Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm cured!!... I no longer miss Baked Beans or indeed UK supermarkets!

We have just returned from our weekly stroll from St Malo to St Servan market. Its a journey which is such a contrast to our old drive in the UK to any of the major supermarket chains. No congested roads or overly busy car parks, no mobs of frantic shoppers who wouldn't dare to make eye contact let along say "good day" and no supermarket specials that require a degree in Maths to understand if it's a genuine bargain or not, and that's if you have the time?
Why are UK supermarkets so busy and why are everyone's trolleys filled to the brim? How much is wasted? According to  Food Aware 18 million tonnes of edible food end up in landfill every year .

Life for us has changed.......and most definitely for the better!

Leaving our beautiful walled city (walking via the quay side in the bright warm sun shine admiring the first of the Tall Ships that have berthed in advance of the Tall Ships Race next week) 

we take a slight diversion across the Plage de bas Sablons "the beach of the low sand" and walk around the headland La Cite D'Alet to admire the stunning view of the Rance estuary and to collect wild herbs.

We arrive at the Food market and spend time perusing all the farm fresh produce before making a decision on what to cook for dinner. Today we visited our regular fruit and vegetable stall where we always get looked after, we bought a lettuce and were offered one free, a globe artichoke, head of garlic and some vine tomatoes.

A bunch of parsley and fresh thyme were added to our bag with a cheeky wink! This has to be better than any loyalty card!

So tonight's menu  will be:

Globe Artichoke served warm, dipped in a fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Pan-fried Breast of Duck with a Salad of Tomatoes and Sautéed Garlic Potatoes

Petit Pont L'Evêque avec du Pain

Homemade Apricot Ice Cream

Served with a bottle or two of Cote Du Rhone

All of this costing less than €15.00, beat that M&S!.... and I can guarantee no waste!...... Vive La France!    

Monday, June 25, 2012

What a weekend …Musicians and Artisits everywhere you look !

Today really needs to be a calm and work focussed day after what has been a fantastic weekend of cultural activity here in St Malo.  There is always something going on here in this little corner of Brittany to keep the tourists and locals occupied but this weekend we out did ourselves!

Activities for us started on Friday with a very early morning walk to the market in St Servan – we promise ourselves a luscious treat from the market every week and on this occasion it was the most beautiful ‘bavette’ (a rich red and surprisingly tender frying steak cut from what we would call the ‘skirt’) and an ample bunch of fresh shallots to make the traditional sauce accompaniment.

Back at the desks by 9.30am and a full day’s work!  We are currently working for a client who has been a little anxious about what her property budget will buy her – but on Friday we discovered some real corkers and we are already looking forward to viewing them and reporting back!

The ‘fete de musique’ is an annual event across France and in St Malo it takes the form of an evening of live music in all its forms with what seems to be every outside space taken up with stages, bands and individual musicians.  Intra Muros, there were 9 designated ‘en concert’ areas but many more ‘hot spots’ that played host to buskers, acapella singers and bagpipe players alike.  We were spoilt for choice – so with wine bottle and disposable glasses in hand we wandered around the town stopping to listen to what has to be some of the most exceptional talent from the local area.   Of course impromptu dancing was plentiful and we ended the evening along with many of these dancers at one of the unofficial concert areas listening to an excellent blues and jazz band that were never once put off by the myriad of cars and vans trying to pass by (well they were playing on one of the main street routes through the town!).

Saturday saw a rather more sedate event, ‘Solidor en Peinture’ an annual painting competition around the beautiful ‘Tour Solidor’. Open to professional, amateur and young painters of all styles the Kudos of winning one of the categories in this competition is great – not to mention the €1,000 first prize.  We strolled leisurely around the artists as they put paint to canvas and envied much of their talent.

Now never let it be said that we would decry anybody’s efforts and we understand completely that everyone’s taste in art is different but we did wonder as we gazed over the views that were in front of some of these artists what happens in the creative psyche to deliver the results that appear on their canvases.  ‘Vive la difference’ – we suppose!

The prize we agree though was justly deserved by the winner……..

Sunday was a gentle lunch ‘chez nous’ for our friends Neil, Jennifer and Bouba of course!  Paella, cheese and a scrumptious home-made fresh apricot ice-cream was served and enjoyed by all. 

During lunch there was talk of yet more events in the town that evening namely a beach bonfire to celebrate the feast of St Jean.  Apparently wood and other suitable burning materials were delivered to the beach but sadly the weather had other ideas and events were postponed due to rain!  Spirits were not dampened however and a suitably pleasant evening was spent in the local bar.  It wasn’t quite as dramatic as a raging bonfire but a glass was raised to the Saint!

On to the next pending activities, with next weekend the start of the week long ‘folklores du monde’ a celebration of global folklore and of course the eagerly awaited arrival of the tall ships.  Let’s hope the weather is kinder to sail and rigging than it was to poor old St Jean!