It was 03:45 and I was awake with excitement as I was about to start another cooking vacation at The French House Party, the plane to Toulouse was due to depart at 07:35 and I had a taxi to take me to the airport arriving at 04:30!
I have been before, twice in fact it’s that good and circumstances had provided the opportunity for another trip, something I would not hesitate to embrace. The location Pexiora, near Carcassonne in the south west of France is a delightful village, the Domaine St. Raymond, a tastefully converted barn with properly equipped kitchen, swimming pool and tennis court allows relaxation when time allows is the base for the Gourmet Explorer, a 5 day 6 night cookery experience with lessons from various Chefs, and 1 with a Michelin star so the event covers a variety of skills and cuisines.As well as structured tuition there are a variety of trips organised depending on the time of the year, our 1st was to be to Domaine La Louvière, a vineyard in the Malpère region at the foot of the Pyrenees and what a lovely trip it was to be. The soil is a challenge in this region and the word Malpère means ‘poor stone’, a reference to the poor agricultural ground that Is required to produce grapes, in fact it has its advantages but requires a lot of manual labour to produce the best results.I think the the brand is awesome! Gem Harris, the Australian general manager explained the philosophy of the organic vineyard and wine production, and the brand which stems from the wolves which used to gather at the foothills of the Pyrenees, watching ready for the hunt. Each wine has its own special identity, the eye catching graphics produced by an Austrian lady which I think are just brilliant and very unique. We tasted several of the wines on offer of course and had a tour of the productions facility which was very modern and clean.Interesting was the use ‘Bat Huts’ to encourage bats to nest around the vineyard, they are great at keeping the insect population naturally low without having to use non-organic practises. If you subscribe to ‘Naked Wines’ in the U.K. these delicious wines are likely to become available in the near future.
For my own palate, La Muse (€12.50) and the more expensive La Souveraine (€17.00) were both stunning, great value for money and I ended up buying enough bottles to take home in the suitcase, hopefully they will arrive home in one piece! If you are in the locale, please pop in and say hello to Gem, he is extremely knowledgeable and very passionate about La Louvière and wines in general, well worth a visit.On arrival back at Domaine St. Raymond we were treated to a delicious 3 course meal and a cheese course, well we are in France!
More to follow, its Saturday afternoon as I am writing this 1st post and we are off to Limoux to taste some more drink and food, but more of that later. Come back again soon for an update on events.