Around and about with Tony Goodman


Family arrived mid week for three days. On a grand tour from down under it was fun discussing the Rugby World Cup and of course the Ashes over a small glass.

With this in mind we took the D914 to Elne where wine has been produced since the Bronze Age. Hannibal popped by in 218 BCE to stock up on his way to Rome. Following his lead we dropped into Château de Corneilla del Vercol.

Winemakers for 27 generations their slightly oaked Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre Cavalcade Rouge never disappoints. Plenty of pepper and deep lush inky grenache fruit.


Our ancient capital’s history is long and at times heart wrenching. The cathedral is a solid dignified redoubt, built to stand and resist for good reason. The cloister’s bright tranquil center garden and its museum-quality displays of artefacts and archaeology reinforces the region’s rich history.

Well worth an hour of your time. A post prandial visit to Etienne Terrus’s museum which is only open 1.30pm – 5.30pm rounded out the explorations.

Combined tickets are 8€, less with concessions.

out for the day elne


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

As a treat we organised tickets to the Patrick O’Brien concert at the Eglise Abbatiale St Michel, Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines. Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic and traditional English music from the era of his Aubrey–Maturin novels.

Played on authentically crafted instruments of the time including the extraordinary Theorbo Lute, each piece was interspersed with extracts of his novel Master and Commander. The visitors were overwhelmed, almost tearful with the music and the setting.

Sometimes we risk becoming immune to the rich cultural biosphere we inhabit, we need reminding from time to time.


After the visit to Elne’s cloisters and a rampart ramble it was lunch on the terrace at The Hotel Cara Sol. Fresh local salad, Duck and a silky smooth vanilla flan fait-maison for a modest 15.50€. The pichet of vin rouge for the non drivers was light and lunch time appropriate.

Back in town while Robyn caught up with all the news, I sought inspiration for a family feast from Julie Andrieu’s showcase of regional French food, Carnets de Julie.

Motivated, I dropped into my friends Nicolas & Hervé Cervantes at Chez Guillaume butchers to take ownership of some prime El Xai Catalan lamb. Located in Perpignan’s place de La Republique for a century they specialise in best quality regional produce.

Roast Leg of Lamb, Herbs and Aromatics

It’s all about the aromatics!

Blitz red peppers, lemon zest and leaves, parsley, chives, sage, mint, nutmeg, cloves and coriander.

Ignore Julie’s suggestion of adding a large dose of bacon lard. Use some of our world class artery friendly olive oil from your local supplier or somewhere such as Aux Bonnes Olives in Perpignan’s spice street  (2 Rue René Paratilla).

Pack the mix inside a part boned leg of lamb, be generous.

Tightly parcel wrap the leg and rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Place on a bed of rosemary with more on top. Crank the volume up to eleven then drop it back to a soft whisper. Keep it pink. Full recipe is available here.

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