Lock-down take 2. Day 1. 30th October.

It seems we already have dissent in the ranks. I’ve seen two special decrees signed by mayors of different towns that are disobeying the national measures and allowing small independent shops to remain open.

The logic behind this is simple. The shelves for non-essential items in the super and hyper markets remain open and the local mayors feel that this is unjust to small independent shops that would normally sell the same kind of items (flowers, DIY stuff, books, cards, plants etc etc).

So, they have overruled Macron’s orders stating it will remain that way until all shops are treated equally. Hear hear!

Quick nip to the supermarket this morning. After stock-taking our loo roll supplies we decided bulk buying was not essential in Noizay. What is it with people stocking up on loo roll? Didn’t they learn first time round that things only ran out because of their stupidity?

It was calm in Vernou. Noone rushing around hoarding things. No tussles for the last pack of pasta. No empty shelves staring at me.

Soup on the lunch menu today. A creamy cauliflower and thyme soup made with butter, cream and stock. Rich and comforting, there’s nothing like a bowl of steaming soup to lift the spirits half way through the day. A cold ham sandwich just doesn’t have the same appeal (especially at the moment).

I made a batch of pumpkin, leek, lardon and coconut milk soup for the weekend this afternoon too. Adding lardons (or should I say allumettes – little matchsticks of bacon – finer than lardons), is something that I read about during the first lockdown and it was a revelation.

Noone can guess they’re there because when they’re blitzed smooth there’s no sign of them yet they lurk in the background giving a smoky meatiness that’s hard to define yet totally delicious. And if you have some spare, crispy fried ones on top are naughtly, and soo addictive.

As I sit here typing, lovely aromas are wafting in from the kitchen.

Nigel is in the garden this afternoon. The irises need cutting back and he’s planning to give the lawn a trim. It’s periodically bright and sunny and Bigi keeps jumping on his back as he works his way around the border. Monza from two doors down has also come along to say hello. Meanwhile, Madame Diva Pesto naps on the spare bed until later.

Supposed to be having a night off the wine tonight but one look at each other and that went out the window. It’s Friday, the first day of lock-down 2. This is not the day to sit around drinking a glass of water and feeling miserable.

A gin and tonic for me, a Bombardier for Nigel (well nearly – Aperol, red Martini and Bourbon). A few nibbles (some salami and a little smoked salmon stuffed with cream cheese) and a little Diana Krall on Spotify.

Dinner was a classic. Pavé of salmon with leeks and hollandaise sauce.

I foolishly decided to make a half quantity of the hollandaise and the result was a fine spray of butter that covered the entire kitchen. This ‘quick’ method works like a dream but trying to whisk just one egg yolk and one tablespoon of water and then drizzle in a fine stream of melted butter? You can imagine the scene. Suffice it to say I’ll be cleaning the kitchen tomorrow.

Our wine of choice for the evening was Clos du Frère Etienne from Chateau de Breuil in the hills of the Layon. It’s a beautiful Chenin that has been aged in oak and on this occasion was not the best choice for the salmon. The rich creaminess of the sauce was a bit overwhelmed by the wine. The classic trace of bitterness (that is so attractive in Chenin) seemed exaggerated by the richness of the butter.

Something unoaked would have been better on reflection. Ah – food and wine pairing. Even when you think you’ve got it right sometimes it doesn’t quite live up to expectation.

I’ll post the recipe for the hollandaise on the Members’ section of the blog. It’s a goody. So easy to make (if you use the full quantity) and doesn’t involve endless beating of teensy amounts of butter little by little.