Sancerre

Sancerre is a tiny little town on a hill in the Loire valley. Looking at a map of the streets, for me it conjures the image of an oblong net that was thrown on top of a hill. The streets are narrow and windy (as in, they wind around, not that there are gusts of wind), and most of the buildings are built with grey stone and have steeply pitched rooves. There are a fair few of restaurants (including a one Michelin-starred restaurant La Tour which I hope to go to) and cafes and shops.

There are a number of patisseries, which I have not been tempted by only because I got a cold right before I left and can't taste as much as I usually can. There are of course boulangeries, and people really are walking around with baguettes here, which I love. There's also a Scottish pub called The Highlander which I'm very curious about.

There's a little grocery called Casino that sells pantry staples, as well as some vegetables that are so much better quality than the vegetables you'd get a bodega in the US. Shopping in this little market confirmed for me something I've suspected, which is that my cooking personality is French. Everything about it just makes sense to me, they had a packet of fresh herbs to buy, and the only type of lentils they have are my favorites (French green lentils) that you usually have to seek out special in the US. The run-of-the-mill mustard that I got is creamy, flavorful, and hot, breaking through my stuffy sinuses. Fromage blanc comes in tubs that I almost mistook for yogurt, and you can buy lardons (essentially bacon that is pre-diced) in single-serving packs. The man that runs the grocery is very nice, he swapped out the vinegar I'd gotten for my salad for balsamic, saying it was better, and asked if I already had salt and pepper, and welcomed me to Sancerre.

On the way back to my apartment there is a marvelous butcher shop—I forget what it's called, but it has a sign outside that is a pig wearing a hat and holding a blackboard that has the daily specials on it—adorable! The man that runs it is a jolly fat Frenchman, with floppy hair and a moustache that remind me of Cogsworth. He mercilessly did not ask me any questions, but just let me gaze longingly at all the different cuts of meat and prepared foods. Stuffed veal, house rillette, and pate en croute were among the many items in the case, and I also spotted a true boudin blanc sausage (easily recognizable as it is the albino of the sausage world) and it is really the whitest one I've ever seen. I ended up only buying a mini quiche Lorraine because I have leftovers from last night's dinner (lentil salad), but I expect to be there often and I can just tell that the butcher and I are going to be fast friends.