4th February 2018

Great news! We now have a licence for table d'hotes meals too! FRom 1st March we will be offering 3 course evening meals with wine as well as our famous breakfast. Keep checking the blog for more information and some sample menus and pricing.

28th January 2018

Wow, it's 2018 already. More blogging to follow shortly.  Happy New Year!

 

8th May 2017

It’s getting closer and closer to the formal opening of our business in the first week of June.  There have been some very successful soft launch weekends with friends, and our first paying guests have stayed and left some great reviews, but it will soon be a reality when Amanda leaves paid employment to concentrate full time on running L’Ancienne Cave.  She’s excited and nervous in equal quantities at the moment.

On the bright side, despite the recent weather chaos causing disaster for the wine growers, we have had some lovely weather and it has brought the roses out in the courtyard.  I’m expecting to go back this weekend and seeing the clematis out in bloom as well.  The wisteria didn’t blossom this year but we are expecting the honeysuckle to come out.

Saturday night was a pleasure.  We decided to have the night round La Claranda.  An American guitarist called Jeff Zima was playing slide blues, and it turned out to be a great night out.  Our events page gives you a link to what’s coming up, so spending a weekend with us throws up opportunities for some eclectic musical experiences, depending on your choice of weekend.

Jeff Zima on Youtube

24th Apr 2017

It has been a mixed weekend down in Serres.  I don’t know a lot about wine production, but people who know a lot more than me will talk about ‘terroir’ being key to the quality of the grapes produced.  This term encompasses all aspects of the ground on which the vines grow, including the mineralogy and water retaining capability of the soil, the pitch to the horizontal to maximise the sunlight, and the micro-climate caused by the peaks, hollows and prevailing wind direction.  Our immediate neighbours had a disaster caused by the latter – there was a sudden frost over three consecutive nights last week at the exact point in the growth cycle of the vines when they were vulnerable, and as a consequence, they have lost their 2017 harvest. As you can imagine, there were some sad faces in the village.

Amazingly, when we got back for the weekend, we were sat both Saturday and Sunday in low 20s sunshine.  We drove up to Peyriac-de-Mer for lunch with friends by the side of the Étang de l’Ayrolle and got a little scorched walking by the side of the water, looking at the flamingos.

The D613 remains a great road for a drive, and now that we have the Giulietta down with us for a few months, it’s not a chore to leave the village.

18th Apr 2017

A mixed Easter weekend on the weather front.  Friday was very pleasant, Saturday less so, then Sunday was marvellous.  Monday was nice too.  It looks like the weather is starting to change.  It surprises us  much the landscape changes in the week we are back in the UK – this weekend the trailing vines were showing on all the wires across the region (or at least on the roads down to Serres from Toulouse) and there was a beautiful green hue across the countryside.

One of the local specialities here is endive wrapped in ham and served with a cheese sauce.  Amanda gave it a go on Monday for lunch and I have to say she nailed it first time.  

11th Apr 2017

There has been a blog delay due to the pressures of time and to the fact that we had family across for a week, both to show them the new home and to give the place a full shake-down for the first paying guests.  However, both sides of that coin went well, we had an enjoyable week and further tuned the running of the establishment.

The appearance of the Breakfast Quiche has proved to be very successful. An Amanda original, it goes a nod at the full English but pulls back and has elements of France in it too.  I can see this being a favourite for people on sightseeing weekends who want something to send them out of the house smiling in the morning.

Once all the family left for the airport on Saturday, Amanda and I went for a long walk around the village for some down time.  This is the time of year when the countryside starts to come alive after winter, with the vines starting to trail and the farmers getting out in the vineyards hoeing between the rows in their tiny tractors.  Strolling along the side of the Rialsesse and catching the reflections on the water, we look forward to welcoming guests to our home so that we can share these great panoramas with them.

 

 

20th Mar 2017

Our first weekend as hosts. Some very good friends came across to give us some feedback on the proposed business offering and their thoughts were very, very positive.  We adapted quickly to the different living timetable for caring for guests, and I have to say we were surprised at how naturally it all fell into place.  Amanda is a morning person so she attended to breakfasts, and I’m an evening person so I looked after everyone until they decided to call it a day. 

Please note that there aren’t any food photos this week, due largely to the amount of fun we were having. And the fact that England gave up the Grand Slam in Ireland, meaning that sorrows were drowned.

We rounded off the weekend on Sunday around tables in the South Courtyard as the sun went down, and then went for a walk out into and around the village to catch the last of the light.  It reminded me that we live in a tremendously beautiful location which we want to share with many different guests over the coming years.

 

12th Mar 2017

A mixed weekend in the region weather-wise. Saturday was a shirt-sleeves day but Sunday was more drizzly and colder. We spent Saturday doing some essential administrative tasks to ensure the correct business functioning of the chambres d’hôte, and then relaxed a while in front of the television to watch England absolutely outclass Scotland in the 6 Nations.  To celebrate, Amanda knocked up a quick baked trout fillet in a cream and white wine sauce, accompanied by some chard and carrots from Quillan market. The trout must have been a large fish - but it cooked up superbly.

 

 

Sunday was a cleaning day in preparation for our first guests next weekend. L’Ancienne Cave is a quite significant property, surprisingly so for the street footprint, and to say we largely went through the building from top to bottom giving it a spring clean doesn’t do the effort justice. To keep our energy levels up, lunchtime break consisted of a pan of fresh prawns in garlic butter and some fresh baguette from the bakers in Couiza.  With a glass of local white, bien sûr!

5th Mar 2017

So this weekend there was a "festival of veal" up in Limoux, so we decided to join in with some cotes de veau.  A few potatoes and some local courgettes and there you go. A glass of bio pinot noir to go with is as well.  The local produce is really good.

25 Feb 2017

Dinner tonight – Sea Bream with buttered carrots, spinach and potatoes.

One of our neighbours recommended a local fish source which we drove down to this afternoon. The best of the selection was the sea bream, and we picked up a couple and brought them home.  Amanda stuffed them with coriander, a bit of ginger and chilli, a couple of cloves of garlic, then baked them in the oven.

With a glass of the local Picpoul de Pinet, this was one of the best meals we have had for a long time.

14 Jan 2017

Amanda has been experimenting with slow cooked meals using the log burning oven in the snug. It has been a cold winter, according to the locals, so we made efficient use of the room heating to also prepare some wholesome dinners.  This example is a boeuf bourguignon variation using some local beef and vegetables. Amanda started it in the kitchen then set it on the log burner to bubble gently all afternoon.  A fine dinner!

5 Jan 2017

Our next door (literally the next house to us) neighbours Nicolas and Amandine make some really excellent Crémant and Blanquette de Limoux.  We bought a bottle of each of their varieties to try.  All are excellent, but our favourite is the Trésor. This compares very favourably with a champagne and the price makes it a great buy.

Delivery isn’t an issue.  We knock on the door and in a few minutes Amandine comes round with the bottles.

23 Dec 2016

We are constantly surprised by how good the ingredients for cooking are here in the Aude. Today we went up to LeClerc in Limoux to get some food in for the Xmas break. Hanging behind the butchery counter were sides of certified Charolaises with their provenance certificates pinned to the meat.  And the poultry counter had some really good quality birds.  We’re going to enjoy living here.