Smog-less vistas and foie gras

Sadly, Tala couldn’t fly back to Europe for just two weeks so we left her in the hands of our very capable maid, Thuy, who stayed in our flat with her.

Tala was sorely missed on all the lovely long walks shown below. In France we had several hound substitutes in the form of an excessively hectic and loving goldendoodle (golden retriever x poodle), a rather ancient St Bernard, and a very jealous little French Bulldog. Great to see family and enjoy wonderful food, far too much champagne, and fresh air!

Tala really wanted to come with us... ironically she would have been quieter in the plane than the three babies in the row in front of us were...

Ella, the St Bernard, on her evening walk through the vines of Monestier, France

Champagne with a drop of sloe gin (homemade by Goat)

Fluffy Alice meant well but not quite a Nubian Hound....

The church at sunset in Thenac

Sunset over Thenac

Sunset in the fields above La Bastide

Of course we also went to Madame Moutier’s Restaurant – which has now become a bit of a ritual every time we are back in Monestier. It is a fantastic, family run little place with a five course set menu that reflects the famous products of the Dordogne, namely foie gras, duck, cheese, and lovely wine. Each course is served with a different wine, which they casually and/or dangerously leave on the table…

House foie gras mi-cuit with onion confit spiced with star anise

Ah the cheeseboard - no stingy slivers of dull cheeses that one sometimes encounters

On to a very cold and windy Isle of Man….

Laxey Beach, Isle of Man

Maughold, Isle of Man

Looking over Maughold Churchyard towards North Barrule

Huge waves at Peel Castle due to gale force winds

Castletown Beach

Pan seared foie gras at home in the Isle of Man

To pass on some of the Dordogne’s specialities to the Isle of Man, we brought back a whole duck liver. It’s really not complicated to cook when just searing, but logistically it is a pain, as a whole liver is probably enough for about 6 people as a starter, but managing to get them out altogether while still warm and molten is a bit of a challenge. In the future it may just have to be for a romantic dinner for two!

Piers’ concoction of tart green apples, cognac, brown sugar, and star anise paired beautifully. After deveining the liver, cool it,  then slice it into approximately one inch thick slices (any thinner and it risks disintegrating during cooking), pat with salt and pepper (omit flour as shown in my photo – I was persuaded by Epicurious but it can contribute to burning – the foie gras caramalizes and forms a crust naturally). The apples were sauteed with butter, quite a bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, and star anise – cognac was added and then they were flambeed….

Searing foie gras at home

Pan seared foie gras on toast with sauteed spiced apples - sadly looking a bit of an ugly mush!