Lunching in Daglan: a few tidbits

There has been precious little blog-posting lately, because there has been precious lots of sweltering going on.

We are now stuck in the longest heat wave that my wife Jan and I can remember since we moved to Daglan. On our top floor, where I work away at my computer, the thermometer on our digitally-equipped fan was showing 28 degrees Celsius, which amounts to 82 Fahrenheit, when I started writing this. As I finish this post, it’s at 30.

But surely I can stay calm and cool enough to write a few words on a favourite topic — lunch. Let’s begin with a visit to the outlet of Fabrice le Chef, which started off simply as a shop selling meats, cheeses, local specialties and a number of prepared foods. But now Chef is offering actual meals, both lunches and dinners, on the patio next to the shop. (This is very easy to find, by the way, if you’re new to Daglan. It’s across the street from our post office, and just steps from the Mairie, or mayor’s office.)

Here’s Jan getting settled at our table, where we had lunch a few days ago:

Getting settled on the patio of Fabrice the Chef's shop.

Getting settled on the patio of Fabrice the Chef’s shop.

As you may have figured from the sign behind Jan, Chef is selling lunches, including a dessert and a glass of wine, for 12.50 euros. The lunch is easy, pleasant, and tasty, and comprises a fair amount of food — as you’ll see in the photo of my lunch platter below.

Clockwise from the bottom right, there’s a delicious paté, slices of cold roast pork, a baked potato (okay — a “jacket potato” for English readers), a salad, a small container of panna cotta with fruit syrup for dessert (okay — “pudding”), some cold roast beef, and a basket of bread.

My cold meat platter.

My cold meat platter.

We haven’t had dinner there yet, but friends who have tried it say the food — and the choice — is quite good. So, it’s worth a try.

And speaking of “worth a try,” a few Sundays ago we thought we would again try Daglan’s Le Petit Paris. We hadn’t eaten there in some months, as we hadn’t been thrilled with some previous experiences. For example, in “Two hits and a miss: Lunch at LPP,” which I posted on August 9, 2014, I pointed out that our considerably overcooked and therefore dried-out salmon was garnished with (wait for it) chunks of raw white onion. Ugh.

Still, we had heard from various friends that Chef had pulled up his culinary socks, so to speak, and so we headed to the restaurant’s terrace. Here I am (in the red shirt at the centre of the photo), starting proceedings with a glass of Champagne, which was served nicely chilled, with no onion chunks in sight.

Champagne on the terrace, as Sunday lunch begins.

Champagne on the terrace, as Sunday lunch begins.

For our plat principal, both Jan and I ordered the lamb dish that various friends had praised. The lamb had been slow-cooked in a rich sauce, then shredded and rolled into a sort of sausage, and served on a bed of potato.  It really was delicious.

But what’s with the bits of lettuce and other greens strewn around the plate? I’m in full agreement with our friend Judith, who (a) would prefer some actual vegetables and (b) thinks the lettuce is not really all that attractive as a garnish. Had the lamb been accompanied by a few spears of grilled asparagus, or a few roasted baby carrots, the dish would have been a real winner.

A ring of leaves surrounds the lamb dish.

A ring of leaves surrounds the lamb dish.

And so, tasty as it was, it wasn’t enough to make us want to rush back. Yes, the overall meal was “fine.” As in, “quite good.” But in the past, it seems we could expect more.

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

Check the Links if you’re headed this way

If you’re fortunate enough to be heading to the Greater Daglan Area, you might like a basic introduction to the village of Daglan, places to eat, and places to visit.

Radio Free Daglan to your aid.

I’ve just added a page of Links, allowing you to check easily and quickly on restaurants, tourist attractions and more.

To use it, click on Links in the black bar at the top of this blog, and then click on any of the websites that might be of interest and use to you.

If you have any suggestions for useful links to be added, just let me know.

Posted in Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Tourist attractions, Travels in and out of France | Tagged | 4 Comments

Our favourite night market gets a split personality

One of our favourite summer activities over the past couple of years has been attending the Saturday night market — le  Marché Gourmand Nocturne — in the village of St. Pompon,  about five kilometres from Daglan.

Unfortunately, it seems that the market has become something of a victim of its own success.

If you plan to be in the Greater Daglan Area this summer, give this post a close read. Otherwise, you may be excused.

In case you’ve forgotten, the St. Pompon night market isn’t the usual weekly French  marché; it’s not about picking over cheeses, fresh vegetables and flowers.  Instead, it includes buying prepared foods (fresh oysters, curries, sausages, paella and much more) and local wine, and enjoying them at rough picnic tables with friends and neighbours and strangers. Dancing to the music provided by a DJ is another big part of the fun — and the event had been attracting all sorts of people.

As I wrote more than a year ago,

The organizers of the …  market deserve full marks, because they have created a treat of an event, one that really captures the community spirit of a small French village, bringing people together for food and fun.

Here are just two photos from night markets in previous years. First, have a look at the crowd of people enjoying themselves right on the main drag of the village:

It was hard to find a place to sit and eat.

It was hard to find a place to sit and eat.

And then this photo of the dance platform in front of the DJ’s stand, where little kids liked to spin and twist and jump, before the older folks took over, later in the evening:

For some reason, the kids were especially active on the dance floor this evening.

For some reason, the kids were especially active on the dance floor this evening.

So what’s new? Well, it turns out that St.-Pompon’s weekly event was simply too successful. Earlier this year, I happened to be chatting with the Mayor of the village, and I told him that my wife Jan  and I really admired the community spirit demonstrated by the summer night market.

Somewhat sadly, he said that the market had been generating too much money — and attracting too much of the attention of the tax authorities. I couldn’t follow all the intricacies of the tax situation. (Too much money earned by the food and wine vendors? Too much revenue for the village? I really don’t know.)  But the short story is that the Mayor had to cut back the event to just five per summer. And that’s what has happened.

So now there is a hybrid sort of structure. On Thursday and Saturday nights, there has been a night market at a ferme auberge several kilometres out of the village, high up on a hill. And then  in late July and early August, there is supposed to be a run of the “normal” St. Pompon night market.

This past Saturday, Jan and I drove up to Ferme Dauriat for one of the Marchés Gourmands Champetres, or Rural Food Markets. (To find it, drive out of St. Pompon to where the road splits for Saint-Laurent-la-Vallée on the right, and Prats-du-Périgord at the left. Stay left, in the direction of Fumel, and follow the long, twisting road all the way to the top of the hill; then turn left onto the little country road marked with signs for Ferme Dauriat.)

We arrived just as it opened, at 7 p.m., and were among the first people there, other than the food vendors. We had a glass of rosé wine; wandered around the various stalls; and then sat at a picnic table with our modest selections (cheeseburger for me, grilled sausage for Jan) and drank some more rosé wine. Then we went home.

Now it may have become lively later, but it certainly wasn’t while we where there. Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of the event, starting with a look at the DJ’s stand and makeshift dance platform:

By 8 p.m. last Saturday, there was still no music.

By 8 p.m. last Saturday, there was still no music.

Here are some of the food vendors, preparing a variety of the usual local favourites, next to the wooden structure (at the right) where wine and other drinks were on offer:

The usual local dishes -- sausage, duck and so on -- were being prepared.

The usual local dishes — sausage, duck and so on — were being prepared.

Finally, here’s a look at some of the tables, showing that by 8 p.m. or so, there were a few participants, but certainly not a crowd:

A few of the picnic tables were in use, by the time we left.

A few of the picnic tables were in use, by the time we left.

I’m sure the event would be more fun if we went with a few friends, but it certainly lacked the lively village atmosphere — and the huge variety of foods — that Jan and I like so much in St. Pompon proper.

In any case, here’s the schedule of events for your use, alternating between Ferme Dauriat and the village of St. Pompon:

  • Ferme Dauriat on Saturday evenings: July 11, then August 22 and 29.
  • Ferme Dauriat on Thursday evenings: Every Thursday from July 9 through August 27.
  • St. Pompon on Saturday evenings: July 18 and 25; then August 1, 8 and 15.

Chances are good that Jan and I won’t be attending the night market in the field, but for sure we’ll be in St. Pompon on Saturday evening, July 18. Maybe we’ll see you there.

 

Posted in Festivals in France, Food, French food, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Tourist attractions, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

No stars in sight — but that’s okay, M. Croque

Occasional readers of Radio Free Daglan may well  believe that my wife Jan and I eat exclusively at Michelin-starred restaurants. But that’s absolutely false! Why, just three years ago, Jan and I had lunch in a restaurant that was barely mentioned in  the red Michelin guide!

Seriously, however, Jan and I do eat at home quite often, and quite well. And we also eat at what normal people would call casual restaurants. Like, for instance, the café La Plage (it means The Beach) in Castelnaud, about 10 kilometres north of our village. There are no Michelin stars in sight, nor will there be. Ever.

However, La Plage has a pleasant terrace to visit if you’re out riding your bike, or renting a canoe or kayak for a Dordogne River trip, or driving around to see the sights. Here it is, as seen from the front parking lot:

A view of the La Plage terrace.

A view of the La Plage terrace.

Sometimes I have a pizza there, since I find La Plage’s pizzas are pretty acceptable by French standards. Jan, with her gluten allergy, usually has something involving meat, like a cheeseburger served with no bun, or beef steak served en brochette. My personal favourite, however, is a plate of that French classic sandwich, a croque-monsieur.

If you’ve never had one, it’s simply a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich, but served with a béchamel sauce on top; then it’s broiled (grilled) briefly, to puff up the sauce and brown it a bit.

For nine euros, this is what you get when you order a croque-monsieur at La Plage — the sandwich plus a decent green salad plus some nice, crispy French fries:

A tasty lunch plate for just nine euros.

A tasty lunch plate for just nine euros.

And if you look closely, you’ll see not only two halves of a cherry tomato on the left of the plate, but also a decorative dusting of paprika. Hmmmm … maybe Chef does have some higher ambitions.

Posted in Cafés in France, Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Daglan salute to Canada

Today (July 1) is Canada Day, and my wife Jan and I marked the occasion by placing Canadian flags in the planters on the front steps of our home in Daglan. Have a look:

Maple Leaf Forever: Our Canada Day statement in Daglan.

Maple Leaf Forever: Our Canada Day statement in Daglan.

As patriotic Canadians, of course, we had to go further.

Since today was also the last of our weekly French classes until September, both groups partied afterwards with our excellent teacher at one of the class-member’s homes in the country. Everyone brought a dish or two — from frittata with red peppers, to samosas, to quiches, to cheesecake with raspberries — and there was lots of wine to quaff.

And in between one group singing Nini-Peau-d’Chien and our group singing Voici venir le joli mai, Jan and I performed a rather rousing rendition of our national anthem, O Canada. Even better, we were joined by an Irish woman who — as she explained later — had lived for two years in the city of Oshawa, east of Toronto.

Small world, isn’t it? And a pretty great world, when things are going right.

Happy Canada Day!

Posted in Holidays in France, Life in southwest France | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Ka-bloom! (Our flower explosion)

Pretty much all of the Greater Daglan Area has exploded into bloom, thanks to some decent periods of rain and now an immense amount of sunshine.

(So, did you get “Ka-bloom!”? It’s like “Ka-boom,” only … okay, okay, you got it.)

In this posting, I’ll just show off some of the colourful flowers we’re enjoying now.

The first three photos were taken at La Plage, the café in Castelnaud, about 10 kilometres north of Daglan. My wife Jan and I often go there for a drink or a coffee, or an occasional casual lunch, and enjoy its terrace near the Dordogne River. Each year the café owners plant a huge variety of flowers around the terrace, and here are some of them.

First is this lovely mix of colourful flowers:

A nice mix of colours, dominated by deep blue spikes.

A nice mix of colours, dominated by deep blue spikes.

Here’s another nice grouping:

Sprays of bright orange flowers.

Sprays of bright orange flowers.

One of my favourites — because it’s so unusual — is this plant whose branches are covered with tiny blue-white flowers:

It's like a bunch of blue-white sprays.

It’s like a bunch of blue-white sprays.

On the home front, things are pretty bright as well. We have a planter holding this kind of flower on each side of our front steps, and they seem to be thriving:

Not sure what it is, but I like it!

Not sure what it is, but I like it!

And our ever-faithful Rose of Sharon, at the side of the house, is doing it again:

Old Faithful: our Rose of Sharon.

Old Faithful: our Rose of Sharon.

Finally, the Greater Daglan Area is now full of fields of sunflowers, which have been  growing incredibly fast and which are starting to bloom. Here’s just one example:

Now it's sunflower season.

Now it’s sunflower season.

The only question is how all the flowers will hold up in the heat wave we’re now enduring. Tomorrow (Tuesday), the forecast is for the temperature to hit 39 Celsius, which is above 100 Fahrenheit. Ouch.

 

Posted in Cafés in France, Flora and fauna, Life in southwest France, Weather in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And how was lunch? Simply delumptious!

You may not think that delumptious is actually a word, but my wife Jan uses it when we have something that’s truly delicious and scrumptious, and so it must be correct. Certainly delumptious is an excellent way to describe the lunch that we had this past Sunday — a Father’s Day celebration — at Le Gindreau.

Le Gindreau is one of three Michelin-starred restaurants less than an hour’s drive from Daglan. (Le Grand Bleu, in Sarlat, is 25 minutes away, and Le Vieux Logis in Trémolat lies 50 minutes from here.) All three are wonderful in their own way, and I’ve written about each of them several times. (To see a review, just type the name of the restaurant that interests you in the Search box at the top right of this blog.)

I wrote a somewhat mixed review of Le Gindreau on April 19, 2013, when the new chef was just taking over from the previous owner. But then Jan and I had a wonderful meal with Florida friends Sam and Jill in October of last year, although we had to eat indoors because of cool weather.

This past Sunday, we were able to eat on the lovely, shaded terrace. Perfect.

I won’t write too much more about Le Gindreau, except to say that it’s in Saint-Médard, about 45 minutes south of Daglan in the Lot. Chef is Pascal Bardet, who comes from the area, but who spent 18 years working and training with the great Alain Ducasse, and who was chef de cuisine at Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel Paris, in Monaco. So yes, he does know how to cook.

We were the first customers to arrive on Sunday, because when we telephoned we had been assigned a noon reservation. A bit early, perhaps, but it gave us time to sip a glass of Champagne while studying the menu and enjoying the terrace. And here it is, before anyone else arrived:

Le Gindreau's cool terrace, before the lunch crowd arrived.

Le Gindreau’s cool terrace, before the lunch crowd arrived.

As befits a restaurant with a Michelin star, we were served several different types of amuse-bouche. Here’s a sampling of them for Jan (all carefully chosen to be gluten-free):

Just a few of the amuse-bouches to begin.

Just a few of the amusebouches that began our meal.

Next came this surprisingly good amuse-bouche, which included a roasted cross-section of leek (at the left), served with a tarragon sauce:

This leek dish was surprisingly delicious.

This leek dish was surprisingly delicious.

Jan loved her entrée — pieces of green asparagus served with morel mushrooms. Here it is:

Jan loved all the morel mushrooms in her asparagus entrée.

Jan loved all the morel mushrooms in her asparagus entrée.

My entrée featured local trout. It was light and delicate, but with surprisingly complex flavours. Spotted among the dabs of sauce were individual trout eggs, which look like little orange dots on the plate:

A delicate but very flavourful entrée based on local trout.

A delicate but very flavourful entrée based on local trout.

By 1 p.m., all the tables on the terrace were occupied, but the service remained professional, friendly and prompt. Jan and I were sitting near the water feature, which seemed to contribute to the cool atmosphere:

By around 1 p.m., the terrace was full.

By around 1 p.m., the terrace was full.

Early in the meal, we enjoyed a wonderful Sancerre, which went beautifully with my trout entrée and with Jan’s plat principal — a piece of sole which we figured had been cooked sous vide, and which was served on a bed of crunchy vegetables:

Delicate sole on a bed of crunchy vegetables.

Delicate sole on a bed of crunchy vegetables.

As for me, I was very happy with several glasses of a rich Châteauneuf-du-Pape, because my main course was this hearty dish of veal kidneys, served in a pool of dark sauce and sitting on a bed of caramelized red onions:

Perfectly cooked veal kidneys, and delicious (rich) sauces.

Perfectly cooked veal kidneys, and delicious (rich) sauces.

For dessert, both of us chose the strawberry-and-rhubarb soufflé, which was flambéd at the table. Here’s the spoonful of flaming liqueur being poured over my dessert:

A spoon of flaming eau de vie sets off a delicious dessert soufflé.

A spoon of flaming eau de vie sets off a delicious dessert soufflé.

With the meal (mostly) over, we could just sit back and enjoy the view from our table. The area around the restaurant is a mix of farmland  and forest, and it’s quite lovely, as you can see:

The countryside as seen from our table.

The countryside as seen from our table.

At this point, Jan and I decided that we had eaten enough, and asked our server not to bring the mignardises that normally are served at the end of the meal. She seemed terribly disappointed, and said that the kitchen had carefully prepared gluten-free mignardises for Jan. So of course, we relented. And of course, we were delighted — especially with the small meringues topped with tiny fraises des bois, or wild strawberries:

The tasty little sweet treats to enjoy with coffee.

The tasty little sweet treats to enjoy with coffee.

We first came across these strawberries on our first trip to Italy, and love them. So here’s a close-up:

A close-up look at these tiny beauties.

A close-up look at these tiny beauties.

So that’s what a delumptious Father’s Day lunch is like at Le Gindreau. Delicious, scrumptious, and large enough that my dinner that night consisted of nothing more than the olive in my evening martini. Lovely way to end the day.

Posted in Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Lot, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments