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A New French Fancy

One of the best things about holidaying in a fabulous food and wine region in France is the opportunity to eat and drink and discover new treasures. We always plan at least a few days of wine tasting and buying, returning to our favourite Domaines to taste new vintages and see old friends. And we always scour the Guide Hachette and Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson's World Wine Atlas for top new discovery tips.

Our latest stellar find is Domaine Boudau in Rivesaltes- just a popped cork from Perpignan. We put our heads and palates round the door on a cloudy afternoon and met Pierre Boudau, a man infectiously passionate about his wines. Some may think all small scale wine producers should be passionate about what they do and their products...and it is *mostly* the case. There are some however that are obviously more enthused, dedicated, knowledgable and charming than others...Pierre Boudau is a grand cru amongst petits grains and like him, his wines are full of personality.

We did a full degustation and came away with a few cases each of Le Clos, Henri Boudau and Muscat de Rivesaltes. All wines reflect the terroir with a combination of gusto and finesse. The reds are varying proportions of Grenache Noir, Syrah and Carignan grapes, and the Muscat is of course, well...100% Muscat, and just the perfect chilled aperitif...sweet southern French sunshine in a bottle. For London restaurant obsessives, you'll be interested to know Domaine Boudau's wines are featured at Fergus Henderson's St John and St John Bread and Wine. Taste the wines close to home, and next time you are near Perpignan, pop in to see Pierre...I guarantee you'll leave dazzled, if a little tipsy...

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Holiday Noshing

Just back from two gorgeous weeks in the French Pyrenees and a little side trip to Barcelona. It was a gourmand's delight. Our little French bolthole is situated very close to the Spanish border, 1200 metres above sea level, and has the purest mountain water running through it. Many think of the rugged "cuisine du terroir" of the Pyrenees- hearty meat dishes, saucisson sec, dense cheeses...however we have on our doorstep one of the finest sources of fresh fish in all of France! The Rebenty River provides the sparking water for the Piscicuture de Lafajolle The owner, Francois, raises organic trout of all varieties. He sells them in local markets, supplies restaurants, and directly sells at the farm. But he also releases them into the river, ensuring the biodiversity of the area and also making for some mighty fine fishing opportunities! One of the charming lads in the village, Romain, had a productive morning fishing and came round to present us with a brown trout and a rainbow trout. He even told us how to cook them- lightly dusted in flour, and pan fried in butter for a few minutes on each side. With a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of salt & pepper, they were gorgeous.