A Chef’s Birthday Party!
Our regular gite guests and those who have been on our Loire Valley Wine Tours will know one of the two village restaurants particularly well, yes”Le Bouchon Ponot” and its owner and Chef, Jean-Yves. Yesterday (Sunday) he held his 60th Birthday Party for friends and family. Originally it was going to be held on a lovely site on the side of the river Thouet. Sadly, however, after weeks of glorious sunshine and rocketing temperatures, we had a tremendous thunderstorm, receiving over six weeks average rainfall in the space of a few hours and the result was that the site was totally inundated with the soil just too wet to risk anything on the following day.
As a result Jean-Yves decided, at the last moment to move everything to the Salle de Fête here in Le Puy Notre Dame. For people like Sheila and I, who didn’t check our phone messages, it meant an interesting half hour or so exploring the pretty lanes and vineyards and admiring the newly opened sunflowers around the hamlet of Sanziers -where we had no success whatsoever in finding the site! Finally, we decided to head on back to the village bar where all became clear! As it happened the day was one of full sunshine and high temperatures so we could probably all of passed an idyllic day by the river as was originally intended. Mais c’est la vie.
So the guests started to arrive in dribs and drabs as the word spread around about the new location and finally, by about 1pm, around 150 had arrived so we could start the party! First up was plates of Jean-Yves famous paté, “à la maison” and assorted other nibbles accompanied by mini “foué” or “foucé” breads. These are a local speciality and they are similar to pitta bread but baked in a wood fired oven. You cut one side of the bread and fill it like a “purse” with paté or whatever else you have at hand. The foué were cooked on site by our friend, Stéphane, who does these ‘Events’ for a living. Definitely they are a meal in themselves and were accompanied by glass after glass of our excellent, local sparkling village wine, not to mention the cocktail fountain of vodka based orange juice. You just held your glass under the never-ending stream.
After that we sat down at the long tables to enjoy plates of charcuterie, mixed salads etc., lots of bread, and then hot roasted ham accompanied by haricot beans cooked with onions and various herbs. Finally plates of cheeses and delicious assorted desserts.
All the time there was, of course, endless laughter and chatter as we all met up with friends and neighbours. Jean Yves was busy opening his presents. All very lively, but, after the meal, things really got going with the Disco and the dance floor was filled to capacity with joyful revellers happily punching the air to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” (in fact it was replayed several times – by public demand so to speak!) as were other assorted rock anthems. And so many, many hours later, after the consumption of a mammoth amount of wine and the consumption of even more nibbly foué breads, people started to drift away, some still dancing, others still singing not always with a lot of clarity, and others who weren’t quite sure what planet they were on.
The next morning I went into the village bar as normal to be met by a succession of bleary, red-rimmed eyes and the occasional grunt. At least the strong French coffee served a useful purpose.
Jean Yves was amazingly open for business as usual for his lunchtime clients, happy that we had all shared a terrific birthday party with him, although rumor has it that he quickly retired to his bed after the end of the lunchtime service and he was noticeable by his absence when Sonia’s bar was full of people watching the France v Nigeria World Cup Match later that evening…………………..!