With a low-key itinerary planned for today, we were able to sleep in and enjoy a little of the morning before getting ready for our lunch at Domaine Gayda. We had a 12:00 reservation so we tried to leave the cottage by 10:30…..and almost made it. We were in the car and on the road by 10:50…..it’s about 50 miles away…..so hopefully we wouldn’t be late.
We were all getting pretty tired of being in the car, but the countryside was lovely and Bev got a glimpse of Carcassonne, this afternoon’s destination. We exited the highway and took consecutively smaller roads until we spied Domaine Gayda on a low hill surrounded by acres and acres of vineyards.
We parked the car and walked up the grand staircases to the restaurant on the 2nd level. Our table, in the Terrace room overlooking the vineyards, was waiting for us.
You can order a la carte but the restaurant is known for their daily 3-course lunch menu with wine pairings and coffee…..for only 21.95€! Our maître d’ seated us and related today’s prix fixe menu…..an entree of foie gras with onion confit, followed by tuna in a dill-curry sauce with potatoes and fennel and, finally, an apple crumble for dessert. With some trepidation about the dill-curry sauce, we none-the-less said “Oui.”
One of the things I love about the French is that they won’t let you make a food mistake. After we all agreed to today’s menu, our maître d’ then asked us, “How would you like it prepared…..but it wouldn’t be good well-done.” We agreed and suggested that the chef prepare it as he sees fit. Our maître d’ was pleased with this and departed.
We now had time to review our surroundings…..a comfortable table near floor to ceiling windows that overlooked rolling hills filled with vineyards…..with the still snow-capped Pyanees in the distance. A most adequate view.
Our foie gras was served with Sauvignon Blanc…..we each took a bite…..its light, creamy texture melted in our mouths like butter. I’ve never found a foie gras I didn’t like….but this one was perfection. I hesitated to add the onion confit….but it was an excellent accompaniment. Our wine glasses were never more than half empty…..attentive servers were at always at the ready.
After a brief interlude, our “plats” were served…..an ample slice of perfectly cooked tuna served over potatoes and braised fennel with a light sauce flavored with dill and curry. We took a small bite of the tuna….the sauce was amazing! The strong flavors of dill and curry somehow tempered and complemented each other and enhanced the tuna. The tender fennel added another dimension to the dish. The tuna, too, was paired with Sauvignon Blanc…..did I tell you our glasses were never more than half-empty?
We were given a brief respite before the “apple crumble” was served. It bore some resemblance to its American cousin, but the apples were somehow crisp and tender at the same time and the “crumble” was lighter with a delicate flavor of its own. Chantilly with a drizzle of chocolate was on the side. Dessert was served with a Viognier. It was heavenly. After dessert, we relaxed over small cups of espresso….admiring the food, the service, the view. All was good.
When Craig was comfortable that he could drive safely, we returned to the car and drove to La Cité….the medieval, old, walled city of Carcassonne. Seeing it always takes my breath away. We parked the car and walked in on cobble-stoned streets over an open drawbridge. We window-shopped and strolled its small alleys…. stopping at St Nazaire Church.
As we entered the dim, stain-glassed church, we were surrounded by melodious, baritone chanting…..there were four men near the nave singing….. their strong voices filled the church with harmonious sound. We slid into a nearby pew to enjoy this unexpected delight….touring the church could wait.
After the amazing concert, we continued our exploration of the Cité and then headed back to the cottage…..our senses reeling from the sights and sounds and tastes of the day.
“When you start using senses you’ve neglected, your reward is to see the world with completely fresh eyes”…….Barbara Sher