25 March 2012

Beautiful spring weather

Our shopping excursion to Vierzon was partly successful, but partly disappointing. At the Grand Frais store, I found fresh okra (which to me is a treat), a nice navet blanc or daikon, and a bag of fresh bean sprouts (lunch today). Grand Frais is a big produce market with a good range of exotic grocery products (Mexican, Asian, etc.), and a small dairy section as well as a meat counter. It's the French equivalent of Trader Joe's, in a way.

What I don't like about Grand Frais is that they sell almost exclusively produce that is imported — big carbon footprint — and out of season — eggplant, tomatoes, etc. in March. But then the prices can be very low. I got two nice eggplants imported from Spain, where they were surely grown in greenhouses, for just 69 cents. To me, Grand Frais is a good place to buy, once in a while, a few exotic vegetables that you can't find elsewhere.

This is a different kind of jade plant from the one I showed yesterday.
CHM brought me a cutting from the SoCal desert a few years ago.
It winters indoors, as does the aloe plant.

The big Carrefour store that was my original reason for wanting to go to Vierzon turns out to have been bought out by the U chain and converted into a HyperU in January. We have a SuperU here in Saint-Aignan, and it's our best local supermarket. I was pleased and surprised to see that it is a better store than the HyperU in Vierzon, so I won't likely go there again to shop. That'll save me some hours of driving this year.

These old barrels and carts are in an open hangar
on one of our dog-walking routes.

Vierzon itself, as everybody says when you mention it here, appears to be a little gritty, run-down, and rough-looking. At least the parts we drove through were like that. We didn't go into the "downtown" or get close to the rivers and canals. What we saw certainly didn't look dangerous or anything approaching that, but it didn't give me any desire to spend time walking around in those neighborhoods. The weather was beautiful, though, and people were sitting outdoors at sidewalk cafés in a couple of places.

This picture is from April 2005. Since then, the roof of
this old barn in our hamlet has been repaired.

Today we are going to ride over to Bléré, a smaller town on the Cher River in the opposite direction from Vierzon. One of the wine co-ops over there — near Chenonceaux — is having its annual open house (portes ouvertes). Walt and I have never bought wine at that particular co-op, but we've tasted it because our American friends who live over on the other side of Saint-Aignan have served it to us. It's defintely good.

Sunrise from the living room a couple of days ago

I especially like the Chenin Blanc wines from the Bléré co-op. Chenin is the grape grown in the famous Vouvray and Montlouis vineyards, which are just north of Bléré. Over here near Saint-Aignan, the main white wine grape is Sauvignon Blanc. The wines are very different. I'm hoping to buy 10 or even 20 liters of Chenin this morning. They'll fill my little plastic jugs (called cubitainers or just cubis) and I'll put the wine in bottles and cork them this week to enjoy for a month or two.

More primrose volunteers

Today's will be a pleasant excursion. We're going with the friends I mentioned. The weather is warm and sunny, and it's predicted to stay that way for another week at least. We haven't had to turn on the heat at all for a few days now. I've noticed too that some of the plants that I thought had died because of the extreme cold weather we had in February are actually starting to put out leaf buds. The warm, sunny weather is having the desired positive effect on all the local life forms.


  1. May I use your photo of the barrels and cart for a painting? There's a lot of difficulty I see there -- the wheels, perspective, the volume of the barrels..... But I love the composition.

  2. Ellen. Great that one man's junk is another woman's art.
    The change of 'Management' of Hyper, Super and Small can make a lot of change for the better or worse. Our brand new ElC has none of the new tecky stuff lke Drive Thro' and only a couple of tills for Scanned shopping. It does rather have just more of the same stuff rather than more choice.

  3. Ellen, of course you can use it for a painting.

    Lesley, I think our local SuperU is under very good management. It changeed hands three or four years ago, the store was enlarged, and it's a pleasure to shop there. Our local Intermarché changed hands about the same time and became more expensive — and it always takes forever to get through the checkout lines.

  4. Have a nice day, tasting and buying all those delicious Chenin wines! They are my favourite, your know? (hint-hint-hint) :^) Martine

  5. I'd have thought that an area could support only one "U", but apparently they can coexist. Last year my husband went to a football (still called soccer in the US) game where the teams were Super U vs. Hyper U.

    Can't recall who won.

  6. What a good price for the eggplant! What are you going to do with the okra? Fry or make gumbo? I've never seen okra this time of year in a grocery, but we do have lots of produce with long carbon footprints nevertheless.

    Love the sunrise and primrose photos. Hope you've enjoyed your outing today.

  7. Evelyn, I like to eat okra by itself just as a vegetable, boiled or steamed like green beans. It's really good with rice.

    We had a nice morning. There's something almost medieval about these French open house gatherings. There's wine tasting and a food table with rillettes, cheeses, and pâtés, served with open bottles of wine on the tables. It's all serve-yourself. One wine on the table was a 1996 Touraine rouge, and another was a Touraine Primeur red from 2011. Another that I really liked was a white wine with no label at all.

    I wish I had taken my camera with me, but I forgot it. Next time...

  8. Oh - do take your camera to the next wine tasting, Ken! That sounds like a wonderful way to meet some more of your neighbors and enjoy a little food with your purchasing! Fun excursion!

    I find it amusing that you consider Spanish imported vegetables as being from a long distance while we in the northwest have some fruits and vegies brought in from South and Central America! Now to me, - that is LONG distance :-O !!! I try to buy local and in-season. However, I couldn't resist buying haricots verts yesterday for $1.99/pound and I neglected to ask the grocer from what region they originated. Next time I'm there I will inquire.
    Mary in Oregon

  9. Lewis and I like boiled okra also! A wine tasting like the one you just went to might help with the homesickness;-)


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