So much for my good resolutions. We were invited to lunch with friends today and after the aperitif and first course of smoked salmon with coeurs de palmiers (not sure what they are in English) Marie brought in a raclette. For anyone unfamiliar with this method of eating, it consists of slices of raclette cheese which you melt in little trays under the ‘grill’ in the centre of the table. You then pour the melted cheese over potatoes (which are kept hot on top of the grill) and eat with a selection of cold meats. Delicious but rather rich – and definitely not on the diet sheet!
After steadily melting cheese and eating for some time we still hadn’t finished the meat, cheese or potatoes but we just had to call a halt.
Then came a simple but delicious dessert of peach melba, accompanied by meringues which they had brought back from a recent trip to Switzerland. We collapsed into armchairs for coffee and there was absolutely no room for the Cramique (a kind of currant bread) which Marie wanted to serve with it.
I’ll never understand why you’re expected to eat more cake after an enormous lunch but that’s France for you!
Once they learned that Bear enjoyed watching the Tour de France the television went on and we all dozed off from time to time until Michel produced his pièce de resistance – a homemade digestif. He described how he had fermented apples from the garden in barrels in his workshop and then had the resulting ‘wine’ distilled by the travelling Alambic. This liquid was then stored in oak casks for five years so it had taken on a rich golden brown colour.
“It’s very strong,” he warned us. “If you don’t like it you can rub it on your aching knees.”
It was deliciously warming although it took several sips before I could distinguish any apple flavour. He has some more apples brewing in the workshop and has promised us a bottle next time he has it distilled.
On the second Friday of each month there is a market just outside their house and so, on the way to the car we bought a chicken for Sunday lunch and a tray of organically produced eggs. I managed to resist the jam, honey and homemade cakes and tartes as well as the cheeses and smoked meats but I’m going to have to be extra ‘good’ about eating for a few days to recover from an overload of calories today.