A mere week after I moved out of my apartment in Rennes, I was back in my favorite Breton city to babysit for 5 days. The parents of the family I stayed with in Larmor Plage the last 2 summers (my adopted French family) went South to Marseille for a sailboat race, and I swooped in to play Maman for awhile…
I did the laundry, the dishes, constantly picking up each of their trails of discarded clothing, tissues, hair brushes, barbies, etc. It made me feel sorry for my Mom that I used to do the same thing. And of course, I did a lot of cooking. As this family is gourmande, the girls have high expectations when they sit down at the table. I hope I didn’t disappoint.
Some of the culinary highlights from the week were quiche lorraine, raclette (similar to fondue), lasagna, roast chicken with chestnuts, rice pudding and cupcakes.
Raclette is one of my favorite things (and the girls too…they asked me every 10 minutes from the second I arrived when we were going to have raclette dinner). It’s so simple and delicious, and really fun and social too. The first time I experienced raclette was last year at my friend Emma’s apartment, and the memory of that night is still one of my favorites from that year. The idea is similar to fondue but way cooler: you have a little grill on the table where you cook meat, potatoes and vegetables on top and underneath you broil slices of cheese. You pick and choose what meat and vegetables you want, pile them on your plate and then slide the melted cheese on top. And there are a lot of cornichons and usually pas mal de wine involved too. We had a fun time cooking our own dinner at the table.
Quiche Lorraine made from a recipe from the Guardian. Have you ever checked out their “How to cook perfect (insert dish here)” blog series. They do really good research comparing many famous recipes for one dish, and make an ultimate conglomeration that takes the best aspect of each recipe. The result was a success: the girls approved.
The rice pudding was less of a resounding success. None of the girls had good notions of riz au lait to begin with as their Mamie (Grandma) makes a not-so-succulent version. The oldest girl loved it, but the two youngest ones wouldn’t even try it. I also used the Guardian for this recipe, but had to make some alterations to the recipe as I didn’t have all of the ingredients required. I loved the result and will be experimenting with this in the future and drafting my own recipe.
But we didn’t just sit around and eat. My time there was also full of back and forth, dropping the girls off and picking them up. During my free time when the girls were at school I was able to catch up with friends and get some boring bureaucratic stuff accomplished (there is no lack of that here). Over the weekend we spent a lot of time walking around the city, going to my three favorite places in Rennes: the Saturday market at Place de Lices, the cinema and Parc Thabor. The Thabor was in full Autumn mode. The air is crisp and cold in the morning, stinging my nostrils when I run. The leaves are brown and falling, falling, falling. The chestnuts too.The girls had a bataille (war) throwing falling chestnuts at each other from their hiding spots in bushes. Fall is here.
I felt at home in Rennes, of course. But I’m also very happy to be home in the countryside now, walking in the forest everyday and whittling the nighttime hours away in front of the fire.