A second remarkable dinner

The cycle trip has finished and there is a certain warm glow and smugness in achieving 8 days of exercise. This my last supper at the Hostellerie De La Bouriane, Gourdon. It is silver service and the Maître D’ is dressed in a dinner suit and is obviously the ONLY member of staff on duty, indeed is the owner.

I have visions of the episode of “Fawlty Towers” in which Basil attempts a silver service dinner and predictably fails, not only because of Basil, but the chef was intoxicated or was the chef going out as it was previously his rostered night off?

I am reassured by the impressive olde world dining room and the menu, not to mention the Maître D’ who does appear to be in control, although it will be a long evening but worth the wait

The formal dining room

The menu


La Salade du Moment

This was quite a creation as the apparent mozzarella balls were in fact an iced sorbet like taste but with actual mozzarella.

The Main

The Suggestion of the Day – Duck! But what a duck

The Dessert

Eating at a Michelin Guide Restaurant

A delightful meal inclusive of the tour price! Eating at arguably the best restaurant in the Dordogne. The reviews in Trip Advisor certainly agreed.

I dined with the 3 Canadian women who are with same cycle company and whom I met at the outset but not quite the same itinerary. Good fortune had us arriving at La Roque-Gageac on the same day. It is the custom of these 3 travel companions to share a bottle of champagne at some stage and tonight I was part of the group so a bottle of the best quality Champagne was duly ordered and consumed.

Here is the menu of the chef for the season / which I chose although there was an a la carte option.

The entree

The main course

And dessert

So the best for last..

La Belle Etoile Restaurant in La Roque-Gageac

The last day of the Red Deer

A great and fantastic hiking trail beautiful weather, stunning scenery , each hotel was just decadent with their Wellness Centres and great restaurants- basically I had variations of local trout or pork or deer ( as one delightful German waiter struggled to explain the menu in english he resorted to “Bambi”!
So I have had 8 days of walking followed by spa, sauna, steam and swimming! 

“Bambi” in redcurrant sauce

The Captain’ s Call

On two occasions Peter James-Martin has on this cycle trip, given a SOA (Statement of Advice) with respect to the recommended restaurant for our evening meals. Let me state quite categorically that as a financial planner he has no equal, but when it comes to deciding food versus finances, he should stick with matters of mensuration rather than  mastication. For the first and last nights in Amsterdam, he called it! Our opening meal at an Italian eatery that gave new meaning to “al dente”. 

The final evenings choice an Indonesian restaurant. It’s a given, demurred Peter that as the Dutch established their eponymous East Indies Trading Company, he adamantly knew that the best country for Indonesian cooking had to be Holland. Well the Indonesia establishment chosen was within an earshot of the famous Concertgebouw. Looking through the window, Peter further advised that it appeared busy , possibly with pre concert patrons. Using all of his tremendous financial intellect, he further advised that this obvious observation led him to the recommend that we take up the option forthwith. We entered. It was certainly busy if one acknowledged that all 4 window seats were taken. The rest of the dark dismal diner was as empty as a nun’s wedding chest. A large cat appeared alive although asleep on a cushion on the window ledge. It appeared as safe and secure as any feline might in an asian eatery . 

The maitre-de was, we assumed from Indonesia as he was a dusky shade of cinnamon, even allowing for the gloomy lighting. He was one of the most disinterested restaurateurs I have come across! The menu was basically any combination of beef, chicken, prawns or tofu with either rice or noodles! No surprises here. We mulled over these dauntung choices somewhat to the irritation of our host. Peter attempted to engage him by asking for a “wine list”. Rather than placate him it added to his irritated boredom as he repeated “wine list”? In a manner befitting of Basil Fawlty he indicated that the choices were so straightforward as to not actually need a list : red wine, white wine, beer or soft drink. Well consider it done we said and diplomatically requested the “red”. He wandered off, went several times in out of swinging doors to the kitchen for no apparent reason as on each occasion he appeared empty handed and we were yet to place our order. Although I did notice that each time he did so, the cat in the window gave a somewhat nervous startle. 
Eventually he meandered back with the bottle and 2 glasses. He poured both Peter and I a glass. Pamela politely suggested that she also wanted a glass! His response was of stunned uncertainty. Looking like a cross between Basil Fawlty and the President of the Christian Women’s Temperance Association, he was at pains to confirm he had heard correctly. Once confirmed he again repeated the kitchen door ritual several times before returning with a glass, thus thankfulky both Pamela and pussy were placated.

By now we were ready to order and the reader will hopefully recall the options were rice (plain, yellow, sticky) or noodles with various combinations. Easy peasy! We settled on a rice dish and 2 noodle dishes! I kid you not – the host explained that noodles were “finished”! FINISHED! We were gobsmacked. Our options reduced by 50%. We should have got up and left but we were so stunned that all sense of reasoning left us! The waiter gave the distinct impression that running out of noodles in an Asian restaurant was quite common and indeed not any cause for alarm. It is all so straightforward he explained : 3 people and there are fortuitously 3 choices of rice. His reasoning was faultless. The whole incident has left me scarred for life so much so that I cannot recall what we eventually ordered!

Anyway I am now at a truely special village and hotel on day 3. Here is a taste of the walk on day 2. I shall add a blog about last night hotel and hosts! 

Long weekend in Clare

The Riesling Trail Again!

About three years ago was the last time that I rode the Riesling Trail at that time it went from Clare to Auburn. I went with two overseas visitor from Germany and Brazil. We stayed at an onsite cabin in the Clare Caravan Park and had a great time. As I recall it was around autumn and the weather was mostly cool and sunny with one evening of rain.

The trail follows the original local train track. It was destroyed in a major bushfire I think in the 1950’s and was never resurrected and the freight was then transported by road. Many would despair of this outcome. However the ultimate benefit was that the train lines were removed and the track converted into a dedicated cycle and walk trail. It is quite unique. since my last visit it has been extended southwards to Riverton and is now 50 km long. 

This Anzac weekend 4 of us rented 2 cottages in Clare and spent out time cycling, walking and of course visiting various wineries and had a memorable much at Pauletts winery on the Sunday. 
It has been claimed that this Autumn in Adelaide has been one of the most spectacular as a consequence of a dry and cold start to the season. See for yourself!

Last meal in Porto

The Bargueiro Tapas cafe down by the dock! An Amazing find! Stumbled upon it!

Pork in red wine. The meat melted in the mouth!

Sardines – I baulked at eating the heads!


Stuffed mushrooms! Ham and cheese and baked!

Now I will be a devil, throw caution to the wind and have a coffee and a port!


But sorry there is no way that I can appreciate coffee which is as thick, bitter and as strong as Tony Abbott. I was lost for using the descriptive “black” when thinking of our former PM.

Unashamed iPhone food photos

Birthday coming up?

Happy to organise a cake or two from Selfridges, given sufficient warning 

 I acknowledge that some of you may find these “over the top”. I agree and certainly the little cup cakes on the top of the large cake is taking things a little too far.


The Entree at the Kensington hotel restaurant 


Back to the Present

In the morning I walked along the Danube to the wondrous architectural masterpiece, the national Parliament. Imagine my surprise when 4 young soldiers materialised on the steps and proceeded to give a precision demonstration of genuine sabre dancing. Now this is what Marilyn should introduce at her establishment. I made a brief video and if I ever discover how to upload it, I shall include In the meantime a picture of the parliament.

the National Parliament building


the National Parliament building close up


the National Parliament building side view

Then I meandered along the main retail Avenue of Budapest – think Armeni and Zegna.  This wide thoroughfare terminates at a great Park with castles and the famous Szechenyi Baths. It is impossible to describe this watery wonderland and I assumed that taking pictures would be prohibited. It is a vast complex of spa, steam, sauna plunge pools, outdoor and indoor pools and 2 large wave pools. I hasten to explain that this does not mean that groups of  young  Hungarian men sit at each end of  the pool and wink a and wave at each other, sadly. The complex has acres of mosaic tiles and I fantasise that this was exactly how the Ancient Romans and Greeks bathed. There are excellent photographs on the Web.

I was offered an “eternal youth massage” using grape seed oil to which has been added more than 27 minerals extracted from the Dead Sea. The irony of promising  eternal youth using an extract from the Dead Sea where there is no living organism, I judged would he lost on my rather muscular masseuse. But I did feel significantly younger – until I got up from the couch and hobbled to the door.


the main entrance to the baths. If only the Norwood Pool had something similar!


That evening I had made a booking at the Aranyszaras restaurant which I had stumbled across on my day walk. It had a fascinating menu, a “Michelin Recommended” sticker in the window and excellent reviews in TripAdvisor. I am an adventurous diner and as with my custom to attend local musical concerts, I will seek out local eateries and ask the staff to help choose a menu of local fare. 

It appears that the Hungarians are the European equivalent to the Chinese when it comes to utilising literally every part of a beast in their cooking. I confess that I will not allow Tofu or chicken claws to pass my lips in an Asian establishment. When in Hungary I do as the Hungarians do but I draw the line at minced bull’s testicle. Indeed the mere thought of it brings tears to my eyes and induces a brisk cremasteric reflex.
To save you the irritation of a Google search: 

The cremasteric reflex is a superficial (i.e., close to the skin’s surface) reflex observed in human males.

This reflex is elicited by lightly stroking the inner thigh with the 3rd finger. The normal response is an immediate contraction of the cremasteric muscle that pulls up the ipsilateral testis….” 

Having uncrossed my legs, here are pictures of the Hungarian dishes that the waiter recommend. 


Entree: Hazi szarvaskolbasz mustarral or.. Home made deer sausage with mustard


Main Course: Muflon porkolt, lilahagymas tarhonyaval or Mouflon stew with egg barley and purple onion. Meflon is a sort of wild deer or venison.