We had lunch at the restaurant in the Le Vieux Logis Relais & Chateaux Hotel in the town in Tremolat. It was one of those magic moments from the minute we entered and were seated under the shade of the trees overlooking the garden. The waiter asked if there was anything that we did not eat and we said no. We asked him what were we going to eat and he said that he did not know because the kitchen did not tell him.
They called the food Tapas (small plates). Each course was special but the two main courses were exceptional.
After lunch I smoked a cigar in the garden. They even had a cigar room if you wanted to smoke inside. The service staff anticipated your every wish and did it all with a smile.
There is a 36 euro menu for lunch and it was so good the first time that we went back a second time and there was a lot of debate on which meal was better. It was the best food on the trip and some of the best that I have in France. The wine list is very good and the setting and service could not have been better.
The Moulin de la Tour is a 16th century walnut oil mill in Saint Nathalene, 9 km from Sarlat. Although they specialize in walnut oil from locally grown walnuts, they also make oil from hazelnuts and almonds.
The Perigord is noted for its walnuts and they are delicious. The nuts are opened by hand with a special hammer. It is a very slow work and it is done by “older people” to supplement their income. The walnuts are then crushed into a paste. It is done with a mill stone the same way one would make olive oil. The walnut paste is then put in a cooker that spins the paste around as it heats it (unlike good olive oil which is cold pressed). Some of the locals bring their walnuts to be pressed and wanted it done at a higher temperature. This gives them more oil but gives it a harsh taste. It is then put into a press which is lined with a heavy cloth and weights are put on top and then it is pressed.
The mill is powered by a water wheel that turns a drive shaft connected to all three machines. Our guide told us that there were 10 mills along the river that made both walnut oil and flour. In the 1970’s they all stopped making flour and today Moulin de la Tour is the only one left making walnut oil. The leftover flour (paste) is used to feed the animals but you can still find it made into a cake as it was in the past. In fact the peasants in the middle ages paid off their debts with walnut oil.