Dinner in the Beaujolais

As I explained a few posts ago, on Monday Mr FD and I drove our friends C&A to see their friends over in the Beaujolais region.

We duly dropped them off at their friend’s house (having driven around the village a few times, as the instructions we had assumed we’d be coming from a different direction, so things got a little confused for a moment or two) and then headed off to the chosen restaurant. We’d changed our mind about the restaurant, and we went to this one: La Maison des Beaujolais

This is the menu we chose:

ENTRÉES :

Médaillon de Foie Gras, Chutney de Saison
ou
Salade de Saint Jacques Panées aux Amandes, Coco et Banane Plantain
ou
Salade de Gambas Sautées, Lardons de Canard et Pousses de Soja

PLATS CHAUDS :

Croquettes de Ris de Veau , Beurre à l’Oseille
ou
Magret de Canard au Vinaigre de Framboises
ou
Filets de Rouget aux Queues de Langoustines

Fromages

Carte des Desserts

 

We started with an apero – I had the Aperetif Maison, the exact make up of which was, I was told, a secret. It was a red wine and fruit juice combo, which was very pleasant. As the driver, Mr FD had an orangina. These were served with an amuse-bouche of vegetables, chicken and chorizo.

For my starter, I had the foie gras, which was served with a pain d’epices (a type of gingerbread, whose sweetness goes well with the foie gras) and a delicious chutney. I don’t know what it was made of, although we suspected it might have been red grapes. :

Mr FD chose the salad de gambas, which he said was enjoyable, although the sauce was a bit harsh. It had an oriental flavour, and he thought it was made with soy sauce. It was an enormous plateful!

For the main course I chose to have the red mullet. I almost always choose duck if it is on the menu, but decided to go off-piste! I like fish, but rarely cook it and even more rarely choose it in restaurants. It was very nice:

As you can see, it came with rice, and a medley of summer vegetables. I enjoyed it very much. Mr FD had the duck (he nearly went for the ris-de-veau (which are sweetbreads) but he backed out at the last moment.

Cheese followed – a selection of three

Oops! I forgot to take the photo before I started! A goaty-herby one, which I enjoyed, a slice of Brie, or something equally mild and creamy, and then the one in the centre,which looks innocuous but had a very strong, agricultural flavour about it. I left that one, as I didn’t find it pleasant at all. These were served with a slice of nut bread and a small salad, scattered with flaked almonds.

Dessert: What would you have chosen?

I decided to have the Mille Feuille Glacé Ananas et son coulis. It was very nice:

I was getting forgetful about taking photos by now!!

We finished with coffe-for-me-tea-for-Mr FD, and just as we were getting to the end of our coffee/tea, C&A phoned to say they were ready to be picked up. We drove back to get them, and were forced to be polite to some people we didn’t know for about half an hour.  Then a drive home through the rain.

It was a very enjoyable meal, so thank you C&A for that. Mind you, judging by this photo, I seem to be regarding my meal with some suspicion!!

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Book Review: Be Still the Water (****)

I’ll tell you about my dinner tomorrow (I’ve got to download the photos) but here’s my review of the most recent read from Net Galley:

I am proud to be a Ten Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley

I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review. So, here it is:

BE STILL THE WATER

by Karen Emilson

The Net Galley synopsis says:

From the award-winning author of Where Children Run comes a smoldering tale, set in 1906 along the unspoiled shores of Lake Manitoba.

Be Still the Water brings us into the fold of the Gudmundsson family—immigrants determined to begin life anew in the Icelandic farming and fishing community of Siglunes. At the heart of the novel is dutiful Asta, the middle daughter who loves the local mill owner’s son, but the devastating secret they share drives a wedge between them, complicating their love for decades.

When Asta’s younger sister goes missing, she embarks on a quest to find her and bring her home. She tells the heartbreaking tale some seventy years later, while on her deathbed, finally discovering the truth of what happened on those fateful days that set the course for her life and the lives of everyone she loved.

Loosely inspired by area events, this is an emotional, slow-burning story of family love and sacrifice, of a secret revealed and promises broken—told in the spirit of the Icelandic Sagas.

While I might take issue with the adjective “smouldering” (please note, I’ve spelt it correctly!) I certainly wouldn’t complain about the rest of this description. I found this an interesting story, with characters that I both believed in, and engaged with. It covered both a period of history, and an area of the world, about which I knew nothing – I didn’t even know that Icelandic people settled in Canada!

The main protagonist, Asta, was a likeable character, and her struggles, together with those of her family, were well recounted. The story starts at the very end of her life, as she is preparing to die, and she wants to know what happened to her sister, who disappeared. In order to do this she “travels” back in time, and retells the story of her life. It is a life full of tragedy, secrets, hardship, but also the joy of family and community. As the telling unfolds we discover more about Asta and her history.

I did find it a little over-long, but, having said that, there was no extraneous episodes, no unnecessary descriptions. The writing was good, and (thank heavens) well-edited. I enjoyed this author’s style. I’d certainly recommend this to lovers of historical fiction, giving it four stars

Prayer…

 

DISCLOSURE

 

Prayer is like watching

for the kingfisher.

All you can do is

Be where he is likely to appear

And wait.

Often, nothing much happens.

There is space, silence

And expectancy.

No visible sign.

Only the knowledge

That He’s been there

And may come again.

Seeing or not seeing cease to matter,

You have been prepared.

But sometimes when you’ve almost

Stopped expecting it,

A flash of brightness

Gives encouragement.

 

Ann Lewin

29 down. 1 to go.

On Monday it will be my last radiotherapy session! Huzzah!

 

On Monday evening we’re being treated to a meal out.  C and A are people we know who have a holiday home here; Mr FD does the odd techie job for them, and makes sure their internet is up and running  before they arrive for the holidays etc. They’re both getting on and have recently been ill, but would really like to visit some of their friends about 100 km north of here, in the Beaujolais. Mr FD is going to drive them, I’m going along for the ride, and C&A are going to pay for us to have a meal in a restaurant nearby to their friends. Mr FD is a bit disappointed that the insurance is too complicated and expensive to work out for their car, which is some flash Mercedes. Instead we’ll be driving our old workhorse, the PugBus (a Peugeot something-or-other)

We’re trying to choose the restaurant now – this one is looking favourite

And here’s the celebration menu we’re considering…

Mise en bouche

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Foie gras frais de canard maison cuit en terrine
Chutney de saison et pain aux figues
ou
Cocotte d’escargots de Bourgogne aux cèpes
au beurre d’ail crèmé
ou
Escalope de foie gras de canard poêlée sur Tatin de pommes
caramélisées au miel du Haut Beaujolais

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Sandre poché au Mâcon blanc
fondue de poireaux et concassé de tomates

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  Entrecôte charolaise  sauce Marchand de vin
ou
Ris de veau au jus de raisin (origine France)

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Plateau de fromages affinés
ou
Faisselle Bressane et sa crème épaisse

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Dessert maison au choix

Just call me Gourmande!!

Ladies only glow…

As my mother used to say: Horses sweat, men perspire, but ladies only glow…

I’m definitely glowing… My whole top right torso is now really rather tender – that feeling of when you’ve had too much sun, with the occasional yelp of pain when you stretch the sensitive skin too far, or catch it on the rough edge of a bra. It’s the effects of the radiotherapy. I have only three sessions to go, but yesterday was the cstart of a new regime, which saw a very directed set of rays towards the scar where the initial lump was. I suspect that within three days it may be quite a painful area.

About a fortnight into my radiotherapy I went to see Yvette, on the advice of several people. Yvette is a Charmeur de feu (I think that’s right) – basically a faith healer, but seemingly with a propensity to heal (or relieve) the symptoms of radiotherapy. Hence the “feu” bit (fire) Sometimes they’re known as Coupeur de feu (“cutter of fire”) This article, in French, explains it a bit more. I actually wasn’t having any problems at the time, but she laid her hands on me and prayed. As I said to Mr FD, “I was happy to hear her using the word Seigneur (Lord) so it wasn’t just mumbo jumbo” He raised an eyebrow at me and sniggered, believing that it was mumbo jumbo!

I’m actually not totally convinced but I went back to see her on Tuesday, because by then there was a lot of redness. And some discomfort. I was given a thorough telling off by her – “Oh look how red it is…why didn’t you come back before, you silly girl…Oh, it must be painful…You shouldn’t worry about disturbing me…Oh, you silly, silly girl….” and so on….

After I was suitably shame faced, and apologised, she laid hands on me, and prayed (breaking off from time to time to say “Oh you silly girl…!”)  – and, I do have to admit that there was some relief from the discomfort…I’m going back again this afternoon, in an attempt to relieve the painful glowing that’s going on.

Yvette refuses all payment (unlike the Magnetiseur I went to see before the chemo, who took 40€ from me) so I made some biscuits and took them along. I suspect many of you know Anzac biscuits, but if you don’t, let me tell you that they are very simple-to-make and delicious! Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

100g plain flour, sifted
 85g rolled oats
75g caster sugar
85g desiccated coconut
100g unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon bicarb

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Put the oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the golden syrup. Add the bicarbonate of soda to 2 tbsp boiling water, then stir into the golden syrup and butter mixture.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter and golden syrup mixture. Stir gently to incorporate the dry ingredients.
  3. Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to buttered baking sheets, about 2.5cm/1in apart to allow room for spreading. Bake in batches

I thought they were very similar to British HobNob biscuits, but a bit chewier. I really liked them, and I’m going to bake a batch on Sunday to take along to the Radiotherapy team on Monday for my last session. I thought I might try adding some chocolate chips or some dried cranberries.

From Puffins to Peacocks

Which might be a slightly ambiguous post title, but can be explained…

I wrote earlier about my childhood reading, and my membership of the Puffin Club, a club affiliated to Puffin books, an imprint of Penguin Books publishing house, targeted at children. Peacock books were the fairly shortlived “young adult” series, a step on from Puffin books; but they made up a fair amount of my transition reading.

Titles such as Fifteen, by Beverley Cleary, a story about first love, and all the pain and joy associated with it…

This list shows the first Peacock books – just reading it through has made me go “Oh, Yes! I remember that!!” for so many books. I wonder if there’s any there that you have read and enjoyed?

After graduating to the adult library section, I started reading a lot of Mary Stewart’s romance/mysteries. I really enjoyed these – usually there was a smart, sassy female protagonist, who fell in love, often with someone a bit unsuitable, who she suspected to be the wrong doer. She could usually look after herself, but there would be a life-or-death situation at the end where she would be rescued by (or sometimes rescue) the Love of her Life. They would be set in exotic locations, and I really loved them; I read one quite recently, and although it was a bit dated, I still enjoyed it.

I didn’t really like Agatha Christie mysteries, but enjoyed other crime novels – a genre which I still enjoy today. I can’t remember any particular authors that I gravitated towards, although I do remember my aunt taking Ngaio Marsh mysteries on holiday with her: she brought them from the library (shock! horror! we were never allowed to take library books on holiday in case we lost them!) and they all had standard library issue covers in a particularly unpleasant yellow! I tried reading one, but didn’t enjoy it.

I fell in love with two books about time slip/ghostly, doomed love – A Portrait of Jennie, by Robert Nathan, and Jenny Villiers, by JB Priestly. Both of these fed my adolescent need for love… I read A Portrait of Jennie again recently – while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t quite gripped in the same way…

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One book that had a profound effect on me was “In this House of Brede” by Rumer Godden. I had already come across Rumer Godden’s book “The Kitchen Madonna” in the children’s section of the library – a lovely story, in which Gregory, a nine-year-old boy, has a deep love and respect for his family’s Ukrainian maid, Marta. When he discovers that Marta is sad because she does not have an icon in the kitchen, he commits to doing something about it. He makes his own picture, using various things such as jewel-bright sweet wrappers to frame it. I moved onto reading Godden’s “The Greengage Summer” (another Peacock book) which is another book about the joy and pain of first love, but this one set in 1920s France

After this, I wanted to read other books by the same author, and found “In this House of Brede“. As Wikipedia describes it: a portrait of religious life in England that centers on Philippa Talbot, a highly successful professional woman who leaves her comfortable life among the London elite to join a cloistered Benedictine community of contemplative nuns. It begins in 1954, as Philippa enters the monastery, Brede Abbey; continues through her solemn vows in the changing, post-Second Vatican Council environment; and ends as Philippa reluctantly accepts the call to lead a new Benedictine foundation in Japan, where she spent part of her childhood.

I think reading this book helped me to see that it was okay to have questions about God, to struggle with being a Christian. I said “Yes” to God at school, aged 17, and went along to a House church, which was in many ways a great start for my Christian life, but in other ways not so good. It was very Bible based, with every answer to every question considered to be in the Bible, God’s direct word to us, and never to be questioned…. This was not my experience, and it was not how I had been educated: I had been taught to ask questions, and my church upbringing had been more open and liberal. Being torn between two stances, this book helped me to start to form my own opinions and become stronger in my faith.

As I write this, I remember more and more books from my adolescence, that I really enjoyed…I could be writing this blog post for ever as I recall more and more!

The L-Shaped Room, by Lynne Reid Banks

Last Year’s Broken Toys

The Silver Sword by Ian Serrailer ( Maybe that was a childhood book, rather than adolescent – but an excellent read!)

Fifth Chinese Daighter by Jade Snow Wong

The Owl Service by Alan Garner…

and so the list goes on. What do you remember reading in your teenage years?

Readers required

OK, I’ve written a novel. It’s about a woman who moves to France, and what happens to her.

I don’t know if it’s any good. I’m too close to it. But I’m thinking I need to try to whip it into some sort of shape, and maybe try to get it published.

I need a few people who would be willing to read it, and give me some (kindly worded but honest) criticism.

Is there anyone who would be willing to have me send them the novel by email, chapter by chapter, and then to tell me (kindly, but honestly) what they think of it? Let me know in the comments section, and also make sure there’s some way I can contact you by email.

It’s called “Teaching Donkeys to Dance” and according to my mother has a bit too much sex and food in it!