December 20, 2010 Marseillette/Cathar castles

Wow, do we have a busy day today. It starts out with first the water being cut off and then the electricity. We leave early and find a McDonald’s with wifi. Strangely, they don’t open until 10 AM. Sarah is able to pick up a signal outside the door, though.

Wifi!
WiFi!

Having checked our mail and feeling much more connected to the world, we continue onto our main event of the day, a tour of the Cathar castles in the region. For anybody who doesn’t know who the Cathars were (and I certainly didn’t but of course John did), they were a sect that broke off from the Roman Catholic church in the 11th century. They believed in the dualism of good and evil with Heaven being God’s place and Hell being earth. They eschewed all material things so the Roman Catholic church was not on their good list. They also were not sure about Jesus being divine. Needless to say this upset the Church and in the early 13th century the church established the first crusade called the Albigensian crusade and systematically exterminated or converted all the Cathars. There are several ruined castles spread over the region. We visit three of them. (But they are up so high and inaccessible that we merely get close and take pictures.)

Puylaurens castle
Puylaurens castle, surrendered in 1255

Sarah in the snow
Sarah in the snow at Puylaurens Castle

Queribus castle
Queribus Castle

Peyrepetuse Castle
Peyrepetuse Castle

These castles are fairly far apart and in a pretty remote section of France and there is a lot of driving on very narrow, freakishly high roads. We don’t get back to the cottage until almost 6 PM. This gives us very little time to shower and get ready for a big dinner at La Barbacane at the Hotel de la Cite in Carcassonne. The dinner is our celebration dinner of Sarah’s 30th birthday. We order the 8 course tasting menu. Keep in mind that the portions are quite small and mostly we didn’t eat all of each plate.

We start off with some amuse bouche which I forget to take pictures of.
Then…

House made game terrine with foie gras, green tomato jam with giner and orange, toasted country bread
House made game terrine with foie gras, green tomato jam with giner and orange, toasted country bread. The foie gras was the best part.

Fricassee of autumn vegetaqbles cooked barigoule style, truffles and seasoned toast
Fricassee of autumn vegetaqbles cooked barigoule style, truffles and seasoned toast. This was just meh.

Bethmale cheese gratineed with burgundy truffles, potatoes from the Pays du Sault, smoked ham and mildly tangy onion compote
Bethmale cheese gratineed with burgundy truffles, potatoes from the Pays du Sault, smoked ham and mildly tangy onion compote. This was really tasty.

Roasted Brittany scallops, thin tart with Citou onions and smoked ham, matured Comte cheese, autumn truffles, and a sauce with Jura wine
Roasted Brittany scallops, thin tart with Citou onions and smoked ham, matured Comte cheese, autumn truffles, and a sauce with Jura wine. Another winner. The scallops were cooked perfectly.

Sole glazed with champagne, Dieppoise garnishing, razor shells and flat parsley
Sole glazed with champagne, Dieppoise garnishing, razor shells and flat parsley. The yellowish sole was better than the other one. Pacific razor clams are way better than these tiny ones.

Wild boar fillet roasted with six berries, Brussel sprouts, cep mushrooms and polenta
Wild boar fillet roasted with six berries, Brussel sprouts, cep mushrooms and polenta. Very good.

Wine pairings
Did I mention there were wine pairings?

William pear caramelised,, accompanying sorbbet, nougatine with fresh walnuts, mousse and chocolate sauce
William pear caramelised,accompanying sorbbet, nougatine with fresh walnuts, mousse and chocolate sauce. We are not really dessert eaters, but even if we were sorbet and chocolate sauce? No thanks.

Lemon on a Brittany shortbread, lemon tart, toasted almond crisp and accompanying sorbet
Lemon on a Brittany shortbread, lemon tart, toasted almond crisp and accompanying sorbet. This was ultra lemony.

Petite-fours
This was just an extra because I guess two desserts are not enough.

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