Souvenirs de mes vacances

When Mr TLC and I go anywhere there are certain things that I just cannot resist. I drive him mad by taking zillions of photos and buying far too many postcards. However, he is keener when I start buying local produce, although of course this can be a bit unpredictable. There have been triumphs, such as the school ski trip to Bormio, Italy – I returned with amaretti biscuits, arborio rice, balsamic and wine vinegars and (on the recommendation of two wine loving colleagues) a mixed case of the local wine, which was amazingly cheap but wonderful to drink. Of course there have been less successful purchases, I will never forget the appalling taste of the worst vodka I have ever encountered, which I purchased with great care, but apparently no expertise, in Moscow.

This year, having finally given up on flying (why did it take me so long?), we ventured to France by car and ferry. Mr TLC was a little bemused by my determination to get up early and go to the supermarket on our last day there, but I had planned this like a military campaign: paper to wrap bottles, a cool box that would run off the car’s cigarette lighter, bag of frozen stuff to keep the contents cold on the ferry, large plastic bags and klippits for bread. We came back with bread, cheeses, croissants (which have provided months of weekend breakfasts via the freezer), wine, cider, beer, Calvados and, because we had been staying in the region, Cognac and Pineau des Charentes.

The Pineau was a bit of a risky purchase, because I’d never got around to trying it while we there, but we brought back so much stuff that I have to admit I forgot all about it. I found it today whilst rummaging around looking for the assorted booze that goes into homemade mincemeat. So I finally got around to trying it, expecting something that tastes pretty similar to Cognac. Pineau is made from unfermented grape must and Cognac brandy and it tastes amazing. You can really taste the grapes along with the rich flavour of the brandy. It’s very sweet, but not cloying. I’m not usually keen on sweet drinks, but this was gorgeous. Why did I only buy one bottle? I guess that’s the excuse I needed – back to France as soon as possible.

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