A Delicious Pot-au-feu
「Ohh, it sure is a feast today」
Ergys-san said happily as he looked at the dishes on the table.
In front of our eyes was a pot-au-feu[i] that is full of ingredients such as potatoes, carrots, sausages, cabbage and broccoli. A stir-fry made using vegetables and mushrooms with butter, fried chicken with herbs, and bread which was cut into bite-sized pieces with some creamy cheese on the side.
It’s no exaggeration to call this menu a feast. Just looking at it put a smile on my face.
「We have a new resident in this village starting today. It’s a celebration for that」
「Yeah. We’re celebrating tonight. Let me open a ten-year-old wine」
I slowly lowered my head and thanked them after listening to their heart-warming words.
I have already encountered such kind people all the way out here in no time. I am so deeply moved that tears almost came out.
Ergys-san got up from his seat in a hurry and left the room, and before long, he returned with a wine bottle in his hand. As he had a somewhat delightful look on his face, I really understood that he saved his best wine for last.
I accidently muttered out the brand of the wine.
「This wine was made at Aisha-chan’s place 」
Ah, right. Aisha is a grape farmer, and I see that she simply used the place of production as the wine’s brand name.
As Ergys-san is in the process of uncorking the wine, Fiona-san brought out four wine glasses without asking.
「Aisha-chan’s wine is smooth and easy to drink. Even though our Flora doesn’t really like wine, she still likes the wine that Aisha-chan makes」
Flora is softly hitting Fiona-san’s shoulders with her hands while looking downwards, seemingly embarrassed.
Hehh, I’m looking forward to this.
So, that straight-forward Aisha was the one who made this wine… Well, her personality and the grapes have nothing to do with each other.
The sound of the cork popping echoed in the room, then each of the wine glasses were filled to the brim with red wine. The rich aroma of grapes hung in the air.
「Well then, a toast to celebrate a new resident of the village, Aldo-san! 」
Matching the words of Ergys-san, each one of us lightly clinked our wine glasses together.
The unique, high pitch noise from clinking wine glasses together sounded in the room, and everyone brought their glasses to their mouths.
「Wow, this is easy to drink. It’s so smooth」
As expected from a ten-year-old wine, the taste has a mild sweetness.
The astringency is just right. If it’s like this, even people who don’t like the distinctive astringent taste of red wines can drink this.
「Was this to your liking? 」
「Yes, very much so」
I want to drink this every day.
「The cheese here was also made in this village. It totally goes well together with the wine」
Ergys-san might have sensed how much I liked this wine, so with a somewhat happy look, he recommended the cheese to go with it.
I quickly take some cheese as I was already drinking the red wine, so it would be a waste to not try the cheese out together with it like he said.
Then, I rubbed some of the creamy cheese onto a piece of bite-sized cut bread.
As the piece of bread got quickly covered in a thick layer of cheese, I put the mouth watering food into my mouth.
The taste of the cheese with a thickness that is just right spread in my mouth all at once.
Then, as I enjoy the taste of the cheese with a little chewing, I also take in the smooth wine.
The rich flavored wine and the cheese, with a smell and taste that’s just right, have the perfect affinity with each other.
「This goes so well together! 」
「I know, right? 」
Ergys-san answered me with a smile as he puts some cheese on a piece of bread and enjoys it with wine as well.
Flora and Fiona-san, who are sitting in front of me, seem to be eating the wine and cheese with good manners.
This combination of cheese and wine with the same place of origin has reminded me of something Kiel had said in the past. He said that if the distinct flavors of the wine and cheese go well with each other, they would not overlap and fight. Following his words, I feel like the combination of this wine and cheese goes so well together that it’s like a marriage.
I was not interested in wine at that time, so I can’t remember what else he said. However, I feel like I can drink any amount of glasses with this combo.
I continue to eat and drink before the cheese cools down, as it won’t taste as good when that happens.
In the middle of eating, I noticed there was cheese dripping down from Flora’s mouth due to it being too creamy, but I did not stare at her directly. I mean, I understood that she was embarrassed as her face was red already.
After that, eighty percent of the cheese was consumed, and I start with the huge pot-au-feu that is in front of me.
I cut the large potatoes into halves in a flash, and put them in my mouth.
It was properly seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbs. The flavor of the soup which was sucked in by the potatoes was the best. It gave the simple, steaming hot potatoes a nice highlight.
It was quite different from the simple pot-au-feu that was served in inns.
The spoon scooping the soup does not stop.
「This pot-au-fu is super delicious. You can even start your own restaurant」
「Ara, that’s good for you, Flora. The pot-au-feu you made is being greatly praised」
「T, Thank you very much」
Flora glanced at me with an upward gaze as she spoke.
Her face and ears are pure red as if she was really embarrassed. Her looks resemble Fiona-san but inside she’s more like the shy Ergys-san.
At the same time, I also have a taste of the carrots, cabbage, and broccoli.
According to Ergys-san, all these vegetables were grown in this village as well. The broccoli and carrots were personally grown by him.
They were sweeter than the other broccoli and carrots that I’ve ever eaten before, and they had a firm crunchiness to them.
So this is what freshly picked vegetables taste like, huh.
Since I am now having a taste of what fresh vegetables taste like, I want to grow my own crops more and more.
Then, I have a taste of the juicy sausages and bread dipped in soup.
I felt Flora glancing at me here and there as I ate the pot-au-feu, but she did not say anything to me.
I did not really mind it because she’s probably just observing if I was going to praise the food she made.
I was also in charge of cooking in my adventurer days, so I really know how that feels. It’s a happy feeling when you see other people savoring the meals you made yourself.
Ergys-san and Fiona-san were watching Flora with warm eyes as they took notice of her state. Although there was a silence, it was a pleasant silence without a hint of awkwardness.
Finishing the pot-au-feu, as I moved on to the fried chicken with herbs and the stir-fried mushrooms & vegetables, I noticed that Flora was fidgeting restlessly in front of me.
Even though she held a fork in her right hand, that hand isn’t moving at all. She looked at the empty pot-au-feu plate and then my face.
As one would expect, I have no idea as to what she wants.
Since my stomach isn’t bulged yet, maybe I should shamelessly ask for seconds. It was such a delicious pot-au-feu that I decided to ask for more.
When I opened my mouth to ask, Flora spoke to me.
「Um, would you like me to refill the pot-au-feu? 」
「Got it! 」
Flora, who asked timidly, showed a bright smile like a blooming flower as I hand her the plate.
She put away the fork in her hand, then she received the plate with both her hands and happily walked to the kitchen.
After that, she returned with a plate full of pot-au-feu for me.
「Here you go」
Seeing her so happy also brought a broad smile to my face, and she also shyly smiled in return.
Maybe she has gotten a bit more accustomed to me. We smiled to each other as we talked, and she also got to ask me some questions as well.
It feels like our distance had shrunk a little by having this dinner together. I’m sure she won’t have to run away the next time we meet.
After that, I had two more rounds of pot-au-feu.
[i] a soup based stew of french origin, somewhat popular in Japan