We recently had very dear friends from my old days in the maritime search and rescue world to stay at Les Terraces. Ian & Di had long known of our dream to have a house here in France and were delighted for us when that dream became our reality last year with the purchase of Les Terraces. Sadly, family commitments, such as caring for an aging parent, and celebrations, such as the marriage of one of the children, precluded their being able to come and visit last year. This year, with the celebrations done (for the time being, at least) and the sad, but not unexpected death of parent, they were able to venture to Sainte-Foy-La-Grande and see for themselves the full extent of our madness!
Six nights wasn’t enough, for us at least, as they ventured out to explore a region that they had not previously had the opportunity to enjoy. They enjoyed the National Prehistoric Museum at Les Eyzies, but remarked that the experience would have been more rewarding had there been more comprehensive information in additional languages beyond the native French. A sentiment with which we have every sympathy.
The sights and sounds of the old city and market in Bergerac was another half-day trip that they enjoyed, but Sainte-Foy’s weekly Saturday market eclipsed Bergerac’s for diversity of products and the fun of people watching. We enjoyed a leisurely lunch of oysters, cheese, salad etc that we had bought doing the rounds. But this doesn’t explain why I am a chicken.
While doing some research on things to do in the area for guests earlier this year, I had come across a river cruise that looked interesting, and I suggested to Ian, Di & Graham that this might make a nice lunch excursion. Everyone agreed, so I booked it.
We were lucky. The gods were with us and we had a beautiful sunny day. Having arrived in Cabara about 20 minutes ahead of boarding time we sat in the shade of some umbrellas and enjoyed a cold beer. Once all of the passengers had boarded the crew swiftly and efficiently pulled away from the dock. The chef gave a quick history of the use of Gabares along the Dordogne and the regional fish specialty after which the boat was named – the Lamprey. Sad to say, my French wasn’t up to the task on fully comprehending all that was said but I caught a fair bit of it. And the dried lamprey that was showed reminded me vividly of the sand worms from an early movie version of Dune, which didn’t place them high on the “oooh, this looks tasty” list!
As soon as the patter was finished the young lady who served as waitress took drinks orders and started serving the first course – a good salade perigourdine. The second course smelt highly aromatic and very like boeuf bourginonne. It was, however, lamproie bordelaise: lampreys cooked in a rich red wine sauce flavoured with leeks. I am ashamed to say that I am such a wimp (chicken, call me what you will) that I refused even to try it. Di was a better traveller than I and did, but left it after a game mouthful or two. Ian and Graham (being manly men) ate theirs. I was very pleased that the waitress had managed to find me a smoked salmon salad instead, for which I was truly appreciative. The main course was a good magret of duck with haricots vert, and a French version of strawberry shortcake was offered for dessert.
The trip was very pleasant, the scenery good,but not as dramatic or scenic as further up the river, and the food was memorable! Yes, I will do it again but, without any shame at all, I will pre-order the smoked salmon salad instead of the lamprey, which was generally agreed by our party not to be our thing!
If you’re a more adventurous eater than I,or would like to try this trip, please visit http://gabarerestaurant.free.fr/