From the moment I set foot in the beautiful French village of Duras, I fell madly in love. Something magical came over me — as though I had been there in another life. After traveling through many different areas in France (and in the southwest itself), no other place has managed to woo me as the convivial little town I now refer to as ‘my heart’s home’.
Just a few days after I wrote the last post (almost a month ago!), I received a huge assignment from Vriendin, one of the Dutch magazines I write for — fifty-seven recipes needed to be developed for nine culinary productions, and most of them had to be ready within the space of a month! That is a whole lot of writing, not to mention a whole lot of cooking! Of course, DUTCH was also a priority, and to top it all off, I started working with two new wonderful clients! One of them is giving me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. I have spoken with some amazing Dutch designers recently and even started to try my hand at fashion writing. (Fun side note here: while in high school, I was the fashion editor of our school newspaper!) So, as you can gather, my schedule has been crazy.
For a while (even before this busy period started), I really thought a vacation was going to be impossible.
After two exhilarating weeks in South West France, I returned home on Sunday evening. In the coming posts I’ll show you some of the places we visited, most familiar and some new. Bergerac, for example. A city that feels like home and where we always stop for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Or Saint-Émilion, where we always stock up on the wines we love and try new ones with much interest. But also Lourdes, a place I’ve always wanted to visit.
In today’s post, I want to tell you about one of the liveliest events in Duras, which you might know by now, is the place I will one day call home.
On Thursday evenings from early July until early September starting at 7PM, food stands gather all around the town center, tables are set out and the village comes out for a celebration of food, music and conviviality. There are stands selling roast chicken and ham accompanied by potatoes and garlicky sauce (hubby’s favorite). There’s the best paella on the planet, served with a spicy relish, a wedge of lemon and a tiny bit of attitude. Escargots. Moules frites. Duck. Fresh salads. Cheese and charcuterie. Pizza. Sweets. Wine… Almost everything is freshly made on the spot and utterly delicious. And the best part (aside from watching the sun set over the château) is that after indulging in an amazing feast, you can dance your butt off to live music! It’s one big party and everyone’s invited!
More information can be found here: Duras Evening Market
See you there!
When it comes to great wines, there’s more to South West France than just Bordeaux. Located to the east, in the Lot-et-Garonne, is the Côtes de Duras – an appellation of fifteen communes that stretch out over roughly 1500 hectares and produce a variety of exceptional quality (and very affordable!) wines crafted by some two hundred passionate growers. There are reds (52%), whites (33%), rosés (13%) and sweet wines (2%). The reds and rosés consist of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Malbec; the whites are mostly Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle; and the sweet wines are made of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
The vineyards of Duras have been producing wines since the 12th century and were one of the first to obtain the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée certification in 1937. Here are some of my favorite selections, plus some delectable tips.
The cave coopérative Berticot produces award winning wines and unites more than half of the region’s wine growers.
Try: The honey-sweet Quintessence de Berticot Moelleux 2009. Delightful aromas of candied fruit and apricots.
Pair with: Heavenly with foie gras, ideal as a dessert wine.
Domaine Les Hauts de Riquêts
The fifteen-hectare vineyard has been producing organic wines since 2005 and is run by seventh generation growers Pierre and Marie-Jo Bieraud. Wine tastings and culinary workshops are available at the domaine.
Try: Le Mignon 2009, a silky blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Ripe blackberry flavors. Complex aromas with herbal notes and a hint of violets. Long finish. Aged in French oak for eight months.
Pair with: Autumnal dishes such as magret de canard, lentil stews and roast guinea fowl.
Domaine de Laulan
The thirty-five-hectare estate of Laulan was founded by Gilbert Geoffroy in 1974. Known to produce some of the region’s best whites, Geoffroy has been described as ‘L’artiste du Sauvignon’.
Try: The dry, minerally Sauvignon Blanc 2012. Crisp, clean palate with hints of gooseberry and grapefruit. A nose of freshly-cut grass. Elegant and refreshing.
Pair with: Fruits de mer!