It is not easy to maintain standards during locking. Haircuts, clothes and personal hygiene all depend on not letting go. But when there is no one to witness (or sniff) your slow decline, what does it mean?
The hardest part of corona containment is the loss of motivation. Lack of interaction with people in the office means little or no jokes and essential discussions to keep morale and creativity alive.
Too bad for the office, I miss the pub mouths that I don’t like.
Fortunately, a producer I only discovered since the lockout, Lecale Harvest (how did I miss that!), Is reinventing itself as a sort of caterer.
In France, Lecale Harvest would be known as a caterer, someone who produces fine foods for sale in delicatessens and restaurants and caters to large private parties.
Fortunately, Patrice Bonneargent and his family, including his daughter Perrine, perpetuate this beautiful tradition in a corner of Co Down which will forever remain the Charente Maritime.
Lecally, based in Ballynahinch, does the kind of food you see Rick Stein, Keith Floyd and James Martin chasing after heavenly and sunny road trips through France.
If it’s duck confit from the southwest, pork rillettes from Le Mans or oysters from Aquitaine, Patrice Bonneargent will prepare and stock up – and if last Sunday’s lunch was going on, it’s really the moment when the great culinary writer William Sitwell describes it as “good food is the cheapest form of travel”.
For only £ 40 for two, Lecale will provide a jar of lobster in a jar, pork rillettes, half a dozen oysters grown by himself in Killough, crab claws the size of baseball gloves , a plate of monkfish with herb butter, ratatouille, a large piece of seasoned and slow-cooked pork belly and much more (including desserts).
It’s phenomenal in terms of volume, but it’s the quality of these robust and rustic French farm dishes that is unmatched.
The detail is forensic. The mayo that accompanies the claws corresponds to that of the table of the eponymous Michelin-starred restaurant in Coutanceau in La Rochelle.
The mignonette with half a dozen oysters is perfectly balanced with enough flavor to squeeze a happy tear from your eye, and the ratatouille has just enough chorizo to brighten up the tomatoes and zucchini.
When the food is so good, you want a lot and Bonneargent delivers.
The new parsley butter potatoes, the beautifully light and fragile suede puree, and the side dish with warm cauliflower truffle, textured and full of restorative magic, are all vacuum packed and boiled in their bags or oven roasts to complete their cooking times. And when you think you can’t have any more, there are two desserts that can’t be left overnight. The Profiteroles and a pear and almond tart with the brittleest shortbread are as French as the croissants. Putting the three dishes together in our kitchen was almost effortless.
The food is pre-prepared and even the oysters have been partially chipped, requiring only a stab to open. I’m not bad at peeling, but they were completely safe from injury.
I don’t know how I managed to live so long without Lecale Harvest. With gold prizes awarded by Blas na hEireann (Irish Food Awards), this producer deserves more visibility. I know there are a lot of Francophiles out there who might not arrive in the homeland this summer. For those who know what I’m talking about, Lecale Harvest is the cheapest form of luxury travel.
The law project
Four lessons for two people £ 40