Life in the Loire on lock-down. 5th May. Day fifty two.

An early start today. Might have something to do with the fact that we had no wine last night and therefore an early night.

Pesto slept downstairs all night which is unusual for her. She clearly wasn’t feeling great but she seems perkier this morning. Perky enough to want to get outside again and on sentry duty!

The recipe cards went off to the printers late last night. Can’t wait to see the finished article. I think you’re going to love them. Louisa has done a great job.

Work of a different kind today. I’m doing a little translation work for a French website. That will keep me occupied and get my brain ticking.

Lunch today was particularly tasty. I toasted some thick slices of sourdough, rubbed them with garlic and then put a couple of big slices of beef tomato, a couple of slices of prosciutto, some buffalo mozarella and a generous amount of winter savory on top of each one. A sprinkling of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and they then went under the grill for about 3 or 4 minutes until the mozarella was bubbling and the proscuitto had started to go crispy at the edges. Sort of half way between a bruschetta and a pizza.

Sourdough is fantastic on day one and pretty good on day two but after that, toast is the way to go. I love toast and I particularly love the chewy aspect of sourdough when it’s toasted. This was a great way of using up the last of my most recent loaf. Sourdough also makes great breadcrumbs. Whizz them up in the food processor with fresh herbs and a little butter and freeze them. They’re great sprinkled onto roasted veg or pressed onto a piece of cod before roasting.

Toasted sourdough with tomato, prosciutto, buffalo mozarella & winter savory

While we were having lunch, the entire bird community seemed to be nest building.

We have two doves that come and feed in the garden every day, Doris and Dave we call them. They’re pretty lazy. They come and wait on the telephone line and call when the food bowl is empty. Nigel goes out and duly refills the bowl and down they swoop. They do a few loops of the bowl as if pretending not to be interested in the food and then, when the coast is clear they make their move, scattering seeds all around them.

Doris (or was it Dave, we can never be sure which is the male and which is the female), was busy having a post déjeuner preening session on the line when a small white feather came away from his/her body. A little chaffinch, spotted it from the other side of the garden and with perfect timing, darted over and caught it as it blew away in the wind. Incredible.

Meanwhile the great tits keep pinching tiny pieces of bark that are at the base of the acer just by the garden table. And of course the swallows continue to dart in and out of the cave like bomber pilots, just missing your head if you go into the cellar to retrieve a bottle of wine.

Translation finished (good job done), it was time to retaste and make a formal tasting note for the Ballade des Dames, the 100% Chardonnay wine that Louisa Plou made. I helped pick the grapes along with some other girlfriends so this was exciting. The last time I tasted it it was still in barrel.

“Pale lemon in appearance, initially this Chardonnay has a touch of pear fruit on the nose and then leads you to a ripple of ripe melon. It opens up to reveal lovely weight and texture on the palate. A note of fennel creeps in towards the end and it finishes with an attractive bitter lemon note making it an ideal partner for food. A fresh style of Chardonnay with good minerality it will be fabulous with a prawn and pea risotto or a smoked haddock fishcake. It will also pair well with fresh goat’s cheese or a lobster roll.”

There you go. A lovely wine and absolutely the style of Chardonnay that we both love. It’s restrained and elegant and there is no hint of dominant oaky flavours despite being fermented and aged in old oak barrels.

I was excited to find fresh chorizo sausages this afternoon so dinner this evening was a ‘put everything on a tray and put it in the oven’ kind of meal.

A finely sliced blood orange, about half a head of garlic (cloves separated, skins left on), one large onion peeled and cut into thick slices, a few new potatoes peeled and cut into chunks and the sausages, all drizzled with olive oil and seasoned. That went into the oven at 200°C fan for about 25 minutes and I then added some fresh green asparagus for a further 10 minutes or so. A final garnish of dill and chervil from the garden.

Chorizo sausages with blood orange, asparagus and new potatoes

Easy, quick, tasty.

We enjoyed Louisa’s Chardonnay alongside and toasted her first venture into winemaking. I’m sure there will be more wines to come.