14/6/11 The 14th is Russ's (husband's) birthday and voila! of all coincidences, some good friends from New Zealand (six of them) were due to cruise past our gite the day before, but were delayed because one of their party had an accident on their boat. Such bad luck, but it did mean they were moored outside our place for dinner the next night, after he'd spent a night in hospital.
We set up a table near their boat, on the banks of the river on a wonderfully warm and balmy night - great company, a night like that, good food and something to celebrate - what more could you want?
I baked wild salmon, and served it with a Florence fennel and bean salad marinated in white balsamic and extra good olive oil, and a combo of piperade (slow sauteed capsicum strips in olive oil and garlic), sauteed courgettes, and some oyster mushrooms - all cooked separately, then layered onto a serving dish. Potatoes cooked simply, garnished with parsley and a little olive oil completed the main menu. Of course it didn't hurt that it was washed down with locally produced chablis and cremant (champagne).
As for dessert, the summer fruits here are so wonderful at the moment. Our host took us to a very large organic farm a few days ago which was all pick your own* - you just take a knife with you, borrow a basket, and pick while you wander - a fantastic idea, and very popular here. Fields of redcurrants, for example.
I saw several people with big baskets of redcurrants, taking them home to make jelly.
Anyway, so redcurrants and raspberries were on my mind as I was thinking about what to do for this dinner, and I finally settled on a raspberry tart. Only thing was that I didn't have time to make one, so I have to confess it was bought from the supermarche. Our friends bought a raspberry, red and blackcurrant tart as well, and both were delicious, served with creme fraiche.
It doesn't get dark here til well after 10 pm these days, and we were blessed with a full moon. Goodness knows what our neighbours thought of the crazy foreigners dining al fresco on the banks of the Nivernais, singing and getting a bit teary at the odd speech, all the girls wearing berets and hooting with laughter.
One of those nights we won't easily forget.
*A post on the 'pick your own' organic farm coming soon!