Unusually for a Savoyard he also appreciates vegetables, and professes to be a (the) founding member of the Savoyard Aubergine Appreciation Society, lamenting bitterly that his compatriots don't eat enough greens and moaning that quite frankly, he found melted cheese ecoeurant and could no longer stomach a raclette these days.
- a layer of sauce bolognaise, slice of aubergine, slice of mozzarella, more bolognaise, another slice of aubergine, top the lot with parmesan, seal it all up well and cook carefully on all sides for maybe ten minutes
- slice a good chorizo thinly lengthwise and wrap fresh green asparagus in the slices, then seal and cook
- parmesan chips, to go with decent home-made guacamole
Sadly, waking on Saturday morning revealed it to be raining and dismal, but at least that meant not too many people around at the market: unfortunately, that itself meant that the actual shopping part itself went really quickly, which in turn meant that at about 9:30 I was facing the prospect of schlepping fifteen kilos of fruit and veges around under a cold drizzle for two hours or more. So we did what any normal people would do under the circumstances, namely wander between every bar I know in Chambéry*.
They open at 11:30 and I really had hoped that they'd have turned up a good deal earlier to get the place ready for business - not that in such weather there was likely to be much of that I guess - but I turned out to be mistaken. So, turn back, negotiate another couple of ruelles and arrive at le Modesto, where I thought it'd be a good idea to introduce Dijanne to the delights of a diot au vin blanc sandwich. Another disappointment, they'd only just put the things on to simmer so they'd not be ready until around mid-day.
We were nursing our glasses and then they brought around plates with little bowls of puréed sun-dried tomatoes and, I'd guess, roasted aubergine with slices of fresh baguette - possibly as an apology for the current unavailability of pig products - and so we demolished that lot before heading back, still under the rain, to the Beer Tree.
No-one had nicked the shopping, so we sat down in the warmth and ordered more wine to while away the time until Margo turned up. Which she eventually did, followed closely by Bryan, who'd spent the morning trying to instill the rudiments of English into a couple of students and who was thus not averse to a glass or so himself, and so the afternoon started off pretty much as usual for us.
So after the scallops in white wine and the little gateaux of pumpkin and bacon and cheese (just because I happened to have some cold roast pumpkin lying around) and the petits pois à la française and the apricot clafouti we sat around a bit, Margo muffled up to the tip of her dripping nose for the sake of her cold, and decided that perhaps, after all, it was time to turn the central heating on. Mind you, we've had a good run: never before have we made it through to the end of October without going and doing penance before the Beast That Lurks, so that it agrees to keep us warm.
It is also quite definitely time to do more than just think about comfort food. Luckily I just happen to have a big bit of boned, rolled pork shoulder in the fridge which is positively crying out to be slowly roasted in a terrine: there are also some grenaille (which are not, as you might think, buckshot: they're actually baby potatoes about the size of the top joint of your thumb, and you could do a lot worse than steam them and then finish them off in duck fat with a bit of salt and maybe some herbes de Provence), some aubergines and tomatoes, the afore-mentioned batusson, and all the makings of a tarte tatin.
And to fill in the afternoon, I guess I'd better go and fix the spare bed, which kind of embarrassed us by falling apart under Dijanne on the first night. I must admit that I did knock it up out of old planks and odd bits of wood back in 1994 when Jean & Leigh first came over to visit, for Jeremy's birth - and it promptly fell apart under them too, decanting them gently on to the floor in the middle of the night. But that was because, back in the day, I didn't know that there was a right and a wrong way to fix the supports for the slat base. Nowadays, I do.
Or perhaps, given that for some reason Ikea has the reputation (which I've personally never really found to be justified, but all these Yurrupeans can't be wrong) for shipping everything in their flat-packs except for two small but vital screws which you can't, on the Sunday when you're putting the damn thing together, find for love nor money and of course you can't just whip down to the store and buy them, we should go around the brocanteurs in the region and get furniture that has proven its solidity by staying in one piece for that past eighty years or so, despite the best efforts of people to take it to pieces.
Actually, the place we popped into at Carcassonne had some quite decent stuff and very reasonably priced, so just maybe that would not in fact be such a bad idea. Especially as having your gîte prominently listed as a health hazard due to sprained joints, squashed thumbs and diverse other accidents suffered by the clientèle as a result of furniture malfunctions is not, as a general rule, considered conducive to repeat business.
Anyway, this is not getting that bed fixed. Think of us, won't you, shivering under the snow. And mind how you go.
*Not entirely true. The more observant amongst you will note as you read on that we skipped O'Cardinal's, le Refuge and Pierre the execrable, le Chapon Fin in front of the palais de Justice, and a number of others. Still, three's not bad considering the weather. And the limited time at our disposition.