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My French Life: The Best Pizza Ever – Serendipity part 1

Serendipity is a lovely word, it rolls off the tongue. Wikipedia says that Julius H. Comroe (an American scientist) once described serendipity as “to look for a needle in a haystack and get out of it with the farmer’s daughter…” essentially it means to find something good without looking for it.

I experienced a bit of serendipity myself this week!

My son and his lovely fiancée were visiting and as it was raining – again – we decided to nip out for a bit of food therapy. As usual, we were late leaving. Cats to pamper, dogs to walk, chickens, ducks and geese to feed, and we had to do the birds’ wings. I hate cutting their feathers. I know it doesn’t hurt but they kick up such a fuss so I wait for my poor son to arrive and get him to help the OH while I watch! This usually means quite a bit of fun chasing them round the pens and holding them down to cut the ends of the feathers off of one wing. You don’t have to do both Remy our neighbour told us. This is good because chasing thirty birds around is not easy, especially as its hard to tell which ones have been done and which ones haven’t when they’re all running about and away from us. I bribed my son with the promise of home-made macarons later in the day. My cookery bookery lessons have been going fairly well lately. I’ve made a passable duck a l’orange and the OH says that my boeuf bourgignon is now good enough to be paid for in a restaurant, so I was hopeful that my macarons would please.

By the time we eventually got out it was already reaching the stage when most brasseries and restaurants are taking last orders. It’s a peculiarly French thing I find, this closing of restaurants on the dot and without any wiggle room. They are open at 12.00 and they close at 14.00 and that is it. Woe betide the unsuspecting visitor that leaves it too late Chances are you’ll go without.

So, we set off for Hesdin nearby only to find that the normal route was closed and diversion signs were on the road. We’re old hands with these diversion tactics now. It often means that your journey can be double the time it usually is and sometimes more than that so we knew that making it to a restaurant that was open still was now a distinct non-possibility and we resigned ourselves to an early dinner instead. However, as we wended our way across the beautiful, lush countryside of the Seven Valleys, the diversionary route took us through the village of Beaurainville and past a brasserie called La Scala and, what’s more, at 1.45 the door was open! So I nipped in and asked if they could possibly feed four hungry Brits. A quick shout to the chef in the back and we were welcomed in.

La Scala specialises in pizzas and there was such a huge choice, even though we tried to be quick as they’d been so nice to accommodate us it took ages to make up our minds. I persuaded everyone to go for the local speciality. Instead of a base of cheese and tomato, here they use crème fraiche on their pizzas, called a flammekueche. As usual, I went for something I didn’t know – a pizza knacki. I had no idea what knackis were but I am an adventurous kind of eater!

What a surprise it was. I can honestly say that it was without doubt the best pizza I’ve ever had and I just had to tell the chef. Chef Arnaud told me he was a wine waiter and head waiter in nearby Montreuil-sur-Mer for twenty years.  He makes his own foie gras and all food is cooked fresh by him. Not only that, they do take-aways too, highly unusual in this part of France.

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