Showing posts with label market. Show all posts
Showing posts with label market. Show all posts

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lazy Saturday. In Beer, Banish the Bland!

Lazy Saturday. In Beer, Banish the Bland!
Sat 14th June 2014

When in France, we tend to take it easy at the weekends, avoiding the crowds in the popular areas and the traffic on the major roads. Today followed that pattern. A late rise was followed by a leisurely visit to the local market where Stuffed Tomatoes were bought for lunch and Roast Rabbit for dinner.

On the way home, we called to a local speciality shop and bought a few presents and also a few bottles of local craft beer by Aquitaine brewery E2B. Enjoying one of those now, the red beer, as I type. The earlier one was compared to a Pale Ale. Both so far are excellent but different. The Red Beer, for instance, contains black grape juice and cane sugar, so you get different flavours. But that is par for the course and one of the attractions of craft beer. In English or in French, the message is the same. Banish the big and the bland!
With the aromas of the Roast Rabbit rising from the kitchen below, I don't want to go on too long with this post. Just a line or two to say we spent the afternoon on the beach and in the waters of the Bassin. Surprisingly windy but that gave a welcome cooling and the waters are warm.

The amount of boats in the marina here is staggering and even more staggering is the traffic on the Bassin. In daylight hours, between fishermen’s boats, excursion boats, ferries, yachts, even jet-skis, there is never a dull moment on the water.

Bye for now. That rabbit is proving irresistible!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Walking with Birds. Eating Fish all the Way

Walking with Birds. Eating Fish all the Way
Proud mother watches her baby, walk, feed, swim and run.

A six kilometre walk in temperatures of about 30 degrees is not everybody’s idea of fun but we had the most enjoyable and informative walk this Saturday afternoon through the Reserve Ornithologique du Teich on the shores of the Bassin d’Arcachon.

Here you get close to the wild birds, via some twenty observation huts and four Observation Points. Not all birds performed! Why should they? You’d probably have to live here and buy an annual pass to get the best of it. But we did have two memorable highlights.

Indeed, our very first stop was in the stork nesting area and there were quite a few of them at home. For someone from a country without storks, this was an incredible experience. And we would have one more.

From a hide, about midway through the walk, we saw, what I think is,  a Black Winged Stilt lying on a small bank in the water. When she rose, she’ll revealed three little chicks and just one egg there. The mother and father kept an eye on the little ones as they swam and walked in the shallow water near the shore. Amazing.

The morning started with a visit to the market in Arcachon, much enlarged with many extra stalls out in the open air. Fish was the order of the day here. We ordered mussels and the man threw in a big bunch of parsley and we also bought a stuffed crap from the same stall.

That €2.50 worth of mussels, cooked with the parsley and accompanied by some “Farm” bread, provided us with a tasty lunch in the hot sun. After that, we headed off to the Bird Reserve.

On the way home, we realised (horror of horrors!) that we had no starter sorted out. No bother! Called into one of the seven oyster ports in Gujan-Mestras and walked up to one of the cabins. Sat down in the sun and had a look at the menu. Didn't go beyond #1: six oysters, bread, a glass of white or pink (as he said), lemon and shallot vinaigre. We had a #1 each, at nine euro apiece. Starter sorted! And no washing up.

Now for the crab and a bottle of white Graves. The whites from the Graves area are really good. We haven’t drawn a dud yet and have enjoyed the following: L’Emigre 2011 biologique (€6.70), Vimont 2012 (7.30), Haut Reys 2012 (6.40), and Castre 2011 (15.30). These are usually a blend of Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle (minor contribution usually), though I think one of the four is 100% Semillon. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Town Market and a Walk on the Wild Side

Town Market and a Walk on the Wild Side
Day 3
Bunny Galore

Heavy rain this Wednesday morning threatened to ruin the day but it vanished and we were left with some good sun and a sometimes stiff breeze, temperatures mainly around the twenty mark.

Still we dressed up well as we walked up the town to the daily indoor food market, a reasonably large one with some stalls outside. Lots of oysters as you might expect but no mussels. We fell on our old favourite in France, the cabillaud or fresh cod, not to be confused with bacalau or salted cod. Plenty of veg and fruit bought and also a Pain de Campagne, a very flavoursome and crusty country loaf.

Had been told to watch out for the Bordeaux speciality, the Canelés, and there was no shortage. Bought a couple of these small vanilla cakes and tried them with coffee back in the house. Must say I wasn't overly fond of them!

In the afternoon, we headed for a small town Audenge at the other side of the bassin (pronounced bass-on). Here, we enjoyed a very long walk in the nature reserve of Domaine de Certes. Here, you can  see the large shallow reservoirs (each has a sluice gate to control the water), where they used to farm fish. As I walked, I was wondering if something similar could be done in Cork Harbour, particularly around Glounthaune. Could be quite a business.
Walking in Certes
In Certes there is a coastal footpath, giving great views of the bassin. As you walk, you will see many birds, including herons, egrets, and hovering birds of prey. Perhaps the best demonstration of aerial prowess was provided by a group of swallows, ducking and diving, weaving and wheeling.

Nowadays in the bassin there’s no shortage of fish farming, especially oysters of which 8,000 to 10,000 tones a year are produced here, but they also rear sea bass, grey mullet and sea bream.

There are very good main roads around here, but normally quite busy. We avoided them today, over-ruling the Sat-Nav, and taking a country road from town to town - they are mostly joined up in any case - as we drove around the fringes of the bassin.
Roundabout cows on today's drive.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Riverboat Trip as we Wind Down in Chinon

Day 20

Riverboat Trip as we Wind Down in Chinon
It is our last full day in Chinon. It is also very warm indeed, up and beyond 30 degrees. Just looked at the wall thermometer in our courtyard terrace and it is threatening to go off the scale that peaks at 50C. For these reasons, this is an easy day.
Baubles 'n bangles at Market
Got up a little later than usual before heading for the market. Made a bee line to the Asian speciality stall and joined the queue. Enjoyed the chit chat with Madame as we stocked up for lunch and evening. Also had a good look around and bought one or two presents.
Busy fruit stall. The grapes,
for eating, are Italian.
Got back around noon and headed straight for the pool. Cooled down and as we walked back to our gite we picked a few plums from the numerous trees in the garden. Did I tell you we have been living in a cave for the past three weeks? And I don’t mean a wine cellar.
Our suntrap! A "foot" of the cave
may be seen on the right (with flowers)
Les Cathelinettes is built on three levels.   The first building is the main one where the hosts, Sylvie and Roger, live and where they also have two B & Bs. Next level up is where we are, a 2/3 person gite built into the hill and an existing cave and termed Troglodyte. These kind of buildings are very common around here and also in the Dordogne. Another gite, a slight bigger one, is built above us.

By the way, you’d never know you’re living in a cave. It looks like an ordinary house but has the advantage of staying nice and cool in this very hot weather. All holiday makers here, and there could be up to a dozen at times, share the pool. In practice though, we’ve always had it to ourselves, often having to take the cover off. It has been fantastic facility the way the weather has turned out.
Chinon and its fortress from our river-boat today.
Chinon too – we can walk to the centre in 20 minutes – is a lovely and sometimes lively town, lots to see and do here and it is also well placed for touring to the east and west as there is a terrific road network.

We used the bigger roads, including autoroutes, to get to places like Vouvray, Amboise and Chenonceau and smaller ones most of the time. They take you through the fields. The landscape, aside from a few hills, is mostly level and quite often the roads are straight. 
A little riverside beach.
We enjoyed some lovely drives with the fields alongside. Crops of Corn on the Cob, Vines (of course) and Sunflowers are the main ones at this time of year. The sunflowers may be a disappointment to some of you. Now, in September, they look delicate, like faded golden paper dolls, all bowing to the inevitable and awaiting the grim reaper, the yellow of their vibrant youth long gone.

Roused ourselves in mid-afternoon and headed down to the tour boat dock. It turned out to be third time lucky. And, with a nice little (very little) breeze on the water, our mini-cruise on the flat-bottomed boat up and down the Vienne was delightful. Some nice views, especially those of the Fortress.