For the first time, this week, I got to see with my own eyes a medlar tree. The fruits are slowly growing and will be ready to be harvested ripe, only in autumn.
In the Basque Country, this tree is not valued as much for its fruits, but rather for its wood, used to create the typical stick of the region, la makila.
Its origin goes back various centuries and its manufacturing process starts right in the forest, while the branch is still attached to the tree.
It is quite fascinating how an artisan carves over the warm months the branch so that the overflowing sap produces a design. The branch will only be cut in winter when the decoration of the stick has naturally appeared.
The fine work is done with heat, to smooth and straighten the wood.
Braided leather is used to cover the handle that is then topped by a metal grip and a horn knob.
The tip that touches the ground is made of steel. The handle hides a point made also of steel, that might comes in handy while walking the mountains and encountering wolves or bears (for example).
The metal parts have traditional Basque motifs and are used for an engraved short dedication.
These sticks are usually offered as a gift to mark an important event, be it the coming of age of a youngster or visit of a president to the region (Reagan was offered one as well as Pope John Paul II).
(Pour lire dans Français ou une autre langue, s’il vous plaît vérifier sur le côté de la main de la plate-forme de la page pour le bouton à traduire)
The produce stand can be a challenge in supermarkets, everything is available nearly all of the time…and it maybe even says ‘organic’or ‘bio’ which is a great idea. In France, if you are buying in your local market you’ll find the best selection of local and seasonal produce but it may not be organic. So what is better for you? Which is better for the environment?
Local. How local is local? Let’s say that the products are only being transported from the farm to point of sale (market), or that you are buying from the farm directly where you can see how everything is managed up close. This is going to have a low carbon footprint, but you will also being helping farmers immediately in your community. There are plenty of farms that you can buy locally from or sign up for their weekly delivery of seasonal products through an AMAP.
Organic. Buying only based on the word ‘organic’ or ‘bio’ is generally going to be the worst choice for the environment. It is likely produce that is coming from Spain (in Europe) and grown in very unsustainable methods, in dry landscapes with row after row of greenhouses where water has to be diverted to. Then it is also being transported long distances, adding to its carbon footprint. Many smaller farms find achieving official organic status impossible because of the many government demands, when in reality they essentially are. Farms listed as biodynamic are immediately given organic status, as their farming methods are rigidly controlled by natural systems.
Seasonality. Then there is the idea of seasonality, because nothing tastes better than a tomato in August or a strawberry in June. The idea that we eat only those items available during a certain time of year is really only natural and ensures the best version of that product. Plus, many vegetables that grow during a certain time of year supply our bodies with what our bodies need during that season, like a watermelon supplying our body with more water in the summer and mushrooms being high in Vitamin D which is needed in the winter.
Local farms with pick up and delivery are available on our website but we want to hear about your favorite local product! Send us an email or post it on Facebook at Aquitaine Travel Guide! Right now is asparagus and strawberries-enjoy!
ENGLISH If we can’t be out giving tours, we can still help bring local products to our neighbors. Please keep supporting your local farms. They will still be growing and raising food. By buying online on their websites, you’ll support local business and keep the people who feed us in business! Most deliver to your home or a local pick up point. FRANÇAIS Si nous ne pouvons pas être dehors pour donner des visites, nous pouvons toujours contribuer à faire venir les produits locaux chez nos voisins. Continuez de soutenir vos fermes locales. Elle continuent à faire pousser et élever. En achetant en ligne sur leurs sites, vous soutiendrez le business local et aiderez ces gens qui nous nourrissent à maintenir à flot leur affaire. La plupart livrent à domicile ou dans un point de collecte local.
Here are some options for online delivery orders with multiple farms in France (individual farms are next, des fermes individuelles ont dans la prochaine liste) Voici quelques options pour les commandes de livraison en ligne avec plusieurs fermes en France (les fermes individuelles sont les suivantes dans la prochaine liste) : Note this is new to me as well, please share your personal experiences with each provider, if you’ve used them, in comments below. Thank you!
My Farmers– works with producers locally, register online to make your order of what is available for delivery in central Bordeaux / travailler avec des fermes locales, créé votre compte et choisir des produits dispo pour une livraison a Bordeaux https://www.myfarmers.fr/
Pourdebon– some producers are not selling during this time period, be sure to click in description to verify their Facebook page seems to have what is available posted / certains producteurs ne vendent pas pendant cette période, assurez-vous de cliquer en description pour vérifier. Leur page Facebook semble avoir ce qui est disponible posté / https://www.pourdebon.com/
Cagette.net – Nouvelle Aquitaine / Offers multiple options for delivery (usually to a fixed location) from different local farms and producers / Offre plusieurs options de livraison (généralement à un endroit fixe) de différentes fermes et producteurs locaux / www.cagette.net
La Compagnie Fermiere – Merignac and Gradignan / store with local producers that does pick up and just starting delivery in Bordeaux and surrounding areas / magasin avec les producteurs locaux qui ne ramasser et tout juste de commencer la livraison à Bordeaux et les environs / Merignac@lacompagniefermiere.fr et email@example.com / https://www.lacompagniefermiere.fr/
Individual Farms – ENGLISH I’m working hard on collecting local farms still delivering, as long as they’re allowed to. Please feel free to send me more to add. There are a lot of farms open for pick up, I’m just not sure how much longer we will be allowed to drive very far. I’ve worked with many of these people, they make some amazing products in BORDEAUX/GIRONDE/AQUITAINE generally x FYI Some farms needs masks, if you have some at home or know how to make any…please give them to your local farmer! FRANÇAIS J’ai travaillé dur pour rassembler des informations sur des fermes locales qui assuraient encore des livraisons, tant qu’ils en ont encore le droit. Il y a plein de fermes ouvertes pour une collecte sur place, même si je ne sais pas combien de temps encore nous pourrons nous déplacer loin. J’ai travaillé avec plusieurs de ces producteurs sur BORDEAUX/GIRONDE/AQUITAINE. Certaines fermes ont besoin de masques, si vous en avez à la maison ou savez comment en faire, n’hésitez pas à leur en faire parvenir.
Vegetables / legumes
Ferme de Cantis – Couthure (10 minutes de Marmande) / call to order your vegetable basket to be picked up at farm / appelez pour commander votre basket de legumes à être ramassé à la ferme / Bastien +33 (0)6 16 31 86 40
Le Domaine d’Ecoline – Sadirac / vegetables and fruits, legumes et fruits / pick-up or delivery w/in 20kim of Sadirac, récupérer ou livraison entre 20km de Sadirac / order online for delivery in 48hrs, faire la commande en ligne pour livraison dans 48hrs / +33 (0)6 10 13 26 81 / Lieu dit Joyeuse, 33670 Sadirac / firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.domaine-ecoline.fr/
Asparagus, Asperge – Noaillan / pick-up at farm, récupérer à la ferme / asparagus,asperge 5€ kilo, tips et des points a 6€ kilo / Chez FAUQUE Nathalie, 1 Suscarrot, Noaillan / +33 (0)5 56 25 39 05
Thierry Premieur– Langorian (closed) et Podensac et Langon (ouvert) / vegetable stand doing pickup and delivery orders via ONE SMS (put name, address, contact info) / stand de légumes faisant des commandes de ramassage et de livraison via UN SMS (mettre le nom, l’adresse, les coordonnées) / +33 (0)6 08 01 47 92 (Thierry) / https://www.facebook.com/thierry.primeur
Muriel ARNULL – Langon, Bazas, Cudos, Captieux, Villandrault / delivery of chickens, pintade, and butchered duck as well as eggs and duck hearts / livraison des livraison pour la volaille, poulet 7.80 le kilo, pintade 9.30 le kilo, canette 9.60 le kilo et magret découpe plus des œuf pleine aire et les coeurs de canard / email@example.com
Little Black Pig – Montesquiou / charcuterie products for pick or local delivery / des produits charcuterie, récupérer sur place ou livraisons local / +33 (0)5 62 07 15 19 / Enjouanisson, 32320 Montesquiou / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://littleblackpig.eu /
Duck / canard
Palmagri – Magasins aLangon, Auros, Bordeaux et Bazas / pick-up and local delivery at local duck coopérative making foie gras and any other sort of duck product from magret to rillettes, des produits canard et foie gras / récupérer sur place et livraisons locales dans coopérative de canard local faisant du foie gras et tout autre type de produit de canard du magret aux rillettes, des produits canard et foie gras / http://www.palmagri-foiegras.fr
La Ferme de Queyran – Bernos-Beaulac / duck and foie gras products, canard et des produits foie gras / pick-up for orders under 50€ and more than 10km, récupérer sur place ou livraison pour les commandes plus de 50€ et mois de 10km / Fabien +33 (0)6 03 19 17 86 / https://www.facebook.com/fermequeyran/
La Ferme du Moulinat – Loubens / canned duck goods, sunflower oil and canola, bio lentils, dried corn, grains for animal feed and they are part of the association Les Paysans d’Aqui, we are a group of organic or very reasoned producers who offer sales via cagette.net on Thursday evening at the new plant (former prison of La Réole), the second Wednesday of the month at my farm and we have just set up specially for sales containment on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the farm / FRANCAIS conserves de canard gras (et produits frais sur commande) huiles de tournesol et de colza Bio, lentille bio, maïs popcorn bio, céréales pour animaux bio et ils faites partie de l’asso Les Paysans d’Aqui, nous sommes un regroupement de producteurs bio ou très raisonnés qui proposons des ventes via cagette.net le jeudi soir à la nouvelle centrale (ancienne prison de La Réole), le second mercredi du mois à ma ferme et nous venons de mettre en place spécialement pour le confinement des ventes le samedi matin de 9h à 12h30 à la ferme / email@example.com / www.lafermedumoulinat.com
La Ferme Gauvry – Rimons / Bazadais beef, ducks and canned goods for pick-up, bœuf bazadais, canards et conservés pour récupérer sur place / Lieu dit Gauvry, 33580 Rions / +33 (0)5 56 71 83 96 ou +33 (0)6 07 75 19 43 / firstname.lastname@example.org / https://www.lafermegauvry.com/
La Grise de Bazas – Bazas / Bazadais beef, race bazadais veal veau Le semaine de 23 mars ready for pick-up the week of 23rd March with sausage and pate ten days after / veau le semaine de 23 mars prêt pour récupérer sous place le semaine de 23eme mars et des saucissons et pâte dix jours après / +33 (0)6 12 27 84 16 / email@example.com / https://www.lagrisedebazas.fr
Cheese and Milk / Fromage et lait
La Ferme de Pre Chic – Prechac / fresh goat cheese (and soaps), pick-up and delivery locally on orders over 15 EURO / fromage de chèvre frais (et de savon) récupérer sur place et livraison a domicile locale pour 15 EURO commande / 4 Lieu-dit Bergey et Bardine, 33730 Prechac / envoyer message sur Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lafermeduprechic/
La Ferme des Jarouilles – Coutras / pick-up at 17h Monday-Friday goat and cow, milk, yogurt and cheese as well as grains and eggs, / récupère a 17h le lundi à vendredi du chèvre et vache lait, yaourt et fromage et des graines et les œufs / +33 (0)5 57 49 28 20 / 36 Les Landes, 33230 Coutras / http://www.jarouilles.fr/
Dénis Morlans – Sendets / organic bakery delivering locally, pick-up at bakery. Hugo Délices a Bazas or at Bazas farm Johan Musseau on Saturday – boulangerie organic pour livraison locale, Hugo Délices a Bazas, récupérer sur place ou à la marche à Ferme Johan Musseau a Bazas les Samedis / 4 A Rippes, 33690 Sendets / https://m.facebook.com/LesConfituresDenisMorlans
For general inquiry check these locations :
Bienvenue à la Ferme – Great source for local farms and even places to visit after the virus quarantine is over. They are working with farmers to make sure all necessary hygiene and safety measures needed to deliver local foods / Grande source pour les fermes locales et même les endroits à visiter après la quarantaine du virus est terminée. Ils travaillent avec les agriculteurs pour s’assurer que toutes les mesures d’hygiène et de sécurité nécessaires à la livraison des aliments locauxhttps://www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com/nouvelle-aquitaine/produits-fermiers-produits-de-la-ferme
Lodene headed by Nicolas FAUGERE will be updating his list with map as well to help you find local producers – with a great interactive map! / Dirigé par Nicolas FAUGERE mettra à jour sa liste avec carte ainsi pour vous aider à trouver des producteurs locaux – avec une grande carte interactive!http://www.lodene.com/annuaire-covid.php
These are some cheese (non-exhaustive list) from the SW of France with basic information and where you can see the farm production of each cheese. Check out each AOP (Product Designation of Origin) Route des Fromages, as they will have a drivable route with plenty of relevant places to visit in each area. Please call all farms in advance if you would like to make a visit and be sure to tag us on Instagram @aquitainetravelguide when you go!
Most cheese in France are made from the milk of either a cow, sheep or goat and a rennet will be used to make the curds, which are then pressed into a form and aged for varied lengths of time. The type of animal and what it is feeding on during lactation will change the flavor. Some will have salt washes, some salt rubs…some will be wrapped in linen and others to air dry. All of these different methods (and more) will add the to the unique flavor and texture of the product.
Rennet – the curdled milk from the stomach of a baby cow, the byproduct of veal production, used in the cheese making process to make the curds
Artichoke Thistle (cardoon) – used often in the Mediterranean, one of the many vegetarian options, also less expensive options, available to curdle milk in cheese production
Microbial Rennet – vegetarian rennet alternative, used to curdle cheese in France, derived from molds
Fermier (artisanal) – farmhouse cheese, made with raw milk from cows on the farm (small production)
Laitier – commercialized, large production of pasteurized cheeses / many cheeses will have a pasteurized version for international sale
CHEESES : Locally to Bordeaux, we have small goats cheese producers like Cheverie Dunie in Gajac which makes lovely fresh and aged using vegetarian rennet or La Ferme du Pre Chic in Prechac which makes really young, fresh cheese and goat milk soap. The delicious Tomme de Bazas, from pasteurized cows milk, is actually made closer to the Pyrenees (not in Bazas). Please feel free to share your local favorites below!
Saint Nectaire – cows milk, AOC since 1955, curds the size of corn are placed into a round inox mold for an hour, salted on both sides, wrapped in damp linen and returned to the inox molds. They are stored in 8C-10C for a week before being taken to the aging room (cave d’affinage). Should have a semi-soft rind and soft interior. Visits to a local farm Ferme GAEC de l’Oiseau can be made here or GAEC de la Ferme du Clos here.
Bleu d’Avergne – cows milk, AOC since 1975, first made in 1854 by a roquefort cheese maker, has the blue mold Penicillium roqueforti but a creamier taste to Roquefort. Outside and inside should be crumbly. Aged over sixty days. Visits at La Grange de la Haute Vallee can be made here, which also offer other local AOC cheeses like Cantal and Salers.
Cantal – cows milk, AOC since 1956, one of the oldest cheeses in France and mentioned since Gallo-Romain times. The larger curds are salted en masse and pressed twice then aged from 30 days up to eight months. Exterior should be hard and the interior crumbly in more aged versions. For visits.
Salers – cows cheese, AOC since 1961, and fermier produced from spring to autumn. ‘Tradition Salers‘ is made from hand-milked, Salers cows. At least 300 liters of milk is used for each round of cheese, which is aged around nine months or more. As with other SW cheeses, Henri de La Ferté-Senneterre is a local from Auvergne famous for serving Salers to Louis XIV and finally giving them notoriety even though it has been produced for thousands of years. For visits.
Rocamadour – goat milk, AOC since 1996, familiar small round of cheese that is aged for 12-15 days. Should be white and soft on the inside. Named after the Lot Valley mountaintop village area where it is produced, Rocamadour (also worth a visit). Tours at one of the 90 farms can be made here.
Ossau Iraty – sheep milk, AOC since 1980, traditional cheese of Bearne and Pays Basque. Made during the late Spring and early Autumn months, 5-6 Liters of milk make one kilo of cheese. They are aged from 2 1/2 months up to even 12 months. The Pays Basque age in dry caves while the Bearne cheeses are in a more moist environment, even wrapped in moist cloth, which explains the difference in taste and look of the Ossau Iraty varieties. For visits, you can stop by Farm Gaec Hobiaguehere.
Explore the whole Pays Basque area which includes the production of the tiny pepper piment espellette, which was used as a black pepper alternative in the region, Bayonne with it’s important chocolate history, and the land of a very cute and small variety of horse, Pottoka.
Another cheese in this area, Kukuklu, is a goat cheese and you can do a self guided tour at the farm La Ferme Kukuluhere.
Laguiole – cow milk, AOC since 1961, takes its name from the same little town also famous for their knives, Laguiole. Considered to have a nutty/acidic flavor, from the Simmental or Aubrac cows milk only, aged six to 12 months and should have firm crust with a firm yet creamy center. This is used to make the famous ‘aligot‘ potatoes – a rich dish of cream, potato, butter and cheese. Visits at the Ferme des Claudels can be made here.
Bleu des Causses -cows milk, AOC since 1949, considered the mild variety of Roquefort. Aged from 3-6 months in North Aveyron and Causses’ natural limestone caves and perforated (like other blue cheeses) to allow for mold growth. Ferme Gazenas offers group visits here
Roquefort – sheep milk, AOC since 1925, 4.5 liters makes a 1 kilo of cheese. Named for the region it is produced, Charles the IV in 1411 grated the locals of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon the sole producers of the cheese. The mold, Penicillium roqueforti, is found inside the natural limestone caves where they are aged. Fromagerie Papillon is one of my favorite cheeses, visit the cellar here.
Fourne d’Ambert – cows milk, AOC since 1972, uses the same mold as Roquefort. Generally made with pasteurized milk, there is a small artisanal production which has started. La Ferme des Supeyres makes unpasteurized cheese and you can buy directly from them here. They are also included on the Route des Fromages AOP Auvergne.
This is by far one of my favorite cities to visit and was so lucky to have been able to call it home before we made the decision to move to the Bordeaux region.
These are my suggestions for your visit in Barcelona, please feel free to message me for more suggestions or if you have any questions.
Arriving into Barcelona by train is simple, Barcelona Sants is centrally located and it is a nonstop six-hour trip from Paris for around 80 EURO each way (some deals for under 30 EURO can be found). From Bordeaux it will take just as long, if not more, and will require a transfer. Train bookings open up three months prior to date of departure.
Flights are equally simple and cheap, Vueling and Easyjetcan have nonstop flights as low as 20 EURO each way. Once you leave the airport, the AEROBUS can take you to Placa Catalonia starting at 6 EURO. Taxis are cheap in Barcelona as well and will run you around 20 EURO from the airport to town. UBER doesn’t exist, so you would want to download the local versions app Cabify.
Driving is another alternative which allows you to explore the beautiful Costa Brava coastline between France and Spain, as well as take side trips to Romain ruins at Empuries or theScala Dei vineyards of Priorat. Parking in Barcelona isn’t hard and there are plenty of parking decks starting around 18 EURO a day.
For the metro, buy a T-Casual ticket with ten trips for 11.35€ from any machine in the metro. Make sure you don’t bend it or keep it next to a magnet.
WHAT TO SEE :
As I am a food-centric person, you’ll have to excuse the fact that my trip primarily revolves around meals, markets and snacks! You have to take the time to visit at least a couple of markets. Each neighborhood of Barcelona has a market, at least one, and they are impressive. The quality and vast range of products will make anyone with a kitchen happy! Plus the prices, if you’re coming from France.
The Boqueria, on the Ramblas, is probably the most well known and visited market. There has been a market on these premises since the 1217, when the local farmers would pull up with their produce to sell. The current structure is from the mid 1800’s and is beautiful. I’m sad to say, however, that over the past decade the number of authentic stands (not dedicated to tourism) have waned dramatically. If you want to get a sense of what the market used to feel like, go early in the morning (aim for 8am) and after walking around, stop at one of the counters, order una cana (beer) and a plate bunyols (fried cod fritters). The fish section of the Boqueria is incredible, but due to high numbers of tourists the fish mongers will prefer if you refrain from taking photos.
If you want to visit a local market less frequented by tourists, try the Mercat Santa Caterinain La Ribera with it’s tiled roof of a pixelated image of fruit and vegetables, or head to the newly renovated Mercat de Sant Antoniin Poble Sec (great neighborhood for tapas hopping).
If the Ramblas is the Times Square of Barcelona, then El Born Neighborhood is the Brooklyn. It is a really fun, hip place to be with beautiful streets to wonder through, a chocolate museum and school and a covered market that has been turned into an archeological museum. Bar del Pla is perfect spot to grab lunch or dinner, with classic tapas but also creative additions in a traditional bodega setting / Carrer Montcada, num. 2, 08003, Barcelona / +34 932 683 003
The Gotico neighborhood is where a lot of shopping can be had and where the beautiful Cathedral Santa Cruz is located. During the Christmas season, a giant caga tio (excellent video by the late Anthony Bourdain) is placed in front and you can watch local children stand in line to beat the log…as we would line up to sit on santas lap. If you don’t know about the caganer or caga tio, watch this. It’s the most unique European Christmas tradition I’ve seen yet.
If olive oil is your thing, and this would be the traditional cooking fat of Spain, thenOroLiquido is a must. The owner, Ana, has an incredible selection of oils from all over Spain and Xavier (who also has his own olive oil farm BOOC) will be happy to take you through how to taste the different varieties / Carrer de la Palla 8, 08002, Barcelona / +34 933 022 980
There are plenty of great hotels in Barcelona, but the most important part is choosing the right neighborhood. Avoid Raval, as it is changing but you might also still find shady characters and goings on. The Gotico can be too crowded and while generally safe, is best avoided. The Ramblas, like Times Square, is an invitation for pickpockets as well as visitors. Airbnband VRBO are a great option in Barcelona, because the ability to use a kitchen and work with all the amazing products is a treat!
If you want quiet try the neighborhood of Sant Gervasi, near metro stops Muntaneer or Sant Gervasi, which is residential and completely dead on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, but is only a five minute metro ride into Placa Catalonia. The Mercure is clean, safe, offers parking, and has a great breakfast / Via Augusta 127HB003342, 8006, BARCELONA / +34 932 094 511
El Born will be lively at night with plenty of bars and clubs, so be aware of who your neighbor is to avoid loud music and yelling in the streets, which is the same to be said for Barceloneta (not great for distance from metro). Eixample is safe, residential, as is Poble Nou which is also close to the beach and much calmer. Escriba, a master of pastry in Barcelona, has a wonderful paella (not local, Valencian origins) and fiduea (Catalan version of paella) restaurant on the beach Xiringuito EscribaAvinguda Litoral, 62, 08005, Barcelona / +34 932 210 729
WHERE TO EAT :
This list is just a taste of what there is to be had in Barcelona. First lets talk cuisine. You’re in Barcelona, so Catalan and Molecular cuisine are king. Make reservations at any place listed, if possible.
While Barcelona is in Spain, their identity is Catalan which is a region reaching to the Pyrenees and South of Barcelona. The local language is Catalan, with many older people speaking French as a third language and the younger generation speaking English. There is fierce pride in their language and identity after decades under authoritarian regimes that tried to erase their language and culture. Catalan cuisine is unique in many ways, the influence between the border with France might be the biggest difference between their food and the rest of Spain. Their love of mar i muntanya (surf and turf) will be immediately noticeable. The five sauces you will find in nearly any traditional dish – romanesco, sofregit (sofrito), aioli, picada, and samfania – really characterize the dishes.
Classical Catalan at Freixa Tradicio was my favorite, but it has since closed (2018). Modern Catalan can be found in many places, but the two OG’s of bistrionomic cuisine in Barcelona would have to be Embat and Gresca.
GRESCA – modern Catalan restaurant with local ingredients and great technique (no molecular) and newer adjoining wine bar, think eggs and jamon Iberico with a twist / Daily for lunch and Monday-Friday for dinner / C/ Provenca 230, 08036, Barcelona / +34 934 516 193
Most people have heard of El Bulli, that institution and birth place of molecular gastronomy in the hills by Roses on the Costa Brava. Gourmet magazine referred to Adria as “the Salvador Dali of the kitchen“. Thanks to the Adria brothers, the look and feel of food has been forever changed. Ferran Adria is still active in the culinary world, many restaurants in Barcelona will say how he has come to their establishment to dine. However, the new head of the Adria empire is Albert with elBarri restaurants. From the circus-styled taperiaTickets to the modern take on Mexican at Hoja Santa, your senses are sure to be simultaneously tricked and pleased.
El Bulli produced not only impressive food, but incredible talent like Akreme Benallal whom I had the privilege of staging with in Paris years ago. The whole city of Barcelona is filled with restaurants that have chefs who either worked at or staged at El Bulli…from Disfrutar to Alkimia.
They may not be Catalan, but Spanish tapas are everywhere…alongside their Basque cousin, the pinxco. So, where to try them? Head to Poble Sec, one of the more up and coming neighborhoods that has transformed immensely in the last five years.
A great place to start, is Els Sortidors del Parlament will have barrel tables near the front and long wooden tables in the back serving up typical Xarcuteria plates and formatges, little bowls of local Arebequina olives and pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato). Take a glass of the house vermut or local beer and take in the locals laid back ambrience / Carrer del Parlament, 53, 08015, Barcelona / +34 934 411 602
Afterwards, if you can get in, try Quimet y Quimet if only for their smoked salmon and truffled honey. Then head toCarrer del Blaiand grab a little of everything…the street is filled with spots for tapas.
Further afield is another favorite, Lolita (currently closed until March 2020). The friend eggplant and molasses, tiny goat ribs, beans and truffle and their own version of the Quimet y Quimet classic / c/ Tamarit, 104, Local 2-4, 08015, Barcelona / +34 934 245 231
If you want more restaurant recommendations, please send me a message with the dates you’re going and budget.
This region is famous for wine production, so when Charles DELALAND opened up his Brasserie Distillerie Cabestan he wasn’t very worried about the competition or fitting in with the local vintners in Saint-Croix-du-Mont. The brewery is tucked into the center of town, almost hidden behind a tall gate that from behind looks out over the Garonne valley and onto the vineyards of Sauternes in the distance. It’s an incredibly scenic and inviting atmosphere for summer evenings.
Charles started working for a brewery in Seine-et-Marne before coming down to this region to begin his own brewery. This is a one man show using barley (orge) and making ales (beers made with a high fermentation level of 18C-23C). He is an excellent teacher, which I noticed from the beginning, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that he offers beer making classes (in French) on Saturday afternoons (book here) and beer tasting ateliers.
It was interesting to hear how the smaller, independent breweries will bottle their beers while they still have no bubbles but with the addition of sugar these beers ferment one last time in the bottle (much like champagne). This gives the beer a finer and more delicate bubble.
There is a reason for the ‘distillery’ in the name. With the small leftover materials from the beer making, Charles has started to distill a 40% alcohol called ‘Esprit de Biere‘. The past year he made 100 bottles that have already sold. I guess you could compare the taste it to a smooth grappa, it really didn’t have the horrible bite some stronger alcohols do. It’s a beautiful bottle as well.
Finally, in partnership with Sandrine GONDOLO, he has a ‘Confit de Biere Ambree‘ made which has a flavor much like a quince which can be used with fois gras, cheese or in similar styles to the classic Sauternes confit.
If you are looking for something a bit different from the standard vineyard visit but equally interesting and tasty, take a detour to Saint-Croix-du-Mont or book one of the classes on offer with Charles…or come to Le BoeufPop! in Bazas and taste his beers on tap!
There are so many lovely towns to visit within an hour of Bordeaux. One of the most authentic and unspoiled French countryside towns might be Bazas. Its arcaded town square, beautiful Saturday morning markets and unique festivals are only a few of the reasons to visit. Come for a taste of what French life was, and has been, for centuries.
Lovely Spring Morning on Cathedral Square
How to Get There:
The closest airport is BordeauxBOD which is serviced by AirFrance, Vueling, Easyjet, RyanAir and Volotea among others. A bus can take you to Bordeaux Saint-Jean Gare for 8 EURO one way and departs every 30 minutes and tickets can be purchased online, inadvance with http://www.30direct.com.
The closest train station is Langon (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) which has regular service from Bordeaux Saint-Jean Gare. The round-trip fare is around 18 EURO for adults. There are car rental companies within walking distance to the train station.
There is limited bus service which makes arriving by car the only way to visit Bazas and is the main reason it has retained its authentic French countryside charm.
What to See : There are tours of Bazas village, Saint-Jean the Baptiste Cathedral, the ancient hospital apothecary, summer underground visits and even theatricla tours for children through the Bazadais Tourism Office, in French. There is a small archeological museum underneath the mairie which can be visited during high season on Thursday or Saturday, or with a guided tour. This traces the growth of the village and area from prehistoric times, with displayed artifacts collected over the centuries of habitation. Hours vary depending on season / +33 5 56 25 25 84 / Place de la Cathedrale, 33430 Bazas
The Cathedral and town itself is considered a UNESCO heritage site due to its placement on the Saint-Jacques Compostelle Trail. The building suffered through the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution, with many of it’s riches stolen or destroyed. One can still appreciate its significance by strolling through the aisles or by watching one of the local concerts from the pews.
For a bit of nature, take a walk along La Breche, a path along the outside wall of the cathedral with a pastural view of the town. Or, rent a bike with Les Cycles du Bazadais to tour the town and surrounding area as there are plenty of bike paths. Half day starting at 10 EURO / +33 (0)5 56 25 48 26 / 5 allées St Sauveur, 33430 BAZAS
Private tours of the town and food tours visiting the local farms can be booked through Aquitaine Travel Guide, contact directly for pricing and times / firstname.lastname@example.org / +33 (0)6 33 91 37 90
Chateau Cazeneuve 15 minutes drive from Bazas, in Cazeneuve, this chateau was started in the 13th century. The residence of Henri IV and Queen Margot has amazing gardens on its grounds for picnics and an enchanting walk to the queens grotto. Tours in French only / 11,50 EURO adults / check website for hours / +33 (0)5 56 25 48 16
Chateau Roquetaillade 15 minutes drive from Bazas, in Mazeres, is a chateau started during the 100 years war with a rather unique style. They also have a beautiful heard of Bazadais on their property and a farming museum (open in summer). Tours in French or English on demand / 9.50 EURO adults / Winter hours are Sunday only with more tours during high season / +33 (0)5 56 76 14 16
Queens Grotto at Cazeneuve
Where to Stay : While Bazas works as a day-trip from Bordeaux, there is plenty to see and it’s worth an overnight stay.
Le Sorbet, is a bed and breakfast in the hills just 5min walk to Bazas. Their stunning French countryside bedroom with balconied bathroom is a relaxing countryside escape with a garden view over the cathedral. 90 EURO for double occupancy / +33 (0)6 32 31 74 64 / 3 Sorbet, 33430 Bazas
Le Clos de la Cathedrale opened in 2019, the larger bed and breakfast has elegant rooms in an old mansion with garden, in the center of town near the cathedral. 86 EURO for double occupancy with breakfast / Book online / 9 Rue de la Taillade, 33430 Bazas
Domaine de Fompeyre*** is a larger hotel, about 15 minutes walk into town, with a great view of Bazas and covered, heated pool. They also have a restaurant and substantial parking. Rooms start around 70 EURO a night for double occupancy / +33 (0)5 56 25 98 00 / email@example.com / Route de Mont de Marsan, 33430 Bazas
No matter where you eat, you’ll want to try some Boeuf Bazadais! (pictured at Caro&Co)
What to Eat : There are a great selection of restaurants for this small town, all with their own unique charm and great lunch menus. However, don’t miss this opportunity to taste some of the Boeuf Bazadais*.
Boeuf Pop!offers up a great burger with fois gras and works with local farmers to serve locally sourced meats and cheeses with lunches under 30 EURO. Ask for a terrace seat in summer. Reservations recommended by calling / +33 (0)9 83 72 28 28 / 30 Place de la Cathedrale, 33430 Bazas
Caro&Co works with local farmers and has a light touch with their food, incorporating a lot of seasonal vegetables and beautiful plating and a lunch menu around 18 EURO. Nice garden area for dining in summer. Reservations recommended by calling / +33 (0)5 56 65 24 58 / 38 Place de la Cathedrale, 33430 Bazas
Hugo Delices does classical French and some international plates with a French touch and lunch menus at 16 EURO. Small, so request indoor dining in winter. Reservations recommended by calling / +33 5 56 25 54 34 / 23 Place de la Cathedrale, 33430 Bazas
Indigo has great classics like sweetbreads with truffle sauce but also incorporates hints of SE Asia in many dishes and lunch menu at 16 EURO. Nice for date night. Reservations can be made with LaFourchette well in advance / +33 (0)5 56 25 25 52 / 25 Rue Fondespan, 33430 Bazas
Le Maquignon has an open grill to sear your Bazadais steak to perfection, a cold buffet and a lunch menu at 14 EURO. Good for groups and they have a covered terrace out back for summer months. +33 (0)5 56 65 58 73 / 4 Cours du Marechal Foch, 33430 Bazas
La Breche Antiques Hunting
Where to Shop : Not all the shopping is found on the pedestrian street of Rue Fondespan and antiques lovers will want to come Saturday when all of the antiques stores are open.
Antiques of all varieties and pricing can be found in Bazas. The charming Jean-Luc Creiche on 8 Rue Bragous has a collection of tableware, light fixtures and furnishings of all price ranges and will search for whatever you need. Un Air de Curiosities specializes in fine French countryside antiques in a romantic shop under the arcades at 43 Place de la Cathedrale. When you look to the Cathedral, notice a small road leading to the right called Rue Theophile Servieres and you will discover Antiquites La Breche which is like going into your grandmothers garage and realizing she collected unique antiques during her travels.
Fine foods and fresh produce can be found at the idyllic green grocer Serge Baradat on Rue Fondespan who sells fois gras products from Palmagri in nearby Auros. The Concerverie Lamigeon under the arcades at 26 Place de la Cathedrale has been making excellent pate since the 1940s, like porc pate with Sauternes wine and pate of boar or deer.
If you are looking for a nice memento of your visit in Bazas, look no further than the Bazas Tourism Office with mugs, aprons, books and other items for sale. The tableware and cavisteTradition, on Rue Fondespan, has charming plates with the Bazadais cattle or palombes on them to take home, amongst other specialties.
When to Visit : Outside of festivals the town is great to visit most days, except Monday when everything tends to be closed. Oddly, for a small town, on Sunday mornings and early afternoon there are shops and restaurants open. Saturday, however, might be the most charming day to come and enjoy the market, shops and dining. During festivals and market days, the parking in the main square is closed. Try finding a spot on Avenue Anatole de Monzie (near the rugby stadium) and take the 5 minute walk into town.
Fete de Boeuf Gras 2019
20 February, 2020 – for the Boeuf Gras Festival, get there early as this town of 5,000 people swells to 20,000 to celebrate epiphany and the cattle bearing their name. Bazadais cattle were originally brought over by the Moors during the 400AD invasion. A smaller breed, they were used for pulling carts and work but in 1980’s were brought back from near extinction and have found their place as one of the finest beef products for their marbled, fatty flesh. Bazadais have been celebrated since 1283 with parades, demonstrations and stands serving any style of beef. Restaurants also have special menus this day, but you’ll need to book at least two weeks in advance.
24 June 2020 – Festival of Saint Jean, to coincide around the summer solstice, is an evening parade (arrive early for a good view) and fire spectacle with people jumping through bonfires by the end. The entire town turns into outdoor bars, live music and restauration during multiple days. It can get messy in the late hours but the day time is fun, there is even a carnival for the kids by the library.
TBA September/October 2020 – Fete de la Palombe, a celebration of the hunting season. Specifically, the wild pigeons. Come learn about this unique hunting method and hear bird calling coemptions, witness the blessing of the pigeons in the cathedral, horn concerts and meet the brotherhoods celebrating the palombe and other regional delicacies.
Fete de Saint Jean
*Restaurants in alphabetical order and not exhaustive. Boeuf Bazadais represents a race and could have been raised and slaughtered anywhere in the country. If the restaurant is serving Boeuf de Bazas, this is an animal raised and slaughtered in the area but could be a Blonde d’Aquitaine, Bazadais or other race.
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 blogBon 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!
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!
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 :
Macarons – 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.
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 Baillardanor 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 crunchy 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.
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.
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.
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?
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
Tour, 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 😊