Friday, June 15, 2012

Culture shock or alcohol overload?

We're in Nantes, a huge city in France. We arrived yesterday just as the weather cleared and we sat in the bar at the camping, Al drinking his 1664 biere- beer - and me supping on one of the most delicious Chardonnays, from Bourgogne, that I've ever tasted. That makes about 6 weeks of solid drinking for me. Not good, even though I'm having yet another trip of a lifetime.

So today I was determined to go alcohol free. Lately it's been a case of trying to keep off alcohol until after 4.30 in the afternoon. But it's really hard to resist a bevy with one's duck confit.

The other day we stopped for lunch in a place called St Georges sur Loire on the way out of Angers - Angers brilliant BTW. The restaurant was called Hotel de Tetes Noires. That sounds a bit like hotel of the black heads but we didn't let that deter us. We'd visited the place a couple of days earlier in search of change in case we got stuck on the peage - tollway - again. It looked 'local' and friendly, hence our return visit.

We were ushered into a large old dining room. It was a bit tardis-like - bigger on the inside. The tables were all set for for fine dining with white napery. lots of glasses and cutlery. The walls were painted with old fox hunting scenes. The floor tiles were colourfully patterned and old.

The waitress remembered us from our Sunday visit looking for change. She was from New Caledonia, which seemed to make us kin. I didn't mind. Love it when people are prepared to chat and share a bit of their life story: how she misses NC and her son and daughter and grandson after six years of being in France. She screwed up her nose a little to tell us that she thought the French in France are not as friendly as those in her native NC.

Anyway, we ordered cuisse de canard confit - duck thigh cooked to perfection; the best duck confit I've eaten in my life. It was served with an assiette des legumes - assortment of vegetables. Yeah, big deal. But it was. Exquisitely prepared and arranged veges: a slice of a dense, tasty mushroom frittata, zucchini, potato, sweet potato, carrot, tomato. But each vegetable was carefully prepared. The sweet potato was a small breaded disk, the potato and zucchin stood to attention and each had a pureed delicious piped topping, as did the tomato. Slivers of apple were arranged around the plate with the duck leg in the middle of it all in a slightly sweet apple flavoured gravy. May sound odd but it was perfection. Couldn't believe it for 13 euros each. So good.

I started off writing about overdoing the alcohol, and I have overdone it. Haven't written my blog for a few days because I'm boring. Sleep, cycling, driving, the usual panic trying to drive through cities. 'Head for the Centre Ville! Left, left, left! Why did you go right?'

'Fuck, fucking, fuck!' Seriously. I've never heard Al swear so much. Well, not since we were here in 2010.

The trick with heading for the Centre Ville is that after you've driven three times around the roundabout you've usually figured out in which direction to head.

Have been totally overwhelmed by Nantes today. It's huge and busy; an incredible mix of medieval and ultramodern. Witness the mechanical elephant. Nantes, I think, is the birthplace of Jules Verne. My head is almost exploding trying to take in all the cathedrals and chateaux. I need to draw breath.

Cycling into the centre from the camping ground was terrifying, despite all the marked cycle paths. What a day to decide not to have any wine.

Think I'm at the culture shock stage of our tour because I'm too exhausted to try to speak in French. Yes, I've definitely had a bad French language day. Tongue-tied again, probably because I've been over-indulging for too many days, starting back with my dad dying over a month ago now.

Ah well. Better put the kettle on.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow! Does it move too?!
    I think you're amazing with the amount of blog postings you have done! good luck with the alcohol-free day.