Life in the Loire on lock-down. 9th May. Day fifty six.

Lock-down uniform on. Baguettes are on the agenda this morning. This could be a very big mistake. We will see. They’re a surprise for Nigel.

I made a quick trip to the supermarket and the pharmacy this morning. The number of cars on the road has substantially increased. People are obviously limbering up for the deconfinement on Monday. There were queues at the petrol station yesterday Nigel said.

It’s a sunny, rather heavy day here in the Loire. Looking at the weather forecast, it says we might have thunder storms later on and there is a chance we will have hail. Now that really would finish us off if we have hail in the vineyards. Crossing everything I have.

For the first time since the lock-down (and ironically, 2 days before we supposedly come out of it), I was able to buy some hand sanitiser in the supermarket. It’s not on the shelves so you can’t help yourself. The lady behind the till surrepticiously passes over a bottle as if it’s contraband.

Back home I decided to give the ipad, phone, computer a quick clean. Squirt, squirt. What’s that smell? Some kind of fruit? That’s it, strawberries. The sanitiser has the aroma of sweet, sickly strawberries. It’s truly disgusting. Not sure I can tolerate that.

The baguettes are in the oven. I have high hopes. They better be ok. There’s 4 of them.

Meanwhile in the UK Will and his friends are still gaming. They’ve 7 hours of the 24 to go. They all look and sound a bit tired but the sponsorship money keeps coming in. They’ve raised £335 so far.

Baguettes out of the oven

I took inspiration from Ina Smith for lunch. Ina manages the Chenin Blanc Association in South Africa and we’ve been friends on Facebook for years. We’ve never managed to meet up in person (not yet – we will) but enjoy exchanging news and views on all things Chenin. The Chenin Blanc Association is ‘a group of visionary South African wine producers who are, not only fast spreading the word, but also continually providing hard evidence by producing Chenin Blanc wines of increasingly remarkable quality.’

One day a couple of weeks ago Ina sent me a recipe she thought I might like. Grilled leeks, Morteau sausage and Burgundy mustard infused vinaigrette. All things that I love. I made it for lunch today.

I steamed some young leeks in a colander over boiling water until tender, put them to one side and made a dressing using grain and Dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, sunflower oil, white wine vinegar and a little salt. I sliced some Morteau sausages into small pieces and dry fried them in a frying pan until they were warmed through and just starting to go brown at the edges (Morteau sausages are already cooked so you can eat them cold or pop them into boiling water to heat through). The leeks then went into the pan (I dropped the sausages into the dressing) for a couple of minutes to caramelise.

A warm baguette straight from the oven, a glass of Philippe and Claude’s Chenin Blanc from La Table Rouge (100 year old vines from a tiny vineyard in our village) and we were very happy indeed. Delicious flavours. Savoury, tangy, sweet, mustardy. The egg was my own addition to the recipe. They were in the fridge and I thought they’d go well. They did. A lovely lunch in the garden. Thanks Ina.

No sign of the predicted thunder storm as yet so we were able to enjoy a cocktail and dinner in the garden this evening. A classic Martini to kick off with. Wow, that packs a punch. We decided that perhaps it’s more of a cocktail bar affair than a garden affair.

Continuing the Thai theme of last night, this evening I made salmon baked in filo pastry with coriander, ginger, lime and garlic and a new potato, rocket and radish salad with a spicy sesame, fish sauce, lime, sugar and chilli dressing.

Stunning Chenin Blanc from Domaine FL with the Thai salmon baked in filo pastry

The star of the evening however was the wine. It’s ages since we opened up a Savennières and this one was stunning. Domaine FL’s Le Parc 2014. We were so taken with it that I wrote a proper tasting note. Here’s what I said.

‘Beguiling aromas of whites flowers and lemon thyme on the nose, there’s a hint of oak in the background which adds another layer of interest but doesn’t dominate. Superby fresh and saline on the palate with a touch of tannin and structure coming in towards a long, lean, zippy finish. Mouthwateringly good. It’s tasting amazing now but clearly has many years ahead (if you can control yourself that is!).

Will and the boys in the UK (there may have been one girl so don’t want to miss her out) raised over £500 for Great Ormond Street hospital. I think they surprised themselves. They were tired and ready for bed after 24 hours of straight gaming. Happy news to end the day.

Oh and Nigel loved the baguettes by the way. I’m getting there…