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.
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:
- feta cheese
- 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.