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The best bit about group holidays is that everyone is keen to cook and pitch in with meals. These meat-free, super tasty tacos can be as spicy or as mild as you like. By barbecuing them you get an extra hit of flavour and other vegetables work just as well. Zucchini, aubergine, shallots and avocado plus an assortment of your favourite herbs and garnishes make for the most delicious and balanced barbeque meal. This relaxed, DIY style dinner ensures everyone can help.
3 – This green pepper and pistachio risotto was a favourite of mine and my husbands when travelling through Italy several years ago. It Is super easy to make and doesn’t require too much fuss. It is a great vegetarian dish that you can create from fresh local ingredients in no time at all.
Being based in London means we’re lucky enough to have the option of a brief flight or a scenic route by car over into Europe. Having spent the last two summers exploring and getting married in Italy, it was time for us to head back to the country where many a summer vacation was spent growing up.
Paris is our first stop, albeit a brief one! I’ve worked a lot in Paris but never had the chance to just wander the streets, stop at a few tourist destinations, take time out at a gallery (The Rodin exhibition at the Grand Palais is worth a long stroll along the river to) and mainly eat the incredible food the city’s best chefs have to offer. On this short stopover, we stay at the Grand Pigalle Hotel. A hotel renowned for its vast array of cocktails and stylish art deco design. The bar is definitely one that requires you to dedicate a few hours to. Set just a few moments from Pigalle metro station and a short walk from Montmartre, the Sacré-Coeur and Moulin Rouge which means there’s plenty going on around here too. This area is steeped rich in history, once a place where musicians and artists flocked, dominating the area for much of the 1800’s.
We however spend a little time exploring then head over to the Marais to check out my favourite Parisian store; Merci. We dip in and out of several cafes before we meander onto our lunch spot just outside the 11th. The incredible Michelin starred chef Bertrand Grébaut whose restaurants; Septime, Clamato and La Cave are amongst the most popular in the city, and are what ultimately brings us to this part of Paris. We head to Grébaut’s Seafood spot Clamato (the michelin starred Septime doesn’t open on a Sunday) and enjoy the most incredible seafood lunch. Whole globe artichoke, seasonal new potatoes, wild rocket, pesto salad and pickled carrots for the Vegetarian. Fresh fish tartar and sardines in sherry vinegar for me. The carefully selected wine list isn’t to be missed either. This family spot fills up quickly so get there early!
Our next destination upon leaving Paris is just outside of Bergerac, south-west France. Our residence for the week, a stunning old converted mill. The bedroom window opens out over the running water that passes through the still working mill beneath the house. We drive through endless sunflower fields as we draw closer to our destination. The old mill sits by itself within the wheat fields that surround it. Picturesque and modest at a first glance. On our first night we head out laden with an assortment of French goodies as the sun begins to lower in the sky. Cheese, bread, wine and charcuterie with plenty of cornichons weigh down our baskets. We pitch up just beyond the stream with children and dog in tow. The complete calm and serenity of this area lets nature take centre stage. The constant hum of crickets, local birds and dark starry nights are a welcome addition and a far cry from our hectic London lives.
We venture to a nearby restaurant, just outside Puy L’Eveque. A fifteen-minute drive amongst endless rows of vineyards. Golden hour is upon us and we’re in awe of this incredible spot. Part of the main courtyard consists of an open barn style structure, which is where we dine, others sit beneath the enormous willow tree that dominates the other side of the courtyard. Food has a European focus and is made up from as much local produce as possible. Wine is of the same ethos. The key is to go local with whatever you can. It’s all completely delicious and the staff will happily guide you through the wine list.
The local market in Montcuq offers and incredible bounty of freshly grown produce. An abundance of cheese, pastries, breads and specialist charcuterie make us keen to plot out our meals for the week ahead at the mill.
This is a region of France where wine, cheese and charcuterie are to be appreciated. It’s no wonder that the French are proud of what their country produces, I could easily live off this wealth of produce and quality produce at that. The endless small towns we wander through, old cafes, brocantes and restaurants all with endless charm and steeped in history. This is a part of the world where you can’t help but be seduced by.