Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, isn’t a holiday in France as it is in the U.K. and Canada. But old traditions die hard — so today we’re off to a great lunch with our visiting friends Keith and Kathy. We drive north and east to Lacave, about 50 kilometres from Daglan, for lunch at Château de la Treyne, one of the excellent Relais & Châteaux properties. And it’s a real beauty, as you can see from these two photos:
We’re warmly welcomed and ushered into the dining room. It’s very quiet when we arrive — only one other table is occupied. At its busiest, during the height of service, we’re up to a total of three tables. In the following photo, you’ll see the elegance of the room. What you won’t see is the little dog, tucked into a soft basket carrier, that sat quietly with the threesome across the room. We noticed it only as the three guests were leaving.
The table settings were elegant as well. Here is our tabletop, graced by tall glasses of a very good Champagne:
Once the champagne was poured, our elegant waiter arrived with the amuse-gueules— a beautiful platter for four. Here it is:
And here’s a close-up: Small boudins noir, with a touch of the violet mustard of Brive; tiny deep-fried savoury dumplings featuring duck; small glasses of velouté of asparagus; and puff pastries with small pieces of ris de veau. Delicious!
And then the main event: The start of the 48-euro menu, which was the only offering of the day. It began with small bowls of delicious cappuccino de châtaignes — a frothy soup made with chestnuts. For our entrées, we had beautifully grilled scallops, served with watercress sauce, gnocchi of chervil and puréed potatoes, and a bit of salad. Like this:
For the main event, we had an original take on the Dordogne classics of duck and foie gras: a so-called “millefeuille” or layered construction of rare duck breast alternating with foie gras and a sauce made with reduced Cahors wine. This was accompanied by a gratin of vegetables and morel mushrooms in sauce, plus a side serving of potatoes soufflées — thin slices of potato that had been quickly cooked in goose fat until they puffed up like small crispy footballs. Here’s the plat principal, minus the potatoes:
Dessert might well have been called Apple Four Ways. There was a small tart featuring small bits of apple cooked with raspberries; a sorbet of green apple; a small tube with apple cream flavoured with gentiane; and a morsel of spiced apples as you’d find in a tarte tatin. A lovely plate:
Naturally, the Château couldn’t let us sip our coffees without a few more treats. And so we finished with small pots of absolutely delicious chocolate cream, and small glasses of egg nog flavoured with the excellent local digestif, vieille prune. And with that, we conclude our look at a Boxing Day lunch, Château style.
After all that, we took a slow walk around the property in the crisp early-winter air, and then had a beautiful drive home, through the hills and valleys of the Dordogne. Ah, bliss.