Destination: The Dordogne region of France
Culinary Travel Book: Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves by Kimberley Lovato
A GUEST POST BY Lala Corriere
Castles, Caves, & Cuisine
The first thing to pop off the pages of the French Cookbook, [amazonify]0762437995::text::::Walnut Wine & Truffle Groves,[/amazonify] is not a recipe, but rather the soulful description of the southwest region of France known as the Dordogne. Outstanding photography enriches the depictive prose.
In the preface, aptly titled Chasing Fairy Tales, author Lovato paints us a three-dimensional image of the early morning fog dissipating along the Dordogne River, and as the veil lifts, so does our spirit. Our captivation goes from simmer to a full boil as suddenly we find ourselves ensconced in a fairyland, with a backdrop of both time and tales.
We pace our hearts in tempo with the setting. Slowly. Very slowly. Dotted cottages, perfectly coiffed in architecture and landscape, mimic the stillness of the river. Stately chateaus like the Chateau de Beynac both nestle in and rise up out of the limestone cliffs. 500 year-old castles vie for our attention while our imaginations are lost in the caves, 50,000 years old and the home of Cro-Magnon.
The history is its own feast, but in this countryside so rich in fairytales and dragon lore nothing has changed much, and much of everything has changed. The bastides, medieval towns built as fortresses to keep enemies at bay, now welcome their guests and their commerce. No iron gates. No remnants of the ravages of war that fell before, except for the lingering sense of homage.
When visiting the Dordogne it might be difficult to sit still for the customary 2-3 hour meal, for that will mean pulling yourself away from the rushing quiet of the Dordogne River, the echoes of the ancient Sarlat Dordogne, and of course, opportunity to come across that dragon or the Princess’s carriage. It’s a place where getting lost, and you will, only opens more doors of discovery.
This cookbook brings home the flavor of your travel memories, and for those who haven’t visited, the recipes provide a total immersion into the art of Périgord cooking. (The Perigord is the local name for a region within Dordogne) The recipes are stand-alone, ingredients are easy to procure thanks to the online resource guide, the index is intelligent, and the directions are easy to understand and follow, even for the novice. You’ll learn what to do with goose fat, walnut infused cheese, raw foie gras, and of course, truffles.
While your dinner simmers, take time to read the text. The author provides short courses on French wines, the keeping of castles, the gentle and amusing reminders of French manners, like keeping your hands on the table lest your dining companions wonder what you are doing with them, and the heartfelt community sentiment, ‘my chateau is your chateau’. A good guide to outdoor activities, the book lists museums, abbeys, caves and grottoes, ancestral wineries, daily markets, and lodging from castles and chateaus, to bed & breakfasts and gites. You’ll even find a basic Périgord pantry list.
For the daring chef, try the Reine Roches’ Pintade (guinea hen), or the Chatteau les Merles Salt-Crusted Chicken & Sautéed Chicory Morel Sauce . The less adventurous of both the kitchen and the palate should consider the simple and elegant Warm Cabécou with Armagnac & Honey-Roasted Apricots, or the Chilled White Asparagus with Champagne Orange Sauce.
Like the food you will experience, take time for this adventure. Go slow. Enjoy. Savor. The Dordogne is a must-see travel destination if you believe in fairytales, or if you need evidence of their sure existence.
Lala Corriere, a suspense novelist, is also a frequent non-fiction contributor and ghost writer. She lives in the Sonoran Desert with her husband, Chuck, and three spoiled cats. Follow her on her blog, and catch up with her and her characters on Twitter.
Lala, thanks for the delicious review of this culinary travel book, which proves that travel literature comes in all flavors–even cookbooks. Running Press publishers kindly offered a copy of this book , and Lala gets to keep it in exchange for her review.
Do you have a favorite cookbook that brings a region to life? (And I highly recommend Lovato’s blog, which is linked to the first mention of her name above). Let’s talk about France and cookbooks.