It’s wonderful to see people take pride in something, food and drink are two things that cultures hold very close to their heart and are always excited to put on display for visitors. French cuisine is renowned and discussed all over the world, my experience at French Grill in Vietnam was possibly the best restaurant experience I’ve ever had. So with 4 days in the Dordogne Valley area of South West France, I knew I’d get more than just a taster of genuine French cooking. Prepare to suddenly feel very hungry, after the cut.
It’s difficult to know where to begin… the cheese, the wine, the foie gras, the walnut liqueur? I guess I’ll start the way the French do, with the bread. Which finds its freshly baked self on the table before and during every meal, I rarely eat bread but I wasn’t going to hold back from indulgence on this trip. Perhaps it’s finest moment was filled with fresh meat and salad, wrapped in paper and eaten under the warm sun at the picnic put together for us by our lovely hosts. The area is the perfect place for a relaxed outdoor lunch, with its quaint and quiet villages.
With a wonderful view and hideaway location, Castel Novel is like something from a fairytale story. Michelin starred Chef Nicolas Soulié made sure we got more than just a bed at this château, serving us up an aperitif as we chatted on the terrace before a four course meal in the dining room. The foie gras and lamb were highlights that I couldn’t stop talking about for the entire trip and left me more than ready to climb the spiral staircase and fall into a deep sleep.
Such a sleepy state was probably further induced by a few glasses of wine, something that I’ve been turned onto by the trip. Never a wine drinker previously, the opportunity to properly taste some good wine has overridden the part of my brain that still associates both red and white with dreadfully cheap bottles drunk on student nights while at uni. The wine tasting experience at Coteaux du Saillant-Vezere was enough to change my opinion and you can find their wine everywhere you go in the area. Luckily we had a full day between this and a visit to Distillerie Denoix, an almost 200 year old family run distillery in the heart of Brive that would have been very much at home on Diagon Alley. The smells inside were so incredible that I can still recall them, each ingredient in their classic walnut liqueur with it’s own special fragrance, recipes and methods perfected through years of practice.
We did so much eating and drinking that it’s hard to mention everything, links and pictures will be put below however to some more great spots and keep an eye out for a full length feature of the whole trip. For now, check out Brive Tourism for more on the area and shoot some questions my way if you want to know more.
La Table d’Olivier