Follow-up: The Wreck

You just might remember that on June 9 of last year (yes, that would be 2017) I posted a saucy little number that I called “The Wreck.” It was about a car that had been in an accident; then placed in a staging area for roadworks just a few kilometres from Daglan; and then seemingly abandoned.

As the weeks went by, the poor thing got more and more beat up — body bashed, windows broken. Still, it just remained. And then, finally, somebody who had either very strong arms or a big earth-moving vehicle pushed it into the woods. Here’s how it looked:

You can certainly see why I called my posting “The Wreck.”

Now, in this follow-up report, I can reveal that the ruined car has finally been taken away. I don’t know where, but here’s how its previous resting place looked this morning:

The former resting place of The Wreck.

Who took it away? The gendarmes? A salvage company? An auto enthusiast who enjoys restoring old vehicles? I doubt if we’ll ever know.

 

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Back to LPP (and let the blogging begin!)

Today we return to blogging, after a lengthy winter break. And today, at lunch, my wife Jan and I returned to Le Petit Paris.

At lunch, we realized that this coming September will mark a 20-year history with Le Petit Paris, the well known restaurant at the heart of Daglan.

It was in September 1998 that six of us Canadians rode into Daglan on our bikes, on what was the last full day of our bicycle journey in the Dordogne and the Lot départements, and had lunch on the terrace of Le Petit Paris (the LPP of today’s title). Different owners back then, but a very enjoyable meal. And the village itself struck Jan and me as so lovely that, eventually, we bought a home here.

As for today, it was back to LPP for our first lunch there in a long time, and I have to say it was a great success. The reason? We chose the Menu Truffes de Daglan (or Truffle Menu) for 52 euros. Our impression of the five-course meal? Zowie!

With our opening cocktails, we were given two small but delicious amuse-bouches, including (in the glass) a foam made with (of all things) boudin noir, or black pudding. Here’s my plate:

Mousse on toast, mousse in a small glass.

The first course then arrived, and we both loved it. It was a beautiful bowl of an intense oxtail consommé, with lots of shaved black truffle, and with small breaded balls of foie gras floating at the centre. Here’s my bowl:

The flavour of the deep, dark soup was truly intense.

The seafood course came next, and it was a lovely dish of seared scallops, once again covered in shavings of black truffle, and served on a bed of salsify pieces and  napped with a rich brown sauce. Here’s my plate:

Scallops and truffles on a bed of salsify and a sauce Périgueux.

For our main courses, Jan and I both chose the turbot. Once again, it was delicious — perfectly cooked fish, covered in black truffle slices, and seated atop small pieces of a South American root vegetable (a yacon, or Peruvian ground apple) that the French call poire de terre, since it has a slightly sweet taste like pears. Here’s my serving:

The main course was turbot-charged. (Haw!)

By this point in the meal, Jan had become so full that she declined the next course — a smoothly whipped concoction of Cabécou (the well known regional goat cheese), decorated with walnut pieces and croutons and, of course, slices of black truffle. As for me, I loved my serving:

I couldn’t resist saying “Cheese, please!”

We’re almost at the end — listed on the menu as a Mojito en vacherin glacé, which made me think of some sort of rum cocktail creation, perhaps with a ball of ice cream. But a vacherin is made with meringue, and our desserts certainly had their share of meringue, and lot of frozen goodies. Have a look:

This was a lot of dessert. And delicious.

Of course we did conclude our lunch with coffees, but decided not to touch the mignardises that were served along with the coffee. By this point, both of us were too stuffed to eat much of anything.  As you can see, however, the mignardises did look tempting:

We left the sweeties untouched.

Before we leave, just a couple of extra notes. Every table was full, and as always the room was pleasantly quiet. Our hostess, Madame Guilbot (Chef’s wife) was gracious as always, and remembered with no prompting that Jan has a gluten allergy. And the young man who served us (formerly a next-door neighbour of ours) was friendly, fast and efficient. Hurray for professionalism!

So let’s add it all up. To drink, two cocktails to begin, and then a bottle of Sancerre, followed by a half bottle of Chablis. To eat: Amuse-bouches, mignardises, a five-course meal rich in black truffles.  Finally, the coffees. Total price: 175.50 euros. And I’d say,  worth every centime.

Posted in Food, French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

‘Tis the season

We are slipping and sliding into winter, with frosted windows on our cars in the morning, and a fire roaring away in the living room log-burner every day. Vacationers have left, as have people who own holiday homes in the region. So in the Greater Daglan Area, ’tis the season to be shutting down.

The campgrounds have long been closed, more and more restaurants are shuttered for a month or more, and our village convenience store, the 8 à Huit, is no longer open on Mondays.

One sure sign of approaching winter is the huge amount of pruning that takes place in late autumn in the GDA, as trees are pollarded. An example is the large tree that stands in front of the restaurant Le Petit Paris, and beside the village’s war memorial. All of its smaller, longer, leaf-covered branches were chopped off recently, leaving only the nubs at the ends of main branches. Here’s a look:

A tree grows in Daglan.

In keeping with the situation, I’ve decided to take a winter break from blogging as well. So this will be my last posting until sometime next year (unless something really dramatic happens, of course).

I leave you with a final holiday-season touch, which is a look at our village’s Christmas tree, installed and decorated in the past couple of days. I think it looks just fine; how about you?

All decorated for the holidays.

And with that, there is little more to be said than “Merry Christmas! And a very Happy New Year!” Best wishes to all our readers.

 

Posted in Flora and fauna, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France, Weather in the Dordogne | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

A last Thai fling (for 2017)

I have written quite often  about Sawadee, the Thai restaurant in Cénac, a village about 10 kilometres from Daglan — most recently on November 6. But I can’t help myself, and here I go again.

The occasion was the last meal at Sawadee for this year, as the restaurant closes for the winter. So today my wife Jan and I headed there for a Sunday lunch, and again had the special season-closing menu. (I posted a similar piece on December 4, 2016, called “Our last Thai meal — for the year, that is.”)

Here’s how the 28-euro, three-course menu looked on the blackboard or slate (ardoise, in French):

The menu on the ardoise (slate).

And here’s how those words translated into food, glorious food — starting with the entrée.

Todoay’s starter was a tube of calamari (squid), filled with a spiced pork mixture, and accompanied by pieces of chicken on a skewer. The calamari was tender, the filling delicious, and the chicken was succulent (instead of the dried-out meat that often is served on a skewer). Two delicious sauces went along with the dish, which I’ve shown here:

A wonderful mix of tastes.

The plat principal was a bowl of soy vermicelli noodles, deliciously flavoured with a brown sauce, and served with quite a few large shrimp. Here’s my serving:

The vermicelli noodles were perfect.

To finish things off, I had the special dessert (Jan passed, as she had had enough food by then), which seemed just right. It was a plate of fresh mango pieces and a small serving of sweet sticky rice, plus a small bowl of coconut milk. Here it is:

Fresh mango, sweet sticky rice.

We accompanied our meal with a bottle of rosé wine and finished it with espressos. And once again, we left quite content — and already looking forward to the first meal of the season, next March.

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A ‘perfect’ day for our November 11 ceremony

We were  gathering at Daglan’s war memorial this morning, as 11 a.m. approached, and I said to one of our neighbours: “A perfect day for this, I think.” Just then, the sun peeked through the clouds a bit and my neighbour replied with a smile. “Ah yes, perfect,” she said. “I hope the sun stays here.”

Her comment was just fine, but in fact I hadn’t been referring to the sun coming out. I meant that the otherwise grey day seemed just right for what I regard as a meaningful, necessary, but still very sad day. Seems to me that November 11 is a day that should always be grey.

The gathering this year was relatively small; our Mayor was away on vacation, and other officials filled in. The ceremony began with flowers being placed in front of the memorial, and the French flag being raised. Here’s a look:

The flag is raised.

As always, reading out the names of those villagers who were lost in World Wars I and II was another step in the ceremony. As each name was read out, we said quietly: “Mort pour la France,” which is to say “Died for France.” Here is a look at the reading of the names:

Reading out the names of the village’s fallen.

After the speech was given — providing some history of the war, and how peace was achieved — a bugler played La Marseillaise, and the small crowd sang along. Here is the bugler in front of the memorial:

Playing the anthem.

The ceremony is short — perhaps just 15 minutes or so. As I wrote at the start of this posting, I do appreciate the ceremony on November 11 each year (as well as the May 8 ceremony, marking the end of the Second World War). My wife Jan and I attend both ceremonies in the village, whenever we can.

What I regard as particularly sad is not just the memories of those who lost their lives in previous conflicts, but the fact that vicious  conflicts keep happening. All around our world.

 

 

 

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Dishes du jour (5-11-2017)

When we want to dine out for Sunday lunch, but aren’t in a Michelin-starred frame of mind, my wife Jan and I often head over to neighbouring Cénac for a wonderful Thai meal at Sawadee. And that’s what we did yesterday, Sunday, November 5.

Once seated, with kirs ordered, we were delighted to find that friends Rosemary and Richard had also been in a Sawadee frame of mind, so they joined us at our table.

I’ve written several times previously about Sawadee, so I’ll keep this brief. But in case you’re not familiar with the restaurant, it’s friendly and casual, with prompt service, a large (but not too large) menu, and most important of all — wonderful, fresh, authentic Thai food.

I think the next couple of photos will show you how tempting the dishes are. Whatever the protein (beef, pork, chicken, shrimp) the dishes typically are also loaded with fresh vegetables.

First, here is Rosemary’s glistening dish of spicy shrimp with vegetables:

Spicy shrimp and veggies? Yes!

For me, I nearly always have the same dish — which consists of small pieces of beef, sautéed with vegetables, and rich with dark brown (and somewhat sweet) oyster sauce. But not yesterday. My dish yesterday was chicken with cashews, and was delicious. Have a look:

Chicken and veggies and cashew nuts? Yes!

There aren’t many more Sundays left before Sawadee closes for the annual winter break (with a trip back to Thailand for Chef and her husband, who is the restaurant’s host). So we’re planning to head back there next Sunday too. Y’all come!

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

Halloween? Not so much

When my wife Jan and I lived in Toronto, we eventually became pretty strong fans of, and participants in, Halloween —  as a holiday and party-time for people of all ages.

Of course we had lots of candy for the kids who were trick-or-treating. But we went well beyond, with decorations for the house and (sometimes) costumes for us.

When we moved permanently to France, seven years ago, we noticed that there were several differences in the local reaction. Here’s a bit of what I wrote in a blog posting (“Trick or treat, Daglan-style”)  on November 1, 2010 concerning our first Halloween here:

A few things struck us. First, that there doesn’t seem to be any French version of “Trick or treat!” The kids just showed up, said “Bon soir” (or nothing at all), and held out their bags. Second, they all looked pretty great; the costumes seemed surprisingly good, without much attempt to be scary or horrific. Third, they all seemed genuinely thrilled that we actually opened the door, and actually had very nice treats for them (large, individually wrapped chocolates). And finally, they were wonderfully polite. As my wife and I would say “Bonne soirée” to them, they would answer back politely, “Et bonne soiréee à vous, aussi.” Quite adorable, really.

As time went on, we tried to keep our traditions alive — buying lots of candy for the kids, carving pumpkins, and so on. Some years we had several young visitors, some years we had very few. In 2013, for example, we had a visit from these two:

Scary, eh?

This year seemed to be a turning point, because (well before October 31) I told Jan that I had pretty much given up on Halloween, in the sense that I’d lost interest. So we didn’t waste any energy hunting for a pumpkin, or putting up any scary decorations. And frankly, I’m quite happy with the new approach.

Beyond the obvious — that is, fitting in with the traditions of our new home, where Halloween is a minor event — I have gone off the idea of “scary things.”

While popular culture lately seems consumed with werewolves and zombies and weird creatures, I find that I prefer enjoying the “nicer things” of life — good friends,  good food, reading good books, the beautiful scenery around us, and so on.

But speaking of good friends: In our immediate neighbourhood, there is just one young family with children, who would be likely to venture out for Halloween, and we are quite friendly with parents and kids.

So yesterday Jan did buy a couple of bags of candy, and made up a nice package for each of the kids. Before dark, she took the candies over to the young mother, who was delighted with the gift.

Then, during the evening, Jan and I simply kept the house dark. If there were any trick-or-treaters out last night, we never heard them.

 

 

Posted in Festivals in France, Holidays in France, Life in southwest France | Tagged , , | 2 Comments