Walt picked another big batch of green beans yesterday — at least twice as many as the other day. So we have our work cut out for us today. Blanching and freezing as well as cooking a lunch that will feature beans again. The idea is to make a Thai basil chicken stirfry featuring haricots verts.
Last night we had dinner as planned at the local farm-inn, La Ferme-Auberge de la Lionnière, with old and new friends who were visiting for the day. In the commotion and excitement of it all, I forgot to grab my camera before we left the house to drive up to the restaurant. So no photos.
You'll have to take my word for how good it was, and how nice the atmosphere was. I'll describe the meal:
- There were two first courses that were part of the set menu: a fresh mushroom salad made with mushrooms grown in stone cellars in our village by the woman who sells them at the market in Saint-Aignan on Saturdays. The dressing was a very Dijon-mustardy vinaigrette with some chopped shallot and herbs. It was very light and refreshing. Then we each had a slice of a quiche-like zucchini and goat-cheese pie — it's something we'll be making at home as soon as the next zucchinis are ready to be picked out in the garden.
- After the two starter courses, we had a choice of one of two main courses cooked for the evening — navarin d'agneau, which is lamb braised with turnips, carrots, and new potatoes, or coq au sauvignon blanc, which is rooster cooked in the local wine and served with potatoes and onions. Walt and I both had the lamb, because it's something we don't cook all that often, and it was memorably good. Our friends who had the chicken thought it was excellent too.
- The cheese course was a platter of three different goat cheeses that are made on the farm (the owners raise goats and have a big vegetable garden). The cheeses are made in different shapes and they are aged to different stages of dryness and hardness so that each one is different. All three were delicious.
- Dessert was a clafoutis (think "custard pie") made with apples and apricots. Delicious.
- The wine we chose was a Pinot Noir and Gamay red made by a local grape-grower whose name is Jean-Christophe Mandard. We know him slightly and have been to his winery a few times over the years. Over the years we've also been served his wines in a couple of different Paris restaurants, including one of our friend CHM's favorite places in his neighborhood. Now I have to go see Monsieur Mandard again and buy some of that good wine.
Besides the good food and drink, it was fun seeing an old friend again — somebody who was an important person in my life way back when and who is happy and in good health 35 years later. She and I were part of a big group of friends in Paris, when we were all in our late 20s and early 30s, what I realize now were our formative years.
My head is still spinning after the whole experience. I enjoyed meeting this old friend's husband and daughter, and the conversation flowed easily and naturally. We reminisced, teased, and caught up. It was strange to say good-bye at the end of the evening and to hear ourselves hoping out loud that we might have a chance to up meet again one day. It's not a sure bet. These friends live on an island in the Indian Ocean that is an eleven-hour flight from Paris...