A Warm Welcome Dinner

October 17, 2008 by  

A few hours after our arrival to Calvayrac B&B, we went downstairs to the dining room and were greeted outside by our host Gérard. He walked us into the dining room and we found the interior of the home to be quite grand, considering the exterior is true to its origins as a farm house. It was originally built in the times of the Spanish inquisition in the 13th or 14th century.

Gérard stood at the head of our table while we drank our aperitif, chardonnay with a generous splash of crème cassis. The wine was dry and the cassis made it sweet and slightly tart which was a suitably refreshing start to our meal.

Gérard explained (through my sister’s translation) that the house was originally a small farm cottage with many little rooms. Every family that moved in over the centuries made some changes and modernizations. When he and his wife Jacqueline bought it 20 years ago, they did many, many renovations in the first two or three years. The aging style of the decorating leaves one to believe that they have not made many changes in the décor since the original overhaul in the 80’s.

A great choice that they did made was to open up the entertaining area by taking out the many small dividing walls. The result is a spacious dining room with portraits, paintings, pottery, tapestries and all sorts of artsy treasures. Their decorating style borders between eclectic and cluttered.

Gérard is originally from Burgundy and Jacqueline from the Loire Valley. Before buying Calvayrac they were living in Paris, he as a musician/composer (piano and guitar) and she as a thespian. She has kept that dramatic flame alive and entertains us all by acting out her stories with wild gesticulations.

They are not the only artsy types that have been attracted to the area. Gérard told us they are neighboured by a British painter. The ancient Cathar ruins in the area also attract history buffs and archeologists live across another field.

When Jacqueline discovered my sister is able to speak French she was all chatter. She told us about the friendly wild boar who will be digging up the fields while we sleep. We had passed a party of hunters in the afternoon en route to Calvayrac and she confirmed they were after the wild boar.

However, many of the neighbours are against hunting (as artsy types the world over are). Our hosts prefer to remain neutral since they have a dog, cats and horses. It seems that if you interfere with the hunters, you may find yourself without so many animals after a hunting “accident.”

Politics aside, wild boar is a specialty of the area. It was not on the menu at Calvayrac. We ate braised pork which must have been very slow cooked because it was so tender. It was finished with a delicious dark, savoury sauce. Jacqueline also made fresh pasta with zucchini and a light, simple sauce of butter and garlic.

The wine was a merlot from a local, small producer called Domaine le Fort. It took a while for the palate to adjust to red wine after drinking the aperitif, but after a couple sips it became quite a descent table wine that suited the pork dish well. They provided us the brochure and we were excited to see that the bottles cost about €5 (C$8-ish)  and you could get 10 litres of the stuff for about €13 (C$20.70).

The cheese course is a French tradition of which I am fond. We had a local chevre (a soft goats cheese), Camembert (which is stinkier, perhaps more ripe, than what I’m used to from the groceries in Canada) and a mild blue cheese with a fairly firm texture called Fourme d’Ambert after the town in which it is made.

For dessert, our hostess made a simple but delicious apple cake, as apples are in season making them easy to come by. I don’t know where French restaurants the world over got the idea that French cooking should be served in small portions. Everything we were served in this French home was plentiful and always encouraged to eat more.

Details:

Domaine de Calvayrac
Carcassonne Bed and Breakfast Accommodation
11290 Arzens, France
http://www.calvayrac.org/



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One Response to “A Warm Welcome Dinner”

  1. Going Medieval in Carcassonne : Ruby Suitcase on October 24th, 2008 8:18 pm

    […] awake in the morning nestled into my comfy, flowered bedding and pull the curtains open to enjoy the view of the yellow hills with their patchwork of green […]

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