I’ve always been a fan of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall especially the original “Cook on the Wildside”, which meant that, as soon as we bought Villa Duroux I was out foraging in the grounds. Amazingly over the last few years, we have found over 30 types of fruit, vegetables or nuts growing within the perimeter of the property. Nearby we can also find mushrooms (top secret) and we have even flirted with the idea of establishing a few truffle trees.
Having moved from the city to the countryside, we were amazed by how much space we now have to manage (cutting the grass now takes 2 full days per fortnight in season) and that immediately gave us the idea to “go with the grow” and start our own vegetable garden including herbs, berries and nuts as well as the fruits from the trees.
Our 8 walnut trees give us enough walnuts each year to either sell, eat or press to make walnut oil which we use in salads or for oiling our worktops. Apples are plentiful and they combine well with the rhubarb for pies and the mint and herbs are always available for either Mojitos at the pool or fresh seasoning for our summer salads.
However, it’s the tomatoes which really capture our imagination because of all the different varieties . On top of that, it really is true that shop bought tomatoes can never match the taste of our own fresh tomatoes. We grow a minimum of 30 plants each year, just to be sure. From those plants wet are able to have fresh tomato salad with olive oil and salt (nothing else required). Gazpacho (cold tomato soup), a summer season favourite and salad Caprese to name but a few. If you visit us between July and October you will be sure to find a few in your welcome basket along with courgettes and whatever else is in season.
Growing the fruit and vegetables has its pains too as on an annual basis the slugs, snails, beetles and rabbits do their best to limit the crop, not to mention the Dordogne climate which can have enough early season rain to blight your crop or enough summer sun to shrivel everything on the vine. However, in the main we are rewarded between June and November with a whole host of crops which need to be picked and pickled. Fortunately we have enough pickling recipes handed down through the Polish side of the family to be able to just about handle the harvest.
Let me know if you have any comments, questions or need further info about what to find in a Dordogne Agritourism holiday.