10 October 2012

Practicing for winter

Autumn is upon us, but it's the part of autumn that is damp and warm — muggy, in other words. We're due for some cooler weather, according to the weather reports. Maybe we'll get it this coming weekend.

The view out the back gate yesterday afternoon

But first there will be more rain. Clouds and dampness haven't stopped the vineyard crew from continuing the vendanges. They harvested the Cabernet grapes along the north side of the house yesterday. "Cabernet" here in the Loire Valley means Cabernet Franc, as in Chinon and Bourgueil, not Cabernet Sauvignon as in Bordeaux.

A moment of soft light and wispy clouds over the Renaudière vineyard

About the only red-wine grapes left on the vines are bunches of Côt, which is the Loire Valley name for what is called Malbec in other wine-producing regions around the world. There's a big parcel of Côt right outside our back gate. Côt grapes produce the densest, biggest-bodied red wine here in Touraine, followed in order by Cabernet and Gamay down the lightness scale.

Clouds building up over the hamlet

When I went out to walk with the dog late yesterday afternoon, I took a hundred or more photos. The sky was gorgeous. Unfortunately, most of the photos were too contrasty or a little blurry. The light conditions were to blame — clouds and sun, sun and clouds, alternating. Besides the fact that it was just too late in the day, with fading light.

Rain moving in at sunset

Callie and I didn't get rained on, but the drops really started coming down a couple of hours later. Rain fell hard, off and on, all night. I was conscious of hearing the sound of drops on the roof and Velux windows through the hours of darkness, even though I feel like I slept well. It's supposed to rain all day today too, intermittently.

Quiche au fromage blanc et fromage de chèvre avec blettes et lardons

Yesterday Walt made a quiche with Swiss chard from the garden, along with onions, lardons, eggs, and fromage blanc from the supermarket. And some local goat cheese, which just happened to be hanging around in the fridge. (Over the next few days, I'll start harvesting collard greens from the vegetable garden, and I'm happy about that.)

The savarin, a yeast-leavened pastry, is even richer than brioche.

Meanwhile, I made a cake called a savarin, which is leavened with yeast and includes softened butter, eggs, and a little milk, but only a quarter cup of sugar. The dough rises for two to three hours and then gets baked in a ring pan. While the cake is still warm from the oven, you "imbibe" it with a light sugar syrup flavored with rum, Triple Sec, kirsch, or some other alcohol. I used Triple Sec and eau de fleurs d'orangers, in equal proportions. Maybe I'll post a recipe later.

It feels like we are practicing for winter.


  1. The first photo and the one showing the sweep of vines down to the hamlet with clouds above both work very well. I like them a lot.

  2. Thanks Susan. We got 23 mm of rain in the gauge overnight, and that brings us to 50 mm — about two inches — for the first 10 days of October. What a change from August and September!

  3. I often save your landscape and cloud photos, and they sometimes even end up as my desktop background for a while :) You do such a nice job.

    Wow, that Quiche and that Savarin (which I've only heard of but never seen or tasted) look marvelous!

  4. Hi Judy, the savarin is a kind of baba au rhum, but made into a large cake rather than individual portions. The baba has raisins in it, but not the savarin. I have to buy some rum and try the savarin flavored that way.

  5. Hi Ken, you answered to Judy the question I was going to ask. I've seen Baba au rhum as a ring and without raisins. So was it a Savarin au rhum? Confusing? I think the distinction between Savarin and Baba is as you said, no raisins and no rhum, and vice versa! LOL

  6. In all my trips to France I don't ever recall a Savarin. I'll check some of my French cookbooks, but I hope you'll post a recipe. It looks and sounds great.

  7. The photos you guys take of that vineyard and the skies are OUTSTANDING! You might want to start a photo album of the various views during the different seasons so when you sell that fabulous place you will be able to show the future owners what a VIEW they will have all during the year!

    Recipe??? How about just sending over the internet a small taste??? PLEASE... And, I'll be over for some of that Quiche, too!!!


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