23 September 2008

A Monday drive to Montpoupon

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.

Harvesting white grapes, probably
Chenin Blanc, for sparkling wines

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?

Monsieur Denis's blue tractor and trailer
awaiting the first dump of wine grapes

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 tartiflettetartiflette 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.

Sombody has planted wide fields of cosmos
all around the Château de Montpoupon

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.

Montpoupon, out in the country
about 7 miles west of Saint-Aignan

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.


  1. I've enjoyed hearing about all your good eats with Peter and Jill.

    The castle with the cosmos is so lovely- I wish I were there right now.

  2. Hi Evelyn, Montpoupon with all the flowers was more amazing than ever. And the food over the whole weekend was very nice. Not too much, just right. Our weather has been nice too. Bises, K.

  3. Waw, your Montpoupon pictures are regular postcard material! Did you visit the kitchens at Monpoupon as you did at Valençay on Saturday? If so, did you notice the ‘mise en scène’ with the kitten that broke an egg? Too cute!

  4. the cosmos and the chateau are so beautiful, like a dream....glad you had sunshine.

  5. That eggplant "pizza" sounds delicious. Suggestions for cooking time and temp?

  6. Well, d'uh. You said hot oven for 30 minutes. Guess I was so overtaken by the wonderful chateau and cosmos pictures I didn't read carefully. Sorry about that.

  7. Martine, we didn't go into the château de Montpoupon this time, but a few years ago Walt and I did the tour with some other friends. The kitchen was the most interesting part.

    PJ, we have been under sunny skies for 10 days or so. Ouf!

    Emm, the eggplant halves were well cooked. The anchovie was just the right saltiness and a good counterpoint to the tomato and eggplant, along with the cheese. It's a great recipe. I wish we had more eggplants coming in the garden, but I think they are about finished for the season.


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