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Old Apr 7, 07, 5:14 pm
  #3  
violist
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: IAD, BOS, PVD
Programs: UA, US, AS, Marriott, Radisson, Hilton
Posts: 7,203
Breakfast is cereal and milk at will (I didn't will) and
bread and very nice croissants with jams, many of which are
homemade. As we had been very tired the night before, it
was 11:30 when we had this, and soon it was time for lunch.

Bacon sandwiches were from a pig that Ian and Jacquie had
helped with the butchering of, and the bacon was very nice.
More of that box Merlot, and a cheese board made up of
slightly less rubbery and mild than usual Cantal, a decent
Morbier, and an old almost orange Saint-Nectaire.

Our afternoon outing was to la ferme Marty, a pig-growing
establishment from which Ian regularly purchases meat.
The proprietress asked if we wanted to visit the farm
itself, and the answer of course was of course. They are
happy pigs, 450 of them, coming out to say hi to us, some
being a bit overenthusiastic and bumping (big squeals) into
the electric fence. There was also a barn full of piglets
that amused us by rushing forward en curious masse and then
fleeing to the other end of the barn in terrified unison,
then repeating the cycle every thirty seconds until we left.

I bought some interesting stuff, including a few cans of
fritons (chicharrones) and some boudin made with apples.

Dinner back home started off with a foie gras mi-cuit,
rather salty and a little veiny (Ian got a big clump of
vein, I got a strand or two) with the excellent Monbazillac
Tirecul la Graviere 1996.

The main course was a pork roast with thyme sauce (pork
from that same sainted pig, thyme from the garden), with
which a Mercurey 1er cru 2000 (Tremeaux) went very nicely.
Sides were a little bitter for the wine but fine with the
meat - scorza nera (black salsify) marinated in lemon and
EVOO, and broccoli rabe.

For dessert we had Jacquie's tarte tatin, which Ian says
he'd put up against anyone's. It is in fact a very fine
tatin, started off with a painstaking caramelization of
the apples and then carefully put together. Harmonious.

A nice couple from Brittany joined us in the B&B; with
my schoolboy French from the '60s and Madame's schoolgirl
English from about then we got on okay. Carol, who is
learning French, contributed as well.

=

Next day, we went to Tulle, where I was saddened to hear
that the Taverne des Sommeliers, where we had an excellent
meal last time, has gone way downhill. Then Treignac, where
we stopped to buy dessert at Borzeix-Besse and make sure
the salon would be ready for us to take tea in in a few
hours. And thence to the Suc-au-May, a 3000-foot volcanic
hill that is said to have excellent panoramic views. Sadly,
it was snowing quite hard when we got there. Ian pointed out
proudly that this is often the coldest spot in France!

We had a picnic lunch down just around the snow line and
then proceeded to Sarran and the Jacques Chirac presidential
museum, not my cup of tea at all, especially at E4 a head,
so we just wandered around the grounds, the bookstore, and
the bathroom. And returned to Treignac for our tea.

Treignac is a lovely mediaeval walled town, and we wandered
about seeing the ancient churches and bridges before
returning to Borzeix-Besse (there's another at Limoges, for
those who love chocolate and don't want to trek through the
countryside), which takes the already delectable Valrhona
masse de cacao and turns it into some very fine confections.
We all, as it turns out, had the hot chocolate "Ecuatorial,"
which was tasty but not so rich as Ian and Jacquie had
remembered it as. Oh, said the proprietress, that's because
in season they use fresh milk, but as it was the wintertime,
ours was made with UHT. Be that as it may, it was still some
very nice chocolate.

Our desserts bought here and consumed on the picnic, if you
can call huddling in a cold car with freezing rain all round
a picnic: Charles-Lachaud, a layer of hazelnut praline, a
layer of cake, and a layer of excellent chocolate mousse,
all coated in a dark couverture: this is named after a local
lawyer (!) who made good in the big city sometime during the
reign of Napoleon III or so; a normal tiramisu; and an
almond praline cake for Jacquie. Carol had the dome-shaped
Suc-au-May, named after the hill on whose flank we were
eating. It was a big old meringue stuffed with vanilla
custard and blueberries - pretty yummy, but no chocolate?!

I was really hopped up after Mr Lachaud and the hot chocky,
so when we got back home I had a hit of an artisanal very
plummy Mirabelle to settle my head and tummy.

And then on the Rendezvous des Pecheurs at Saint-Merd de
Lapleau - a two Michelin fork restaurant in the middle
of absolutely nowhere, half an hour from the metropolis
(population 3000) of Argentat. Ian serves on some sort of
tourist board with the formidable proprietress, Mme Fabry,
who greeted us warmly, despite her having had to keep the
kitchen open for us (no other reservations that evening!).

Amuses: little tarts filled with kind of nothing, cheese
and/or mushrooms; also some pretty nice foie gras on a
rather too-sweet brioche.

Ian and Jacquie had a smoked salmon brik with agrumes,
deftly done with a sauce that tasted of grapefruit, lemon,
and a touch of lime, in that order. Carol and I, as we
don't get the stuff often, had foie gras poele with mango
chutney, first-rate foie gras, good but too abundant
relish (luckily, not too many spices in this).

The Bellefon de Besserat Cuvee des Moines blanc de blancs,
horridly overpriced, as were all the Champagnes on the
list, went well, layers of lemon and toast and perhaps
some apple as well.

Ian had filet of red deer with blueberry sauce and puree of
celery root, quite good, though the sauce was too copious
and perhaps too fruity and definitely not stocky enough.
With this the Chateauneuf du Pape 2001 (Guigal), good
Syrah berriness, some tannin, not bad.

The three of us got fried fillet of pike-perch with onion
sauce and mashed potatoes with cepes - grassy but tasty
fish, cooked just right, the onion sauce quite wonderful,
the potatoes superb. Ch. La Laulerie (Montravel) 04, with
a goodly amount of Sauvignon Blanc, pointed up the green
aspect of the fish but was not at all unpleasant, with
lemon on the palate and some tropical aromas.

Pineapple "carpaccio" with rum-raisin ice cream was okay,
good pineapple and ice cream that tasted as though it had
come from a Haagen-Dazs factory.

Ian had a plum extravaganza that I didn't taste; I had a
plum sorbet with plum eau-de-vie that was very plummy.

Mignardises came with the bill, which was fairly
sensible (E60 a head).
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