We lived a gourmand's dream today in the beautiful village of St-Martin-de-Vers, where our friends, and gourmet chefs, Allan & Diana, feted us with local specialties. We started with lunch, which included a smooth, rich foie gras and confiture accompanied by a sweet Jurançon wine, a light and delicate tomato tart, a Cahors wine, and the best gateau aux noix (walnut cake) I've ever tasted.
A Humpback Bridge in St-Martin-de-Vers
Lunch was followed by a much-needed walk around the village and a hike into the hills up above. Diana and Allan seem to know most of the 100 or so inhabitants of this typical Quercy village, as we stopped and chatted with several of them on our scenic tour.
A Hiker's View of St-Martin-de-Vers
There are some nice hiking trails climbing up into the hills above the village, offering picture postcard views of the four-slope rooftops nestled together in the cozy village below, and offering close encounters with grazing sheep, who didn't seem to be bothered at all by our traipsing along.
Grazing Sheep in the Hills above St-Martin-de-Vers
Our rejuvenating hike helped us to work up an appetite for our evening festivities. We started out with an apéritif called Fénelon, which consists of a bit of Crème de Cassis, Vin de Noix, and a generous portion of Cahors wine. To munch along with our Fénelons we had some wonderful homemade spicy almonds roasted in herbs – one of Allan's secret recipes. Dinner included sweet melon and salty Jambon de Bayonne, Magret de Canard with a sweet, thick balsamic reduction on a bed of bitter greens, all washed down with another delicious Cahors wine. As we waddled out to our car to head back to our home base in St-Cirq-Lapopie, we decided that it might be necessary to increase our 30-minute run tomorrow morning to something a little more exertive.
GATEAU AUX NOIX COLBY (c2004 Diana C. Colby)
1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. Coat two 8"-round baking dishes with (walnut or canola) oil.
3. Mix together:
1/2 c. eggs (whole or egg whites only)
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil (3/8 c. walnut oil plus 1/8 c. canola oil)
1/2 c. yoghurt (plain, nonfat)
Optional: l T. honey and 2 T. Madeira and 1/2 T. vanilla
4. Sift in: 1 1/2 c. SELF-RISING flour.
5. Stir in: 1 c. well-chopped walnut pieces (about 4 oz.).
6. Divide batter in two and pour into the two baking dishes.
Optional: Sprinkle top with more walnut pieces and/or decorate with walnut halves.
7. Bake about 35 minutes, then cool on racks.
Optional: When serving, top each slice with a dollop of crème fraîche and top with a strawberry and a mint leaf.