Cheryl Smith's sabbatical 2011 travel blog
















making my basket of spun sugar

watching the painters at work in the yard below

After all that rich food on Tuesday we took the morning off with a trip to the local market in Sarlat on Wednesday. The first site was a stand with three dog bed-size woks over a flame and two men scooping in dollops of duck fat to melt. Into the fat they dumped a truck load of sliced potatoes and a few bulbs of garlic they crushed freshly on top. When we returned at noon to head home two of the woks were producing fried potatoes and the third had the biggest serving of paella. You can see it on the video along with the chickens they had on a rotisserie. Click here for video.

The town of Sarlat is a gem of a medieval city and appears to have avoided damage from the wars. You can see on the video how interesting the architecture is but best of all, look at the food on offer! This is the best farmers market I’ve ever seen and you could easily satisfy a small hunger as many of the stalls offer samples of their wares. You can taste sausage, cheeses of all sorts, walnut bread, foie gras, macaroons (I had raspberry) nuts and a sip of wine if you wanted: what a fabulous place.

We had a good morning in the market and then inched our way out of the crush of people back to the cars and the sanctuary of our farm to prepare lunch. Today was another rich meal of individual camembert baked in their wooden boxes with orange zest and served with country croutons (big hunks of bread baked with parma ham herbs, oil and salt) and fresh strawberries. Watch video here. After lunch we learned how to make show-off decorations with sugar (nice but not my thing). Watch the video here.

While others went to local restaurants Wednesday night we five (Helen, Robert, me, Brenda and John) feasted on Brenda-made vegetable soup and crusty bread followed by a DVD. A bit like home really.

In summary, we have learned and cooked the following so far:

*oven dried plum tomato tart with basil mascarpone (we learned about cutting tomatoes on the hills not the valleys – ie the bumps on the top – to get the best presentation)

*how to scale and fillet a sea bass, make stock from the trimmings

*how to make a yummy salad dressing that works every time

*how to make ice cream – we made three flavours: basil, black pepper and cinnamon

*how to prepare and cook fennel, chop onions, quickly prepare garlic and de-stone olives (lay on their side with a knife and hit the knife with your fist – works a hot damn)

*how to use knifes properly, that salt is important at the right stage in cooking, and olive oil is applied from about arms length height—never close up

*bake whole mini-camembert in their wooden box with zest of orange (served with raspberry comfiture)

*make country style croutons – hunks of baguette ripped apart roughly, zest of orange, sea salt, garlic smashed, olive oil and slices of Parma ham all on a baking tray mixed with your hands, baked, tossed a couple of times, yum yum

*taste often and adjust as you go is more important than following a measure-by-measure step-by-step recipe

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