A sweet memory, and a bittersweet day

About 10 years ago (September 4, 2010), not much more than a month after Jan and I moved to Daglan permanently, we witnessed (at a distance) a wedding that took place in the village church near our house. My post that day was called “Four kisses and a wedding,” and I used it partly to explain the French tradition of the bisou, the “air kiss” or “cheek kiss,” used to greet family and close friends.

Well, surprise surprise! Today I received a sweet comment from a young woman named Emmanuelle. In part, she wrote: “How funny, I just came across your lovely blog. I’m the bride and you’ll be pleased to know we’re still happily married 10 years and 3 boys later!”

Of course Jan and I are more than pleased, and were delighted to hear from her. As it happens, since that wedding a decade ago, Jan and I became integrated into Daglan life, and became friends not only with Emmanuelle’s mother but also her grandmother and grandfather. Jan became particularly close to them, and Mme. Pasquet referred to my wife as la marcheuse canadienne, because Jan (a Canadian citizen) so often walked through the village and surrounding hills for exercise.

A couple of years ago, I described the village’s Bastille Day ceremony and included this information about Emmanuelle’s grandfather, Jacques:

The ceremony included the usual features — the speech by our Mayor, the group singing of la Marseillaise — but the highlight was the presentation of the Legion of Honour to a notable villager, Jacques Pasquet.

Before making the award,  retired General Raymond Wey. another notable villager and a municipal Conseiller, outlined M. Pasquet’s dedicated service, both in and out of the armed forces. The Legion of Honour is the highest French order of merit, and was begun in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.

— Radio Free Daglan, July 19, 2018

Sadly, since then, both Mme. and M. Pasquet have passed away. But Jan and I remember them fondly. And now we have a special sweet memory of their granddaughter, the bride, shown here on her wedding day:

A bride prepares to be greeted
The bride awaits a bisou.

A bittersweet day: Jan and I have been particularly faithful at attending the November 11 ceremony to mark Armistice Day, and so it was sad to know that the public ceremony would be significantly scaled back this year, because of the Covid pandemic. We did mark the occasion with two minutes of silence at 11 a.m., in our home.

Soon after that, however, I drove out of our quartier on my daily run to les poubelles, the public garbage and recycling bins, and saw that there was indeed a small ceremony taking place at the village’s war memorial. Here’s a look:

Today’s small ceremony, from a distance.

And here’s a closer look, which shows that the ceremony included only a few village officials, who had raised the French flag and set out flowers:

Flags, flowers, and a small group of officials.

Although he is hidden in the photo, our Mayor, Pascal Dussol, was on hand, and as I passed by, I saw him reading from the prescribed text on le jour armistice. Fittingly, the weather was quite grey in the morning — cool and misty. But as the day has progressed, it’s become sunny and bright — a welcome relief on any day during our national lockdown.

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Our mini-Halloween, and two kinds of lunch

Halloween during a pandemic? How would that work? We weren’t sure, but I figured that at least some kids would be out on Saturday night, looking for treats. So Jan went ahead and bought several bags of candy.

Then France’s President announced a nationwide lockdown, and we figured that Halloween would be even more quiet than normal — to the point that our best bet, we figured, would be to take the candies to the local school and have the teachers hand out the treats to their classes.

As it happened, on Saturday afternoon we went to the village of Cénac for a bit of shopping, and Jan bumped into a neighbour — a young mother — who said that kids would indeed be going from house to house that evening. Her suggestion: Put the candies down at street level, so the kids wouldn’t have to come to the door.

Seemed smart enough, so that’s what we did. And here’s how it looked, including my pretend Jack-o-lantern, made out of a butternut squash:

All set for the kids in costume.

So, what was the outcome? Well, not much. At about 7 p.m., a small group of children in costume did indeed show up, and collected some candies. Funnily enough, they were led by the young mother who had suggested to Jan that we should put our candies at the bottom of the stairs. And that was that — no other children showed up. And so, in the end, we will take the remaining candies (and there are a lot) to the school.

Two (very) different lunches. This past week, I had two medical appointments in Toulouse — one on Tuesday, and one on Wednesday. Because of differences in timing, we wound up having two very different kinds of lunches. Here’s a brief report:

On the Tuesday, my appointment was finished just after 1 p.m., so we had time for a good lunch at Chez Jeannot, the excellent seafood restaurant that I praised quite fulsomely in a posting of June 18. Again, we were with our friends Richard and Rosemary (it was Richard who gamely did all the driving), and once again all four of us were very pleased with the restaurant — the ambience, the service, and of course the food.

In this posting, I’ll show just a few photos — starting with an overall look at Chez Jeannot from the front. On the left is the seafood shop, and on the right is the restaurant.

The view from the street.

We entered the seafood shop (which connects directly to the restaurant), where the shop’s super-keen salesman wanted to be in the photo I was taking of the goodies on offer. And here he is, with some of his wares:

Our man in the shop.

To accompany our meals, we began with a kir, and then a bottle of the Chablis that was the daily special. For my main course, I had the grilled gambas that Jan and Rosemary had ordered on our first trip in June, while this time the two women had langoustines, and Richard ordered a grilled whole fish as his main. Here’s a photo of the langoustines:

An icy tray of langoustines.

For details on the restaurant, do check my blog posting of June 18. Once our pandemic lockdown ends, this is a place you’ll want to try, if you’re in the Toulouse area and if you like seafood as much as we do.

And now for something completely different: For the lunch on Wednesday, the timing was such that we had to eat fairly quickly between arriving in Toulouse and seeing my doctor. So we ordered from the hospital café, and had a light lunch that looked like this:

A lunch of sandwiches and salads.

To give the café credit, the food was pretty good. But that’s not the kind of meal we normally would drive for two hours to order. Ah well.

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Over the top at O Moulin

It was four Sundays ago that we enjoyed a lunch at O Moulin in the village of Carsac, and came away with an interesting question. (By the way, in a display of intense self-control, I did not post anything about our September 27 lunch.) It was Jan who asked: “Do you think they would do the tasting menu for just two people?”

Only one way to find out, of course, so I phoned, and was assured that we could enjoy the Menu dégustation Surprise en cinq services, for 60 euros each, on Friday, October 23. And so off we went.

Because the food was delicious (as always) and served in such quantity, I’m going to show off each dish (normally I leave out one or two items from a review, in the interest of holding your attention). So, off we go.

On arrival, we ordered a glass of Champagne each, confirmed that we wanted the tasting menu, and sat back to enjoy. First up, as an amuse bouche, came a crusty roll (gluten-free for Jan) and a small bowl of black olive tapenade. For me, tapenade falls in the same category as hummus — something edible, moderately tasty, and generally mushy. In short, somewhat more trouble than it’s worth. But for whatever reason, this tapenade was especially good. And here’s my serving:

The tapenade was particularly good.

Our next amuse bouche (that is, something served extra, not on the formal menu) was one of the stars of the meal — a rich velouté of foie gras, flavoured with port. It was thick, slightly sweet, and just delicious. I’m showing my bowl with a spoon inside, to give you an idea of the soup’s creamy texture:

This had a nice sweet touch.

Next up came the actual first course — foie gras prepared two ways, accompanied by a fruit jelly. One piece of the foie was cooked mi-cuit, and the other was seared. I like to prepare my own seared foie, but it’s nowhere near as good as what Chef can do. Somehow he gets it caramelized beautifully on top and bottom, cooked thoroughly, but still moist and tender inside. Now in the Greater Daglan Area, it’s traditional to drink a glass of Monbazillac, a very sweet local wine, with foie; however, at O Moulin we’ve learned to order a Julian de Savignac Rosette, which is less sweet and syrupy. It’s perfect:

Chef does the seared foie perfectly.

Course number two consisted of two seared scallops, topped with a crunchy mixture of pistachios and Earl Grey Tea, and served with roasted endive. Have a look:

Perfect scallops, with an unusual topping.

Course number three was the meat course — a tender mignon of veal, accompanied by two slices of fondant potatoes. Cooking potatoes like these is notoriously difficult (often attempted, poorly, by contestants on the MasterChef TV show) but these were perfect:

The fondant potatoes were perfect — like the veal.

Our fourth course was billed as a pre-dessert. Well, I like desserts, so I was quite happy with this scoop of tart lemon sorbet, covered in a foam made of fromage blanc:

Just what we needed — a pre-dessert.

The fifth and final course was the dessert — Chef’s take on a pina colada. Here it is, with a bite taken out of the white-chocolate-covered roll of ice cream, so you can admire the interior:

Tropical flavours throughout.

Having munched our way through all of that — plus half a bottle of Sancerre and half a bottle of a nice Burgundy — could we have more? Well, Jan could not, but I bravely finished off the mignardise with my coffee (actually, one of two coffees); there were two raspberry jellies, and two chocolates with salted-caramel fillings:

The finishing touches almost finished me off.

After the service was completed, both Chef Nicolas Aujoux and partner Cécile Guerin, who acts as hostess, came to our table for a good chat about all kinds of things — holidays, children, and of course the effects of the Covid pandemic on their business. As it happened, Friday was the last day of service before a two-week vacation. So now O Moulin is closed until Thursday, November 12. A chance for me to diet?

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Encore presentation: La Forge

In this posting, I’m reporting on a return trip to La Forge, a newish restaurant in the nearby village of St. Pompon, which I first described in my posting of October 11 (“Another reason to visit St. Pompon”). But before I do, I’m going to introduce a splash of autumn colour.

Here in the Greater Daglan Area, we are well and truly into autumn, and as in years past, I find myself missing the glorious autumn colours of the trees in the Toronto area, where I spent most of my working life. In Eastern Canada (and the northeastern U.S.) the profusion of maple trees and birch trees, mixed into a variety of other species, made for some spectacular displays, with lots of vibrant reds and oranges. Here, by contrast, autumn colours are generally more muted (no maples), and so we see a mix of soft yellows, browns and a bit of orange.

However, not all is lost — because some ivy plants do turn a fairly vibrant red in autumn. And to prove the point, here is a vine growing up the side of a neighbour’s home, as photographed just a few days ago. Quite a beauty:

A burst of autumn colour.

But now, back to food. It was on a miserably rainy Wednesday of this past week that Jan and I met up with friends Rosemary and Richard for lunch at La Forge, where one of the attractions is the price of just 15 euros for a three-course, satisfying meal of rustic food. The place itself is warm and cozy, and the staff is friendly. The proprietor, Thomas Michel, greeted us at the door and thanked me for writing about his restaurant in this blog, so that was a pleasant start.

I began with a vegetable soup (soup is offered to all customers, ahead of the three courses), but I opted not to order a more filling entrée. For my main course, I had the sauté of pork, served with incredibly smooth whipped potatoes. Here’s my dish:

Tasty, but could have used some more seasoning.

I thought the soup and the main course were both good, but a bit light on seasoning — so I wound up using the salt and pepper shakers a fair bit (and it’s not something I normally need to do in France).

As for my dessert — a nice and moist coconut cake — there were two surprises. The first surprise is that it was indeed a coconut cake, while I had mis-read the menu and thought the dessert would feature chocolate. But no harm, no foul, because the cake was quite good. Here’s my plate (and if you look closely, you might spot the second surprise):

Good cake, and the right utensil.

If you haven’t spotted it, here’s a clue. The following is taken from my first review of La Forge, in describing the dessert:

 It was sweet and tasty, although I found the pastry a bit tough, and thought the chausson would be better if it had been warmed first. (And why do the French think all desserts should be eaten with a teaspoon, instead of a fork?)

Because Thomas had read the blog, he decided he had better serve my coconut cake with a fork, and not a spoon. Clever guy!

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Another reason to visit St. Pompon

In summers past (pre-pandemic), Jan and I used to love going to the village of St. Pompon, about 6 kilometres from Daglan, for the Saturday night markets. Sometimes I go to the pharmacy in St. Pompon, because it’s well run and less jam-packed with customers than the one in Cénac. And occasionally Jan goes to the Vival store in St. Pompon when our own village convenience store runs out of something, like milk. But now we’ve got another reason to go.

It’s a place called La Forge, and it’s a fairly rustic restaurant that opened not too long ago. As you can imagine from this view of the exterior, this isn’t a place featuring Michelin-starred cuisine. However, we did have lunch there late last week with friends Roy and Helen, and had quite a nice time — and a good meal.

The not very impressive front.

The interior is actually somewhat more polished than the front entrance — still informal, but clean and pleasant. Here’s a view from our table:

A view from our table.

The proprietor is well known in our area, because he was one of the travelling nurses that make home visits, and for a time he was the popular Mayor of St. Pompon. His name is Thomas Michel, and here he is at work (properly wearing a mask) at the coffee machine:

The proprietor at work (man the coffee stations!)

The restaurant is known for offering good value — such good value that I was actually worried about the quality of the food, since the price is only 15 euros for three courses. But no worries at all, as it turned out. Here’s my shrimp samosa entrée, with four piping hot (and very tasty) packets, with a nice cooling salad on the side:

Hot, tasty samosas — and cool salad.

For my plat principal, I chose the haddock, and was delighted with the result. The fish was mild but tasty, drizzled with a creamy sauce including leeks. The rice accompaniment was also quite good. Here’s my plate:

Mild fish, smooth leek sauce.

Jan went for a grilled steak, and was quite pleased — not only with its taste, but the size of the serving. In fact, she didn’t quite finish all the fries and salad. Here’s her plate:

Steak and fries — what’s not to like?

Both Jan and Helen chose not to have dessert, but Roy and I both had the chausson aux pommes — small apple turnovers, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. It was sweet and tasty, although I found the pastry a bit tough, and thought the chausson would be better if it had been warmed first. (And why do the French think all desserts should be eaten with a teaspoon, instead of a fork?) Here’s my dessert:

Good, but could have been better — if warmed.

Near the end of our meal, the sun came out in its full glory, and the chef opened up the patio doors to let in some light and heat. In summer, the patio is apparently quite a pleasant place:

Letting in some of the great outdoors.

If you’re interested, La Forge is open on weekdays only, and the phone number is 05 – 53 – 28 – 89 – 09.

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A triple-header for foodies

Today’s posting features three different topics that I hope will be of interest to foodies (and you know who you are). They are: the opportunity to acquire the best restaurant in Daglan; a couple of beautiful dishes at a much-loved restaurant; and a visit to a new place devoted to wine, cheese and charcuterie. Let us begin.

Opportunity for a chef with ambition. The restaurant Le Petit Paris, in the heart of Daglan, has a fine reputation, and Jan and I have known the owners (and enjoyed the food) since we bought our home here in 2004 — a full 16 years ago. Now the chef and his wife are preparing to retire, and are hoping to sell the restaurant itself and also its attached properties, which include a beautifully restored gîte with a lovely garden. Asking price: 890,000 euros.

Have a look for yourself, by going to immobilier.lefigaro.fr, and searching for properties in Daglan with an asking price of a maximum 900,000 euros. Le Petit Paris should be at the top of the list. And if this isn’t the opportunity for you, perhaps you know a chef with ambition who’d like to take on the challenge of maintaining, or even bettering, the restaurant’s well-deserved reputation. The residents of Daglan will thank you.

Two fine dishes. Last week, Jan and I enjoyed lunch again at the Restaurant O Moulin, a 25-minute drive from Daglan in the village of Carsac. (I last wrote about the restaurant and its creative food on August 20.) And here are two of my dishes that I thought were worthy of being shown off.

First comes the Baluchon d’oeuf poché façon carbonara — that is, a little “bundle” of a poached egg, gently encased in a whipped-cheese casing, and served in a pool of the kind of creamy sauce you would enjoy with spaghetti carbonara, all served warm. To use a technical food term, it was “Yummy.” And here’s my serving:

To begin, a creamy egg concoction.

My main course was a Pavé de saumon au Tandoori, risotto de Frégola sarde, sauce crevette — in other words, a rectangle of salmon with Indian spices, sitting atop a bed of Sardinian frégola (those little balls of Italian pasta made from semolina), with a shrimp sauce. It was particularly luscious, and here it is:

Salmon with a taste of India.

For lovers of cheese and wine. A new discovery for us, located in the village of Belvès (roughly half an hour from Daglan), is a café known as Planches & Plonk. (In case you’re not sure, planche is French for a board, and plonk is the slang term for wine, usually a cheap wine. What the owners mean is that they will serve you a selection of cheese and charcuterie on wooden boards or trays, with a wide selection of wines, that in fact are quite good.) Credit for the discovery must go to our friend Chris in Daglan, who raved about the place.

Planches & Plonk is located on an easy-to-find street that descends from the village’s main square, and is lined with a variety of shops, cafés and restaurants. Jan and I hadn’t been in Belvès for quite a while, and we were impressed to see how “Parisian” the street now looks. Here it is:

A street full of cafés and shops.

Inside, at the back, is a tidy room where the stocks are kept, and where the trays of goodies are assembled. Here it is:

A clean, well-lighted room.

The owners are two English chaps, Graham (on the left)  and Damon (with the beard, at the right),  who really know their way around the hospitality business, and wine and cheese in particular. Here they are:

The justifiably proud owners of Planches & Plonk.

Jan and I sat outside the café with good friends Joanne and Chris, and were were served by a friendly, chatty Graham. Here’s our planche of various breads, all good:

The staff of life, so to speak.

Since there were four of us, we chose the large selection of cheeses and charcuterie, and were all pleased with our serving. Here’s what we were offered:

A great selection of cheeses and meats.

Graham and Damon have a lot to offer — including a place to stay, as well as a variety of culinary tours and courses. This is worth exploring.

Posted in Cafés in France, Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Tourist attractions, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Camper madness, and a dish du jour

One of the stranger summer phenomena around the Greater Daglan Area is the sudden appearance of groups of travellers — people who move from place to place, somehow connected to each other, driving camper vans and cars with trailers. They are generally set up for “normal” life, with washing machines, clothes lines, cooking appliances, and often a collection of children and dogs.

We had such a group in Daglan earlier this summer, pretty much covering the parking lot of the village Salle des fêtes or community hall. They stayed a week or two (I wasn’t counting the days), and then moved on. But it was nothing like the camper madness that recently descended on St. Cybranet, the small village about seven kilometres north of Daglan.

I first saw the collection of people and vehicles yesterday, but was later told that the group had moved into position on Sunday — a huge field near the centre of St. Cybranet that is often the venue for events like summer festivals. Are you ready?  Here’s one view of the camper madness:

Looking across a sea of campers.

And here’s another view:

Not much room left!

I’ve been reliably informed that in France, villages are obliged to allow such groups, and even provide campers with electricity and water — with a modest payment to be made when the travellers depart. Beyond that, I’m in the dark: Who organizes them? Who decides on the next lucky village and leads them there? Are they simply on vacation, or migrant workers of some sort? The only thing that’s clear to me is that there sure are a lot of them!

Back to Domaine de Monrecour: Also yesterday, Jan and I joined four friends for a very  relaxing lunch on the terrace of this hotel-resort-restaurant complex, which I first described in “Lovely place, lovely  lunch.” For the full scoop, see Radio Free Daglan for August 27.

We each had a three-course meal yesterday, chosen from a blackboard set near our table. My entrée was a circle of fromage frais, a very soft cheese, into which quite a lot of tiny summer truffle pieces had been mixed; then the serving was decorated with thin wafers of summer truffle. My dessert was the French classic, île flottante. But the main course deserves the title of dish of the day.

The plat was a sautée of lamb, served in a rich brown sauce with small roasted potatoes. It sounded very good, but when it was brought to the table, I thought there had been a mistake — my serving seemed too small to be a main course, especially as the pieces of lamb were smaller than a Brazil nut. Have a look:

Small in size, big in flavour.

However, the lamb was delicious and the sauce was so rich that it certainly made for a full-size plat principal. Nicely done.

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Our newest (and tiniest) neighbour

We have a newcomer in central Daglan,who now lives right next door to our house. This new neighbour is quite cute, quite active, and so tiny that we still don’t know its gender. So I’ll just refer to it as Kitty.

Yes, it’s a kitten, and it seems to have had a somewhat challenging — and certainly early — entry into the world of humans. Kitty’s story begins when a woman in Daglan who lives near the Salle des fêtes or community hall heard a squeaking sound coming from the roof of the nearby tourist office. Upon investigation, the source of the squeaking turned out to be a tiny kitten, stuck on the roof. Kitty was then retrieved by a friendly man with a ladder.

After asking a few villagers if they would adopt Kitty, the woman asked her friend RoseMarie (our next door neighbour) if she would like the kitten, and RoseMarie gladly agreed. But as you can see in the photo below, taken a few weeks ago, Kitty really was a miniature.

On the carpet in its new home.

So, what do you feed a kitten so little and so young? Well, it turns out there is a special milk for very young cats, which can be fed by bottle. The starting point was a plastic bottle of nose spray that I offered, which RoseMarie opened up (by cutting off the bottom) and then washed carefully. Later, she was able to find a tiny bottle for nursing Kitty, and here’s the little one having a drink:

Hitting the bottle.

Now a few weeks have gone by, Kitty is getting bigger (especially its ears!), and although the kitten still likes the bottle, it is also getting used to lapping up the special milk from a bowl, and nibbling on crunchies for kittens. Here’s Kitty as of yesterday, sitting on the lap of my wife Jan, who was visiting:

Just resting, and looking around.

Kitty is an active kitten, racing around RoseMarie’s house, hiding under furniture, wrestling with strings and ribbons, and nipping at the arms of anyone who holds it. Kitty particularly likes a ball of fluff that’s mounted on a spring, so that it flops around when the kitten bats at it — and eventually knocks it over, as shown below:

Kitty loves to play.

Jan is pretty sure that the kitten is a male, but we’re not positive because there is not enough “equipment” in evidence to be sure. Until we know for certain, RoseMarie has decided not to name Kitty. But suggestions from Radio Free Daglan readers would be welcome, with some ideas for a male cat and some ideas for a female. Any thoughts?

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The exodus

No, this is not a Biblical posting. It’s simply a brief tale about the annual exodus of tourists from the Greater Daglan Area, which appears to have begun.

I have no hard evidence, no numbers. But the signs are all there, it seems: fewer vehicles on the roads, fewer people crammed into campsites, fewer cyclists, more spaces in parking lots.

If you’re not familiar with the seasons in the Greater Daglan Area, the summer months are The Season — that is, the tourist season, when local merchants (including campgrounds, gîtes, chambres d’hôtes, restaurants and shops) make most of their money for the year. June tends to be busy, but July and August are simply crammed with tourists.

This year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, June was actually a bit slow. But things changed radically when July and August arrived. We had expected things to be quieter than normal — because British tourism was so affected by travel restrictions — but the shortage of Brits seems to have been more than made up by an influx of French residents from other parts of the country. Many from the larger French cities wanted to breathe the fresh (and Covid-19-free) air of the GDA.

A good example of the recent turnaround can be seen in the parking lot at Castelnaud, the village about 10 kilometres north of Daglan. Castelnaud and its imposing château is a magnet for tourists. It also boasts a small plaza with popular shops (including the best bakery in the area), two bicycle rental shops, and a major centre for canoe and kayak rides on the Dordogne River.

Over the past several weeks, the parking lot has been absolutely crammed with cars, vans, campers and trailers — not a single space remaining. But here’s how it looked yesterday:

That’s the château above it all.

And here’s another view of the same lot:

Now there’s room to park.

Now if I were a merchant, I’d be a bit unhappy about the exodus of tourists. But I’m not, and so the quieter roads and less crowded stores are just fine for Jan and me. As well, the weather has turned a bit cooler lately, with nights that are much better for sleeping. So, no complaints.

Posted in Camping in the Dordogne, Holidays in France, Kayaking, Life in southwest France, Tourist attractions | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More creativity on a plate

A few days ago, a friend of Jan complained to her about my blog. (What? I know it’s hard to believe.) What she reportedly said was “Why is Loren always writing about trash? Where are the food reviews?”

Ever responsive to reader suggestions, on August 27 I posted a review of our Tuesday lunch at a new spot (new to us anyway), Domaine de Monrecour. And today I’m writing about lunch at a real favourite — La Table du Marché Couvert, in Old Bergerac, about an hour an a half from Daglan.

I’ve been raving about the small restaurant since April 2013 (according to my in-depth research), with a focus on the creativity of the chef. For this most recent lunch, he certainly didn’t let us down.

As a quick bit of background, here’s some of what I wrote in a posting of September 7, 2017:

La Table du Marché is a relatively small restaurant, just across the street from the covered market (hence the marché) in the centre of vieux Bergerac. The style is contemporary, but comfortable. The chef and owner is a Parisian, Stéphane Cuzin, who learned his craft at starred restaurants in France and Belgium — and learned it very well. His food is clever, creative, fresh, and delicious.

The occasion was getting together with an English couple, Ian and Suzanne, who love visiting the Dordogne with their two daughters. When we had all settled into our places at the outdoor table, the four adults ordered a kir (cassis) to begin, and then the food started coming.

First, we were served a number of gougères — those light, somewhat fluffy balls made of choux pastry and grated cheese. Warm, traditional, and delicious. Then came small bowls of a refreshing chilled soup made of cucumber. Inventive, and also delicious.

As our entrée, the four adults all chose the crab salad, served between layers of crispy, savoury tuile. The crab meat was not only fresh, but slightly sweet. The dish didn’t seem big at first, but as with most fine foods, I found it generous and quite wonderful. Jan and I agreed later it was probably our favourite course of the lunch. Here’s my plate:

A double-decker of fresh crab salad.

For my main course, I chose the roast canette, or duckling. As you can see from the plate below, the duck was moist, decorated with mushrooms and a rich sauce. It was excellent, but the real surprise was the accompaniment — a bowl of chilled Asian-style broth, flavoured with all kinds of herbs and spices, from ginger to lemongrass to scallions. An amazing combination, with the soup offsetting the richness of the duck.

Tender roast duckling, with a surprise accompaniment.

My dessert was a marvellous concoction of meringue, sorbet, fresh strawberries, and probably a few ingredients I’ve missed. Here’s my plate:

A dessert that kept on giving.

All in all, a great meal, with very nice friends. The only bit of a negative was the price for the three dishes (entrée, plat principal, dessert), which now stands at 42 euros. Jan and I thought it was still good value (for the quality of the dishes), but it did seem a fair bit higher than previous lunches. And it seemed particularly steep for the two girls.

Here’s a bit of what Suzanne wrote to me later: “Lunch was absolutely superb and such a treat, especially for the girls to have the experience of fine dining which they really enjoyed (they had better not get used to it!)” I understand the sentiment exactly!

Posted in Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments