After spending the first half of that perfect day in Saint-Jean-de-Côle, we moved our stuff to a farm where we would spend our next night. We then went off to spend the second half of the day in Brantôme and had dinner at La Guingette Restaurant. Brantôme is so gorgeous that being there felt like I was wandering around inside a fairy tale.
Brantôme is a town in the Dordogne department of France in the Perigord region. It is known as the “Venice of Dordogne” due to its medieval and renaissance architecture with the Dronne River that circles the town. However there is nowhere near as much water in and around Brantôme as there is in Venice.
Gastronomically speaking, this area is traditionally known for ducks, truffles and walnuts. Ducks bring along a bad reputation to the area because of the making of foie gras, and I don’t want to go into that, but within the duck repertoire, other duck parts are used and there are plenty of different duck based dishes.
Lots of traditional dishes in this area use duck fat instead of oil or butter in its cooking. It is delicious though incredibly fatty and not the best thing ever if you are worried about your cholesterol.
We ended up not eating anything with truffles, though perhaps we should have because we are huge truffle fans. On the other hand it wasn’t truffle season either, but that’s what I say to myself just to feel better about forgetting to eat a truffle dish while being in the center of the French truffle universe.
We did eat a walnut cake, as I’ll show further on.
We had a good walk around Brantôme. We could say we walked till we dropped. We walked until we were so extremely tired that we decided to sit next to the river and read a book until it was time for dinner. Or in our case, to be true and precise, we read an e-reader.
During our walk around Brantôme, we had taken note of some nice looking places to have dinner, and were undecided about where to go. Even though I have this food blog, I don’t really like all this business on looking for online reviews of the best place to eat. I think they can help you avoid having a disappointing dinner at a not too good a place. I also think that all this online review thing can accidentally make you end up in overrated places that all the hipsters rave about, just because so. Rant over.
So, Mr. H., who when in France has a tendency to strike up conversations with strangers better than how I generally do, stopped a very cool looking local girl, and asked for her opinion on where to have dinner in Brantôme.
We told her about a place we had seen that could be a possibility, La Guinguette – pronounced “La Ganget“. She confirmed that La Guinguette is great, that she goes there with her friends quite a bit. If a local likes it, then it’s a good sign. She also suggested a few more places with different price points and different moods.
We did end up going to La Guinguette. Not only did it not disappoint, it exceeded my expectations. I don’t think she will ever read this, but just in case: Thank you Cool Local Girl!
La Guingette Restaurant
The front door of La Guinguette, which I didn’t take a photo of and which is not that photo above from the other side of the river, gives the impression that it’s a smallish café/bar. You walk through and suddenly find yourself in a very chic big terrace. It serves a mix of traditional duck specialities along with a selection of hamburgers and pizzas. Because if you’re local, you probably wouldn’t want to be feeding yourself on a diet exclusively based on ducks.
We ordered a fois gras and gésiers de canard salad to share as an entrée. With regards to duck gésiers, this was my first time discovery. It’s gizzards, a fibrous muscle from the stomach of the duck, cured in duck fat. It might not sound appealing but it’s delicious,
For the main dish we both ordered confit de canard, duck confit, which is a no brainer if you like duck. This is duck thighs preserved in duck fat, and then cooked in a small amount of the duck fat just before it is served. If it is served with frites, chips, they should also be fried in a bit of that duck fat.
For dessert we had a gâteau aux noix, walnut cake. This cake is also a speciality of this walnut rich region.
I know he will read this, so I also wanted to say a huge thank you to Mr. H. for making that perfect day so perfect. Waking up to chirping birds and nosey goats, discovering stunning corners of the French countryside, messing around with hay bales and eating amazing cuisine. I’m so happy that you shared these places and moments with me.