La Vie Avec Rose: Part II

We journeyed tirelessly and brought the Queen of Cakes to our chateau in the heart of the Normandy countryside.


As evening drew close, we told stories of Parisian adventures while the little prince and princesses drifted sleepily into dreams of dashing duels and swirling sword dances on the steps of mediaeval castles.

A bracing breeze blew across the now-deserted beaches of Operation Overlord in the morning …

Operation Overlord

… and my elder princess tugged urgently on Rose’s sleeve to show her the marker she had found among the dunes.

New York 5700km

We warmed our chilled toes and icy fingers back at the chateau by feasting on tender slices of magret of duck in an orange marmalade sauce. Throwing caution to the wind, the sauce-maker deftly pilfered Rose’s perfectly-fried pieces of garlic and was only spared an untimely death by the perfection of his sweet, griddled courgettes.

duck and courgettes

Our time together was filled with the yeasty aromas of freshly baked bread …

rose making bread

… the magical knotting of colourfully beaded strings …


… and the joyous convivial sounds of laughter on the terrace.

fun on the terrace

We visited the local outdoor market and discovered gastronomic riches among the brightly jewelled stalls.

market scene

After covertly sharing a crêpe swathed in deep, dark salted caramel …


… we approached the fish stall with anticipatory thoughts of the evening meal ahead.

“How should we cook a turbot?” we asked, looking with anxiety at its large, irregularly-shaped flat body.

“Dans une turbotière,” came the reply. Ah, how silly – of course, a pan shaped like a turbot would indeed be the simplest way of cooking such a fish.

We did not possess a pan shaped like a turbot.

“How else can we cook a turbot?” we asked.

“In white wine on a bed of onions and tomatoes, covered with foil and baked in the oven for thirty minutes at two hundred degrees centigrade,” came the reply. Our helpful fishmonger then offered to cut the fish into pieces so that such unfortunately turbotière-challenged people as ourselves could still enjoy the delicacies of its firm white flesh.


“A whole bottle of wine?” I asked Rose, watching helplessly.

“A whole bottle of wine,” she mercilessly replied.

all the wine

Whilst too many cooks may sometimes spoil the broth …

too many cooks

… on this occasion a smooth, velvety sauce appeared wondrously from the strained and reduced juices of the baked fish and its voluptuous bed. With the addition of a large spoonful of thick, soft Normandy crème fraiche and some small pieces of butter, even those who normally disliked fish were nearly (but not quite wholly) converted.

fish on a dish

The shadows lengthened, darkness fell and the moon rose over the chateau.

moon over the chateau

We packed our belongings once again and carried our fond memories home with us across the water.

ferry cartwheel

Our time in France may have come to a close, but our adventures together in Devon were about to begin …

on the ferry

Leave a comment


  1. The chateau is story book perfect. Turrets and all…wow!
    The breads looked fantastic. Are those ones you made together ? Beauties.
    The fish sounded wonderful but maybe a bit too adventurous for young taste buds. Just a bit too beyond the ubiquitous English fish finger!
    It looks like the weather smiled on you too.

  2. My own taste buds aren’t quite so well developed either, Melinda 😉
    We made the no-knead bread together – the others were freshly baked that morning at one of the ‘boulangeries’ in the village (as much as I’d love to claim we made them all ourselves!). The texture of the batons (‘french sticks’ was a new term for Rose) was sublime – crispy, crusty on the outside and gossamer soft on the inside.
    Ah, this post has brought back so many memories!

  3. Jeannette

     /  May 27, 2009

    I love how you’ve made your meeting up with Rose into such a lovely magical story! What memories you must have of your time together. Looking forward to the next instalment…..

  4. Thanks, Jeannette – and you know who’ll appear in the next part of the tale … 🙂

  5. I loved every part of that post: The chateau, RLB, the market, the turbot…What happens next?

  6. Ah-ha, Sue … stay tuned 😉

  7. Julie

     /  May 29, 2009

    How enchanting, the Queen of Cakes visits your castle! Looking forward to the next installment.

  8. I agree with Melinda about the Chateau being storybook perfect! Looks like a good time was had by all.

  9. I love your story. I’m a francophile anyway. The images and pictorial language took me back. We keep saying, we must go again.

  1. La Vie Avec Rose: Part III « A Merrier World

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