Life in the Loire on lock-down – Tuesday March 17th. Day three.

Whoa! That was a bit of a shock! I got out of bed and settled in a comfy chair with a cup of tea. What do I see? An sms on the mobile phone from the Government telling me to stay inside!

Macron made another televised announcement to the country last night and much stricter measures have been put in place.

We are at war! That’s what he said. At least 5 or 6 times during his address.

We are all to stay at home for the next 15 days and are only authorised to leave in order to buy provisions, see the doctor or work if it’s not possible to work remotely. If you leave home for whatever reason you have to have ‘authorisation’ (there is a special form to download that has to be filled in).

Thankfully I’ll still be allowed to go for a walk in the vineyards as long as I’m alone (surely Nigel can come with me?). The fresh air is essential to keep a clear head during these strange times.

Two new cancellations today.

Thousands of gendarmes are being put on the streets to police us and there will be fines if we break the rules.

I had a chat with my friend Louisa this morning. She and her husband Fred make wine but also have a restaurant and wine shop in the centre of Amboise (both now shut of course). We were talking about things that we can do while this period of isolation is enforced upon us. Projects that would never see the light of day in ordinary circumstances suddenly seem worth a go. Is this the time to write the cookery book I’ve been promising to do for years? Should I make my own bread using a sourdough starter? (I’ve always said it was too time consuming and it confined you to the house so no excuses now). What a positive conversation that was. Just the thing to set the day off on a lovely footing.

The guinea fowl continues (in stock only). For lunch I sweated an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in a little olive oil then added a tin of tomatoes and a tin of haricot blancs (white beans), one tablespoon of tomato purée and then a few ladles of my lovely stock. After simmering for 30 minutes, I removed some of the beans and blitzed the rest. I returned the whole beans to the soup and served with a teaspoon of homemade garlicky black tapenade mixed with some creamy Greek yoghurt. A little crusty bread et voila, a tasty filling lunch.

I enjoyed a long walk through the vineyards this afternoon although have to admit to feeling a bit anxious as having filled in the ‘attestation de déplacement dérogatoire’ (the form that we must have with us at all times when we leave the house), I forgot to take it with me. As I was walking along I was just hoping that a gendarme wouldn’t pop out and ask to see it.

I walked along the limestone hillside taking in the sweet scent of spring flowers and the comforting smell of freshly cut grass as I passed by someone cutting their lawn. I then wandered through the vines on the plateau, wending my way through various parcels. I bumped into Vincent Carême and Mathieu Cosme and had a word (at a distance of course). Life continues as normal in the vineyards. There is pruning to be done and the sun is shining.

Dinner this evening was a veggie chilli. I gently fried an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic until soft, added a red pepper and half a green chilli pepper (diced) and then a teaspoon of ground cumin, ground coriander and smoked paprika. In went a can of tomatoes, a can of kidney beans (red beans) and a tablespoon of tomato purée. I added a little vegetable stock made using a cube and then simmerred it gently for around 20 minutes. I served it with brown rice, seasoned Greek yoghurt, some finely sliced green chilli pepper and a grating of Vacherin Fribourgeois (as it was the only semi hard cheese in the fridge).

Veggie chilli with Greek yoghurt

We enjoyed a glass of Chateau de Montdomaine’s Touraine Amboise Chenin Blanc 2018 an an aperitif and a glass or two of Leduc Frouin’s juicy Cab Franc Anjou Rouge with the chilli.

Tomorrow I venture out to the supermarket.