Dinner at Chateau de la Treyne, South West France
After spending a day exploring the Lot and a bit of time relaxing at Manoir de Malagorse before dinner, we jumped in a taxi Anna at the Manoir had kindly booked us to head to Chateau de la Treyne, perched above the river for what was the culinary highlight of the whole trip. The lunch I’d had there in 2016 as part of a trip around the region with the local tourism board still remains one of the best meals of my entire life, so as we had three birthdays and a wedding anniversary to celebrate, we felt it was only fitting to splurge on a meal and an experience of a lifetime. Dinner there does not come cheap (the tasting menu starts at 96€ per person before wine), but it is truly somewhere to go and celebrate. I’d be scared of trying somewhere so expensive without prior research, so I hope you’ll take my recommendation for the meal of a lifetime.
Typically we’d be eating outside on the beautiful river terrace in May but we were experiencing a bit of a cold snap, so we had our dinner in the breathtakingly beautiful, historic dining room with a view over the river as the sun went down instead – do check out my last post for some more photos!
While we had a look over the menu and the wine list, we settled down in the drawing room with a glass of champagne and some canapés. Clearly at Chateau de le Treyne when they get something right they stick to it, as these were the same canapés I enjoyed two years ago! The salmon with wasabi was bright and fresh, and the foie gras mousse sandwiched between gingerbread wafers were wickedly indulgent. The really clever canapé I wish I’d had more of, though, was the snail cooked in garlic butter, served in a hollowed out baby new potato. Such a beautiful morsel, this is what to give someone if they’ve never tried snail and are unsure!
We’d been drinking a fair bit on the trip and really wanted to focus on the food, so we ordered a 2/3 sized bottle of the local Bergerac (which was excellent, though I doubt you’d find anything bad on their wine list) to go with our meal, which started off with homemade bread with flavoured butters (the spiced butter was fun, and the berry butter was unusual but delicious!) and the amuse bouche: a light, vegetable volute with bacon bits and milk foam. It was mouthwatering, and really got us ready for the first course.
I had the foie gras, which was the by-word for indulgence and excess, but was also one of the best foie gras plates I’ve ever had. Two pressed sliced were served with crisp, gingerbread wafers (a bigger, bolder version of the canapé) and a delicious cherry chutney that really cut through the rich goose. I know a lot of people have a problem with foie gras, but if you want to support French farmers and food culture, I really think you should try it as I think it is one of the best examples of a luxury food you’ll ever try. My parents both went for a little more complicated, but equally as incredible plate of perfectly tender scallops with breaded black pudding and tandoori chutney. Honestly, two of the best starters I’ve ever eaten/ tried.
For our mains my parents had the roast saddle of lamb, perfectly cooked with a beautiful array of stuffed vegetables, but I think I got the real showstopper: a breast of guinea fowl, beautifully tender and crusted with local walnuts. On the side, there was a mouthwateringly tender pulled guinea fowl croquette, tender local white asparagus and creamed morels, including some lightly pickled morels on the side. This dish was the pure epitome of a celebration of the very best of local, seasonal ingredients presented with the upmost skill and care. It was past delicious; it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and I don’t think I’ll ever have anything like it again. I also don’t know what price I’d put on being about to enjoy it again. Pure perfection.
A little pre-dessert, before we moved onto the main event: a little matcha cake served with fresh raspberries and a dark chocolate leaf. It was only a few bites, but it was so perfectly light and balanced, the perfect placeholder between savoury and sweet. Even my parents loved it, and they have both professed to not liking matcha in the past! I have planned to take these three flavours and turn them into pancakes, so stay tuned!
For dessert all three of us ordered the same: the fresh, bright, local strawberry tart served with a strawberry coulis and the clearest, cleanest strawberry sorbet I’ve ever tasted. A true celebration of the strawberry, for want of sounding like a broken record, this is also one of the best puddings I’ve ever had in my life.
We’re not coffee people, but we were still brought out a plate of delicious lemon and chocolate, and local strawberry petit fours, and homemade sweets. I snuck some of these into my clutch as they were so, so fantastic. The nougat was soft and crumbly so it did not stick in your teeth, but was not at all dry, and sung of the rich honey used to make it. The fruit jellies were so bright and vibrant, they made for a perfect end to the meal.
Finally, I want to make a note of the service at the Chateau, as the other biggest reason why you need to plan to eat (or stay) there at some point in your life. Every single member of staff at Chateau de la Treyne thought of every single little detail from our evening, from talking through the menu at pre-dinner drinks, to calling the taxi that had dropped us off when we were finishing off our meal so it was ready for us once we’d finished eating. The table service was pure theatre, and everyone really helped make it a night to remember.