We are delighted to offer Dordogne Fun Foodie Walkie Wine Tours during November and December 2016 and January to April 2017.
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Dordogne, Aquitaine, France
BY KAREN YATES ON FEBRUARY 25, 2016 TRAVEL
Boasting more than 1500 castles, not for nothing is it known as ‘The Other Chateaux Country’, Karen Yates dives into history (and charcuterie and wine and caves) as she treads in Eleanor’s illustrious footsteps. Step forward, Karen of Aquitaine…
It began, like most good cookery classes, in a market. And as we were in the market town of St Cyprien in the Dordogne, this was to be a seriously foodie affair. Before deciding what to buy for our class, our host Ian Fisk first wanted to show us the diversity of local produce, especially now, in the third week of September, at the height of the harvests and just days before the grapes were to be picked from the surrounding vineyards. Glossy vegetables, from red and yellow tomatoes to pumpkins, squashes, green and yellow courgettes, raspberries, figs and much more were piled neatly onto tables groaning under their weight. Mushrooms were having a moment, too – morels and ceps were plenteous; this was just before the truffle season and high demand meant prices were expected to reach €500 a kilo.
On to meat and the choice of sausages from just one supplier included pork mixed with duck, venison, wild boar, blue cheese, hazelnuts, figs, walnuts, ceps, peppers and pimento. Another producer had arranged his stock of plucked quails, pigeons, poussins, older chickens for roasting or coq au vin and skinned rabbits in size order. If, unlike me, you like foie gras, this area will be heaven to you. If like me, you are not a fan for both ethical and taste reasons, you might want to look away now, because along with superb wines, the area specialises in fatty liver – and how. So fatty, in fact, that the stall with the birds also displayed fatty livers for frying. Enormous, roughly the size of the quails, yellow and, as Ian explained, never to be eaten raw. Plenty of stalls specialised in foie gras – at least it’s true to say that apart from the bill every part of the duck or goose was used. Jar after jar and tin after tin of foie gras, duck breast and legs prepared every which way were being snapped up by local people who couldn’t get enough of the stuff. We saw it on every menu, even served with burgers. One foie gras producer invited me to visit her farm and help “stuff the duck”. Needless to say, I passed.
The region isn’t known for its cheese, but Ian recommended walnut Trappe cheese, made by monks, with an edible brown rind, which I bought to take home, and goats’ cheese for our class – we chose crotins that were one and eight days old direct from the farmer. Jars of honey included acacia, chestnut and sunflower, and this was the time for just-bottled homemade vin de noix, made from fresh walnuts grown along the Dordogne river and in the hills of the region. This fortified wine tastes a bit like port with nutty notes, and like port it keeps a long time. Homemade walnut and chestnut tarts were also available to buy.
After selecting our produce, we drove to nearby Le Chèvrefeuille COOK DORDOGNE cookery school, where Ian, who trained at Le Talbooth on the Suffolk-Essex border, and his wife Sara have a Perigordine farmhouse with 13 bedrooms including five guestrooms, plus outbuildings with two gites for rent. Throughout the summer, Ian cooks evening meals for guests and runs a cookery school in the day. Ours began with everyone given a job and Ian showed the patience of a saint as we chopped olives and mushrooms, diced chilled butter, cut out pastry, prepped green beans, whisked melted chocolate and cream, over all of which he waved a cheffy wand and a form of food alchemy was created.
Before we knew it, lunch was served in the sunny garden and comprised a tapenade, the most intense mushroom velouté made from ceps and a real stock; a salad of tomato, avocado, wild rocket, buffalo mozzarella and smoked duck with heaps of homegrown fresh basil; goats’ cheese tarts served with rocket, poached figs and sliced almonds with a balsamic dressing; and dark chocolate fondant puddings with a foolproof melting interior, an intense strawberry coulis and fresh cream. All served, as everything in these parts seems to be, with a few bottles of Bergerac.
It may not have escaped the alert reader’s attention that Ian and Sara are English, and on our travels we met a fair few British people with successful businesses here. Part of the reason Brits move to the Dordogne, along with the natural beauty of the landscape and the great quality of life is history. With this in mind we drove for just 10 minutes to Château de Castelnaud, which was owned at different times during the Hundred Years’ War by British lords and is perched on the top of a hill like something from The Lord of the Rings, with magnificent views of the river and surrounding countryside. The castle was renovated in 2005 and has a museum of medieval warfare, filled with gruesome weapons that make you glad you weren’t around in the 13th century, together with suits of armour, a blacksmith’s workshop and a kitchen – perhaps the only one in the area without foie gras……………………………….
To read the full article please click on the following link http://www.arbuturian.com/travel/travelfeatures/aquitaine
Learn more about the cooking classes and accommodation at www.cookdordogne.com
Direct flights from London go to Bordeaux and Bergerac.
Stocking making forms the basis of all great sauces and will elevate your cooking to restaurant standard. In this video, Ian takes you through the process of making your own chicken stock
For the Sunday cookery course we head to the wonderful St Cyprien market.
Situated on the hillside above the beautiful Dordogne River, St Cyprien (4.5km from Le Chevrefeuille) dates back to 620AD – when a clever hermit called St Cyprien took residence in a cave overlooking the valley. As he whiled away his time ogling the remarkable view, he likely imagined the future of this bustling, bright little village, earmarking in his imagination that on Sundays St Cyprien would hold one of the brightest, most colourful and fresh farmers markets in all of the Dordogne.
And, wow! How right he was!
The St Cyprien market is one of colour, fun and produce galore. We kick off our cookery course market tour by descending into the ancient heart of this pretty village, which beats with all the jolly colours, scents, tastes and sounds one expects from a traditional Perigordian farmers market.
Stalls burst with local duck and goose products. Olives – black, green, stuffed and pitted glisten – even on the rare days when the golden Dordogne sun isn’t shining. Walnuts bulge in over-stuffed sacks and there’s fish so fresh they appear to flip and flop before your eyes. There’s an assemblage of goat’s cheese that would have even the most savant, cheese-loving mouse hard pressed to choose just one, and if that’s not enough tasty-weight to add to your basket, there’s oils, honey, spices, fruit, vegetables, and – of course – bread.
In summer the sweet scent of strawberries grabs you by the nose and pulls you deeper into this belly-pleasing-taste-bud teasing market. In spring white asparagus, morels and tender young fruits will have you wishing you’d brought a bigger basket, and in autumn fruit and veg pop with colours, textures and tastes remarkably different to those of summer and spring. Autumnal walnuts and chestnuts plump before your eyes, courgettes, pumpkins and squash beg to be baked or “soup-ed”, apples whisper sweet-pie-and-tart nothings as you pass, and mandarins, with their radiant-orange peel, beg to be stripped and eaten.
If you’re lucky to hit the season after the rains of autumn when the trees blaze orange and yellow before succumbing to the nudity of winter, and the sun shines almost every other day, then keep your eyes open at market for the truffles, wild cepes and girolles this area is famous for. They’re precious, a little on the pricey side, odd-shaped, much-sought-after, delicious little fun-ghi!
With Ian as guide we meander the market, ogling the vast array of produce picked and transported fresh that morning. Ian has nurtured great friendships with the market farmers, which gives cookery-school participants the rare opportunity to hear how they work to cultivate their top quality fare. It also means delicious tasters of this unique, wonderful, lovingly nurtured produce before we head back to the kitchen at Le Chevrefeuille to cook up the perfect, Perigordian feast!
The market at St Cyprien is held every Sunday.
COOK DORDOGNE Cookery Courses & Tours run all year round.
Preparation time: 10mins
Cooking time: None
Ingredients (serves 4)
250g pitted green olives
100g Freshly ground almonds
40g capers, rinsed or drained
10 anchovy fillets, rinsed or drained
1 garlic clove, peeled
50 ml olive oil
- Put the olives and the ground almonds into a food processor and cut and chop them into a fine paste.
- Stop the machine and add the capers, anchovy fillets and garlic. Start the machine and chop and blend these into the olive mixture until you have a smooth paste.
- Mix the olive oil, then season with pepper to taste
- Pour the finish tapenade into a preserving jar. Pour a little more olive oil over the top and store in the fridge until required.
Preparation time: 10mins
Cooking time: 30mins
Ingredients (serves 8)
- A knob of butter
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- 2 celery sticks, chopped
- 1 large potato, diced
- 400g vac-packed chestnuts
- 1–1.2 litres vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 150–200ml single cream
In a saucepan, melt the butter and fry the onion, garlic and celery till soft but not colored.
- Add the potato, all but 4 of the chestnuts, stock and bay, with salt and pepper to taste. Boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.
- Once the potato is soft, remove the bay leaf and blitz with a hand blender till smooth. Stir in the cream and check the seasoning.
Ingredients (serves 8)
1 kg fresh cauliflower
150g unsalted Butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 sprig fresh tyme
1 bay leaf
800 ml milk
800ml chicken stock
Salt & pepper
75ml truffle oil
- Trim, wash and break the cauliflower up into pieces or small florets. In a large, lidded saucepan, melt the butter and add the cauliflower pieces, stirring them to coat with the melted butter. Cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic, thyme and bay leaf to the cauliflower. Stir, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- In another pan, heat the milk and chicken stock together. As soon as they have come to the boil, pour them over the cauliflower. Turn up the heat and cook the soup on a rapid simmer for half an hour or until the cauliflower is soft.
- Check the seasoning of the soup, adding salt and pepper to taste. Take the pan off the stove, pour the soup into the liquidiser and blend until smooth.
- When smooth, pour the soup back into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the truffle oil. Whisk the soup with a hand blender until it froths. Ladle it into lightly warmed soup bowls and serve immediately.