2 cups of tea and a massive slice of walnut tart later, we’d filled each other in. Their daughters are a similar age to ours and we used to share school runs.

And then on to old friends John & Sheila who had prepared a delicious dinner in honour of our anniversary.

We started with a glass of fizz from Louis de Grenelle before the starter. Seared pickled scallops with a chive and roquette salsa and a side of curried cauliflower. Delicious.

Next came choucroute de la mer with all manner of fish; cod, smoked haddock, mussels, langoustines, prawns, all bathing in a rich beurre blanc sauce.

Of course there was cheese – a particularly ripe Epoisses that literally poured onto the plate. And to finish – just a light dessert. Coeur à la Crème with a fruit coulis.

We enjoyed a bottle of Anjou Blanc from Chateau de Plaisance with the 2 fish courses. This famous domaine changed hands recently and La Grande Pièce 2019 was fabulous. Tight and mineral with strong citrus notes and a long lean finish. This is a wine that will age for some years.

A Cointreau on the rocks rounded off the evening and we went to bed feeling relaxed and very full indeed! What a treat that was.

Up next morning to find the sun streaming through the windows. Just like it was when we got married in 2011. Warm and sunny with a gentle breeze, we decided to head off for a walk along the river in the beautiful riverside village of Le Thoureil.

Le coin du Fleuve in Le Thoureil has changed hands since we moved from Anjou and these days, there are many more locals to be seen having a glass of wine or enjoying a simple lunch from the menu that changes daily. We decided to have lunch outside. John and Sheila are regulars these days and the young couple that runs the café knows them well.

A blonde from local brewery La Piautre was the order of the day. Sitting in the sunshine with coats off we enjoyed a homemade terrine and chestnut bread followed by cod with steamed vegetables and an aïoli sauce.

A quick coffee and then back to Touraine.

Saturday night was the second of my Zoom updates for Le Tasting Room Club members. A vintage update followed by a session on food and wine pairing. Everyone had bought similar wines and prepared a range of snacks that I used to illustrate the basic principals of matching food and wine. Wine lovers from France and the USA gathered together for a couple of hours of wine tasting fun. Such a great way to stay in touch.

The weather broke on Sunday so we were confined to barracks. We were in Paris for our honeymoon in 2011 and it was the same. Confined to barracks in Paris meant hours sitting in little bars, cafés and restaurants whiling away the hours watching the world go by with a glass of wine in hand.

Not much has changed since then. We’re still known to spend hours with a glass of wine in hand. Long may that continue.

On the table this week we’ve enjoyed roasted guinea fowl with pan-friend mushrooms and crispy shallots, a rare onglet steak with creamy cauliflower cheese, herby sausages with sweet potato mash, easy Thai prawn curry with rice and last night a fennel seed encrusted pork fillet served with roasted fennel and onions cooked in apple juice.

Wine of the week has to go to Vincent Giraudon’s sparkling Aligoté. Beautifully fresh with hints of apple and lemon, dry yet not austere it really hit the spot and makes a change from the Chenin based fizz we drink more of. Another hit from the Côte Roannaise.