Find something you are passionate about and
keep tremendously interested in it.
~ Julia Child
(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas and surrounding villages. Please allow time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the seventh in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along?)
In the true Mediterrean style, dining al fresco prevails at Chateau Dumas. The polished terra cotta terrace just off the chateau’s dining room is perfect foil for leisurely watching the interplay of summer light and color as the sun quietly sets over the tapestry of the French countryside. The simplicity of the centuries-old terrace allows the dramatic beauty of this Mediterrean region to take center stage.
In celebration of some of southwest France’s finest offerings, sommelier Laurent Zimmerman presents a cheese, bread and wine tasting. Ah, what can be more lovely than the bread and the freshest cheeses of the region? The warm bread aroma is amazing.
Laurent welcomes the Chateau’s guests with warm French enthusiasm, and tells of the sampling process for the evening. The goat cheese samples are served with the white wine. The red wine is accompanied by the cheese from cow’s milk. The charming Chatelaine de Dumas effortlessly provides interpretation for those of us less fluent in French. I am quite grateful.
The tasting is quite an International event amongst our tiny band of travelers. Laurent’s stories are translated from French to English by the adept Chatelaine Lizzie. Then, a generous traveler translates into Spanish, and another traveler translates into German. A five nation tasting–quite amazing! Laurent pauses and listens attentively… to English … to Spanish … to German. Travelers ask questions. The questions are translated from Spanish or German to English — then to French. Laurent responds in French . . . Yes! it is rather lively and colorful!
The regional goat cheeses are featured first. Each of the hand-crafted artisan cheeses are to be eaten in a specific order ranging from mild to more pungent. The delicious cheese variety samples are quite unique in flavor and vary in texture from one another. Most of the cheese varieties have edible rinds, including one excellent cheese with an splendid ash rind. In particular, the Chevre du Quercy is an outstanding local artisan variety, and is a favorite of our merry band of travelers.
Next, stories about the cheeses made from cow’s milk are presented. Some of the cheeses are both beloved and reviled for their earthy aroma. They are all outstanding. Mais, j’adore le fromage.
The evening’s sampling includes tastes of three speciality breads of the region–multi-grain, walnut and whole grain fig. While all are delicious, the fig bread is amazing and is made from fresh figs gathered locally. I consider how to slip a few loaves of the fig bread into my luggage for the return trip–the bread is spectacular! Alas, maybe some for breakfast tomorrow? A quest for a fig bread recipe lies ahead. Ideas?
It is nearly 9:00 p.m. — time for the evening meal following a brief intermezzo from the superb tastings on this picturesque summer eve. A plethora of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables are offered for the evening meal. Mediterrean cooking is quite wonderful — I feel so healthy. The finale of tonight’s meal is an amazing fruit creation.
The adorable and incredibly talented MamaJo creates feasts befitting of kings and queens! This well-versed and former British university professor, prepares daily masterpieces at Chateau Dumas. Her beautiful desserts are steller using local fresh fruits. I consider whether or not she may enjoy an eager apprentice?!
What gorgeous edible “gifts” the talented MammaJo serves-up to guests at Chateau Dumas each day! The little packages are almost too pretty to eat tonight. I decide to look for one of her cookbooks she authored. . .
A beautiful evening shared with travelers from around the world is ending. As I begin to slumber, the simple — yet lovely — artwork on a wine bottle from the tastings comes to mind. It is rather intriguing. It simply says, “tout ce qu’il faut” — all that is needed or necessary.
My thoughts in the wee morning hours become quite contemplative . . . there is so much wisdom in the lovely little art adhered to the side of the dark brown glass. I am so thankful for all that I have been given — it is all I need. My eyes are heavy. It is futile to resist the soothing effects of French lavender fragrances finding their way to my second story windows. Bon soir et rêves doux! [Good night and sweet dreams!]
The final lovely sights of a once-in-lifetime dream trip to France are just around the corner.
à bientôt mes amis!
Won’t you journey with me awhile on this amazing trip in a gorgeous countryside chateau? Other adventures are at:
Read about how everyone is enjoying the outdoors at A Southern Daydreamer.