It had been a long tiring drive from Roscoff to the Val de Loire. OK, I didn’t make it easy by dropping in on friends across Brittany, but the last 180 miles were particularly tedious, especially the Périphérique around Nantes. We arrived at our friend Anne’s vineyard in time for aperitifs. She makes a rather special Coteaux d’Ancenis Malvoisie white wine that is….well….. to die for! It’s light, sweet, but at the same time quite forwardly acidic…all of which makes no sense at all, until you taste it; it’s heaven in a glass.
The road was telling and hurting, I hit the calvados.
Ask me to ride three to four hundred miles on a motorcycle and i’ll say “OK”…ask me to do it in a car and i’ll likely yawn!
Dookes don’t do cars!
Sunday morning dawned bright, sunny and warm.
I was still feeling yesterday’s miles, plus the effects of quite a lot of Calvados the night before!
Mrs Dookes and I wandered into the pretty village of Oudon and it’s Sunday market.
Un Marché le Dimanche matin is quite unusual in France and although this isn’t a big one it’s a good one. My mate Olivier was there with his olive stall, yeah, I know, “Olivier des Olives”!!!
I wandered over to Olivier as Mrs Dookes disappeared into her favourite patisserie adjacent to the market.
“Ça va Gallois? “Oui, ça va! Et tu?” “Ça va bien.”
Oliver paused to serve an annoying couple who were allowing their young daughter, of perhaps 10, to choose their olives. Maybe these, perhaps those…what do they tase like? Oliver was patient for a while, then just exclaimed “Ills ont tous le goût d’olive!” “They all taste of olive!” Father then decides and they go away happy!
I feel compelled to buy some saucisson from my friend..”Sanglier, noisettes, et bleu d’Auvergne!” Olivier exclaims, he knows me well!
Olivier looks around and produces a small bottle of Calvados, the Normandy apple brandy.
“Un pour la route eh?” One for the road indeed! The Calvados is rough, warm full of apple flavour and awakens my taste buds.
“Ok mon amis, maintenant tu vas cuisiner pour nous, le suis occupé”
“OK my friend go cook for us, i’m busy at the moment.”
“Cuisine une de ces recettes bâtardes de Normandie que tu et Floyd aime tant!”
“Cook a dish from those bastards in Normandy that you and Floyd like so much!”
We smile at each other. It”s been 13 years last Thursday that Floyd toddled off this mortal coil. I miss him dreadfully.
“OK mom amis, pour tu et pour Floyd!”
I scurry around the marché gathering the ingredients. A poulet jaune, fed with corn plump with yellow fat, haricot verts, carrots, a spaghetti squash, juicy pink garlic and as a surprise and only because a lovely lady is selling it, fresh Gnocchi: Floyd would approve. Oh and a rather special vin blanc du Chinon, one of my favourite Val du Loire wines.
Once back at our cottage I set about preparation: Floyd had a view that cooking shouldn’t be about being tied to the cooker and that the process should allow time to relax and enjoy the moment…so after prepping the chicken we went for a petit promenade along the banks of the mighty river Loire before returning to enjoy the meal and a gin and tonic before!
“Pour un Gallois tu cuisines comme d’un Français!” “For a Welshman, you cook like a Frenchman!” Oliver exclaimed. After a lot of wine and Calvados….that’ll do for me!
Et maintenant, le fromage!..cheese!
Oh…. and a bit more Calvados! I love this country and it’s people.
Here’s to you Floyd! I miss you.