I was going to begin this blog with the title end of summer.…but that seemed rather too gloomy a title and actually although this season has passed like a summer breeze it has been a good one and we have had some fabulous visitors through our doors at Chez Teresa and there have been many enriching highlights. I am haunted by memories of the sunflowers of summer and this glorious flower has truly been in abundance this year as have the poppies and roses. It is of course sad to see the sunflowers blackened and darkly swaying towards the end of summer, but then they are harvested for their delicious oils so we cannot begrudge them their bounty.
Moments to celebrate this season include the wonderful artists from Lexington, Kentucky who having booked for lunch back in the cold depths of winter visited us in June 2017 and were thoroughly delightful and so very talented. To accommodate 14 hungry artists in our first floor dining room was indeed a challenge, but we set the tables up bistro style adorning them with pretty table cloths and with vases filled with summer flowers. Lunch was served on time. It being one of the hottest days in June we admired their stoicism and good humour. They were troopers who certainly made the best of a very hot and close situation telling us that a visit to Chez Teresa was one of the highlights of their visit! Probably they were being kind, but they said that they enjoyed the food and they were certainly extremely generous with their compliments which were much appreciated by us. In many respects it was more like entertaining old friends than strangers such was the warmth and vibrancy of this congenial group of artists. With painter Mary Neely at the helm, she gave us a beautiful picture, a copy of her painting entitled Poppy field near Chinon in France. Here we see an ancient farmhouse with vivid red poppies in the adjacent fields it now takes pride of place in our entrance hall.
Poppy field near Chinon in France
To be honest, in the past when I have thought of Kentucky, if I had thought of it at all, I associated it with KFC, the Kentucky Derby and of course Kentucky Bourbon and bluegrass music plus perhaps a less then liberal attitude among its people…. How narrow is that I now ask myself? Plus what was I basing it on? All these people were enlightened and creative individuals and a joy to meet. Lexington I had never heard of, but now I most certainly have and it is now on my wish list of places to visit in the future.
“If you are visiting Lexington I welcome the opportunity to give you a tour of my studio in downtown Lexington located in the Artist’s Attic of the Victorian Square building at 401 W. Main Street”.
Mary Neely at her easel; an exceptionally gifted artist.
Perhaps 2017 has been the year of the American visitor to France, as we appear to have had quite a few visit us, including two large groups of picnickers from the company Walking Tours. The company is based in Canada, but the walkers hailed from across the United States. For the picnic lunches we be-ribboned and festooned paper bags filling them with Ploughman’s lunches comprising of fresh crusty bread; several delicious local cheeses (our region is famous for its wonderful choice of goats cheeses) plus some mature cheddar, home made cheese straws and a little salad. Included also were slices of freshly baked Queen Victoria Sandwich filled with our strawberry jam fait maison, plus drinks of course.
Some of our picnickers having collecting their picnic lunches outside
Chez Teresa/A Taste d’Angleterre
The above association with us was established by Susan Walter who with her partner Simon runs Loire Valley Time Travel. What an inspirational and apt name for an outfit that creates custom designed private tours of the Loire Valley chateaux and vineyards offering visitors the chance to step back into history! For smaller groups a 1950’s Citroen Traction Avant gives clients a ride in a vehicle that must be truly like traveling back in time! Larger groups can also be guided around the many cultural gems throughout this valley of the kings and queens of France.
We are never as busy as the other places in the village due to the fact that we are just off center from the main square and although we like to think that we are cute we are also quite small. It has however been a good season for us and certainly on the Chambre d’Hotes front we have had many wonderful guests stay from all corners of the globe including from Argentina, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and of course from France.
Back on the salon front, we absolutely fell in love with the sweetest of Irish family’s, Trish and co who visited us several times during their two week sojourn at La Samsonelle just round the corner from us. This delightful family were from one of our favourite cities on earth viz Dublin. They enjoyed their holiday so much that they are planning to return next year. We hope that when they do that they will pop in for a bite or two to eat again!
A regular of ours, Jim, brought in one of his best friends who lives in Florida…it was just when the hurricane struck and she was worried about her daughter and her family who were all caught up in the maelstrom….Fortunately they were okay and Lesley was able to enjoy her visit to the Loire. She visited us three times and we liked her very much indeed. Since returning to the states she has requested our recipes for pasta and salmon and ratatouille so we know that she enjoyed her lunches here. We hope to meet her again as she was great fun. Naturally our hearts go out to all those who suffered during this most devastating of hurricane seasons. Our planet is definitely experiencing some very weird weather of late with frightening consequences.
We were also entranced by the fact that this summer a Turtle Dove decided to take up residence in the lamp post just outside Chez Teresa. She first visited us in early summer on a reconnaissance mission consisting of her checking out the area and presumably the diameters of the lamp post as she set up shop. At the time we frequently saw her gathering twigs and various items of interest to create her nest within the glass of the lamp. Then suddenly she disappeared… We felt quite bereft as we had got used to her cooing and sauntering about the place. Fortunately for us she returned at the end of the season where she cared for her two darling babies or “Squabs” as I understand they are called……not the most romantic or flattering of appellations it has to be said, but they were very sweet.
The season extended into September/early October and Pat and Brian from the United Kingdom stayed with us for 6 nights. They were such lovely spiritual people and in fact the morning they left they blessed us and our establishment wishing us all the best for the future. How gracious and kind is that? We are optimistic that such blessings will hold us in good stead for the years to come as sometimes life in France is not always the joy that some may think, running a small business can be hard…It is though admittedly a wonderful region in terms of culture, natural beauty and of course its overarching cuisine and delicious local wines.
We continued our association with the inspirational writer and novelist Hazel Manuel catering this summer for her writer’s workshops. We received wonderful feedback from her students about the meals that we offered many declaring it
“Exceptionally good food..especially the Tajine and Cous Cous… and the wonderful salads and cakes!”.
2017 has also marked for us an association with Think Miracle, an enlightened group offering holistic retreats in France and India. We hope that our association will continue into the future. We met some very interesting and vibrant individuals at their summer retreats in France including lovely Claire Thompson and the very dynamic Stella Raphael. The latter offers spiritual healing, nutritional advice and even tribal dancing as part of her portfolio. In addition, Think Miracle also offer adventurous sea faring spiritual journeys. The retreat in France is set within rolling countryside and is surrounded by a sea of sunflowers….it is a truly magical and peaceful location just outside our village.
We have noted that more and more people are looking for gluten and dairy free options to eat including some of the participants at the retreats. Consequently part of our cookery challenge this year has been, along with what we usually offer at Chez Teresa, to research and cook delicious tasting dishes along these nutritional lines. Fortunately ingredients such as gluten free flours and dairy free products such as tofu are now easily available at local health food stores such La Vie Claire and even at local supermarkets. We anyway delight in creating lots of different veggie and fruit dishes so it is within our remit. Using the freshest of spices and herbs can help transform the simplest dish of vegetables in the form of curries, ratatouille, tajines, veggie hot pots etc.into tasty feasts.
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This Autumn we will be celebrating our own Autumn festival at Chez Teresa/A Taste d’Angleterre in Fontevraud by utilising as many delicious local Loire Valley produce as possible creating fresh soups and vegetable dishes and serving autumnal themed cuisine every day.
Autumn Vegetables by Mary Neely
Although we are generally quiet at the moment here in Fontevraud l’abbaye – well at least we are – this lunchtime we just had a most interesting and adorable couple in from Barcelona….they are Catalans, but not for an independent Catalonia…..He looked like a Spanish Grandee..and she a pretty Senora, a little younger than us I guess… both were enlightened to the core. They revealed that quite a large number of young people aged between 20 – 35 want Catalonia to be independent and they looked mystified at the fact that so many of their compatriots think otherwise….They, our customers that is, told me that although they believe that individual cultures should be celebrated…… in their view it is one people one world…What a fabulous philosophy and one that we all hold dear here at Chez Teresa/A Taste d’Angleterre. Devolution along the Welsh and Scottish lines could work very well for Catalonia…well that is what I imagine could work. To our shame as Brits, isn’t it bad enough with Brexit let alone making Europe more divisive by more splintering of the fabric of Europe Union? I am not sure that people are generally cognoscente of what to my mind is a fact i.e. that being part of a United Europe is good economically, socially and definitely politically and in terms of harmony on so many levels not the least in terms of collaboration and shared funding (the arts, the sciences, education, agriculture and trade spring to mind). What was it that Winston Churchill said about Europe coming together? His call in 1946 was for a ‘United States of Europe‘…..why have we lost sight of this? I appreciate that some people fear this idea like the plague but in the final analysis is it not better to be at the party as opposed to the uninvited…suppose it depends on the party, but I know where I would like to be…
Yes you know it…it’s The Laughing Cavalier by Franc Hals (1624, The Wallace Collection), though who is laughing in Spain and across Europe at the moment I am unsure….
Useful contacts reflected above include:
Places to visit in the USA with links to the Lexington Art Gallery where more fabulous paintings and works of art can be viewed in situ:-
– Artists Attic , Lexington, Ky
– Skyuka FineArt Gallery, 133 N Trade St. Tryon, NC
– Main Cross Gallery, 401 W. Main St., Lexington, Ky.
– WildFlour Bakehouse located at Cargo Court, Louisville, Ky.
– Gallery B, Lexington, Ky.
Mary Neely can be contacted via:
– Web Site www.NeelyFineArt.org
Loire Valley Time Travel are happy to cater for small and large groups of visitors to the Loire.
…and for the creatives among us and those seeking a spiritual and holistic path why not check out: