The grape harvest — les vendanges — began in the vineyard plots around our house yesterday. Jill H. and I went out and watched the harvester scooping up green (a.k.a. white) grapes out on the north side.
I looked around and there was the senior Mr. Denis — Jacques — standing out by his blue tractor and trailer, waiting for the first load of grapes. I went over and talked to him to thank him again for the firewood he sold us. He asked me if we had the wood well covered to protect it from the rain, and I told him we did. And then I pointed out that for the time being, we aren't having any rain at all. The weather has been perfectly dry for more than a week now. He laughed and said yes, it is nice, isn't it?
For lunch Peter made a big salad with lardons and poached eggs. We also ate some little tarts I bought at a charcuterie. They were a crust of puff pastry with a layer of diced potatoes and cream on top, covered by a slice of bacon. The charcutier called the preparation a tartelette tartiflette — tartiflette being an Alpine specialty of potatoes and lardons in a cream sauce with melted Reblochon cheese on top, cooked in a big baking dish. It's the kind of hot and hearty thing you eat after you've spent the day on the slopes, I guess. The tartelettes were just a bite.
In the afternoon, we took a drive over to see the château at Montpoupon. Then we went on to Loches where we walked around the upper town to see the royal château, the church, Agnès Sorel's tomb, and the medieval fortress. On the way back we drove through Montrésor to see the château there — then on to Orbigny and Saint-Aignan.
For dinner I improvised an appetizer of chunks of leftover roast pork cut into little cubes, speared with a toothpick, and dipped in a sauce made with ketchup, hot pepper vinegar, and some piment d'Espelette puree. The pepper vinegar comes from cayenne peppers we grew and pickled a couple of years ago. Everybody liked it, and we finished the cold pork roast and ate a lot of sauce.
Peter made eggplant "pizzas" — eggplants cut in half, the flesh scored, and topped with finely chopped tomatoes, anchovies, shallots, and herbs. The all cooked in a hot oven for 30 minutes. Delicious.
Meanwhile, Walt made a crêpe batter and some cooked up some diced apples with vanilla and cinnamon. After the eggplant dish, Peter cooked the crêpes and rolled them around a dollop of apple filling. Then he flamed the crêpes on our plates with Calvados, which is an apple brandy made in Normandy.
Peter and Jill are leaving today to go back to Paris. We will certainly miss them.