Friday, 31 August 2012

It's oh so quiet.....

Birthdays, baking and back to school - here we are back in the school routine (at last - it's been a very long holiday) and all the associated ups and downs that brings.

Birthday boy G (8 today) has started his new school following the bankruptcy / closure / uncertainties of the last term at his previous one.  We're on day 2 and all seems to be going well so far - he's particularly enamoured with the canteen and his new uniform - so far so good (wait until he loses his payment card for lunch then it'll be a whole new ballgame!)  But he seems content to go and was so very excited yesterday about the first day back - as he's been on holiday since the end of June, I think and he recognises that he needs the routine and structure a school day brings - and I need to get him off the computer on which he seems to have spent most of the summer ensconsed in a darkened room. And only just 8 - you'd have thought he was a teenager with that sort of activity......

Kindergarten started back almost a month ago so H has been happily tootling along every morning for a while now - he's now a Lowenkind - which is the pre-school year.  He's already 5 and so would be going into year 1 in the UK, but still gets to play for another year here - quite how we'll transition him over to the International System next year I'm not quite sure, but I need to get cracking on that to make sure he's as prepared as he can be - they don't 'teach' anything in Kindergarten here so I think it's going to be 'School of Mummy' at home for the foreseeable future.

L started kindergarten this term - she's lucky to have secured a 2-year-old spot as there is apparently a great shortage of them in the region.  She has however taken to the change in routine remarkably well and is very much enjoying herself and finding her feet there (well I say finding her feet - more throwing her weight around and generally being very loud - that's my girl!)

So what does this mean for me?  As of yesterday I am officially home alone (in the mornings at least) - yesterday, after the school run and shopping had been done that left me with a whole 30mins to myself - so no I didn't achieve anything.  I've made quite a list of projects to be getting on with in my 'me-time' not least of which is a promise to myself (and Andy!) to get on top of the house...which has been somewhat neglected of late.  Then there's the eBay plans, the family tree to be going on with, the family recipe books to transcribe, german lessons, exercise plans, etc etc - not to mention breakfast with the girls and reading for bookgroup.  It seems I'll be even busier than before!!

So I mention baking above - well there's always something in the oven here - yesterday was After Eight cupcakes to take to school to celebrate G's birthday - and today is another suprise birthday cake - but not the Titanic sinking recreation I have been asked for......  Just a plain sponge with homemade raspberry jam, buttercream and a marshmallow fondant covering - there may well be pictures later (if I can get the camera working as we managed to break it on holiday!) but here's a cupcake to keep you going!!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Wine of the Month - August 2012

Well this month it's more of a general pointer towards the Languedoc than any specific wine.  We've just come back from two very pleasant, warm and sunny weeks in Mèze on the Thau Lagoon between Montpellier and Beziers, and of course, whilst there we took the opportunity to taste some wine in order to restock our very empty cellar!

So the Languedoc, think lots of sun, good meaty reds - we tasted Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.  We've come away with a super well rounded 2009 Merlot from Domaine la Fadèze a small vineyard between Mèze and Marseillan (home of Noilly Prat) on the Lagoon.  We had tasted some Merlot from a different winery about 20km further away a couple of days previously and this one was so different and so much smoother that there was no question of not buying - and at less than 5 Euro a bottle a complete bargain to boot!  Here we came across two varieties we'd never tried before - Terret and Roussanne.  Terret is a traditional variety from the Languedoc enjoying a renaissance there and was a refreshing light white - good as an aperitif - and if we'd not been so taken with the Merlot, we'd have bought some of that.  The Roussanne is a variety grown a lot in the Rhone Valley and it too was interesting to try, but not as nice as the Terret.

The first Domaine we visited was La Baume between Pezenas and Beziers, ah - thought I, I know that name - convinced it was the same as a wine I buy locally - but when we got there I noticed that the logo was not the same - albeit similar and after chatting in my best French to the Vigneron, we discovered it was from the same area just not the exact same place.  Bit suspect really given the similarity in name etc.... anyway so Domaine de La Baume was our first stop - there we tasted everything from Sauvignon Blanc to Cabernet Sauvignon...... and were pleasantly surprised by a very fruity (yellow fruits/peaches/apricots) Viognier - which we bought - and also by their Syrah which was suitably peppery in a subtle way - (not in an in your face New World style).  So needless to say we had some of that too!

Our final wine stop was the Beauvignac Cellars in Mèze itself. There we particularly wanted to try the Picpoul de Pinet which is another traditional variety of the area.  The Lagoon de Thau is the largest Oyster producing area in France and the white wines they make are designed to go well with seafood - and the Picpoul fits that bill perfectly.  Light, fruity and crisp - perfect in the sun and with a plate of Coquillage! We also tasted a blended wine they make - called Gemme - consisting of 50% Terret and 50% Vermentino - this was a VDP des Cotes de Thau so completely local to our holiday and another super fresh white wine - and that too has found its way into our cellar.

All in all a successful trip on the wine front and although we were disappointed with some of the other wines we tried - some Corbieres (which is usually a banker for us) and the fact we failed to find a Minervois - both wines of the region - we can wholeheartedly recommend Languedoc wine - both red and white.

Bottoms Up!!