Yes, there’s been an interruption in my postings about our personal festival of feasting — but not because the feasting had ended. I was simply overwhelmed with photographs to arrange, and I needed some time to relax and practice some serious digestion.
But now we return to our feasting, for a look back at the lunch we had on Tuesday in the village of Trémolat — a lunch outdoors beneath the linden trees, in the courtyard of Le Vieux Logis, a charming member of the Relais & Châteaux group. (My 2013 edition of Michelin’s guide to hotels and restaurants says the ambience at Le Vieux Logis “est tout à fait charmant.” Even if you don’t speak French, you’ll get the “charmant” part.)
You may recall that our feasting festival came about because good friends from Toronto, Rob and Darlene, have been visiting us. On Tuesday, my wife Jan and I, with Darlene and Rob, were joined at Le Vieux Logis by friends Tish and Bob, who have a holiday home near us in the GDA.
Because this was lunch and not dinner, Le Vieux Logis serves a series of small plates of beautiful food, which Chef describes as “tapas” even though there is nothing particularly Spanish about the meal. (I first wrote about the “gastronomic” restaurant at Le Vieux Logis on January 9 of this year.)
Aside from the interesting and enjoyable conversation with friends, our lunch was made even better because we were able to eat outdoors in the warm sunshine for the first time this spring. And because the platanes had only started to come into leaf, the sunshine was streaming down on us, and the maître d’ was offering sun hats for anyone who wanted one. (Darlene did, and looked glamorous sporting her orange hat.)
Here’s a view of the plane trees over us, as I looked from our table back to the ivy-covered hotel itself:
Looking away from the hotel, from our table we could see this manicured lawn, dotted with balls of boxwood. Below us, between the two stone walls you can see, was a rushing stream.
The setting was really lovely, but we were here for the food, and we weren’t disappointed in the slightest. We began with a bottle of Champagne, and nibbled on quail eggs wrapped in smoked duck breast and small spoons of salmon tartare. To accompany our meal, we decided on a rosé wine that could stand up to a variety of tastes and textures.
Then we started a series of light entrées, like this plate; it’s a piece of poached leek that’s topped with slivers of Serrano ham:
Of course a gastronomic meal in the Dordogne wouldn’t be complete without foie gras, and Chef served it three ways. There were thin slices of foie gras mi-cuit on toast; a small bowl of whipped foie gras topped with small morsels of beet (English translation: beetroot); and a delicious foie gras crème brûlée. The crème brûlée is missing in the photo below because I took the picture too quickly, before the crème was placed in front of me, and then I promptly forgot about the camera as I started nibbling on these goodies.
Another small but delicious starter was this variation on tête de veau — tender veal pieces in aspic — that had been covered in phyllo pastry and deep-fried.
Then our dishes became just a bit larger, like this fish course. It was a filet of trout that had been roasted, and then served with two soft pieces of Trappe Echourgnac, a favourite cheese of ours. It’s washed in walnut liqueur while it’s aging, so that it has a lovely walnut flavour.
The meat dish was this beautifully tender lamb:
Next came the cheese course, which consisted of Roquefort cheese that had been whipped and then shaped into a small ball and served with a jelly made from Port wine. Another favourite of our table.
Finally came a selection of desserts, like this baba au rhum:
Because of my wife’s allergy to gluten, she couldn’t have the cake, and so Chef made this amazing array of desserts, including chocolate cream in an eggshell and some truffle ice cream:
Every dish was amazing, as you can tell, but perhaps the show-stopper (at least among the desserts) was this:
Inside the beautiful meringue shell was an ice cream flavoured with lime, that was refreshing and delicious.
So that was Tuesday’s lunch. The next day, believe it or not, we did it again — another lunch at another Michelin-starred restaurant in the Greater Daglan Area. And the unanimous verdict of these four galloping gourmets (Jan and I, Darlene and Rob) is that one restaurant was definitely better than the other. Stay tuned for the verdict.