I hope we picked a winner!

Sarlat was inundated with Master Chocolatiers last weekend, they were showing their skills at the Chocolate Festival which had been organised, for the second year, by the Rotary Club. If you love chocolate as I do, last weekend was amazing.

Your senses are first aroused by the Masterpiece creations which were displayed on a long tables near the entrance. They are each numbered and you pick the one you think is best, which I found extremely difficult, once you have made your choice you write the number onto a card along with your contact details. If you have picked the same as the judges your entry is placed in a draw for a hamper of chocolate.

This is the one that I picked, keeping fingers crossed that it is a winner.
 

I also liked the golden eggs, and,,, and,,, and…
 

Paul picked number seven in the middle of the picture, in front of the Rotary Club sign.
 
One room was used for chocolate demonstrations where classes were held to teach a little of the art of working with chocolate. There were also films about growing cocoa for chocolate.
 

Two other rooms housed what was for me, the main event…
 

Rows upon rows of chocolate creations for sale from the Master Chocolatiers of the Perigord.
 

Chocolate cartoon characters, Wow yummy
 

This was my favourite, a chocolate Peruvian mask which was made from the rich dark chocolate from Peru. Unfortunately it was tucked away behind a pile of chocolate pieces in a corner of a display cabinet, hence the poor lighting!
 
 

Events:-

Sunday 19th Daglan Spring Festival in and around the Place de la Liberté http://www.daglan.fr/fete-du-printemps/. At 11:00 there will be the official inauguration of the Stèle de la Paix, (magnificent carved tree), alongside the church. The Café de la Fleur will be holding a mini market.

Morning of Wednesday 22nd Daglan Children’s Carnival http://www.daglan.fr/carnal-des-enfantscarnaval-ecole-2017/.
 

 

Now for something yummy.

The Newly decorated and renamed Pâtisserie Massoulier (ex Roland Mertz ) is to be found at 33 Rue de la République in Sarlat. It is the kind of shop that you just have to stop and take pictures, the window display is always a cake lovers artistry and everything they sell is so delicious I could buy the lot but my waist band and my bank account would not allow it.
 

Pâtisserie MassoulierSo yummy

 

dscn2343Rows and rows of hand made chocolates for every occasion
 

dscn2342Sorry I think that I got a little side tracked, here is a little of the new décor, furniture and fittings.
 

dscn2340Just about to eat breakfast. Besides wonderful gateau they also serve excellent coffee, a wide variety of teas, real hot chocolate, fresh squeezed orange juice and of course, delicious pastries.
 
 

Wow… This is my time of year

Sarlat Chocolate FestivalChocolate Festival in Sarlat on 11 and 12th March, at the Ancien Evêché, next to the tourist office on Place du Payrou.
 
 

Truffle Festival

This is undoubtedly the highlight of January, Sarlat Truffle Festival which ran for two days last weekend. There are not many things that would entice me to leave the warmth of a log fire when the temperature outside is -2 and I have a bad cold but the prospect of buying a truffle wins every time.

At up to one thousand euros a kilo the fusty, musty, heady truffle is among the worlds most expensive foods, comparable to caviar that is a similar price.

You can find truffles used in moose, macerons, chocolate, and thinly sliced on top or in various meat and vegetarian dishes. When Paul and I had a holiday in Umbria many years ago we were introduced to truffle ice cream, sounds a bit icky but it was so delicious.

Due to the fact that it can be used to flavour foods before you actually use the truffle it can be quite economical. Dropped in with other foods such as eggs, pasta, chicken or rice so the truffle aroma and taste will permeate most food products you can make a small truffle last for several meals.
 

Medieval Quarter in Sarlat Medieval Quarter in Sarlat where truffle hunters and Chiefs from all over the Perigord Black sell their truffles and truffle creations.

There have always been truffles in the Perigord Black but due to the First and Second World Wars, the nurture of the truffle went into decline, on one hand due to the loss of the smallholders and on the other hand the shrinking forests due to changes of land use and the exhaustion of truffle friendly trees. Across France in the 1930’s, the truffle harvest was roughly 1000 tons. During the 1960’s replanting of trees such as the French Oak was introduced plus other trees to test the growth of truffles. Now however is the constant threat of climate change. Hotter Summers and less rainfalls in other parts of France is reducing the growth of the truffle. So as the harvest starts to decline so the price increases. Today in sharp contrast it is only about 50 tons.
 

Truffles on displayVery proud owners of the truffle selling their finds at various weights and quality.
 

Truffle mooseTruffles made into moose with grated truffle on top, or thinly sliced between pate.
 

Two young Chiefs Two young Chiefs competing for the best truffle macerons. We did buy two macerons from them and ate them while the Chiefs waited for our response. Truly delicious boys.
 

Truffle maceronsOf course we had to buy two large macerons from another Chief to take home with us. You can not beat coffee or chocolate macerons made with truffles, the flavour is magnificent.
 

Our little truffleOur little prize along side a dessert spoon, we only paid fifteen euros so a really good price. We placed the truffle on top of eggs and left them over night. The truffle had permeated the egg shell by the morning giving the scrambled eggs the luxury flavour of truffle. Now the truffle is sitting in the rice container to flavour the rice.

A pig or a dog is usually used to sniff and find truffles in the forests, however I think that we may have the first truffle cat! Our kitten Cleo loves the smell of truffle.
 

Events:-

Castelnaud-la-Chapelle 28th and 29th January for the International Céou Canoe Race.

Daglan 19th March for the Second Spring Festival of Flowers.

Gâteau au Chocolate.

I made this as our New Year treat. However, I did point out to Paul that this was my first attempt at making this gâteau so it may not turn out right, in fact he may not see it at all. I’m glad to say the gâteau did cook perfectly it looked and tasted good and tasted a lot lighter than I expected for a dense chocolate gâteau.

Gâteau au Chocolate

Ingredients:

150g (5oz) caster sugar, plus some for sprinkling.
275g (10oz) plain chocolate, chopped, try and use the most expensive chocolate at about 70%.
175g (6oz) unsalted butter cut into pieces.
10ml (2tsp) vanilla essence or 3tsp walnut liqueur.
5 eggs – separated.
40g (2oz) plain flour, sifted with a pinch of salt.

Optional, I also used 50g chopped walnuts.

Icing sugar for dusting.

Sweetened whipped cream for serving.

Preparation:

1 Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Generously butter a 24cm/9 or 10in spring base tin, then sprinkle the tin with a little sugar and tap out the excess.

2 Set aside 45ml/3 tbsp of sugar. Place the chocolate, butter and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan and cook over a low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla essence or walnut liqueur and leave the mixture to cool slightly.

3 Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then add the flour (and walnuts if you are using them).

4 In a mixer beat the egg whites slowly until frothy. Increase the speed, add the salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the reserved sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat one third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

5 Carefully pour the mixture into the tin and tap the tin gently to release any air bubbles.

6 Bake the gâteau for about thirty five to forty five minutes until well risen and the top springs back when touched lightly with a fingertip. If the gâteau appears to rise unevenly, rotate after about the first twenty minutes of cooking. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, remove the sides of the tin and leave to cool. Remove the tin base, dust the cake with icing sugar and transfer to a serving plate.

Serve with whipped cream.

Bon Appetit.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

…everywhere you go.

Here are just a few of my favourite things in Sarlat. First of course is the Patisserie, Chocolater shop called Roland Mertz, which is to be found on Rue de la République in Sarlat. Everything that you want to eat or rather should not eat is here.
 

Patisserie Roland MertzMouth watering delicious display of everything naughty but nice for a Christmas treat.
 

Chocolate fixOur breakfast stop at the above shop, to indulge ourselves with steaming hot chocolate or coffee and pastries. I think that they may have made a slight mistake with mine, they served what seemed to be a soup bowel of hot chocolate. So warming and delicious.
 

Sarlat Tourisme OfficeSarlat Tourisme Office, seasonally decorated with festive window displays featuring Russian dolls
 

Red CarpetThe decorations on this shop are brilliant, with its own red carpet and it also has Russian dolls in the window.
 

Msocow this wayJust a few signs to let you know how far it is to Moscow, St Petersburg etc. and of course, the Christmas market
 

We will be posting our last blog before the Christmas break in a few days time.
 

Happy Easter (Joyeuses Pâques)

Easter is without doubt one of my favourite times of the year and with the holiday falling early this year, there is nothing stopping our plans for chocolate related indulgence.

For a couple of weeks now the Sarlat Master Choclatiers have been showcasing their immense talent with window displays to die for.

EasterBernard Decaix offers a mouth watering display of eggs, ducks, fish, rabbits and bells.

 

DSCN1188Mertz Roland Patisserie Chocolatier is amazing.

 

DSCN1190With large chocolate crackers, truffles, fish and eggs, rabbits in all sizes made with milk, white or dark chocolate or all three and eggs made with peanut brittle, it was so difficult to choose which ones we would buy.

 

DSCN1221But after a few “wow look at these” we were extremely restrained and decided on two Easter eggs and two bells. They all have chocolate or sweet surprises inside. The difficulty is waiting until Easter Sunday before we start to eat them.

 

Events:- Daglan

Another joy this Easter is the opening of Fabrice’s new restaurant in Daglan. Check out his website at Fabrice le chef for the menus, they look delicious.

DSCN1213

 

Le Thé Vert will be opening for the summer season on 30th April, however this Good Friday Le Thé Vert will be hosting a fish and chip night. You need to book in advance to eat in or take away. For more details visit the website at Le The Vert or phone (+33)5 53 30 47 94

Le Thé Vert

 

Event:- Sarlat.

Each year on the Monday directly following Easter the town hosts an egg hunt. Around the historical area of Sarlat, twenty council workers hide two thousand coloured eggs. Each area has different coloured eggs; blue, yellow, green, red and orange which will guide the children from one area to the next. Each child needs to find five eggs of different colours and then they can exchange these for chocolates. If they find a golden egg they will receive a gourmand Easter egg and free cinema tickets. Five of the golden eggs have a silver strip, if they are found they will have a chocolate surprise and a free ride in the Saint Marie Panoramic lift.

Sarlat Chocolate Festival

This was the first time that Sarlat have organised a Chocolate Festival, thanks to the Rotary Club and what a success it was. Masterpieces on the theme of Sarlat created by ten Master Chocolatiers were placed onto a long table for people to admire and to choose which they thought was the best one. Your name, and phone number is placed onto a small card with the number of your chosen masterpiece. The judges then pick the winner, then they pick out one of the cards with the winning number on it, I am keeping my fingers crossed because the winner takes home the chocolate masterpiece.
 
Chocolate Festival The Tourist Office next to the Chocolate exhibition, where there was a display of chocolates, moulds and cookery books.
 
DSCN1153Each Master Chocolatiers presented a piece of unique work of art just for the Festival. It was terribly difficult to pick just one, but I thought that the one on the left of the picture depicted Sarlat the best.
 
DSCN1155Paul picked the one on the right of the picture which is a pond with lilies, frogs etc all made from chocolate, gorgeous.
 
DSCN1156I also liked the one on the left, so you can see how difficult it was to choose.
 
DSCN1157The duck on top of the eggs brought laughter to everyone and how they got the duck to balance like that I do not know.

At the top of the staircase stands of treats welcomed everyone, where Master Chocolatiers from all over the Perigord gave away samples and sold smaller examples of the art of chocolate to take home. I adore chocolate so we had to walk around the stands quite a few times before I could pick what I wanted to take home.
 
DSCN1164This is just a small example of what you could buy.
 
DSCN1162So cute
 
DSCN1165“Minions” and Easter treats.
 
There were also workshops were you could learn how to make your own masterpiece, and a stand for crepes filled with, what else but, chocolate and other chocolate delicacies.

So in short well worth a visit and let’s hope that this is the first of an annual event in Sarlat.