Thursday 25 July 2013

Bon appétit

There was a Taste of France evening at our local fancy supermarket tonight, and they did a pretty good job. Not only were there a surprising number of actual French people giving tastings of excellent cheeses, charcuterie, crèpes and flans, but the food itself was délicieux, especially the coquilles St Jacques and the duck confit that I had, and the tarte tatin afterwards. Lots of the food was imported from France, and I was especially pleased to see (and taste) Valrhona chocolate there.

On my cruise up the Rhone last April with Uniworld, we stopped at the twin towns of Tain-l'Hermitage and Tournon, facing each other across the river and joined by a rather lovely old wooden suspension bridge. Surrounded by vineyards, there was naturally a lot of wine talk, and many of the passengers went to a wine-tasting but I, not yet - tragically - having had my red wine epiphany, skipped that and made a beeline instead for the smallish showroom of the Valrhona chocolate factory. It's a kind of Willy Wonka-esque fantasy where the walls are lined with bars and bags of chocolate with edge-to-edge bins of free samples below them. It was fabulous, especially as I had, fortunately, already had the dark chocolate epiphany. 
After I'd grazed my way around the room and brightened up the grey afternoon, we were treated to a musical carillon in the church around the corner, lively tunes played on 8 ancient bells. The man who arranged the performance for us came to chat with our cruise director, Laurent, and together they made a pair of such cliché Frenchness that they surpassed even the striped jumpers and berets of the Farro staff tonight.

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