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Monday 30 July 2012

Foodie Travel Blog from the Dordogne

Today was my first day back to work after a week off. Four of those days were spent in the Dordogne for my friend Andrea's wedding, which was at Chateau la Durentie a beautiful house in the town of Lanouaille. Rich and I along with very good friend Jessie and her husband Matt, stayed in a pretty Medieval town about 15mins away called Excideuil. Matt was a hero driving us all the way from Caen, about a 7 hour trip or so with stops and there were foodie adventures to be had right from the moment we got on the ferry at Portsmouth.

The ferry was still serving hot food at nearly midnight and so we decided a meal would prepare us for sleeping on the reclining seats for the remaining 6 or so hour crossing. At fairly high prices I chose a chicken fricassee and rice whilst Rich opted for fish and chips. As you will be able to tell from the photos the offerings were slightly grim. Over salted and obviously tasting exactly like it had been hanging around stewing for a while, which of course it had to have been. If I had to compliment it I would say that my rice was nicely cooked but that is about all I can muster. Still we were off to the country of cheese and good food so I  put the offerings the ferry had to offer out of my mind and dreamed of creamy ripe brie.
Chicken Fricassee on the Ferry Crossing
Fish and Chips from the Ferry
After an extremely unpleasant night struggling to get comfortable, those seats did not recline by the way, we were awoken very sharply, as is customary with the cheap seats, it was the equivalent of having a wet angry cat thrown in your face. We drove off on the wrong side of the road on our first leg down to the Dordogne. Hunger struck early, a 7am cup of tea and a yoghurt just before we embarked understandably did not sate me for long, so we stopped just before midday in the city of Tours.

 Tours is very pretty it has a lovely Cathedral and also a stuffed elephant in the gardens to the left, we didn't believe it either when we read it pre arrival on the wiki page but he is there and his name is Fritz. We found a nice little restaurant to stop for a bite to eat and the staff were extremely friendly, welcoming and appreciative at our insistence of ordering in French.
L'adresse restaurant Tours
Creamy Filled Giant Crepe
L'adresse restaurant Tours
Side Salad
L'adresse restaurant Tours
First Steak of the Trip
The restaurant, L'adresse, was a casual cafe, restaurant, bar sort of place and pretty inexpensive. Although there was a good amount of choice the seemed to specialise in crepes and grills. Jessie and I opted for a filled buckwheat crepe, two large crepes filled with potato, lardons, cheese and cream topped with a fried egg. With such a rich combination I ordered a side salad as well. Rich went for a steak and Matt ordered a mystery plate which turned out to be pan fried white fish of some kind. The food was simple but really delicious the filling of my crepe was smoky, creamy and indulgent, if you ever find yourself in Tours I recommend popping in for a bargain priced lunch.

When we arrived at our B&B we were met with the most charming and rustic place. The crowning glory of our accommodation was the garden a proper little wild paradise, exactly the garden I would wish for. The owners were a dream as well, so kind and helpful, on our last night Eugenie brought us candles out to the garden benches where we were enjoying the last of the evening. She also delivered us a bottle of creme de cassis to try which she made from blackcurrants grown in the garden, it was heaven, really full flavoured and smelled like summertime. I recommend staying there if you are thinking of going to the Dordogne, the website is currently down but you should be able to see their email in the below photo.

View of the garden from our window
The day of the wedding we decided to have a spot of lunch at the restaurant next door, we sat outside and basked in the loveliness of the day. Another excellent restaurant, Restaurant la Cuisine du Marche, delicious food, very good value and everything on the menu was marked as local or the region it was obtained from if it was not. The steak was too big for me to finish the portions were simply enormous. The Dordogne is known for it's truffles and also for duck rearing, in our village it was no exception so foie gras was everywhere, having only sampled it once in mousse form I took the plunge.
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
Foie Gras on Toasted Baguette with Strawberry Jam
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
Rich's Giant Steak
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
My Steak
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
Barbecued Duck Kebabs
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
The Moules of Moules Frites Fame
The wedding was absolutely beautiful, luckily after such a big lunch the sit down meal wasn't until about 8pm. Although the main was not to my taste, the starter and particularly the traditional French 'wedding cake' Croque en Bouche was particularly awesome.
White Asparagus Canape (very delicious) as modelled by John
Smoked Salmon Pate
Chicken with creamed potato
Trifle like dessert
Croque en Bouche
I definitely feel that croque en bouche is nicer than having a wedding cake, definitely tastes better in my opinion, but it could be I've just had the wrong wedding cake. The final full day we went to a little place in the village that specialised in crepes and pizzas. Not the best meal of the holiday but not bad, Rich and I went for savoury buckwheat crepes, mine had ham, mushrooms and cheese. The mushrooms were particularly superb but the cheese was fairly bland for this dish, tasted like Emmental it needed something stronger to lift the rest of the ingredients. The chips in France are second to none they are delicious, crunchy, flavoursome and a bit fluffy and they serve frites with practically everything, you have to specifically ask not to have them otherwise they will appear as normal, delicious.
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
La Forestiere 
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
Rich's Ham, Cheese and Egg Crepe
Restaurant in Excideuil Dordogne
Ham and Cheese Pizza
Our journey back was a long one complete with a cheese picnic stop at Limoges botanical gardens, which I purchased in the market in our village, brie, a port salut type, vintage gouda and a lovely brie type cheese with a blue vein running through it. We learned our lesson and on the ferry back we upgraded to a cabin. Cabin dwellers get woken up in a much more civilised manner, we were awoke to the sound of harp music, such as you might find in a fantasy role playing game or film, very bizarre, but much nicer than the lights and curtains up without warning whilst announcements shout at you to get up.  France is wonderful for food I cannot wait to return! 

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