Aside from caviar, very little Russian food has made it onto the world’s menus, so I approached Saturday’s dinner with trepidation. We had been invited to dine at the new chambres d’hôtes in the village, courtesy of its new Russian owner.
Alex has only recently taken over the business. In a very short space of time, he has completely refurbished the building and is also now offering tables d’hôtes to his guests. The food side of the business, it transpires, is what drives Alex.
In fact, he trained at the Cordon Bleu cookery school in Paris and has worked in some top restaurants around the world.
Which explains the quality of the meal he served us.
We started with rabbit which had been rolled and stuffed with a terrine and came served with tiny kidneys. (I usually turn my nose up at offal, but the kidney was surprisingly good.) We followed it with a trout and cod dish (pictured), and then a strawberry cheesecake like none I had ever tasted.
Sat on Alex’s roof terrace, we enjoyed views across the rolling hills of Lot-et-Garonne – a different view to that from anywhere else in the village.
It wasn’t the only alternative view on offer that evening.
Perhaps inevitably, we engaged Alex in a discussion about Russian politics as the evening progressed. He and his parents left the country when he was just a child and he is no fan of the current government. However, he said he could see two sides to the current events in Ukraine.
He has set up in Castillonnès, as he thinks the village has great potential for him: there is competition, of course, but there is nevertheless room for an incomer.
Based on the food he served us, he should do very well.