Life in the Loire on lock-down. 1st April. Day eighteen.

I’m a day late getting my monthly newsletters out. Totally inexcusable I know. It’s not as if I’ve been too busy is it. I hope my subscribers will forgive me. That is my job for today.

My daily blog takes up quite a lot of my time and I’m enjoying that. It gives me a mission and forces me to look at the little things around me that give me pleasure. I think there’s nothing to talk about but there always is. Little things that make up our daily routine, things that amuse, things I observe.

I’ve yet to see any reports this morning about issues in the vineyards with frost but it was another cold start to what is a bright and sunny day here in the Loire.

Rosie sent me a message just before lunch saying that the girl in the flat above hers had been doing Zumba to keep fit and the ceiling had collapsed leaving a hole where she could see up into her living room. We were just having lunch so we agreed to chat afterwards. She clicked her ipad onto camera and showed me the hole. ‘April Fool’ it said! I must be getting old. I was completely taken in. It sounded feasible to me in these strange times.

Lunch was the rest of the chickpea and aubergine curry from a couple of days ago. Sometimes you just need something hot don’t you. Spice always perks me up.

The newsletters are out and on their way to you. I have to admit that most of my March news is recipe related but I’m sure you’ll understand. If ever there was a time to experiment, this is it.

Hooray! Good news for the day. We just had a beer delivery from our friends Matt and Katie who have a small craft brewery in the centre of Amboise. Their beers are fabulous and will make a nice change from wine. Can’t wait to get those bottles in the fridge. It was very odd when Matt came through the gate with the beer. Not being able to ask him in for a cuppa or give him a hug felt very odd. This social distancing thing is hard. We had a brief chat at a distance. We’re hoping for them that they’ll be able to re-open in 3 weeks or so. It’s hard to see how we will transition from total confinement to going back to where we were before.

While I remember I just want to give you the recipe for the dressing that I put on the Aisian slaw last night. It’s from Recipe Tin Eats (Nagi is an Aussie food blogger and her recipes are all really easy and super tasty).

Super fresh Aisian style slaw is great with crispy salmon, chicken or just on its own

Use the usual suspects for your veggies. I used shredded green cabbage, one grated carrot and one finely sliced spring onion for the two of us. Her recipe also has red cabbage and fresh bean sprouts but the chance of finding those here at the moment is less than zero so I made do with what was in the fridge.

Take a jam jar and measure into it: three quarters of a tablespoon of rice vinegar (I used sushi vinegar but any vinegar will do), three quarters of a tablespoon of light soy sauce (well any soy but not dark), a teaspoon of fish sauce, half a tablespoon of lime juice (I didn’t have fresh limes so used bottled juice), three quarters of a tablespoon of oil (peanut, grape, sunflower), just under half a tablespoon of any sugar, half a small red chilli chopped really finely and half a clove of garlic chopped finely.

Give it all a good shake and just before serving mix in with your veggies. Add some chopped mint and coriander if you have it and some crispy fried onions (you can buy them ready to sprinkle). I had mint and crispy onions but no coriander (hard to find in French supermarkets and the Aisian shops are closed at the moment). It’s super fresh and very moreish.

In hommage to Matt and Katie I decided to integrate a little beer into our dinner this evening. I made pork schnitzels (basically bashed out rounds of pork fillet dipped in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs). With that I served steamed new potatoes and lots of finely shredded cabbage and then I made a sauce that combined half a finely chopped red onion, mustard, stock, beer, cream and fresh dill. It was really tasty and definitely one to do again.

Pork schnitzels with a creamy mustardy beery sauce

We enjoyed a bottle of Cabernet Franc from Chateau de Nitray with dinner.