Friday, April 03, 2020

Fig leaves

And tiny figs. So far, so good. The fig tree is leafing out and there are figs on the branches. The threat of a freeze is far from over but, like I said, so far, so good. We're expecting some good warm weather to build in over the weekend. I need to cut the grass.

The first figs of spring are reputed to be less desirable than the second crop in summer. I don't know about our tree because the first crop always seems to succumb to frost and the second crop is paltry and gets eaten by birds.

To that end, I will venture out to the gas station on Saturday morning to fill the gas can for the mower and the rototiller. I'm also picking up a grocery order at Intermarché, which is where the gas station is. I'll take some alcohol-soaked wipes to clean the gas pump and the keypad, and I will not touch my face, and I will wash my hands well when I get home.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Grape leaves

The vineyards are starting to leaf out. It's not really noticeable from a distance, yet. But it won't be long. Most of the canes have buds and some, like this one, are already producing leaves.

Tiny leaves have begun to appear on the grape vines.

Meanwhile, we're having Thanksgiving in April. Last winter, Ken bought a couple of chapons (capons) while they were on sale toward the end of the holiday season. We froze them both, then cooked one of them in February. The second one was still in the freezer until now. This morning it's roasting in the oven and the house smells like Thanksgiving. Talk about comfort food.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Vineyard view [3]

We set up our next drive order from the supermarket. Two, actually, one from each of our local stores. For certain products, one store says they're available while the other store may be out of stock. Grocery pickup is done by appointment. The first time slots available are not until the weekend. I'm glad we didn't wait too long. And still, some of the items may be out of stock by the time the store fills the order. So far, the web sites say the pet foods we asked for are available.

These "sarments" (vine canes) have been "pliées," bent to horizontal and attached to support wires.

Like some of you have mentioned, we wipe down the groceries we plan to use right away, and wash our hands afterwards, but not before we stash other products down in the utility room or pantry. And now, in this third week of confinement, the supermarket and pharmacy are the only places I've been outside the house, interacting with only one person in each place. Ken hasn't left the house yet, except to walk the dog of course.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Vineyard view [2]

We're still having clear, starry nights and that means chilly mornings. It also means nice sunrises. The wind seems to have died down, but the air is still blowing from the north-northeast, adding to the chill. I had a fire in the wood stove most of the day on Sunday and Monday.

Saturday's sunrise over the vineyard.

We're going to have to place another drive order this week. We're running low on Tasha's wet food and Bert's kibble. Bert's got plenty of wet food for now, and Tasha's kibble supply is not too low at the moment. Of course, if I were feeling brave, I would just go to the supermarket as I normally would, taking certain precautions, of course. We'll see.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Vineyard view

Work has steadily continued in the vineyards through our confinement. Most, if not all, of the parcels around us are pruned. And, since I snapped this photo on Saturday, the cut canes have been ground into mulch. What's left to do now is what's called le pliage (the folding). Vineyard workers will bend each remaining cane to the horizontal and fasten them to the support wires. Then Mother Nature will take over and the vines will grow.

The vine canes are covered in buds. Soon leaves will appear, then the grape flowers. Spring is here.

The weather has taken a turn back toward winter. We're having wind again. This time it's a cold wind from the northeast. But no rain. I was able to get my burn pile burned before the wind started up. Soon I'll till up the part of the garden where I plant climbing beans and snow peas. It's also time to start seedlings in the greenhouse.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Corny pizza

Saturday was pizza day chez nous. One of my favorite pizzas to make is leek and bacon. There's no tomato sauce or cheese in it, just crispy bacon and sautéed leeks. This time, we had a surplus of onions in the pantry, so we used those in place of leeks. And, because this is France, smoked lardons take the place of American bacon. Lardons are actually the same cut as bacon, just shaped differently.

Ken gently cooked the sliced onions with some white wine, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes. Yum!

My twist with this pizza is that I like to add corn. I sautéed the corn in the rendered bacon fat to crisp it up and give it a toasted/roasted flavor. It works really well with the leeks/onions and bacon. And I added a few black olives, too. We drank a cabernet sauvignon from southern France (Pays d'Oc) along side. Bon appétit !

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Le drive

In France, what we Americans call a "drive-through" at retail establishments is known as un drive. Whether it's fast food, a pharmacy, or a supermarket, the signs for le drive are everywhere. Except at banks. I don't think there are drive-up tellers at French banks. Not sure about drive-up ATMs, but I can't think of one. On Friday, I did the supermarket drive for the first time.

This is not our Super-U and it's not my photo. I got the image from the internet.
"Location" means "rental," most supermarkets offer cars and vans for rent. "Courses" means "shopping."

Ken put together our order on line. Both our local supermarkets, Intermarché and Super-U, offer the service. Since normally we each enjoy going food shopping, we've never used le drive. But, like a whole lot of other folks, we decided to try it to minimize public contact in this time of confinement. That first week, the web sites were inundated and things didn't seem to work right. But that all calmed down after a while. Ken placed the order and selected Friday morning between 09h30 and 10h00 for pickup.

When I drove to the drive, I noticed a few things. First, there were many fewer cars on the road than normal. Second, the recycling stations along the way were closed, taped off with red and white police tape. And while I was expecting the local gendarmes to be checking people for their attestation forms, I saw none. I got to the supermarket and they buzzed me in through the gate to the drive station in back of the store. They were ready for me.

First, however, there were a couple of substitutions. Ken ordered a pain de mie (a loaf of unsliced sandwich bread), but they didn't have one, so they gave me a sliced boule (a round loaf) instead. No problem. He had also ordered a cleaning product which they were out of, so they substituted another brand. Again, no problem. I noticed that there were no baguettes in the box when there should have been a bag of four (for the price of three!). The staff double checked the order and, sure enough, they missed that, so they went back in to get it.

When I got home and unpacked, Ken noticed that instead of the ten bottles of red wine he ordered, we only got five. But the receipt showed we were charged for ten. He called the market and they happily, and without question, gave us a store credit for that. I'm sure the supermarket staff are pretty stressed with the sudden increase in drive orders, the fact that they have to wear masks and gloves, along with the worry of being infected. Given all that, I think our experience was relatively painless and positive. We're planning to try out the other supermarket drive near us next time.

After the supermarket, I went to the pharmacy. No problems there. They filled my expired prescriptions as I read they were authorized to do. The only difference in the store were the tape markings on the floor to keep people a meter apart in line. But there was no line, I was one of two customers while I was there.

UPDATE: I just heard on the morning news that they've opened the first drive-through testing site for the coronavirus in Paris. They call it le drive-test.