Today was busy, and the sun arrived to make it truly splendid. We drove all over the area, covering a lot of ground and several subjects; Kate wanted to give me an overview of this place and a sense of the history and geography that have made it what it is culinarily. I have much to report, but for now here’s a quick look at what we had for lunch at a little épicerie that just opened last summer. The proprietor was an executive at Bausch & Lomb who got laid off and decided to follow his passion for food. The hill town of Lectoure should be happy that he did. The tower above is part of the Cathedral there; we visited a few gorgeous churches from my favorite period, Romanesque (though this one is actually early Gothic). The area has hundreds; it lies right at the confluence of two of the major Medieval pilgrimage routes to Santiago di Compostela.
Our host brought us a plate of locally made charcuterie, all Italian-style, and we chose a half bottle of Provençal rosé.
We both chose the daube of beef cheeks, since it sounded better than the other choice which I don’t remember. The daube was lovely. Fully flavored, falling-apart tender, and sitting on top of a nest of egg noodles that put this firmly in the Grandma’s comfort food camp. The size was just right, and who among us does not enjoy individual Staub cocottes?
After, I had some artisanal Roquefort (that town is just up the road) that was superbly creamy and exceedingly sharp. The fierce cheese forced me (against my will, mind you) to order a glass of sweet muscat to temper it a bit. Just wonderful, and dramatically different from the versions for sale back home.
Then, to guard against postprandial coma, a coffee. He brought it with a cookie and a little of his homemade chocolate mousse.
After lunch, we went down the hill to visit a friend of Kate’s who has resuscitated the lost art of dyeing fabrics with woad, the ancient precursor to indigo. The Bleu de Lectoure is subtle and rich, and takes differently to different fabrics. Her shop is lovely, and the color is indeed compelling and very French. Besides the clothes and fabrics for sale, she has pigments, house paint, and soap for sale, and some old alembics and other equipment once used for making the dye. Now the once-complicated process is all done quickly with modern technology, but the source is still the leaves of the plant.
We did lots more today, but I want to get this posted. More to come very soon.