Neighbors invited us and another neighbor to lunch yesterday. These are people we don't see all that often — one is the mayor of our village, pop. 1200 — but have known for nearly 13 years now. Lunch was a smoked salmon and avocado appetizer followed by roast venison in a red-wine sauce with chanterelle mushrooms and a wedge of a potato pancake. Then there was a cheese course followed by dessert — tiramisu and chocolate pots de crème (pudding) served in small glasses called verrines, accompanied by tiny lemon tarts and bite-size chocolate cakes.
The photos here are some I took on this date in 2010...
We had local white (Sauvignon Blanc) and red (appellation Chenonceaux) wines with, respectively, the salmon and venison courses, and then a glass of Saint-Emilion red (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) from down near Bordeaux with the cheese course. The cheeses on the platter included Reblochon from the Alps, Gorgonzola from Italy, Brie from the Paris region, and a couple of Loire Valley goat cheeses. It was a 3-hour lunch, including coffee and conversation (in French).
I didn't take pictures, of course. Our neighbors have a daughter who has been living in southern California, with her husband and small children, the past couple of years, so we talked a lot about that and their trips over to the U.S. to visit. They've been to L.A., San Diego, Las Vegas, and the Grand Canyon. They seem to be really interested in California and the lifestyle out there. They've enjoyed their first experiences driving cars with automatic transmissions. They don't speak much or any English, but they've been able to get by. Actually, their three grandchildren (the oldest is 12), who are of course enrolled in American schools, have become their translators and interpreters.
Yesterday the weather turned beautiful in the afternoon, sunny and almost warm-feeling. The neighbors' living room is a recent addition to their old farmhouse — they converted a garage — with big sliding glass doors on the south and west sides and surrounded by a wide patio. The sun was really streaming in, making for a pleasant change from the gray, foggy, damp weather we'd been having for a week or so.
...except for this 2016 shot of our house and the pond with snow last week.
We also talked about Saint-Aignan and learned a lot about local happenings:
- businesses including our pharmacy will soon be moving out of the center of town to more modern buildings with big parking lots on the outskirts (near SuperU and the zoo)
- another boulangerie is closing down, leaving just two in "downtown" Saint-Aignan, where there were five when we moved here in 2003
- a new restaurant has opened near the "upper" town's big parking lot, the Hôtel de ville, and the Villa Rose, but it's getting mixed reviews
- an old restaurant, le Crêpiot, is under new management but apparently the quality of the food and service has not suffered
- a new fast-food place called Patàpain (think Panera Bread in the U.S.) will soon be opening up across the river in Noyers, not far from the relatively new McDonald's over there
I don't like the sound of some of the changes. They could change the feel of the place forever.ReplyDelete
It must be what people everywhere seem to want - to drive to an out of town, easy to park, one- stop shopping trip. Our town centre in Derbyshire is gradually becoming a ghost town of charity shops, pound shops and empty shops and it's a shame to see it happening in France too.
Well, fortunately, I guess, I won't be here forever! On n'arrête pas le progrès. Et plus ça change.... I'd rather have a magasin Picard than a Patàpain, though, that's for sure. Town centers all over Europe are more or less dying, I'm sure. It happened in the U.S. years ago. My town in N.C. has a ghost-town business district and then a new collection of big-box stores and chain restaurants on a 5- or 6-mile stretch of highway that has been developed over the past 20 years. Sigh...Delete
Wow, that is a good bit of change.ReplyDelete
Good to know that the tradition of a beautiful menu and a long lunch with good conversation, is still in place :)
It's true. People who say they live and eat simply, and don't drink much wine, can put out quite a spread, with several good wines to wash it all down. We enjoyed the lunch. Vive la France!Delete
How very beautiful that red sky sunset is ! About changes, if the pharmacy or shops move out of the center of town and get bigger or change, at least you won't have some large out of place looking business on the charming street of old shops.ReplyDelete
Right ? There are many towns in the US where there are restrictions on the size , shape and style of a Main Street business, to avoid ruining the small town charm .. Where I now live, there is no real town center .. you have to drive to it and then it is mostly silly shops like a dog groomer and a cafe and too many antique shops.( we are part of the Upper Hudson Valley Antique Trail or some such nonsense.) With your sunsets, I would not mind half as much :)
Also .. in Buenos Aires, I was not thrilled to see a McDonalds among the bakeries and pretty shops in our neighborhood .. where there was a beautiful small park. But then after school, the bakeries and McDonalds would be full of children getting something to eat then they would sit in the park and it was so charming and perfect for the children. So I controlled my curmudgeonly urges.Delete
What a nice meal you had! I'm sorry that le Crêpiot has changed managements, but maybe they will improve somehow. Change is always the norm here also. Walking neighborhoods are coming back here now and those giant malls are becoming passé.ReplyDelete
The owners of the Crêpiot retired. It's good that they found people to take the place over, and evidently the chef stayed on. We haven't been to eat there in a while, but then we hardly ever go out to eat.Delete
Two bakeries down from five is unfortunate, but it seems to be the norm in much of rural France. Fortunately, the ones that remain seem to be almost uniformly good.ReplyDelete
Within three or four miles of our house, there are still six or seven boulangeries. Since we have to drive whenever we want to go anywhere, except the walks with the dog, we can go to any of them. Of course, we still have the drive-up bakery lady four days a week, and that pretty much takes care of our bread needs. The breads are all good, but they are pretty different from one bakery to another. It would be hard to say which is better than another, but a little variety is the spice of life, n'est-ce pas?Delete
The same thing happened in my neighborhood in Paris. Four bakeries closed down in the last ten years or so. A new one opened across the street. They baked their bread on premises and it was pretty good. But, for some reason, they went out of business two or three years later. The one next door to me, some sort of industrial bakery, closed down last summer, but was immediately replaced by a new one just before I left. Its bread is far better than the previous bakery. It's a chain and I don't think they bake on premises.Delete
It feels like place where you can live without forcing. Sunset on your photo looks adorable like fire.ReplyDelete
Do you suppose people are eating less bread in France, as in the Paleo diet widespread in the US (not in this household!)? Or do you suppose people are buying bread in bulk at the supermarkets? I am just happy that we can get one of my favorite baguettes each day here in our neck of the woods. They are baked in Berkeley, but delivered daily.ReplyDelete
Yes, definitely. It's been a trend since the end of WW II. Probably slow at the beginning, but increasing in the last decade or so. Diets might have been a reason, but there are some others too, economical mainly.Delete
I frequently see people with bundles of 6, 10, or 12 baguettes in line at the supermarket checkstand. I'm not sure that means anything about bread consumption, but it might. People have freezers to keep bread in nowadays. And they don't go shopping on foot everyday. They drive their cars to the supermarket once or twice a week. Or they have machines à pain at home and make their own bread. (Or like us, they are lucky enough to get bread delivered several times a week.) Bread is also a smaller part of the daily diet because people can afford, for example, more meat than in the past. Lots of theories...Delete
Is that Acme bread that you get? Walt and I always enjoyed Acme bread.Delete
It's a Stéphane Secco bakery. The only comment on Tripadvisor, so far, since it openned only three months ago, is very negative.Delete
I meant Acme bread in the SF area. Don't know Secco.Delete
Oops! I put my comment in the wrong place. I meant it to explain my comment above about the new bakery next door in Paris.Delete
Here's an article about Stéphane Secco's boulangerie on the rue de Rennes. That's not the one in your neighborhood, but it must be about the same. He seems to sell a lot of salads and sandwiches along with the bread and pastries he makes.Delete
Interesting article, what I could understand. My reading French is OK, but not great, but I understood the gist (I think). Out of curiosity I tried Google Translate on one paragraph. Quel désastre! For example, baguette=chopstick!Delete
Hi Ken, we get Semifreddi bread delivered to our Safeway (!) here in WC. We used to get Acme when we were in Berkeley. Semifreddi is much softer than Acme, and easier to bite into....and spread butter on.....Delete
Oops, with my head in bread, I forgot to mention that your lunch sounds wonderful, as are your pics!ReplyDelete
We enjoyed the lunch, and the time just flew by. For me, it's fun and interesting to go back and search through photos from years ago to see what things looked like back then at this time of year.Delete
Thanks for sharing the news; I feel a little proprietary about St Aignan, and it's nice get caught up.ReplyDelete