Tuesday, July 22, 2008

France Blogging: Sarlat, Beynac, and Strawberry & Walnut Salad

Giz and I (well, mainly Giz) are working diligently on putting together the Tried, Tested and True Two roundup. Check back over the next couple of day and we should have it up.


Are you getting tired of my trip reports yet? Here's the previous entry.

I usually bring a journal with me on vacation and quit half way through when I realize how behind I am on journaling. So, this time, I'm on a mission to stick it out and finish my trip report. Don't worry, I'll combine days, only two more posts left (this one included). Plus, I've incorporated a recipe, which you can find below.

The day after our trip to the winery and foie gras farm, we packed up and said goodbye to The Lesueurs.

Just like Emmanuel the day before, Mr. Lesueur also prettied up his hair and stood up straight for this picture. I'm noticing a theme - French men can be really charming.

I had some concerns that the highlight of our vacation may be over, since I really loved the previous days' experiences. If anything, I'd have to say that the latter half of our trip was different, less relaxing, but with some equally amazing moments.

We stayed in Sarlat, as a home base, for 5 nights. Sarlat is a medieval town that was originally formed in the 8th century. The walled in portion of the town is comprised of narrow cobble-stoned pedestrians streets.

Sarlat is close to the the Dordogne River. The surrounding region is, therefore, often referred to as The Dordogne. I think that it is more common to call it the Périgord, in French. I had/have a very hard time pronouncing Sarlat properly. My Canadian accent causes me to over produce the "R" sound. It's supposed to be pronounced "sarla", with an "r" sound that is much softer and lightly rolled. The emphasis is on the second syllable: "sarLA"

When visiting, you quickly realize what the regional specialties are. In November and December, the region surrounding Sarlat is where black truffles can be found. In fact, you can even go and visit a truffle hunter and his dog (perhaps the real hunter). I believe I read that pigs are also occasionally used to search for truffles.

But perhaps more evident during the summer months is the predominance of products/food made of duck and geese. Since I'm still coming out of my adventurous eating shell, I still need to blend in meals with food that is familiar to me. But finding a menu with one chicken option required a 30 minute search. Not that strolling around Sarlat looking for a restaurant is the worst way I could spend my time.

Aside from truffles, ducks and geese, the other food that I noticed was "noix". I actually didn't know what noix referred to and figured it was some part of a duck until I actually looked the word up in my dictionary. It's a walnut. Yay - I can deal with and afford walnuts! Look at the bottom of the post for the meal I made with the walnut oil I purchased.

Just before I talk about one of the main draws to Sarlat, I'm going to switch gears and tell you about a nearby castle (there are several in the area), Beynac. You can read about the history of the castle here.

Taking the main road west of Sarlat, you'll hit an area with narrower streets and more cars parked. Good chance you're in Beynac. It's amazing to see that people actually live in the area. From the parking lot, you make your way up any of the steep streets. All roads lead to the top. But, if climbing up a steep street for the next 30 minutes isn't for you, you might want to skip this one out. I saw some people with canes walking up toward the castle and felt concerned for them.

Here are some pictures from the day:

I found it interesting that the graves in the cemetery were very elaborate and covered with plaques from significant others.

Is this not the coolest flower ever? Giz says it's a passion flower. Apparently we get them in Canada as part of a potted plant, but people don't usually grow them in their gardens or under their windows as this was in France.

Here's a view of the Dordogne River, on a cloudy day. I have some great shots on a sunny day coming up in my next post about France.

Returning back to Sarlat, let me tell you about the Wednesday and Saturday market. On Wednesday (most of this apply to the Saturday market as well with some exceptions), the pedestrian area of Sarlat (central) is filled with market stands. There are tonnes of options.

There is lots of cured sausage. R even saw sausage made out of donkey and was temporarily excited about doing another guest post entitled "Ass Sandwich". But, I just couldn't bring myself to eat donkey.

Fruit confit:

Yummy Pastry:



This is just a few of the stands. There is also loads of fruit, fish, truffle, oil, duck products, etc. On Saturday, all of the food stands return and additional products are added to the mix (e.g., household products, clothes, shoes, etc.).

Here is the view of the stands in the centre square.

A couple of American artists were taking advantage of the view.

Returning back to Canada, I wanted to find a use for walnut oil. The lady in the store in Sarlat said that it is only used for salads. Since I was bound and determined to get out strawberry and raspberry picking at least once this year, I figured a walnut and strawberry salad would make a great combination.

I combined the following ingredients:

- lettuce
- strawberries
- feta cheese
- walnuts
- garden cucumbers

walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice

It made for a great tasting salad.

I'm submitting this recipe to Joelen's Summer Produce Recipes event.



Nic said...

I've enjoyed seeing your photos, thanks for posting them!

Anonymous said...

Ass Sandwich! Hey, i'd try anything once...

I can't believe you're finding time to blog on your trip. As for the foie gras farm, I hope you write about that - I'm so interested since you said that it didn't effect you b/c the ducks were treated humanely - the word on this needs to get out to more people! this whole ban on foie gras drives me nuts! I look forward to hopefully reading about that trip in detail.

PG said...

never full - I got back from my trip a couple of weeks ago. So, I'm actually behind on my posting. I already posted about the foie gras. Click here to see it.

jasmine said...

We were supposed to be in France this autumn, so your write up and photos will have to suffice...for now :)


giz said...

I love all of the pictures and the history of each place. The market...what I wouldn't have given to be there - love it.

You should get R to blog about Ass sandwiches

Anonymous said...

going to be in france next monday - can't wait - your post is excellent - we may hav e to go to sarlat now

Fitness Foodie said...

I love your travel posts. The photos of castles and food is awesome. I am going to France in September and your blog is getting me pumped.

Ha! Ass sandwich eh? I can see that being the butt of many jokes. :)

grace said...

these are my favorite pictures yet! i love the buildings and landscapes--beautiful. and you're right, that's far and away the coolest flower i've ever seen--it's awesome! as for the ass sammich...that's downright hilarious. great post! :)

OhioMom said...

What cool pics, I would love to shop at that market ... but I would skip the donkey :)

Neen said...

Going to a farmer's market is absolutely my favorite thing to do when exploring a new town. You learn an awful lot about the local folks. We stumbled across Berkeley's farmer's market on Saturday, complete with 5,000 varieties of fruit, knife sharpeners, tarot card readers, and compost bins. Definitely felt the local vibe :)

glamah16 said...

Oh I would be in heaven there. With the foie gras, duck and geese dishes. The salad looks amazing.I really enjoyed this romp through France. I miss it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the amazing photos. I love France. Looks like an amazing trip.

Helene said...

Sarlat is one of my favorite cities. So much history and great foods. It's been fun seeing my country through your eyes! The things that surprised you there and the ones that surprise me in America as a comparison. I can't live without foie gras...that's for sure!
One way I like to use walnut oil is in a salad of endive, goat cheese crumble and chopped walnut, walnut oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Núria said...

Wow Psychgrad... what a vacation!!! I would love to be walking those streets and markets! What a wonderful time :D.

You can also find here the Passion Flower in our gardens... in fact, I got one out there :D

Archana Doshi said...

Lovely and refreshing salad. I would love for you to send this walnut and strawberry salad to the ONE DISH MEAL- salad event that I am hosting. It can surely go into a light salad refreshing salad lunch. :)Do check the rules in my site

Jennyff said...

Wow, we've just been invited to travel from Scotland to a wedding in a chateau near Sarlat, I was excited before I saw your post, now I can't wait. Thanks for the photos, they've really made me enthusiastic.