Wednesday, June 30, 2010



Left Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens on Tuesday, feeling hungry. A bit ironic, isn't it? But the famous school doesn't have its own cafe. Not to worry and we headed for the Kilkenny Cafe in the village, in the former Stephen Pearce emporium.
Walked through the shop. The cafe, indoor and outdoor, is at the far end. We were warmly greeted and took a seat outdoors overlooking the local fields and looking out towards Ballycotton. With a dinner arranged (fresh hake from the English market) for the evening, we didn't need anything major.
Started with a delicious Potato and Leek soup (€4.50) and a couple of slices of gorgeous freshly made brown bread. Skipped a variety of well priced main courses – tempting salads, burgers, Paninis – and ended with a pot of tea and scones (with all the trimmings, including jam and cream). Total came to just over seventeen euro.
Took a stroll through the shop and bought a few food items. Service, at both restaurant and shop, was first class, very friendly and efficient. So, if you are in East Cork, an under-rated area where there is so much to see and do, I’d recommend you mark this cafe as a stop on your tour.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Made a very enjoyable visit today to the Ballymaloe Cookery School Gardens (and Farm Shop). Arches of traditional varieties of apple, with a few hens and cocks resting and scratching, lead you on the way.
Highlights for me were the Herb Garden and the Herbaceous Border. Other gardens are the vegetable garden, the fantastic Maze (planted in 1996) and the Pleasure Garden (with trees, bigger shrubs and a pond with fountain).
There are over 70 varieties of herbs in the garden, laid out in a formal parterre edged with box hedges. Plenty of fresh herbs then for Ballymaloe House and Cafe but it was an old-timer Sage that caught my eye. This knurled specimen (photo) must have been over twenty years old.
The herbaceous Border is almost worth the €6.50 entrance fee on its own. Planted in 1996, it has thrived here, though not without a great deal of care and attention. Here, deep borders of fabulous perennials and grasses make it one of the very best of its type.
At the end of the border is the Shell House, with shell decoration by artist Blott Kerr-Wilson. Unfortunately, the door was bolted and I had to take my picture through the glass. Still, you get some idea of the intricacy of her work. I forgot to ask on the way out about the closure (temporary or permanent).

NOTE 10.11.10: Blott Kerr-Wilson has been in touch and you may see much better pictures of the shell house on her site here.

Did call to the shop and picked up a few of Darina's products. Disappointingly, while the gardens belong to the famous cooking school, there is no cafe in this location, that being a mile or two away alongside Ballymaloe House.
The entrance to the gardens is via the road opposite the church in Shanagarry. All the details at

Monday, June 28, 2010


Just got this late message from Barry's Tea. If you want your face on their new packs, act now. Read on....

Just thought I’d let you know, since you’re a Barry’s Tea fan and everything, that dreams are about to come true!! As a big thank you to everyone who voted for Barry’s Tea in the SuperValu People’s Choice Awards Barry’s are offering all fans a chance to send in their pics to be immortalised in a collage on packs of Barry’s Tea 80’s. The boxes will be on sale in SuperValu’s nationwide in the coming months.

If you think your readers would be interested in sending any pics of themselves, friends, pets etc to be potentially included we’ve got one day left for this offer and all they need to do is send in (high res) pictures to There’s some more info and keep up with Barry’s on twitter check it out on @BarrysTeaTweets.

Thanks so much and don’t forget to send YOUR pic in too!!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


NASH 19 
Lunch can be a pretty routine occasion, almost like a pit stop. Not though if you go to Nash 19. Different class.
Friendly Rose took us through the menu in detail and gave a few recommendations. We liked the look of the Good Ford Ireland Plate at €13.95 and went for it. Served, tapas style, it was a mini feast of tastes and colours, including a Squash Soup taster, Smoked Salmon from Buttevant’s Old Mill, Nash’s own chicken liver pate, Oisín and Milleen cheeses with Nash’s own delicious biscuits, Crowe's Pork Belly and Bacon and Gubbeen salami, all with their own relishes.
When you go out to eat, you really want something different, different to what you can manage at home. This was it. Couldn't fault any little piece of it. My favourite bites? Perhaps the Chicken Liver which was better than recent Foie Gras tastings. The Bacon tasted just like the real thing should and the salami was also a highlight.
Moved onto dessert then. Had a share of Walnut Cakes in the Dordogne recently but that didn't stop me picking the Cherry and Walnut Cake. So well made, done to a “t” and so very very lovely. Also sampled the Berry Pie and was half sorry I didn't take that but then I’d have been half sorry I hadn’t taken the Cherry and Walnut.
Will have to go again. And again. Lovely place, lovely people and, yes Tom Doorley, this was an enjoyable meal.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Stopped in my tracks today on way out of town. Ice Cream from Dingle said the sign on McCurtain Street. Must be Murphy’s, I said to myself.
The shop was Kalma Flowers and yes it was Murphy’s. Bought myself some (3.00 a tub) of the Vanilla. One little lick of the supplied spoon was enough to confirm that this was a class product.
The fight between herself and meself for the last bit (which usually happens over the last drops of wine) was fierce but, under the rules, honours were evenly shared as was the ice-cream (I thought so anyway).
Strand Street, Dingle, Co. Kerry
+ 353 (0)66.9152644

Monday, June 21, 2010


“Your wine. Red or white?” the French hospital orderly asked. The foreign patient, wired up, tubed up, doped up, was confused. “You may have two dekalitres,” the no nonsense orderly continued.
It was almost too much for the Serb patient in the Perigueux hospital. A day earlier, in the Dordogne town of Sarlat (photo), he had suffered a heart attack. Hurried phone calls were made and, five minutes later, not one but two ambulances were at his door.
He was whisked to the local hospital. They  checked him and decided to send him to Perigueux, eighty eight kilometres or so to the North West. The helicopter flew him there and he was operated on immediately, a life saved.
Not it was lunch time of the following day. Lunch was even something of a surprise but then the offer of wine almost led to another heart attack, a relieved Milos told me some four years later as his Irish wife recalled with gratitude the help given by her new French neighbours as this was just their second year or so in the area.
Not surprisingly, Milos, a former Guinness employee, was full of praise for the French health service. There was one error though: he got a bill for nine hundred euro for the copter. He paid it but was then told the bill should never have been sent to him and got a full refund. Mary Harney take note: an efficient service will do, we’ll pass on the wine.
The decilitre, one tenth of a litre, is used as a wine measurement in some European countries and, personally, I have come across it in Austria.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Molaga Honey in Timoleague

My sweet tooth picked something up on the radar today as I walked through the English Market. It was honing in on a pot of Molaga honey, in a butchers of all places. “Must be good. At that price,” I said to the man behind the counter. “It’s brilliant, they’re all going for it,” he replied. He would, wouldn’t he?
Paid over my €2.80 for 240 grams and, as I wheeled away, spotted a bigger jar for €3.60. Maybe next time. This first pot isn’t bad at all, really enjoying it. As you might have guessed, if you remember anything of your Irish, it is produced in Timoleague. Kevin Collins is the man and he may be contacted at and 0238846208. The butchers, by the way, are P. Coughlan.

Check out my review of Molaga Honey - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Been working hard in the garden this sunny day but the reward won't come until tomorrow when I’ll enjoy a favourite dessert: Rhubarb Whip. Last outside job today was to pick a pound of the red sticks, the basis for this very easy recipe.
Serves 6/7

1 lb of rhubarb;
¼ pint of water;
4 ozs of sugar;
1 Raspberry jelly;
7 oz can condensed milk.
Cook rhubarb in water and sugar until soft. Add pieces of jelly and stir well until melted.
Leave to become cold. Whip milk. Fold into rhubarb and jelly. Leave in fridge overnight to set.
Serve with ice-cream, cream and grated chocolate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


A couple of feel good factors around town today. One, of course, was the weather. The other, even more of a constant, was the courtesy shown by those I met in the retail industry, mainly on the food and drink side.
Made a ten o’clock call to Nash 19 for a cup of coffee and a scone. Don't know how they pick the staff here but they are all brilliant, all helpful. I know a few by now but even those that are not known to me have the same lovely attitude. No wonder the place is always busy. By the way, bought a pot of my favourite marmalade on the way out.
Then onto the English Market to the Ballycotton Seafood stall. Just one man on duty and a queue building up. He didn’t flinch under pressure as he filleted like Billy-o, all the while showing good humour and courtesy to a customer who didn't seem to be very well up on fish.
The Ballycotton man also kept an eye on the queue, making sure that each was served in turn. He fairly flew through the fish and indeed I noticed two foreign couples who stopped to see him in action. My turn came and I ordered five pieces of hake. Got four from the first fish so that meant he had to go and do another to get the fifth piece. No bother at all and soon I was on my way with a smile on my face, not least because I thought the 10.47 charge was quite reasonable.
Stayed in the Market then and walked across the aisles to the Alternative Bread Company. What a selection they have there. I spotted a Country Baguette, no salt, no dairy. I ordered one and the helpful assistant suggested she’d cut it in two to make for easy carrying. Good idea. The two pieces fitted neatly into a bag and there was no danger of poking any of my fellow bus passengers in the eye.
The courtesy wasn't all from the female side. My very first call was to O’Leary’s Camera World, one of my long-time favourites, there to load up a wagonload of digital files after the recent holiday. Didn't know any of the lads on duty as I started at the machine. Seconds later, a young man came over to know if I wanted any assistance. Didn’t just then but did towards the end and we closed the deal with a smile.
Later I had the pleasure of calling on two naturally courteous gentlemen, Mick Atkins (who runs a rapid jewellery repair service) and Maurice O’Mahony of Karwig Wines.  Not often that the morning’s good humour lasts so long. It will stretch even further if South Africa win this evening, not that I’ve anything against Uruguay.
Some people tell me that the French are rude. While there is always a danger in making general statements about a nation – the French no doubt, proportionately, have as many idiots as we have – I must say that in extended holidays there over the past two years and in many other breaks there before that, I have always found terrific manners and courtesy, in shops, in markets, on the street and on the road.
Maybe we have some catching up to do but I think, led by the service industry and our own good humour, we are getting there, getting very close indeed. We need to do so if the tourists are to keep coming back, same as I’ll keep going back to this morning’s shops and outlets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Twebt has been getting so popular, it usually trends on Twitter on the Sunday night it's on. Many people wonder what it is.They wonder and wait and then are sorry they missed out.
What’s twebt?
It’s a blind tasting that we do on twitter. All welcome, all you need is a free twitter account and the mystery bottle. Click right Here for all the info from Brian Clayton, one of the organisers.


See full story of 4 weeks in the Dordogne at Corkman on Tour 
Pecharmant Is Bergerac King

Got your wines in for the barbecue weather coming up? Here are a few tips, based on a recent trip to the Dordogne in France. But you don't have to fly off to Bergerac to stock up as most of these are available locally and on the net from Karwig Wines in Carrigaline and at other wine merchants and you’ll find them at a more reasonable price than Bordeaux equivalents.

I had been talking to Maurice O’Mahony of Karwig before the trip and he helped me compile my shopping list and, in addition, loaned me his precious copy of French Wines by Robert Joseph who has quite a high regard for the Bergerac wines.

The Bergerac reds are regarded as every bit as good as many of their Bordeaux neighbours and I put Pecharmant (a Bergerac AOC wine) top of my list, the individual winner being R du Roi. There is a lot of competition from bordering areas, headed up by Cahors where Malbec is prominent and including Fronsac, Buzet, Madiran, Gaillac and quite impressive Bandol.

Tried them all and didn't leave out Bordeaux either. One of the most interesting I came across was Montagne St Emilion. This Grand Vin de Bordeaux cost €6.99. This is apparently a wine from a Bordeaux “satellite” but if I’m on the last spaceship out of here, I’ll be happy to stock it up with this one. A Premier Cotes de Blaye wasn't half bad either.

The local Sarlat restaurants usually show much more red on their lists, to suit the local cuisine no doubt. Bergerac are the stables and then you get a selection of Pecharmant and of Cahors before moving on to the more expensive Bordeauxs.

I was lucky in the Auberge de Mirandol when a waiter pointed to sign on the wall and suggested I try their suggested Pecharmant called R du Roi (2004). It was splendid as was their Wine of the Month from Cahors. Unfortunately, the waiter told me the Pecharmant was not on sale locally.

On the hunt for the reds, I visited the House of Wine in Bergerac and got lost in the Cahor Vineyards (all pics from Cahors) before managing to find a large Cave where I stocked up. I also added to the list by purchasing at various specialist wine shops and, of course, the supermarkets.

The Cahors purchases included a Malbec at €4.00 a bottle, one of the cheapest I bought. Had I been a local I could have bought a good deal cheaper, if a barbecue was imminent. For instance, in the Cahors Cave, they had a vin de pays on sale for €3.00 a bottle and that was reduced to €2.25 in you bought twelve.

There is not that much vin de pays in the Sarlat area but I did get one, from Domme, at the supermarket. Just picked it up and threw in the trolley, only to find out later on that, at over 8 euro, it was my most expensive purchase that day. Thanks to Milos, who owned our holiday home, I was also able to taste some excellent Vin de Pays du Perigord but each time I went to the Cave to buy the place was closed.

There is any amount of local aperitifs and après digestifs made in the Dordogne and I was privileged to be given a free glass of a famous Old Plum Eau-de-Vie on my last night in the Mirandol. It was absolutely high quality. On the way home, passed a shop and saw a load of it on display but, unfortunately, the shop was closed for the night and closed when we drove out of town early the following morning.

That was one regret. But I did manage to purchase a bottle of Banyul, the fortified (port-like) wine from the Mediterranean coast. And I didn’t forget to stock up with some Sarlanoix, the nut liquor that I first came across in the area in 1993.

And the purchasing didn't stop on leaving the Dordogne. Despite the presence of many top Bordeaux names, I stayed loyal to Bergerac and added to my stock on board the Brittany ferries Pont Aven on the way from Roscoff to Cork where I also took the opportunity to replenish supplies of Campari, my favourite aperitif.

I am well set up for the summer. How about you?

My favourites
Pecharmant: R du Roi, Chateau de Tiregand Comtesse de St Expury 2007, Chateau Peyretaille.
Cahors: Chateau Les Haut d’Aglan, Château Les Bouysses 2002 (€7.40 a bottle) and a Cotes D’OIt Malbec 2005 (€4.00), St Didier Parnac Prestige, Chateau Le Coustarelle, La Cassot, Cahors 2005,
Bergerac: Chateau Belingard

Bergerac Red


Monday, June 14, 2010


See full story of 4 weeks in the Dordogne at 

Got your wines in for the barbecue weather coming up? Here are a few tips, based on a recent trip to the Dordogne in France. But you don't have to fly off to Bergerac to stock up as most of these are available locally and on the net from Karwig Wines in Carrigaline.

Did some research before the four week long visit and so knew a small bit about what was available but didn't expect to fall in love with the local Moelleux (medium sweet wines).  I always thought that people who won't drink Chardonnay or won't drink Merlot are making a big mistake, cutting themselves off from so many possibilities. I confess my mistake, in white wines, was to confine myself to dry or medium dry.

That changed by accident, thanks to a hasty purchase on the evening of our arrival in Sarlat. The local Lidl was open and I grabbed a bottle of Jurancon from the box. Had stayed in the Basque country a few times so I knew what I was getting.

Expecting a dry white, I got something of a surprise when I put it up on the apartment table and looked at it closely for the first time. It was “goldy” in colour so I checked the label and found on the back that it was Moelleux, a semi-sweet wine.

It turned out to be a treat as did quite a few other Moelleuxs that followed it during the four weeks in Sarlat. Most of those were local Bergeracs. All are fine on their own but especially as aperitifs and as accompaniment to the local Foie Gras or indeed to any other pate or terrine. And they’ll do nicely with your desserts as well.

Of course, if you really want to go to town on it with the desserts, then the really sweet wines are what you want and again the Bergerac area is full of them, thanks apparently to a long forgotten Dutch trade which saved the wine industry here when the English market was cut off due to one of the many wars fought in the area between the French and English.

The wine from neighbouring Sauternes is well known but both Monbazillac and Saussignac are Bergerac AOCs as is Rosette. We enjoyed a visit to and a tasting at the Chateau at Monbazillac and you may read more on that at

Not feeling up to the sweet or semi-sweet? Then why not try the rosé. Bergerac make lovely fresh rosés and the one we had at a lunch at the Meeting of the Waters (the Dordogne and Vezere Rivers) in Limeuil, officially one of France’s prettiest villages, was a delightful example. Funnily enough, the one we liked most, though not easy to get in the area, came from further down in the south-east, namely a Bandol .

With so many good days forecast, you could pick a different type of wine for each. But if you prefer to stick with the dry whites, then there is no shortage from the Bergerac area. The normal Bergerac sec or Cotes de Bergerac sec are all fine, hardly distinguishable from many of the Bordeaux sec. 

Montravel is another AOC area in Bergerac and their range includes many decent dry whites. Also available are good bottles from Cotes de Duras and Gaillac.

To finish off the barbecue, put on a few bananas. When done, skin them and slip them quickly onto a base of ice-cream and then add a tablespoon or so of Sarlanoix, a nut liquor. If you don't have it, rum or kirsch will do fine. But do it all quickly, including the eating!

Pictures: Chateau de Monbazillac (main pic), Sarlat barbecue (left) and Monbazillac vines (right)

Our next wine post will look at the reds of the Dordogne area. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

DAY 28/29 End of the Line

See full story of 4 weeks in the Dordogne at
DAY 28/29
The intention was to have a good night’s sleep before an early start Friday to the 500 miles plus journey from Sarlat to Roscoff. But that was knocked on the head, both by that late eau-de-vie plus the lightning from a neighbouring storm that floodlit the garden area around and about midnight. Still, we made the ferry with plenty of time to spare. (You'll find autoroute tips on my other site 

While the loading can be a bit of a lottery, we were one of the first to get on board. We were hungry so headed for the self-service restaurant, the Angele. Two steaks with potatoes (chips or gratin) and all the vegetables you wanted, plus two desserts and 50cl of Rhone valley wine came to €29.00. They didn’t last long.

Enjoyed a pint after that in the bar. Kronenberg 1664 was the choice and a pint and a glass came to €6.20. The journey home, started at 9.30 French time on Friday, arrived 10.00am Irish time Saturday, was smooth and uneventful and the sun was out at Ringaskiddy as we berthed!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

DAY 27

DAY 27WEEK 4, DAY 27

WEEK 4, DAY 27
Montfort, Le Roque Gageac
The day started delightfully when we saw a couple of deer crossing the gardens.
The rain had yet to appear as we arrived at the viewing point above Montfort to have a look at the big bend on the Dordogne. And there were a few drops as we drove off towards La Roque Gageac.
The threat from above was still evident as we arrived at the riverside village, looking much sadder than a few short weeks back when we took a sunny trip on the boat. Now the gabarres are temporarily out of business because of the rise in the river which has flooded the embarkation points.
The village itself is also blocked off and most shops closed and, as it’s not due to roadworks, one can only assume that the danger may be from the rocks above. We do take a stroll around but the rain arrives as we leave to head back to the gite.
Time then to say goodbye to our gite owners, Milos, his wife Rosemary and their son George, before heading out to Sarlat for one last meal at the Mirandol. We stick with the traditional this evening.
Starters are Foie Gras with toast and relishes followed by the Duck confit cassoulet. After the goats cheese and salad we both go for Crème Brule. Our wine this evening is our favourite Pecharmant, the R du Roi and, courtesy of the house, we finish off with a local speciality, a classy Prune Eau de Vie!

River rises and puts Roque Gageac boats out of business...
Found this pair on lawn this morning...

DAY 26

During a break in the rain, we made our final visit of this trip to the Sarlat Market this morning. It was all rather subdued and as we don't plan to eat in anymore we weren’t really on the lookout for purchases, though I did help myself to a cheese cutter and serving tool which set me back all of five euro.
Subdued was also the operative word as we walked through the medieval centre this evening on the way to Auberge de Mirandol. The Mirandol though was quite busy with ground and second floors full.
We have praised the value available in the set menus in restaurants in Sarlat but once you go a la carte the prices creep into Irish territory.  Take this evening’s bill for example: Three courses for me and two for the advisor, along with a half bottle of a very satisfactory Julian Savignec Bergerac sec (Sauvignon and Semillon), came to €62.00.
My starter was a Hot Goats Cheese Salad, that is a couple of rounds of the local cabecou on toasted bread with loads of lettuce and other greens. I enjoyed my mains of a fillet of Hake with a lemon butter sauce and the local potatoes and veg and finished off with a favourite dessert: Iles Flottante.
The rain really put a damper on the eating business this evening and as we headed back towards the car we saw many of the restaurants with their chairs up on tables, having surrendered to the inevitable and hoping for better things tomorrow. Aren’t we all?

Pictures from the cave, inc entrance tunnell on right

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Casino Supermarches

With the rain pouring down in the morning, I did a wine review and noticed a few deficiencies. Rectified that to some degree with a visit to the local Casino (Supermarket!) on the way back from visit to Chateau de Castelnaud. Reinforced the Bandol and Pecharmant Red. Also bought a bottle of Vin de Pays du Perigord (Vin de Domme 2008 - Merlot and Cabernet Franc).
With the weather dodgy, we decided to stay in this evening and that Vin de Pays went well with the excellent Navarin d’Agneau (€8.34) that we bought in the traiteur. Surprisingly, the Vin de Pays was the most expensive bought today.
Starters were crevettes in pastry, also from the traiteur. Desserts were inviting strawberries followed by a pastry with the name of Religieuses, though I think the same may be referred to as a Nun’s Fart. We bought the pair of Religieuses in the supermarket but for quality in pastry you are guaranteed much better in the specialist shops. 

Photo shows young knight being dressed for battle at Castelnaud today

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Corkman on Tour

Keep up to date with my Dordogne days at

DAY 25 Castelnaud

The petrol lady was right: "Bad, demain." Still, we managed a visit to nearby Castelnaud, details later, if I can get the internet again...

DAY 24

The sunshine helped today which started with a walk into Sarlat to our traiteurs but disappointingly, and you often find this in France, they were closed on Mondays. Should have known better. Still all was not lost. Called to a corner shop Epicerie on the way back as we knew they also do prepared dishes and here we picked up some Pork in a Madeira sauce.
Returning from an afternoon visit to Chateau  Hautefort (above), we called to the Carrefour supermarket in town and bought some other bits and pieces. Now, with a bottle of excellent Buzet just opened, we are all set for a fine easy going meal in the sun. Must make the best of it. A petrol-lady, close to Hautefort, when I remarked in basic French that today was fine, told me: “Ajourdoui oui. Bad Demain!”

WEEK 4, DAY 23

WEEK 4, DAY 23
Very dull morning here in Sarlat, livened up by a solitary peal of thunder and a short shower and more pleasingly by the purchase of some Bandol Rose from the local Casino where we’d gone to dump the bottles of the previous week and stock up on essentials such as bread and milk. The Bandol cost €6.50. Was on the lookout for a red and white from the area but no joy here.
In the lazy afternoon, walked through a different part of Sarlat, including the public park, and came back through the town centre, checking the restaurants for this evening. The weather is dull and there are few people out and about even though the temperatures feel as if they are in the low 20s.
Despite checking out a few “new” venues, we ended up at our “old” favourite Auberge de Mirandol. And what a meal we had for €18.00 each. Their suggested wine was a Percharmant, a 2004 R du Roi for €16.00. It was absolutely excellent and perhaps our favourite wine of the three weeks so far.
We started the meal with Foie Gras mis-cuit with three different relishes, including a Monbazillac jelly. Second starter for me was the Marinated Salmon (with Salad) while the other one was a well presented half Melon with a fair dash of that Monbazillac wine in the centre.
We agreed on the main course, not very substantial but gorgeous: Breast of Duck in a  truffle sauce with Sarlandais potatoes and haricot vert. Then followed he usual cheese course though this time it was cabecou (with salad) rather than Rocamadour.
There was an extra in the dessert line-up and I went for it. It was the melt in the mouth French classic Isles Flottantes. We also had Crème Brule and that too was excellent. A big crowd in to the Mirandol on this unpromising Sunday night and that is a good sign of an excellent restaurant where the food and the service is always top class, always friendly, despite the odd language mix-up.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SATURDAY JUNE 5th 33 degrees

With the weather so warm, we had decided to stick with the barbecue and take a couple of steaks out of the freezer in the garage. Bought a few bits of fruit and veg to make up the meal – no need to buy wine, though I was tempted by some Rosette moelluex from the Bergerac AOC area.
The wine eventually used with the steak was a Bandol rouge 2002, a smashing wine, made mainly from the Mourvedre grape. Cost €7.00.
Wasn’t all that keen on heading to the market but should have known better as there is always something different. And, this morning,  that something different was provided by a ten foot dancing bear who came to the market on his bike, advertising a day long Fete.
Surprised then to see the actor get off the bike and stroll around among the market customers. Everyone was keen to take a break and have a look. The stallholders were just as keen as anyone else and even stopped serving while the “bear” slowly made his way through the centre.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Picture: Limeuil, today's lunch venue

After visiting the World Heritage site of the Cloitre de Cadouin, we weren’t too far from Limeuil so we headed there for lunch, to the bar brasserie A L’Ancre de Salut (05 53 63 39 29) that we had visited earlier. They were very busy but we got a table where I enjoyed a Galette Complet (more or less a sturdy crepe with fried egg, ham and cheese). A fine plateful for €8.50. A 25 cl jug of Bergerac Rose, a delightful drink on the hot day, cost €3.50.
Then walked over the two nearby bridges, one over the Dordogne and one, its last, over the Vezere. This is the meeting of the waters and two now flow as the Dordogne. Under the trees, close to the restaurant, there are quite a few tables and here small groups were enjoying a do it yourself meal or just a rest from the hot sun.
Drove up then to the nearby Cave of the Vins de Perigord producers only to find it closed. This was a very warm day so we drove back to the gite and a welcome dip in the pool.
But not before a needed call to the neighbouring Casino Supermarket. Here we picked up a pack of lamb chops (about 7) for €7.15, some freshly made ratatouille from the deli counter, also some prawns (with Provencal sauce), fresh strawberries and a pair of millefeuillie, all for tonight’s barbecued meal.
Enjoyed the meal and also the wine: a Montagne Saint-Emilion, a Grand Vin de Bordeaux, which cost us €6.99. This is apparently a wine from a Bordeaux satellite but if I’m on the last spaceship out of here, I’ll be happy to stock it up with this one.

·         A tip. Some French restaurants, particularly in tourist areas, are spread across a road. You will usually find that the tables across the road from the main building are for drinks only.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Following this morning’s visit in the hot sun to Chateau de Beynac, 450 feet up, we walked down the narrow streets to the Dordogne River and enjoyed a lunch at one of the riverside cafes where a Steak Haché and chips cost €8.50. The Ti’Malo Brasserie has quite a magnificent location and service is brisk enough. It is the usual type of menu for these places:  pizzas, omelettes and massive salads. Back to the gite and a dip in the pool.
Late, in the afternoon, strolled back to the old quarter of Sarlat where we enjoyed a drink (Stella Artois, 3 euro for 25cl) at one of the square side cafes, Le Festivalt. Here, on the shady side of the street, we enjoyed watching the world go by before heading to the gite again and a dinner based around Stuffed Tomatoes and Black Pudding and a bottle of red Premier Cotes de Blaye.
Oh, by the way, I did get herself a drink, a 25cl bottle of alcohol free Stella for €3.50. The waiter here has a trick. When opening a bottle of beer, he lifts it over his shoulder with the bottler opener and, in a one handed motion, using the shoulder as leverage, he flicks off the cap. Show off!


This morning saw us visit the medieval quarter of Sarlat for our 3rd Wednesday market in a row. People ask us if we get fed up of the markets. The answer is no. For always there is some variation. This morning, for instance, there were two new musical acts.
We did get a few bits and pieces in the stalls but our big call today was to the traiteur called Charcuterie de Campange, SAS Vaux, 24200 Sarlat. I’m surprised at the amount of Irish people  who visit France who do not even know of the value of the traiteur.
Here, you can get many French classic dishes and other lesser known classy ones for a very good price. That means your dinner is sorted. Heat in the oven or microwave as required and voila you get a terrific meal.
We spent just over 15 euro there this morning. Top purchase, at €4.99, was Jambon with sauce medere (ham with Madeira sauce); Sarlat potatoes; tomatoes farci (stuffed tomatoes) and Boudin Noir with onions which cost €1.37.
Having returned from Terrasson, we had that ham along with the potatoes and it turned out to be excellent, going down well with a bottle of Fronton. Dessert was a few very tasty macaroons (at €1.50 each) which came from an artisan producer in the market.
Just to give you a comparison, the meal costs were as follows: Melon starter 2.60, mains 9.89, dessert 4.50, wine c 2.00. Total for two: €18.99.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


WEEK 3, DAY 18
Bergerac Museums
There was always going to be a trip to the Maison de Vins in Bergerac and we took the opportunity today, a dull day with temperatures at 22 degrees, fine for a 70 km drive. Our Sat-Nav took us right to the door but the parking was full, though there was ample within walking distance.
The facility though was closed from 12.30 to 14.00, so we lunched in a nearby outdoor (and indoor) restaurant:  Le Croq Magnon, Pl Pelissiere, 24100 Bergerac. Here we had a massive omelette with potatoes for €10.00.
The house of Bergerac wines is in an old religious building, the Cloitre des Recollets and, if you enter from the back, you will be in the old courtyard. A long panel tells the story of wine through the ages in French and English and then you go downstairs.
Here you may take in a video, again in English or French, on the season in a vineyard. Then you must do your sniffing test. All the parfums are in little glasses. Check how good your nose is. Mine was dire.
The next stop is the shop. There was no real buzz here, maybe because the visit was free. I think most of the tourists who make their way here really want a bit of help with their purchasing. There is a huge stock, all of the AOCs, and many of the producers represented. It is a bit much to take in unless you have some guidance, even a leaflet.
There was also a tasting facility but that didn’t seem to be operating. It was however, very well laid out with the bottles numbered and priced around a centre stand.  Already pretty well off in some of the AOCs, I concentrated today on Montravel and wnet to choose a few bottles.
The assistant was very helpful at this point and even offered to change one of my larger notes for me, which is pretty unusual in France.
Later, on way back to gite, called to supermarket where I added to collection with a bottle Cotes de Duras, a lively little white that didn't last very long, polished off that evening with some Julienne (white fish).

DAY 17 at the Mirandole

Auberge de Mirandole
7 rye des Consuls
24200 Sarlat
05 53 29 53 89

Moved up the menu rankings in Mirandole this evening when choosing to pick from the €18.00 euro set menu; essentially, you get an extra course, making it five in all.
Started off with a pan-fried Foie Gras de Canard, served with a peach sauce that instantly upped the menu price to €20.00. Quite nice but we both felt we’d choose the semi-cooked version in future.  Second course was the Escargots with a mushroom sauce for me and Marinated Salmon with a salad for her, both very satisfactory.
The main reason for going back to the Renaissance building was to have another go off the Coq au Vin. My wife knew it was a great dish while I wanted to see if it was better than that served in the Lys D'Or. The cock in the latter establishment (admittedly the house version) had been introduced to the wine sauce just before hitting the plate but it was a different story in Mirandole where he had been plainly swimming in the red wine for quite a while.  Thumbs up for Mirandole on this one.
Then came the usual cheese course, Rocamadour goats served with a salad whereas the one in Lys D’Or was served plain. Finished off with an apple slice, real apple in cold custard. Overall not bad at all for twenty euro.
Wine for the evening was a Chateau Belingard Bergerac rouge, costing €12.50 a bottle, quite a nice dry red. Service was as usual excellent and friendly, even though we had not met this particular waitress before.