The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Villefranche de Conflent

October 12th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Posted in Travel

How's this for Mediterranean diet?

 Still packed inside castle walls in the French Pyrenees, Villefranche de Conflent is listed as one of the most exquisite towns in France. What struck me was the terrific lunch we were served at a touristy bistro. Take a look: bacon, dried ham, bread with fresh aioli, anchovies, olives, cheese, salt cod baked in tomato sauce. 

So much for the Mediterranean diet being low on animal fat and full of vegetables. In fact, our friend Eric, a Frenchman and confirmed vegeterian who has spent years off and on living in this part of the country, says he has a terrible time finding food he can eat there. 

I couldn’t have been happier. In fact, I could easily live off fresh anchovies every day. 

The beverage, by the way, is pastis, an anise-flavored liqueur diluted with water, resulting in the characteristic cloudy look.  My wife immediately fell in love with the architectural “51” brand glass carafe the water was served in, and we would later spend quite a bit of time trying to track one down at a flea market after the waitress at this particular restaurant brushed aside our entreaties to sell us one. They’re just aren’t enough of them, she said. 

A pleasant place for an afternoon stroll

Strategically located at the confluence of the Cady and Tet rivers in a narrow pass through the mountains, Villefranche originally was constructed in the 11th Century to bar the road to Moorish invaders. The territory subsequently was contested off and on by Spain and France. The fortifications one sees today were designed in the 18th Century by famed military engineer Sebastian le Prestre Vauban, meriting the town’s listing by UNESCO as a “world heritage” site. 

These days, the streets are lined with restaurants and various craft shops for ceramics, jewelry, T-shirts, post cards, etc. 

Post-prandial self-portrait

 We’re happy just eating and sipping our pastis. Say cheese!

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