Barcelona

I’m writing about Barcelona because that’s where my culinary tours really took off. I started working for Context Travel, working with Voulez-Vous Diner (now called MamazSocialFood), hosting guests at my apartment for dinners, and blogging about the food scene in Barcelona (link if you want to read my old blog Bon Gust BCN).

While in Barcelona, I lead market, chocolate, and tapas tours throughout the city and to this day I continue to advise travelers on the city and take clients. Besides the beautiful architecture and beaches, they have a unique food culture compared to the rest of Spain. Catalan cuisine has shared a lot of influence with France (just ask which came first, the crema Catalana or the creme brûlée) and unique flavors, such as their love of ‘surf and turf’ and squid ink, which can be found in many dishes.

Oh yes, and the drinks! From cava to Priorat, vermut and local beers…you will drink well.

What I discovered while working in Barcelona, was that I loved sharing local food experiences with people visiting. Where someone might mistake the ‘local’ cuisine to be paella and tapas…which is not Catalan and not local…I was able to introduce to fideua catalane or butifarra. So, I’ve taken this love and have been working for years to create a tour focusing on local cuisine and products in the Bordeaux region (Bazas Farm to Table Tour) which is now also offered through Context Travel. I feel like it’s all come full circle and I’m really looking forward to 2020!

anne tour guide barcelona

Tapas Tour of Barcelona – Bodega 1900

If you want some tips on traveling to Barcelona, check out this article on Conde Nast Traveler and avoid the Ramblas any time after 10am. There are so many interesting cultural things to do in the city, so don’t spend all your time in one area. Buy tickets to museums and Sagrada Familia in advance. You can walk everywhere generally, but if you want to use the metro, buy the T-10 metro pass. Try to stay outside of the main old town areas like Gotico, Raval, and Barceloneta if you don’t like a lot of noise. If you are traveling to Barcelona soon, feel free to contact me with any questions!

 

South-West France Desserts

First of all, know that a ‘pain au chocolate’ is called a ‘chocolatine‘. The chocolate filled puff pastry dessert has the same taste, but a different name. Now that we have that covered…the South-West of France, like many parts of the country, has it’s own regional desserts which cannot be missed when you are visiting! Here are some of the best :

Saint-Emilion-Macaron-1.jpgMacarons – The classic macaron people think of when in France, is the Bordeaux or Parisian macaron. This is the pretty, colored and multiple flavored, delicate sandwich of almond-meringue cookies with a special cream or jelly center. Did you know that THE original macaron, the first one made 1620, was actually from Saint-Emilion. The small, idyllic countryside village in the vineyards is also where the first recipe for the Italian style macaron was made, which is almond flour and meringue, often sold on a paper disk.macaron

BUY in Saint Emilion at Les Macarons de Nadia Fermigier in their classic blue and white box at 9 Rue Gaudet. Open 8am-730pm in summer from Monday-Saturday and 9am-730pm on Sunday. Phone +33 (0)5 57 24 72 33 / http://www.macarons-saint-emilion.fr

 

Canele – Maybe you’ve seen the ridged conical shaped dessert and not know what it was. Legend has it that the nuns in Bordeaux created this dessert hundreds of years ago with the scraps from the many trading ships coming into town – vanilla and rum specifically – and the yolks of the eggs left over from winemakers using the whites to purify wine. Traditionally, they are made with copper molds, waxed with bees wax to prevent sticking on the interior which also makes the best for a crunchy exterior and lighter, soft interior.

BUY at the chain Baillardan or even take a class to learn how to make them in Bordeaux at 36 Place Gambetta. Open 8am-8pm Monday-Saturday and 930am-730pm on Sunday. Phone +33 (0)9 67 79 42 74 / http://www.baillardran.com

 

Dunes Blanches – Essentially a cream puff with crunchydunes-blanches-IMG_5700-1200x800.jpg sugar on the top, sometimes the simpler things in life are the best. Created in Arcachon, a coastal community, you can now find shops in Bordeaux as well.

BUY at Chez Pascal Dunes Blaches in Lege-Cap-Ferret at 46 Route du Cap Ferret. Open 630am-130pm and 4pm-8pm in summer. Phone – +33 (0)5 56 60 96 90 / http://boulangerie-chezpascal.com (check website for other locations)

 

Miques – These are something you won’t see everywhere, or all the time, as they are unique to the Easter period. They are sugary balls of dough with a light, sugary alcohol center. Making them is actually a really fun process and pretty simple compared to many French desserts.

BUY them in Bazas, during the Easter period, at Boulongerie Patisserie Sauboua at 5 General Cours de Gaulle. Open Monday-Saturday from 630am-100pm and 3pm-730pm and mornings on Sunday. Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 00 46 / http://www.http://boulangerie-sauboua.fr/

 

Puits d’Amour – Created in Captieux, about 15 minutes drive from Bazas, these can now be found in pastry shops all over the region. They are a light pastry with a light meringue center and a burned sugar top…think of a bite sized, airy crème brulee. Yeah.

BUY in many pastry shops in the region. The original location is in Captieux, but has since been sold to a new owner. Maison Seguin at 4 Rue de la Gare in Captieux. Open 715am-1230pm and 330pm-730pm Tuesday-Saturday and mornings on Sunday, closed Monday. Phone +33 (0)5 56 65 60 40 / https://www.facebook.com/Le-Puits-damour-de-Captieux-411526745637557/

 

Jesuit-Sauboua.jpg

Jesuit – Is a flakey pastry with powdered sugar, frangipane and shaved almonds in a long, triangular shape ment to represent the hats worn by Jesuits. Said to have been created in Bordeaux, it’s one of my favorites, like a cross between an almond croissant and a mille-feuille?

You can find these in almost any shop in the region, so try a few and let me know what you think? In Bazas, at Boulongerie Patisserie Sauboua at 5 General Cours de Gaulle. Open Monday-Saturday from 630am-100pm and 3pm-730pm and mornings on Sunday. Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 00 46 / http://www.http://boulangerie-sauboua.fr/

 

 

 

Bazas

This town is easy to drive past, and off the typical tourist map, as there are no trains or public transportation to take you here from Bordeaux. Which is probably how everyone locally would like it to stay…a historical gem in the countryside. It’s location, just on the outskirts of Graves and before heading into the stark Landes was why it was once considered the last bit of civilization.

Walking into town is most idealic on Rue Fondespan, with it’s cobbled street and small businesses. This opens into the large Place de la Cathedrale, with Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Bazas (a UNESCO site) which was sadly vandalized during the Protestant reformation. The structure itself is still breathtaking and the small Jardin du Chapitre to the right is a lovely place to stroll and look over the valley below.

The town square is surrounded by arcaded buildings, some dating back to the 14th century. Take a walk down any of the side streets to see wooden timbered facades, ornate stonework and secret courtyards. To see Bazas on a Saturday morning, filled with stalls of vegetable, meats and local product vendors is like stepping back into time. It has to be one of the most beautiful markets in the area.

The Bazas Tourist Office is incredibly helpful and offers weekly tours on the history of Bazas or the ancient city hospital Apothecary. These tours need to be booked in advance and are only offered in French at this time. Please fill out the form below for someone to translate the tours for free.

 

For a town of under 5,000 people, there are a large number of really wonderful places to eat and you’ll likely never have a bad meal. All will over the famous boeuf Bazadais, a large breed of cattle which are raised upwards of seven years, living on grass in large pastures before slaughter. There is the yearly Fete des Boeufs Gras which can draw 10,000 visitors into town to watch these cattle parade down the streets, with flower decorations and local dancers in historic costume.

Bazas also holds a wonderful animation for the Fete de Saint Jean in June and the Fete de la Palombe in the autumn for hunting season. The energy of the town and the pride the Bazadais have for their history is clearly evident.

 

GUIDE

SEE

Cathedral Saint Jean – There is a mass in French on Sundays at 1030am, but you are welcome to visit and walk around anytime as the church remains open. There are occasional concerts inside as well as the Secrets of Bazas Tour which is at 1030am on Tuesdays starting April 16th for 5 Euro. Check the Bazas Tourism Office for events www.tourisme-sud-gironde.com

Apothecary of Hospital de Bazas – Attached to the old hospital, built in the 18th century and in use until only 50 years ago, the Apothecary is one of the best preserved in France. While not open to the public on a general basis, there are tours offered through the Bazas Tourism Office at 1 Place de la Cathedral. Contact to inquire on dates and times. Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 25 84 / www.tourisme-sud-gironde.com

Antiques Shops – there are many all over town, but Saturday is the best day to stop by as they will all be open. The owners are fun to talk with and discuss items histories, and while prices are usually good compared to big cities, if something seems too much, you can try to negotiate pricing. Hours vary.

 

STAY

Airbnb offers great options in town starting around 40 Euro a night, including our home…so why not stay with us?

Domaine de Fompeyre – 10 minutes by foot from town square, up on a hill overlooking the town, is this classical hotel with a restaurant and pool. Parking on site. Prices are very reasonable, starting around 65 Euro a night. 1 Fompeyre – Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 98 00 / reservation@domaine-de-fompeyre.com / http://domaine-de-fompeyre.com/

 

RESTAURANTS

Most are only open for lunch during the week and offer great menus starting at 14 Euros, but all will over a nice cut of Bazadais beef! Best to book in advance for weekends or evenings.

Caro&Co – South African female chef and co-owner with her French husband, this couple have a fabulous restaurant using local and seasonal products from nearby farms and shops. Plates are beautiful and often have lots of colorful vegetables, not seen in many French restaurants! 38 Place de la Cathedral – Open daily for lunch, dinner on Friday and Saturday, closed Wednesday and Sunday – Phone +33 (0)5 56 65 24 58 / www.restaurantcaroandco.fr

Boeuf Pop! – Friendly meat-centric restaurant popular with locals. They have a great terrace onto the Cathedral Square for taking in the spring sunshine. Local Bazadias beef, sheep and pork with duck fat fries…also have an amazing burger with local cheese and caramelized onions! 30 Place de la Cathedral – Open for lunch Monday – Saturday and dinner Friday/Saturday – +33 (0)5 56 65 77 56 / https://www.facebook.com/Leboeufpop

Indigo – Chef owned restaurant serving unique dishes with local ingredients and a SE Asian twist. Great valued lunch menu at 14 Euro. Perfect for a date night. Also own Café Noosa on Cathedral Square, which has a light salad lunch menu and is a great place to grab a coffee or ‘gouter’ (sweek snack). 25 Rue Fondespan – Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday – Saturday – Phone +33 (0)5 56 25 25 52 / https://www.thefork.com/restaurant/indigo/44162

 

BUY

Lamigeon – Pate and canned goods store in Bazas which has been making local products for nearly 80 years. You can find all sorts – wild boar, deer, fois gras and classic pate de campagne. If you are traveling back into the USA, I have made it through with canned products from there with no problem. Unique, reasonably priced gifts to give to family and friends, or to bring as a thank you for staying with someone! Open Wednesday-Saturday, from 10am-1230pm and 3pm-7pm – Phone +33 (0)5 56 65 58 49 / alainlamigeon@orange.fr / http://www.lamigeon.fr/

Bazas Food and Farm Tour

DSC01310.jpg

  • 10am Visit fois gras farm to learn how fois gras is made and taste products
  • 11am Bazas tour of city and learn the history of this UNESCO cathedral village
  • 1230pm Stop by butcher who will show us the famous Bazadais beef cuts
  • 1pm Lunch of Bazadais beef cooked by chef and owner of local restaurant
  • 3pm Visit goat cheese farm

 

 

 

Boucherie Bazas Tbone,entrecote and rumpstakeTour, with translator and guide starts at 100 Euro per person (two person minimum) and includes all visiting fees, tasting fees, and a lunch of Bazadais beef with dessert and one glass of graves wine. Tours offered on Monday, Thursday and Friday.

Please be sure to advise of any food allergies or aversions at least one week in advance.

Can also include chauffeured car with pick up from nearby train station in Langon, please contact us for pricing.

Please bring comfortable clothing and closed toe shoes (preferably ones you don’t mind getting a little dirty)

Feel free to ask questions and have fun! These are small farms and this is the livelihood for these farmers / butchers / chefs and their families and they are happy to share their passions with you!

This tour will happen, rain or shine, so please dress for the occasion 😊

 

 

 

France Culinary Tour May 2019

All-inclusive, six nights and seven days in the culinary capital of the world with Anne Jordan from May 6-May 12, 2019! Want to read more about your guide? Click About ATG

We will spend three days in Paris and four days in Bordeaux exploring the idyllic French countryside and seeing some of the ‘real’ France. If you love the Farm-to-Table movement, this trip is for you! All hotels, meals, visits, and transportation is included in the price.*

Paris is a must-see on many visitors lists, as the magical Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and River Seine are a dream! This tour will include stops at all of these locations, but will also include visits to incredible Michelin restaurants and markets, bakeries and cheese shops. Some highlights are :

Rungis – the largest wholesale food market in the world with warehouses full of fruit, vegetable, cheese, fish and meat

Marche des Enfants Rouge – the oldest, continually running food market in Paris with unique food stalls to enjoy lunch before exploring the Marais quarter

Michelin Restaurants – Dine daily at a Michelin starred restaurant, past visits have included La Tour Argent, Le Clarence, Dominique Bouchet and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Bordeaux, known worldwide for its top red wines and as a major historical port of call, this city has recently enjoyed a renaissance with tourists with the newly opened Cite du Vin. The city is charming and full Michelin meals but is also surrounded by some of the top producers of fine edible (and drinkable!) products.

Ferrandi-BEST – One of the top culinary schools in France, see where the top chefs are trained and enjoy a gourmet lunch made by the students

Local farmers and producers – From fois gras to caviar, lamprey eels to oyster cultivation…and of course some of the beautiful vineyards producing fine French wines

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of ‘down’ time to enjoy time to yourself and explore on your own or to arrange private side tours based on your interests.

Price is 4,679 USD per person, based on double occupancy in three-star hotels. Should you desire four-star hotels, please add 700 USD per person for double occupancy. 400 USD deposit is due at time of booking and is non-refundable unless the 10 guest minimum is not met by March 31, 2019. 

*Prices do not include airfare, health insurance or spending money. Exact tour description may change based on availability and size of the group. Please be available to meet in Paris by 11am on May 6 and be available throughout the day of May 12.

Contact aquitaineguide@gmail.com for more information or to schedule a meeting one-on-one, via FaceTime, Skype or in person in Winston-Salem, NC.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Water to Cool Off During the Gironde Summer

 

If the end of June is any indicator, this summer is going to be a hot one! Here are some of our favorite places to swim during these sweltering days (click name for maps and links in articles for more information) Lather on the sunblock before heading out! :

Arcachon – About 45 minutes from Bordeaux, although traffic in high season and on weekends can double that. Parking happens to be free on Wednesdays, but it’s a great place to go any day of the week. Arrive early in the day (Place de Verdun is a quick and easy walk to the many beaches). Bring your beach umbrella and pack a picnic, or have lunch at any number of the restaurants in town. Most restaurants do not have the best hot meals, but a fresh seafood platter with local oysters and shrimp will certainly hit the spot! Dogs are not allowed so best to leave them at home.

Bazas – Should you find yourself in the SE of Gironde, this charming town with UNESCO protected cathedral, arcaded town square and many wonderful chef-owned restaurants specializing in regional cuisine with local products, is well worth a visit. Plus, the newly opened public pool with its large water slide is a hit with the kids! There are also two kiddie pools, one for the under three and one with waist-high water for older kids. Two euro fee for adults and kids under five are free. Hours in July and August are 1100-1300 / 1500-1900 with closure on Sunday. Small snack bar with drinks and ice cream, lockers require a one euro coin.

BiscarrosseLow lying lake water that is only up to your knees, which is great for small children as you don’t need to worry about waves and tides. This area is popular with families and has areas for your furry friends as well. Pack a picnic and be prepared to look for parking in high season, but at least it’s free! There are water sports and there is plenty of camping available nearby and hotels.

Cap Ferret – only a 30-minute ferry ride from Arcachon (although you can access from the North by car) you will want to rent or bring a bicycle with you to get to the quietest beaches. Off season is great and you can almost have the whole beach to yourself outside of July and August. There are infinite oyster shacks to have a lunch with a view of the Bassin. Ferries hours may vary, so be sure to check, but generally are on the hour from Arcachon, and on the half hour back (with a pause between 1200-1400). No need to book ferries in advance as you should find places even at the height of the season. Tickets are 15 euro round trip and leave from the Jetee Thieres in Arcachon.

Casteljeloux – Famous for its spas and thermal water, this town just outside of Gironde in Lot-et-Garonne has the Lac de Clarens, a man-made lake. With sandy shores to build sand castles, boat rentals, golfing and a casino (!). Not a lot of shade, so you’ll want to bring an umbrella but there is a restaurant and you can picnic. Outside of season, it is free, however, during July-August, there is a fee of 2.50 for adults.

Hostens – Close to Louchat and Le Barp, Lac de Lamothe is another man-made lake with paddle boat rentals, hiking trails, camping and a snack bar with panini, ice creams and drinks. Lots of shade from the pine trees on the outer edge, but bring your umbrella if you want to be closer to the water. Free entrance and parking with space for dogs offseason.

Lac d’Espiet is an old quarry with beautiful, clear water about 20 minutes from Saint Emilion. They also have a lakeside restaurant, water sports, and kids water recreation area. There is sand on the shore, but some parts are a bit rocky in the water so water shoes might be nicer to those with delicate feet. Some shade is available from the nearby pines and there isn’t too much space to set up an umbrella. Adults are five euro entrance, kids under 3 free. Parking is free, but you are not allowed to bring a picnic (I have seen people kicked out for bringing food in, however…). Dogs are not welcome on bathing beaches.

 

 

 

La Lamproie (Lamprey Eel)

My recent visit to the Le Cabestan Ferme du Pêcheur in Sainte-Terre near Saint Emilion was so unique and fun!  I learned something totally new and unfamiliar…the lamproie (lamprey eel). David and Sabine Durand make these prehistoric creatures their livelihood. This third generation fishing ‘farm’, which is seasonal work until the middle of May, is unique.  It is completely dependant on the seasonal migration of younger lamprey eels on their way to the sea.

The Durand family has an incredibly well-run operation, from fishing to cooking to presentations for kids and adults. If you want to see something out of the ordinary, taste something very regional (like the lamproie rillettes or slowly cooked eel in red wine) or learn about an unusual species – this would be the place to do it. Visits are 15 euro per person and include a tour, video, and tasting (degustation). Cooking demos or lessons can also be arranged in advance.*

Like the sweet wines of Sauternes which are currently not trendy, the lamproie is out of favor and not eaten as regularly, even locally. Hopefully keeping people informed, as they do with school visits, and teaching visitors will keep this product around for the next generation.

Le Cabestan Ferme du Pecher can be found on Facebook or on their website http://www.lamproie.fr/ which is filled with more information, photos and videos / 2 Port Peytor, Sainte-Terre 33350 / Phone +33 (0)6 20 89 41 84 or contact directly through Facebook and website / Hours vary depending on the season.

When live eels are not available at the farm, you can also visit the Jardin de la Lamproie museum at 231 Rue du Général de Gaulle, 33350 Sainte-Terre (5 minute drive).

*Only available in French at this time.