We got the work done on the house in Peel and ended up with a stripy stair carpet like a beach towel! (M-D can get a bit daring when the mood hits her!). Mind you, it suits the theme of the house which is intentionally “seaside” (we’re only three minutes walk from the beach). All the bedroom floors are now down to the original pine boards with a grey stain and a coat or two of matt sealer, so hopefully we can have a peaceful summer without too much disruption!
The trip back to France was uneventful. Since we came by car, we had two boat trips and a couple of long drives, but it gives us the chance to import and export stuff that’s not available in the other country. For example, when going from France to the Isle of Man, we took lots of Saucisson Sec because my mate Ken eats it till he bursts! We also took a couple of nice Jambon de Bayonne (an air dried salted ham that takes its name from the ancient port city of Bayonne in the far South West of France). In addition, there were lots of easy-to-find cooking ingredients and tins like Confit de Canard (prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing duck thighs and then poaching them in their own fat). We also took Foie Gras which is a fraction of the price in France than in GB. We get it delivered (along with the Confit de Canard) by Godard, an excellent producer in the South-West of France.
Coming back to France, we transport interesting stuff like Manx Kippers from Moore’s Kipper factory the last remaining traditional kipper curers. Moore’s produce traditional, oak fired, chimney smoked Manx kippers that taste like nothing else you will ever taste – 100% delicious (partucularly with Warm Potato Salad). We also bring curiosities for the family like Jelly Babies, Caramac, Chocolate Oranges and Custard – none of which are available in France.
So now our French grandchildren, Clémence and Eléonore, are impatiently waiting for a visit to The Island. We just booked their flights for mid April, so we’ll only be here in France for about four weeks before heading back! They’ll be expecting all the non-French lunch ingredients (like Pork Pie, Scotch Egg, Scallions etc.). Undoubtedly they will also hold us ransom for a visit to the Chinese Restaurant. In France, Chinese restaurants serve food that is more Vietnamese than anything else (Vietnam being a former French colony). So to get the more aromatic Cantonese food is a rare treat for our French visitors.
Last night, I had no doubt we were back in France. For dinner we had dozen oysters each with Pain Poilâne bread and salted butter followed by strawberries and cream. All washed down with a glass or two of chilled Edelzwicker from Alsace. Oysters in GB are at least twice the price than here (and generally don’t have the same quality and succulent taste). So there’s good and bad on both sides of the Channel. We’re fortunate in being able to get the best of both worlds… long may it last!
Pain Poilâne, incidentally, is produced in the Latin Quarter of Paris where it is sold at the original boulangerie on rue du Cherche-Midi. The worldwide demand for Poilâne bread is met in a facility located in Bièvres which produces around 15,000 loaves per day in 24 wood-burning ovens that are exact replicas of the ovens used at the Paris locations. These loaves are shipped worldwide – but it’s lovely getting the bread fresh the same day!
One day, Ramsey Bakery’s finest sliced dough – the next, proper bread using hand-crafted stone-ground flour, natural fermentation and a wood-fired oven. One day, the finest kippers in the universe, the next, hardly-smoked commercial herring in shrink-wrapped sauce!! Just kidding, but it does demonstrate how lucky we are to be able to reap the best of both.