15 November 2009

Grapes, sloes, and socializing

Now that nearly all the leaves are gone from most of the parcels of grape vines, you can see that a few grapes were left behind during the harvesting.

I'm sure nobody is going to come pick them at this late date. You'd think birds would have eaten them by now, but they haven't.

What's left after the harvesting machines go through...

By the way, one of the fruits I had halfway planned to gather this fall was sloes. Those are called prunelles in French, and they are just that: tiny purple plums. There are two uses for them, as far as I know. You can macerate them in alcohol — vodka or gin — and make what is sold commercially as sloe gin, or you can make jelly out of them.

I read about it on the Internet. Unanimously, people said that it was not a good idea to pick sloes before the first frosts of October, even though they look ripe much earlier than that. So I waited. The other day I went out to the place where I had spotted three or four bushes full of them, thinking it was time to get some.

These are grapes. Do you think the rot is noble?

Well, they were all gone. I guess the birds prefer prunelles to raisin. I think it must have been birds, because the bushes were picked perfectly clean. People are not usually so thorough and meticulous in their fruit-gathering.

We're having an internation weekend. Friday evening we went to visit with some Dutch people we have met who live on the south side of Saint-Aignan. They're getting ready to go back to The Hague for the winter.

Pyracantha? Cotoneaster? You tell me.

Yesterday, we had lunch in Saint-Aignan in a restaurant called Chez Constant with S., who was Jean-Luc's s.o., and a German woman who lives in a little house in Saint-Aignan that S. and J.-L. remodeled for her a couple of years ago.

Today, we are having English guests, J. and T. At least I assume T. is English, even though he lives, I believe, in Spain. J. is an Englishwoman who used to live in Saint-Aignan but now lives about 25 miles north, near Chaumont-sur-Loire. It will be nice to see her and meet him.


  1. I was without a computer for 1 week; I used my son's laptop but it is not the same. I have been enjoying the beautiful pictures of Albany. Will you let CHM know that they sell Smuckers guava jelly at the supermarkets in SoCal. I have been buying it for years.

  2. Sounds like lots of good times, Ken.

    I ran across a link that I had bookmarked, for a gîte in town, in St.-Aignan... it listed S. as proprietor. Was that run by S. and J-L?


  3. Judy, the gîte called La Boulangerie was and still is operated by Starr, who is half-owner in the property. American friends of our are renting it in early December for a few days.

    J-L was involved in all the work to fix the place up, but he wasn't involved in operating it as a gîte.

  4. Hi Nadège, I wondered where you were. I'm sure CHM will see your comment about the guava jelly. Good to "see" you again.

  5. I just bought guava jelly at Hanneford's supermarket here in NH.

  6. Ken. The rot on the grapes looks pretty noble to me. You can always check by tasting one. If it tastes sweet and good, then it's noble. If it tastes disgusting, it's grey rot.

  7. And if tastes like mushrooms, you may be in big trouble.

  8. We have a pineapple guava tree in our garden here in Carmel. At this time of year, large guavas, the size of apples fall off the tree. I don't care for the fruit but it's very popular with Mexicans.

  9. Hi Gabby, I don't know the fruit but I used to love the jelly. I remember that I could buy it at the old Tower Market not far from our house in San Francisco.

    Cheryl, I'm with you -- cautious.

    Jim, I think I'll leave that kind of tasting to the vignerons, who know what they are doing.

    Bill, hope you like the guava jelly.

  10. Gee, I feel like Alex and I should come back and visit you guys since the weather is still so nice - 15C but cloudy today and it feels warm out to me!! When is Walt coming back?
    Have a nice week! Leese


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?