Lunch by the Dordogne River at Château de la Treyne
Surprisingly after our massive breakfast, a couple of hours exploring Rocamadour left us famished, so we gladly headed off on our next stop on our tour of the Dordogne Valley: Château de la Treyne, a beautiful château build up high on the banks of the Dordogne river full of beautiful bedrooms, stately drawing rooms and probably the most beautiful dining room I’ve ever had the privilege to enjoy a meal in.
While the kitchen put the finishing touches to our lunch and we all sat down on the terrace to properly digest everything we’d seen that morning, we were treated to champagne and a few rather wonderful canapés to wet our appetite. We had something traditional (a garlic snail cooked in a hollowed out potato, utterly divine if you are a snail person, and actually a good example of one if you’ve never had one before), something local (wafter thin ginger snaps encasing a foie gras cream), and something modern (a piece of sashimi salmon, herbed with dill and topped with a blob of wasabi cream).
The dining room took our breath away, and once we were seated the very attentive staff served us with wine, water and a choice of homemade breads. Anywhere in France that serves walnut bread (walnuts are actually a special product of the region, even though walnut trees grow all over France, including in our garden in Brittany) has my heart. Their cornbread is also worth choosing, by the way.
The amuse-bouche came in the form of a chilled green pea velouté, topped with a quenelle of truffle included chantilly cream and topped with a delicate pea shoot. It played on your usual perceptions: the cream ordinarily used in desserts was savoury, and the soup was wonderfully and naturally sweet from the peas. While I could have eaten a whole bowlful (it was honestly one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted), it was just the right amount to get us excited for the next course.
Next we had a deconstructed fried egg (the yolk was intact and runny, and the yolk had been set and aerated with cream), topped with fresh local asparagus, gingerbread crumbs and a form of morel marmalade. Everything was so fresh and full of their own flavours, while still being in a really imaginative, deconstructed dish. It was already shaping up to my my other absolute favourite meal from the trip.
If possible, our next dish was even better than the next two. Beautifully cooked, glazed and seared duck breast, seasonal red forest berries, daikon radish pickled in some sort of berry vinegar and a strip of nougat were finished at the table with a generous amount of duck and berry jus. You’d expect everything on the plate to be served with the duck, even the pickles, except for the nougat, but it really was the most amazing and unexpected combination. It added honey, and a different type of sweetness to the duck and the fruits. Everything on the plate had its own flavour and purpose, right down the the delicately positioned micro herbs.
A small sweet arrived next, getting us ready for our dessert proper. Here we have a chocolate truffle (with a hidden mango cream core), sealed with a nutty piece of brittle and served with a few dabs of mango coulis.
Our dessert really was what you can really call a show stopper. Crispy opaline cylinders held layers of strawberry cream, compote, and feather light sponge, topped off with a champagne jelly and spears of fresh, local strawberry. The whole thing sat on a strip of dense fruit jelly with a quenelle of intensely flavoured summer fruit sorbet on the side. And doesn’t it simply just look really impressive?
The sun had come out by the time we headed back out onto the terrace for coffee and petit fours: a shot of mango coulis, mango cream with ginger cake pieces, and an intensely flavoured piece of tiny caramel nut tart. It was the perfect way to round of a frankly stand out meal, and to reflect on the fact I needed to earmark Château de la Treyne for another visit; sadly we did not get the chance to explore any of the bedrooms or the stately gardens.
Château de la Treyne is open every evening for dinner with set menus at 96€ (£75) or 130€ (£100) per person, and for lunch on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays with set menus starting at 48€ (£38) per person. Rooms are actually pretty reasonable too, starting at €200 (£160) per person, or 442€ (£350) for the two of you with breakfast and dinner included.
I was a guest in the Dordogne Valley of Brive and Bergerac Airports and the local tourism boards. Thank you to Chateau de la Treyne for their hospitality.