24 September 2011

That Franco-American "affair"

Last night we had the pleasure of being invited to dinner by Dean and Jean, two Americans from Seattle. You might have seen Dean's comments on this blog. He speaks and writes excellent French. The other guests were three of Dean and Jean's friends from Seattle, as well as two French friends of theirs.

For once, I'm posting other people's photos here. I don't think Dean or Jean or the other photographers will mind. Thanks to Dean for sending the photos.

Us waiting for apéritifs to be served in the living room
(there's Walt in the middle of the picture, next to Jean).

The group is spending the weekend in a gîte — a vacation rental — in a village near the town of Montrichard, 12 or 15 miles down the river from Saint-Aignan. The rental house is owned by a couple of Californians who don't live here right now, and it is managed by a French couple named Agnès and Jean-Paul. They live next door.

The apéritif treats that Jean-Paul and Agnès prepared and served

Dean and Jean contracted with the property managers to cater a dinner for nine guests, and they prepared a great meal. There were pre-dinner drinks — apéritifs — with finger foods including a purée of artichoke bottoms and a little glass of three other purées — beet with balsamic vinegar, carrot with lemon juice, and radish with curry powder. There was also a big plate of canapés made with duck rillettes. The bubbly wine was a Touraine fines bulles from the Gourmandière wine co-op near Chenoneau château, and was made into kirs with either black currant or blueberry liqueurs.

Here are the 9 of us at the table — Dean and I are at the far end.

Dinner started with a crispy pastry stuffed with goat cheese served on a bed of salad with a nasturtium flower for decoration (and the flower is edible). The main course was half a coquelet per person, roasted to perfection and served with a pureed potato and cheese specialty from the Auvergne called aligot. A coquelet is literally a "small rooster" but I think in fact it's what we call a Cornish game hen in the U.S. (and that is neither especially Cornish, it's not necessarily a hen, and it's not game but tame).

The wines were a Saumur-Champigny, a Bourgueil, and a Cheverney, all local reds and all delicious.

Here we are again, in the living room enjoying a glass
of sparkling wine and some cocktail foods.

Okay, those are the technical details. The party was lively with a lot of good conversation in French and in English. We talked about how Dean and Jean met their two French friends, one of whom lives in Paris and the other, by a complete coincidence, in Saint-Aignan. We talked about life in the the Loire Valley — the food, the sights, the climate, the people... We talked about Seattle.

I can't do it all justice here. It was extremely convivial, as they say in French. The evening was a reminder of the power of blogs. It was yet another great experience for us with people who feel like new friends — people we would never have met if it hadn't been for the Internet and blogs.


  1. I would be just sitting there stare at all of you if you speak french

  2. Oh, my, how wonderful it all looks and sounds. Great!

  3. Great post. The energy of Blogs is really interesting.

    I am adding to my Blog title soon, once we have landed in the Charente Maritime.

  4. The aperitifs look stunning. What are the things that look like they have lollipops in them?

  5. The lollipops are just cherry (or grape) tomatoes on a toothpick. Under them are cubes of cantaloupe and cured ham.

  6. I wish I had been there too, not only for the food, but "les convives" and their conversation.

  7. Yes, those aperitifs are beautiful, and I'm sure they tasted as good as they looked. Glad you're connecting with friends from all over via your blog.

  8. Sounds and looks incroyable! Hooray for friends, food, and wine!

  9. How are people who don't drink received in a culture where wine is so prominent a feature?

  10. Cindy, while most people in France do have a glass or two of wine with their meals, not all do. And most people don't drink much more than that. In fact, the French people drink much less wine now that they did 50 years ago. There's no stigma attached to abstaining.

  11. Awww, all that good food and aligot, too! I hope you drank to the power of blog friend-making. It looks like one of those dinners you will remember always.
    Thanks for sharing it with us, your reader friends.

  12. Bonjour Ken, Bonjour Walt,

    J'ai eu l'honneur d'être invitée à cette délicieuse soirée dont je remercie vivement leurs hôtes Dean et Jeanne.

    Cela m'a permis de vous rencontrer (alors que vous êtes mes voisins)et d'apprecier vos connaissances de la région et votre français impéccable !!

    C'était une très agréable soirée de partage entre amis - d'amis.

    Encore merci Ken and Walt de m'avoir raccompagnée.

    A bientôt.

  13. Bonjour Cécile, cette soirée était un vrai plaisir pour moi et pour Walt. On était contents de faire ta connaissance. Oui, à bientôt.

    Evelyn, Cheryl, Ginny, and Nadège, :^)


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