After another perfect day in Arpege's potager paradise, a weird thing's happened to me here at the chateau.
I've been left alone.
The other nights, I've had two chateau-mates: the resident Madame Bacharach, who actually sold the grounds to Alain Passard, and Jean-Baptiste, one of the gardeners. J-B - pronounced GEE-bay in French - is a 21-year-old perpetually happy dreadlocked blond who used to be the head gardener at the chef's other nearby garden, but now lives and works here. Tonight he's gone to visit his mother who lives about 30 km away. I'm not sure where Madame Bacharach has gone.
I have to admit that a moment of panic set in - not so much about being left Chateau Alone - but about what I was going to have for dinner. The six gardeners and I polished off the family meal mushrooms at lunch. G-B and I ate about a quarter of them ourselves last night for dinner - just sauteed in salted butter, over riz de Camargue.
There are of course fields full of beautiful fruits, vegetables, and herbs just steps away, but I don't want to accidentally pick the one beet that they've been waiting all summer to mature. There are also filled crates tucked under the trees near the chateau, but some have been set aside for seeds for next year. But the baskets in the kitchen and dining room have been fair game. I've pulled some young leeks - to me, the most French speaking of all vegetables; tiny onions, a Purple Haze carrot - purple on the outside and orange on the inside; black cherry tomatoes; and a small Arpege beet. I found some couscous in the cabinet, Oliviers & Co. organic olive oil, fleur de sel, and a jar/vase of fresh flat-parsley. For dessert I'll have an apple that was grown espalier around the herb garden. J-B also left a half-bottle of his friend's organic red wine.
I think I won't go hungry.
I was just on the phone with my sister Annie and I told her that I'd thought about not posting that I was alone - you know, just to be safe. But then I thought, if someone reading this blog tonight were to make their way all the way out here, I would be so impressed. But you should really email me first because I am armed with kitchen knives and the chateau's rifle - and I do know how to use them. I'd hate to mistakenly take out a well-meaning visiting reader.