Here are some random photos of the lush spring foliage (and fauna!) to be found at La Pilardière. It's a riot of daffodils, grape hyacinth, hellebores, apple blossoms, crocuses and tulips throughout. For a city girl like me the view of dewy wet grass, troubled grey skies and brilliant sun, cows and chickens all over amongst random blossoms is soothing, and at times almost too good to be true.
While celebrating the flowers and Easter this past weekend we also had a chance to go to market in Le Mans. One thing that I saw there and have not seen in Paris was a crémerie stall. Here you can purchase directly from the milk producer raw, unpasteurised, untreated milk. People lined up with their various used empty bottles to have them filled up. If you didn't have a bottle the vendor pulled out a used empty water bottle of their own to fill up and take away. Talk about environmentalism!
B and I did not purchase any milk but we did purchase some butter that they happened to produce. I had this notion that heaven tasted like a finely finished Stilton. Now I'm torn between that and freshly churned butter. How can I describe fresh butter if one has never had it? It's thick, rich, with a hint of fresh grass and cloves, and nutty on the sides. It's nothing like the butter I've had in North America, even the organic artisanal stuff. Perhaps it's because there's a higher ratio of water to oil, or it's been frozen during shipping. Who knows. All I know is that with the real deal my taste buds have been wrapped in buttery ecstasy. This is one butter set aside for crowning a slice of pain de campagne garnished with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.
Another discovery. Chervil. Elegant, feathery, light and has a delicate anise citrus-y flavour. Apparently it had been known since Ancient Greek times (the name of the plant is derived from chaerophyllon or "herb of rejoicing") and is related to the parsley family. Chervil, or cerfeuil in french, is best used raw, in a salad for example (excellent with a salad of mâche), or at the end of cooking with fish or lamb. Or, perhaps in a chilled avocado soup?...Possibilities are endless.