The uber-clean village and our “civilized” lunch

At times I feel as if we are living in a public-policy experiment to answer one question: Just how clean, pretty and eco-friendly can one village get?

On Monday, for instance, a company of professional cleaners was blasting away at the water fountain at the front edge of the village square, Place de la Liberté. Normally the cleaning jobs here are performed by the village workers, but the fountain had been looking a bit grubby, and I suppose that the Mayor’s office wanted this visible feature to be good and clean — just in case the judges from the Villes et Villages Fleuri program should wander past. Here’s how the fountain looked this morning:

The stone is good and clean.

Today was also volunteer day (as I wrote last week), when the Mayor’s office had asked for residents to pitch in and help weed some of the planted areas around the village. Jan was one of those to volunteer, and she put in several hours of pulling weeds before her legs became too tired and she came home.

Before lunch we then drove over to the cemetery, because Jan had heard that sheep had been brought down to “mow” a grassy area next to the cemetery (another topic I covered previously). Sadly, no sheep were present, and the grass was actually getting a bit out of control. We will investigate further.

Meanwhile, Jan said I should take a photo of the newly mulched flower beds — in another eco-friendly move, the village is using crushed walnut shells as the mulch. (In case you didn’t know it, walnuts are a major crop in the Greater Daglan Area, or GDA.) Here’s what one flower bed looks like:

A neat bed of crushed walnut shells.

Our “civilized” lunch. Last Friday, Jan and I drove to the village of Belvès, parked up in the top market square, and strolled down the pedestrian street (full of shops, real estate agencies, cafés and bars) for lunch at Planches & Plonk, the wine-and-cheese café I’ve described previously.

We ordered a bottle of Chablis, and then made our selection of cheeses and charcuterie for the medium-size platter (at 21 euros). All the cheeses and meats were very good, but the runaway star was a brie with morsels of truffle in the centre.

It was truly outstanding, and we both thought that the cheese had the most truffle flavour of any food we’ve ever had (and we’ve had a lot). In the picture below, the pieces of brie are at the top left, next to a round cheese and just above the bowl of (delicious) chutney:

The brie with truffles was the star of the platter.

In all, we had the bottle of Chablis, two more glasses of white wine (for Jan, because I had ordered two scoops of ice cream from the shop next door), the meat-and-cheese platter, and two espressos. Total bill: 73.80 euros.

At one point, Jan happily exclaimed: “This is so civilized!” And I had to agree — not only was the food and wine good, the service friendly and polished, but it was wonderful to be outside again and saying “Bonjour” to people as they walked by. Just imagine: almost normalcy.

We liked our civilized lunch so much that in fact we are going back for an encore this Friday. For sure the brie with truffles will be ordered again.

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