So I guess one can definitely say now that summer has gone. It’s absolutely pouring down with rain outside, and has been all day. I quite enjoy rain, so it’s not the end of the world in my opinion but such weather does tend to put a dampener (see what I did there?) on plans to go out and visit places. As luck would have it, the weather on the weekend before last was absolutely fantastic; it really did feel like summer was squeezing out every last scrap of sunshine and warmth before this descent into perma-grayness and so what better time than to have one last outing?
We decided to to visit a place nearby called the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay - a Cistercian monastery near Versailles, founded in 1118. It’s a place I’ve wanted to go to for absolutely ages and I’m so glad we finally went. The large grounds have three different hotels nestling in the shadow of the ruined church; the largest of which – the abbey itself – has some seriously nice rooms. Period furniture, copper bathtubs… and only €290 a night. To be fair, it’s actually not unreasonable as far as some hotels go! Luckily, the hotel hasn’t done what often happens when they take over a large expanse of land – making it all private property and you’re never allowed in unless you’re staying at the hotel. No, here you can get in for just €7 to look around the grounds and it’s well worth the entry fee.
For the princely sum of €17 you can get a ticket which includes entry and then some tea or coffee and cake from the hotel tea-room. I opted not to go for this option, thinking that I’d just visit the tea-room separately and get a little something later. Well… let’s just say that getting that ticket for €17 suddenly seemed like a good idea after looking at the tea-room prices. Tasty stuff though, and lovely to have a little sit down next to the church and enjoy the sunshine.
William had fun dashing about while Mommy and Daddy took a well-needed tea break:
I can definitely recommend a visit out there to anyone if you happen to be in the area. The gardens and grounds are beautiful alone, let alone the church and abbey, though I was rather partial to the speculoos and strawberry cheesecake as well and these are probably worth the visit in themselves!
On to today’s recipe – a little simple something which is perfect for using up left-over red wine, or the remnants of a bottle of port. Once made, it’s the perfect accompaniment for cold meats and patés. It’s incredibly simple to make and takes literally five minutes and as well as being great to have at home, it also makes a wonderful host/hostess gift.
- 200ml Port or Red Wine
- 2 sheets of Gelatin
- 1tbsp Sugar
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Start off by soaking the gelatin in cold water.
- Heat up the port with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Remove the gelatin sheets from the water and place into the pan with the port and then stir until dissolved.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour the port solution into a canning jar or bowl, before covering and allowing to cool. Transfer to the refrigerator and allow to set (about 5 or 6 hours) before enjoying.
- Gelatin powder can easily be used in place of gelatin sheets - simply follow the instructions on the packet to replace it.