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    Lieu-Dit St-Cirq le Bourg Dordogne 24260 France
  1. I should have explained the picture of the grilled/smoked salmon, I suppose. There is a culinary competition in our commune every year, sponsored by the chateleine of the Manoir de St-Cirq, which sounds very high-falutin', but she is a down-to-earth lovely person who happens to live in a mansion that she got in a divorce settlement from the rich Swiss businessman she was married to (she's also the local truffle hunter with the amazing dog). About 40-50 people show up for this competition every year, and while it's lots of fun, with loads of local artists and musicians and all the amazingly talented artistic people that this tiny rural community teems with, it can be on the serious side, because, after all, they are all French. Except for us - les Américains. We know we are weird because we are fluent in French (and not altogether bad in Occitan), and I've been here for 26 years so am not entirely a stranger, but entering a culinary contest, even a tiny one in a commune in the Périgord, has had us fraught with terror. Part of the problem is transporting the offering - we could walk down to Le Manoir, but it's always pitch black and the road is steep, and if we have a couple of glasses of wine when we're there, which we are sure to do, getting home can be a challenge. So we have to go with offerings that can be pre-cooked and transported in our baby Citroen. The first year we were invited we chose to do something immensely simply and transportable - poached chicken breasts with a scallion, sesame oil, and ginger sauce. The French were transfixed, and we came in second. Last year (see the photo I posted), we marinated wild salmon pavés in vinaigre de miel (this is not a combination of vinegar and honey but rather a local vinegar that is a 2-year fermented acacia honey), black Java pepper, and rosemary. We grilled it over fig branches from our fig tree and garnished it wthl lemon leaves, maple syrup, and blueberry salt from Iceland. We won first prize. Not exactly a major culinary achievement, but there was a noticeable chuckle when les Américains won first prize. Next year I plan to enter to Le Bugue soup contest and wow them with my seafood bourride.
  2. Thank you. We have dozens of local fresh markets: Les Eyzies, Le Bugue, Le Buisson, St-Cyprien, Lalinde, Belvès, Sarlat, Siorac, Meyrals, Monpazier, Paunat, Rouffignac, St-Alvère, Journiac, La Douze, Périgueux, Limeuil........they are everywhere. And of course they all have local purveyors. Nothing else. Most date from the 13th century or before. Our main market in Le Bugue hasn't missed its Tuesday market since something like 1251. Not one single Tuesday, even during war. If any of you are familiar with author Martin Walker's books about Bruno, Chef de Police, they are all centered on the town of Le Bugue (the nearest town to us - 6 kms), called St-Denis in his detective novels. He lives here for a few months of the year, and the characters in his books are all straight from Le Bugue, including Bruno himself, who is actually Pierrot in real life. Tic Tac, the house is indeed a joy. Charm and character come with a certain amount of responsibility, though. I get a kick sometimes knowing and reading about people who embark on an adventure like this without having a clue what they're getting into. Maybe it's best that way, in some respects, though:) I've owned the house for 26 years, though - there aren't a whole lot of surprises at this point.
  3. What it's like is a whole lot of work, but the rewards are inestimable. Here are a few photos with the caveat that I am NOT a photographer! Our house, the truffle market in Sarlat, a wet goose, the doors to our veranda, sunset, the lane we live on.
  4. Yes, how could I have forgotten truffles?? We are at the end of the winter truffle season here, but our neighbor is still finding a few. Her dog is a genius at locating them.
  5. Bonjour à tous du Périgord, the land of confit and foie gras, Bergerac and Pecharmant wines, walnuts and chestnuts, honeys of every description, delicious river fish, and a whole lot more to tickle the salivary glands. My husband and I inhabit an ancient stone house in a tiny commune of 112 people, 800 ducks and geese, 1,000+ cows, and countless chickens. When we are not writing and editing (our professions), or renovating this old place, or gardening, we are trolling the wonderful local fresh markets, visiting artisan producers of regional specialties, and cooking and eating. Very pleased to have found this community and look forward to contributing.