Back on home ground in France last weekend, I spent a lazy afternoon on the sleepy ‘Ile Fanac’ close to where I live.
Wandering around this little verdant gem nestling in the river Marne at Joinville le Pont in the east of Paris, is like stepping into a bygone age. Free from traffic and hustle and bustle, you’re likely to be accompanied on your stroll by one of the resident cats, to the gentle whir of insect wings and the methodical lapping of oars hitting the water as rowers skim past hidden from sight by a curtain of Weeping willows. Puts me in mind of a poem by W.B. Yeats
“…I know the leafy paths that witches take.
Who come with their crowns of pearl and their spindles of wool,
and their secret smile out of the depths of the lake;
I know where the dim moon drifts, where the Danaan kind
Wind and unwind dancing when the light grows cool
On the island lawns, their feet where the pale foam gleams
No boughs have withered because of the wintry wind:
The boughs have withered because I have told them my dreams…”
If any of you have seen the film ‘A good year’ staring Russell Crowe, this magical place recreates that atmosphere perfectly (even down to the tennis court) all that is missing is the man himself!
As I do not have a garden, this is where I take a book and sit on a bench at the tip of the island overlooking the boats moored on the bank opposite.
All this greenery made me crave a crisp green salad, and as avocados are abundant at the moment they seemed the perfect ingredient to compliment the island – green, gently, calming and a little exotic.
Avocados are hailed as being a superfood, having beneficial effects on the cardio vascular and digestive systems, reducing incidence of diabetes and cancer, improving liver function, and calming acne and arthritis.
I just tossed some mixed leaves in a dressing of olive oil with a little splash of chili infused olive oil and some sweet apple vinegar.
Then added some steamed new potatoes, chopped walnuts, finely sliced spring onions (green and white), a teaspoon of capers and some crispy bacon lardons (leave out for veggie option).
Top this with half a sliced avocado per person tossed in lemon juice to preserve the colour and served in small salad bowls – a taste of spring in a dish……..
Now for a little more exploring this magical place – I wonder where those steps, that door and that gate lead to……follow me