We've been a while a wandering...
The remnants of the 'flu plus the realities of everyday life gave me no time to visit my blog (or anyone else's blog for that matter) in the days following my last post - and then, before I knew it, we were packing our bags and heading off for a couple of weeks holiday!
Paris was the first stop on the agenda, followed by a week in Normandy with some friends of ours.
Given that we would be four people, with suitcases, we decided to hire a larger car than we normally do. Going through our usual agency I chose a Mercedes Benz E class.
Arriving to pick up the car I found that while I had ordered this:
|This image comes from Wikipedia.|
I was getting this:
The reason given was that there were only two cars left for hiring at that time of day (9am in the morning). We could either have a small two seater Fiat or the nine seater Opel Vivaro.
I had no choice but to take the Vivaro which turned out to be lucky when I see the amount of 'stuff' we bought back with us! Still, it is not the sort of vehicle that I am used to driving and I felt as though I was driving a number 5 'bus...
So off we went.
We stayed in the outer suburbs of Paris for four days and had a good time once I had navigated the Vivaro through the narrow streets. . .
A couple of trips into Paris and then a day trip to the delightful town of Senlis. It was there that I began to have, what one might call, a dalliance. . .
It all started at a local patisserie. It was market day in Senlis and having visited the fabulous Cathedral and wandered about taking photographs and buying things for lunch, we ended up at the shop of Yvon Berthelot (patissier, chocolatier, and glacier). AGA loves eclairs and was busily eyeing them up and down. I meanwhile saw 'it' and was immediately enamoured.
I was calm. I said little but made sure after the purchase, that I held the cardboard box containing the 'goods' safely in my hands. We walked past the cathedral and into a little park that contains the remnants of some medieval buildings including a chapel built for King Louis VI:
Sitting on the bench I had a lovely view of the old buildings and the tower of the cathedral. I also had a lovely view of this:
AGA's caramel eclair lay on it's side while my choice reclined in creamy voluptuousness! Before I knew it I had taken it out and was taking a big bite. Picture this: a large slab of meringue upon which was laid a generous serve of Chantilly cream into which several ripe raspberries have been pressed. Add more cream and then another big slab of meringue. Turn it side on and pipe more cream along the top edge. Finally press four fat raspberries into the top and there you have it - the latest love of my life...
(AGA said that his eclair was the best but secretly I scoffed. I knew that is was no match for my Rubenesque extravaganza.)
The days passed.
We drove to Charles de Gaulle airport, met our friends and then motored down to Normandy for the week. We stayed in Lower Normandy near the little town of Vassy. It was delightful but rather cold as the wintry weather does not seem to want to let go.
Memories of my patisserie visit remained with me and I recounted in some detail the whole affair to our friends. AGA then announced that he was going to eat at a different patisserie every day and we decided that we would do the same.
One of our number had never been to Mont Saint Michel and so an expedition was mounted.
Leaving early we motored down there. Things had changed somewhat since the last time AGA and I were there. The old car park is all gone and you get to the island by a shuttle bus along the causeway while they construct some sort of huge I-don't-know-what for ease of access all year round.
It was bitterly cold there and we were told that it was the coldest Easter period they had had at Mont Saint Michel for the past twenty years at least. But at least it was sunny and the sky was blue:
Our patisserie visit that day consisted of some fairly basic flan (thick custard tart)which we enjoyed but which was rather ordinary.
For the duration of our time in Normandy we had rented a small manor house which meant that we could eat at home on local produce rather than going out for meals every day. It also had a very nice large fireplace and was well stocked with wood so that we had a roaring fire every night.
AGA bought a very nice pear tart that we had with cream on our second evening there. It was delicious but I hugged myself with the thought of that delicious meringue and cream creation - nothing was going to take its place in my heart.
A couple of days later and things got a little more serious...
We were en route for Falaise, birthplace of William the Conqueror:
It was a cool day and we had stopped at a patisserie for our latest box full of goodies:
Caramel eclair for AGA, coffee macaroon for S and a pistachio macaroon for C. I meanwhile had a raspberry millefeuille creation:
Seated regally on a gold piece of cardboard, it oozed a lusciousness that was hard to resist. And the taste? The earth certainly moved but . . . a little too tart.
When it came to the crunch, it was not in the same league as the previous meringue cream and raspberry sensation...
A couple of days later and we were in Bayeux - and that's when everything was turned on it's head.
I had never been to Bayeux before. AGA and S had been there many years ago and enjoyed seeing the famous Bayeux tapestry. C said she had not been but would like to go and so it was decided. A lovely sunny day, blue skies but an icy wind that cut like a knife!
Luckily we always seemed to be lucky when it came to finding a car park for our huge 'chariot' and that day was no exception.
Once again it was market day and we wandered about the town (which like Senlis, is very pretty), sampling goods and buying a nice jar of apple and cinnamon jelly. We then went to buy our patisserie. We decided to go to the patisserie Ordioni and this was what we chose:
Chocolate eclair for AGA, pistachio eclaire for C, A comma shaped coffee creation for S (I think it had the name sambuco in the title - or something similar) and for me? A raspberry macaroon. It looked very nice and I was drawn to the cream and the raspberries...
As we handed round the box, we were laughing and joking about which creations we had enjoyed thus far but when we each began on our latest choices a contented silence fell upon us.
I distinctly recall S announcing 'oh my goodness' as he ate his.
As for me, I was in patisserie heaven:
A soft yet crumbly macaroon: One half having been spread with thick custard into which plump juicy raspberries were set. Then covered in Chantilly cream before being topped with the other macaroon half. I realised that my Senlis affair had been mere childish infatuation. This was the real thing.
Not even the tartelette framboise I had the following day could equal the culinary and gourmandising pleasure to be had in the consumption of that raspberry macaroon. Each of us agreed that we had just sampled the best patisserie we had ever had the pleasure to consume.
Others may disagree but we don't care.
We knew what we liked and we liked our choices very much.
And as for me - I had come to Normandy and fallen in love and the next time I am in Normandy I shall be making a beeline for that patisserie...