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Archive for March, 2013

Today the Easter Bunny is hard at work around Rancho Escargot!


Of course, after ‘his’ work is done … Ours begins again with renewed pleasure!!!


Rancho Escargot’s ‘Lapin à la moutarde aux fèves

(Rabbit with mustard and fava beans)

Here at Rancho Escargot we think this is the perfect meal after that hard day of Easter egg hunting! It’s the addition of fresh fava beans that sets this particular recipe apart. Be sure to select beans that are young and tender or use pasta or peas in their place. Note: this recipe serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 rabbit, about 2 lbs (1 kg), cut into 8 serving pieces

1 small white onion, diced      4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed

1 cup dry white wine              1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper – Bouquet garni

3 cups (750 ml) veal or chicken stock – Ice cubes

3 lbs (1.5 kg) fava (broad) beans

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil

Ice Cubes


In a large sauté pan over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the rabbit pieces and brown well, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Using tongs, transfer the rabbit to a plate and set aside.

To the same sauté pan over medium heat, and the onion & garlic and sauté until they begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Return the rabbit to the pan and add the wine, salt & pepper. Cook over a medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Add the bouquet garni and stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the meat falls easily from the bone, 45-50 minutes.

While the rabbit is simmering, fill a bowl with ice cubes and water and set aside. Remove the fava beans from their pods and discard the pods. Fill a sauce pan three-fourths full with water and bring to a boil. Add the beans to the boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Drain the beans, and then plunge them immediately into the ice water. Remove from the water. Using a sharp knife slit the skin on the edge of each bean and “pop” the bean free of its skin. Discard skins and set beans aside.

Using tongs remove the rabbit meat from the sauté pan and place it in the center of your serving platter.

Strain the sauce remaining in the sauté pan through a fine mesh sieve into a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the fava beans & mustard and heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Now, just pour the sauce over the rabbit, sprinkle the basil over the top and serve… Or you can always come here and we’ll be happy to prepare it for you!

Joyeuses Paques! Bon appétit! et à bientôt, Jack

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(Oh, and Happy April Fools day too!)

(Oh, and Happy April Fools Day!)

March 30, 2013 - Posted by Jack Tobin

France’s ‘Plus Beaux Villages’ sites are where the country’s heritage has been best preserved. These villages are havens of culture and possess architectural treasures to rouse the senses. They are truly bastions of the French art de vivre (art of life).

Tradition in these villages is not merely alive but thriving. A tour of the countryside reveals villages spread out like a fan, built against a cliff or encased in a small valley. Others are nestled in the loop of a river, at the foot of grand châteaux or at the bottom of natural gorges. Off the beaten track, safeguarded from urban development and communication highways, 148 small communes across the country, keen to preserve and promote their individual character, have been granted the “most beautiful villages in France” label.

In total, eighteen of these plus beaux villages including; Collonges-la-Rouge, Turenne, Curemonte & Domme in the Corrèze (not on detailed on the map below) are within an hour drive or less of our accommodation offerings in the Dordogne River Valley. That’s better than 10% of the entire list!

The Plus Beaux Villages de France association was founded in 1982 with the aim of conserving and promoting the heritage of “the most beautiful villages in France”. To qualify, villages must meet a number of demanding preconditions, set by the association to ensure the label is awarded on the basis of a rigorous selection process. Three basic conditions must be met by these beautiful Medieval Villages:  less than 2,000 inhabitants, two registered or listed sites, and the village must also pursue a policy to preserve its natural heritage reflected in its’ area development plan.

Plan to visit in 2013? Please check out the delightful accommodations at ‘Le Sud’!

Bon Voyage et à bientôt! Jack
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March 23, 2013 - Posted by Jack Tobin

JUST MINUTES from Carennac and the banks of the river is the medieval hamlet of Tauriac. Nothing of significant historic importance occurred here, it is simply another postcard perfect ‘petit hameau’ in the Dordogne River Valley. But, like so many of our regions’ small villages, it guards a treasure: L’Eglise Saint-Martin.

The foundations of Tauriac’s church date back to mid-8th century and upon entry you are immediately struck by the beauty of the remarkable frescoes on its Romanesque domed ceiling that date back to the early 16th century.

About a hundred years after these paintings were created pious local priests thought they distracted people from the worship of God and then had them hidden from view for the next 200 years but thankfully not destroyed!

Norman Mailer once said he detested ‘piety’ because he felt it let the air out of thought.

Somebody once told me… Paintings are poems with no words and if so, the poetry in these speaks volumes!

à bientôt! Jack
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Location map: Tauriac, France

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March 10, 2013 - Posted by Jack Tobin