Monday, August 13, 2012

Travel: Dordogne Day Three

Today was the day we were all going to visit the medieval town of Sarlat for their food market, something I had been thoroughly looking forward to when reading about the itinerary. Sarlat seems to be the biggest/ most well-known town nearest to where the CookinFrance location (Bombel) was. The market was so wonderful! Here we found many of the traditional items we had seen in the regional produce fair, such as the foie gras, walnuts and honey. There was also some brilliant cheese stalls, fruit and veg stalls, LOADS of places selling different types of cured sausages, deli stalls and much much more!
Me and Nick decided we would get a load of items to have a picnic the next day at some point, so we bought a big chunk of cheese with walnuts in, a couple of juicy nectarines, some scrummy pickled garlic cloves and marinated artichokes, and some yellow and red juicy looking cherry tomatoes. I also bought some nougat for my mum and then some yellow courgettes to bring back for myself and my parents (thinking that shops in Britain don’t sell them, although this year once I got back I realised that Sainsbury’s have started stocking yellow courgettes, and this has made me a very happy girl!). Ooh and I just remembered- bought a gert big massive pink head of garlic, and a pack of dried cep mushrooms to be used in particular recipes at some point this month. A regular foodie smorgasbord it all was! (yes I had to google how to spell that word….)
It wasn’t all about the food though, they were some funky little tourist shops around as well, and a few cool places selling sculptures and jewellery (I’m such a magpie when it comes to jewellery- I love shiny things!!). We found this cool glass-wear shop actually, that sold glass jewellery and animals (including v realistic looking spiders- eek!)made from glass, and you could actually watch the guy in a little booth thing blowing glass and turning it into things- was pretty cool!
We noticed loads of fab looking restaurants and café’s too, and food stalls selling regional speciality dishes (like the one below a rotisserie chicken stew served with “Sarladaise Potatoes”- potatoes, garlic and herbs cooking in copious amounts of duck fat- yum!) but we knew after the market we were all heading back to prepare lunch with everyone at CookInFrance, so me and Nick figured we might head back into Sarlat later.
When we got back “to the ranch” (lol!) we had another lazy lunch of baked camembert, with “rustic” croutons and raspberry jam. The camembert was baked in a hot oven with a bit of orange, garlic, rosemary and olive oil, until it rose up and began to brown nicely, and then we scooped that up with some croutons we had baked in the oven with some olives and slices of Parma ham chucked in.
After lunch and a bit of a siesta, Nick and I decided to check out another one of the local villages, to see what it had to offer. There was the option of doing some sugar craft with Jim and everyone but we decided we wanted to do some sight-seeing. We decided to stop of at a village called Montignac, as I suppose we had heard of the name before and thought there might be some historical things to see there. To be fair, the village was beautiful, I’ll give it that, but there was actually nothing to see there really. Theres a little church, and then theres this really cool looking big old building up the hill- with old signs up to it saying “tourist trail, but then when you get to the top theres just all these signs saying “private property”. I think someone must have bought it and doesn’t let anyone go near it any more. Bit disappointing to be honest- considering how many interesting things we saw the next day in such a short space of time, so if I were you (unless you want to rent a kayak, which they seemed to be doing a lot of there) then avoid Montignac, all a bit pretty-yet-dull.
Night was beginning to close in so we decided to drive back to Sarlat and find a place to eat. We really struggled to find a place where we didn’t have to have duck as a starter AND as a main (and I swear there was even a place that sold duck as a dessert- foie gras brulee!!) but eventually through the beautifully lit streets we found a lovely posh-ish little restaurant down one of the side streets called Le Petit Borie (A “Petit Borie” being a specific type of little stone building that you traditionally find in the provence region). I had one of the best French meals of my life here and if you are anywhere near the area you have to scout this place out. I realised googling it online now that is has loads of good reviews/ tripadvisor reviews, but of course me and Nick didn’t know this at the time, we just thought the menu looked lush, there was outside seating, and there was a nice french band starting up nearby.
We ordered the “traditional pink garlic soup” for starter, which was served to us from a tureen by the very friendly waiter there. He explained to us that in The Dordogne it is traditional that just after a good friend gets married, you take over to their home a big batch of this pink garlic soup as a gift. This stuff was smooth, creamy and bloody delicious!!! I wish they would have given me more actually it was Sooooo nice! But considering I bought a big big head of pink garlic back home with me I reckon I’m going to try and recreate the dish myself at home. We had a very nice glass of rose with this too, I’m a very happy girl here!
For mains I had the Duck Cassoulet- a type of French casserole, with many types of meat, white beans and often a breadcrumb topping. In certain regions of France (such as Toulouse) there will also be sausages added to the casserole. Mine had Confit duck, pork, and thick smoked belly pork in it, with delicious creamy flageolet beans. Was so warm and comforting! I had this with a side of sarladaise potatoes (I just had to order some after seeing them all cooking in the market square earlier in the day) and some side vegetables. Nick had the seared duck breast, with sarladaise potatoes, salad, and local wild cep sauce. Both of really loved our meal, and Nick admitted that this whole holiday was really changing his mind about duck- he thought he didn’t really like it before, because he’s a bit funny about having any fat on his meat, but he decided he was going to try duck much more often when we came back to blighty. He also loved the cep sauce- I tried a little and it was so rich and creamy and earthy- me and Nick are definitely going to have a go at making something similar with our dried cep mushrooms at home.
Dessert for me had to be a traditional crème brulee, and this ended up being completely massive (as if I wasn’t stuffed enough already!) but absolutely fabulous, and Nick’s pudding, well, I suppose was a little disappointing. He ordered a caramelised apple galette which sounded yummy but what arrived was thick soggy pancake with a load of squirty cream on it, but never mind though- the meal and the whole experience was stunning.
The lovely meal finished off the night perfectly, and after picking up a few free tourism brochures from around Sarlat we decided that we were really looking forward to doing more sight-seeing the next day.

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