15 July 2009

Pizza in a café on Bastille Day

Busy day today. Our Normandy friends are still here. This morning we're heading over to Vouvray to buy some wine over there (Chenin Blanc wines, sweet or dry, still or sparkling — some of the best white wines made in France). Vouvray is a good 45-minute drive northwest from Saint-Aignan.

Then we're going to lunch in a restaurant in Montlouis, the village on the other side of the Loire River from Vouvray. We've never tried this restaurant, Les Terrasses, before. It isn't in the guidebooks, and I can't find any customer reviews on the Internet. The only way to find out if it's good is to throw caution to the wind and go try it. Since we all have much experience with little French restaurants, I'm sure we'll find something good on the menu.

Looks like there'll be a lot of wild blackberries this year.

Last night we went down to Saint-Aignan at dinnertime. The two visitors from Normandy wanted to eat dinner, but Walt and I didn't. We went to a café and ordered glasses of white wine — a Sauvignon Blanc from the Quincy wine area, 50 km east of Saint-Aignan. We asked if the café was serving sandwiches or salads, but it wasn't.

These delicate little mushrooms are blooming
all around the vineyard right now.

What if we went and got something from a bakery or other shop and brought it to the table here to eat it? Would that be okay? Certainly, said the young woman who was waiting on us, and who turned out to be, with her Norman (!) husband, the owner of the place. Two of us walked around the corner to the pizzeria on the market square in Saint-Aignan and ordered a pizza.

This artichoke is about to turn into a flower
and is looking positively solar.

I know the people who run the pizzeria — my friend was impressed that I and the woman who runs it did French cheek-kisses in greeting — and I think that helped us get a pizza really fast. They gave us one that was just coming out of the oven. Some other customer would have to wait. Within five minutes, we were back at the café.

The grapes are plumping up nicely.

The café owner brought us a knife, we ordered second glasses of the Quincy wine, and we carved up the pizza and ate it with our fingers. The café was full of people, mostly young men, it seemed, and it was buzzing with activity. It was Bastille Day, and fireworks were scheduled in Saint-Aignan at midnight. The two café owners were also in the process closing the place up, putting chairs up on the table inside so they could mop the floor, and gradually taking away the outside chairs and tables too. We stayed about an hour, and we were about the last people to leave.

So many fruit trees, including several pear trees
nearby, are just loaded down with fruit.

During our improvised meal, the Norman owner, probably about 40 years old, came over and talked to our Normandy friends. He grew up in Le Havre, and the father of one of our friends was also born in Le Havre. They had a good time talking about Normandy, and I could hear their Normandy accents kick in.

It was all a lot of fun and Walt took a lot of pictures. I think he'll be posting them over the next few days and weeks. I forgot my camera. We got home at about 9:30. Okay, it's time for us to hit the road for another whirlwind day.


  1. You're killing me here...buying good wine for approx. $1.40/bottle!

    My best local deal is a boxed red labeled Cuvee de Pena from Languedoc-Roussillon. At $22.00/box it comes to about $5.50/bottle. It's my everyday red.


  2. I visited Normandy many many years ago and was told that there are more cows than residents LOL. c'etait drolle! c'etait longtemps que j'ai visite la France. J'etait une estudiante de mode a Paris depuis 23 annees. J'adore la cuisine et la vie des gens ordinaire. Mais oui la vie c'est dure maintenant mais la joie de vive c'est toujours la. Merci pour votre blog de la vie en france. Votre pays d'origine? Etats Unis? Au revoir a prochain fois de Barbade.

  3. The artichoke flower is amazing, never knew that is what happened to them, maybe because we don't see this very often in the UK.

  4. Please let us know how the "crudness of seasons" was :)

    I loved picturing the whole pizza/café scene... love these stories.


  5. Those pears are so pretty!

  6. Hi Chris, I wish that pear tree was in our yard! We do have one -- I'll have to go take a picture of it too.

    Islandgal, yes, I'm American. I've been in France for 6 years this time, and I lived in France earlier in my life too. By the way, there are certainly more grapes in Touraine than people...

    Judy, one of our friends had the "crudness" as her appetizer. She said it was good but the sauce was too vinegary. She's French and you know how certain French people are never happy with the food in restaurants. Sigh. I enjoyed my meal: a terrine of roe deer (venison) and a plat of little fried minnows called Friture. Have you ever had that? Walt had pig snout (!) "museau" in vinaigrette and a steak. He said it was good. The two French people had "andouillette" and said it was very good. I'll take their word for it.

    Bill, they are making good wines down in the Languedoc region these days. You could probably get that Cuvée de Pena down there at about the same price we pay for our local wine here in Saint-Aignan. Over in Vouvray we paid 5 euros a bottle for a mixed case of dry sparkling and sweet still wines that are very good.

    Anne, the artichoke continues to open up. I'll take some more pictures of it over the next few days.

  7. If you get an artichoke blossom, pick it and spray it with hair spray. It will keep for months and make a unique floral decoration.

  8. Oui, Myriam a trouvé ses crudités trop vinaigrées, mais, pour ma part, moi, j'ai tout aimé : la terrine de chevreuil était très bonne, et, oui, mon andouillette était très bonne et n'avait pas le goût dont tu parles parfois, Ken ;-) !!!!!!! Ma crème caramel était aussi bonne, et notre bouteille de rosé était sympathique :-) C'était un déjeuner très correct pour un prix très attractif :-) Bises Marie


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