Olive Oil Tasting near Perpignan

On my way from Perpignan to Thuir in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, I stopped at “Moulin Saint Pierre,” (link in English) an olive oil production mill, with 30,000 trees in their grove, and a beautiful reception area and shop. The young lady there was very welcoming and explained the entire process, as the owner stood in the glass-enclosed, modern factory area (not open to visitors for security reasons). He had just been to New York City to introduce his line of olive oils to restaurants and their chefs and to importers and waved to us through the large, glass window!

After tasting some of the delicious olive oil, I purchased some and browsed the shop area full of soaps and other regional goodies containing olive oil!

Huile d’olive vierge extra, douce et fruitée. Non filtrée. Caractéristiques : Estagnon métal doré, excellente protection à la lumière. Capacité : 200ml
Bouchon : Bouchon verseur à tirette rétractable.

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Below is a video in French showing how to make ice cream with olive oil and figs – Bon Appetit!
Mercredi 22 : Glace à l’huile d’olive, figues au vin et aux épices.
Pour voir la vidéo, cliquez ICI then scroll down on page


(prounounced “to-ear” and “beear”)

I recently visited the town of Thuir, not far from Perpignan and in the most southern area of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. The sidewalks in this town are marble; the town was full of charm.

Thuir is home to “les Caves Byrrh” that houses the largest oak vat in the world (1,000,200 liters) in its production of “Byrrh,” an aperitif wine since 1873. I took a guided tour and learned it was first used medicinally as a tonic, as it contained quinine, and was sold only in pharmacies. The mixture of a variety of spices and zest (orange, cinnamon, coriander, cocoa, and coffee) gives each type of wine its unique flavor; the company also produce Dubonnet, a dry vermouth.

Of course, I did a wine tasting after the tour, and ended up buying a bottle of “SOHO” liquor, flavored with cherries and ginger, which could be added to champagne – sounded delicious and definitely ‘sold’ me!

Test your knowledge of “Byrrh” in this quiz (in French with answers provided)

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Chambre d’Hôte – A B&B somewhere

I was meeting a friend near Perpignan, and had booked a room at the same place she had chosen, just 15 km.  She had rented a car at the Perpignan train station, but we arrived on a Sunday, and so, the car rental agency was closed.   She would have to go to the Perpignan airport to pick up her reserved rental car; we found the taxi stand outside the train station.  However, it was lunchtime, but luckily, one of the drivers was nice enough to take us to the nearby airport.

Apparently, the car rental receptionist was not so friendly, until my friend started speaking in French  and then, all went well.   She finally got the rental car, and we took off towards the center of Perpignan, or so we thought…..due to road construction, that exit was blocked, and we ended up circling for about an hour trying to find our way – always ending up back near the airport.  This was annoyingly amusing, but getting serious, since our time was running out to be served lunch at most places in France.  We finally found a town square in Perpignan (at least, I think that’s where we were) and had a good lunch at some outdoor cafe. We stratagized on how to get out of where we were, in heading the right direction, over a glass of wine.

OK, the next hurdle was to find the Peu de Causse B&B in the small medieval village of Sainte-Columbe-de-la-Commanderie, 15 km (9 miles) from Perpignan, so onward we went.  I can’t tell you how many roundabouts we took (stopped counting) looking for the B&B village signs (weren’t any). when I phoned the B&B, the owner said it was difficult to give directions from where we were — pardon?

So, you ask, why didn’t we use a GPS?   Well, we had two going at the same time (a Garmin with a woman’s voice and the car GPS with a man’s voice) – a true battle of the sexes, but neither had a clue about the blocked routes! We were even starting to call both of them a few choice names.  We thought about opening the Michelin map iPhone app to make it really interesting, but refrained.  Finally, using a good old-fashioned paper map, we found the B&B.

By now it was “apero” time, so we drank some Muscat (free, small sample bottle) as we sat in the center of the stone-walled courtyard and took a deep, relaxing breath.  We had dinner reservations somewhere, but we would worry later about how to find the restaurant, not to mention returning in the dark of night.  I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, the GPS man and woman would be  “night owls” and therefore, more helpful!

All in all, it was a nice stay in a renovated stone farmhouse, with a delicious breakfast served, in a quiet area near Thuir – personal note:  a car is a necessity…not sure about the GPS though!

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