Moroccan Lamb Cutlets with Easy Pea-sy Couscous

Our new French foodie obsession is meat from L’Aubrac, the region where PB is from. It’s best known for it’s knife industry (this is where authentic Laguiole knives are produced), as well as their own breed of cow, which produces some of the best beef that  France has to offer. Our main man is butcher Maison Conquet, whose wares are served in the 3 Michelin-starred restaurant headed by Sébastien Bras – if it’s good enough for them, then it’s certainly worth the effort to bring it home to our kitchen!

The region is also known for it’s lamb, and we had some lamb cutlets that were destined for our plates this weekend. Lamb is already a strong tasting meat, but a little bit of spice goes a long way to give it some dimension. I found a recipe which called for a dusting of ground almonds with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice which basically translates as ‘best of the shop’.

I couldn’t find the spice in the shops so I made a simplified version of it myself, the recipe is below if needed.

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Moroccan Lamb Cutlets à la iphone

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Les Templiers B&B in Charroux – One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages

Summer is well and truly here, and I find myself reminiscing about our last summer in the beautiful French countryside. PB and I together with my family hired a car and drove down from Paris towards Cantal in Auvergne.  This area is well known for some of France’s best cheeses and meat (beef and lamb). It’s one of the least populated departments in France and can get extremely cold in the winter. But in the summer, it is the perfect time to visit Puy de Dome, the town of Laguiole (where those lovely Laguiole knives are produced), and eat at the fabulous Serge Vieira. If it’s your kind of thing, you can also go to Chaudes Aigues , famous for it’s hot spring waters and also the annual Tattoo Festival! Random, but true.

We wanted to break up the 5 hour drive between Paris and Chaudes Aigues, and thought a visit to Vichy might be nice.  Serendipitously, the nicer hotels in Vichy were booked, so we decided on a small B&B in the nearby Charroux. Classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Charroux is a former fortified village famous for it’s mustard.  Sometimes you come across the best places by accident, and Les Templiers in Charroux is one of those places.

Charroux

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A magical place, with it’s very own wishing well

Opened in 2012, this 19th century building has been lovingly restored and converted into a tasteful and modern “chambre d’hôtes”,  keeping all of the original wooden floors, stairs, roof beams and stone walls. With beautifully manicured gardens in the back, crêperie restaurant to the side, and the charming little village of Charroux surrounding it, Les Templiers was the perfect place to stop for one night.

Unfortunately we had to leave after breakfast and didn’t have a chance to have a good amble around the village. From the 12th to 14th century, Charroux was fortified by the lords of Bourbon and once protected by a double rampart. Now, only the east and west gates together with 60 meters of the inner wall remains. It’s a fascinating place to walk around and at certain places find pictureque lookouts over the surrounding countryside.

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The courtyard garden of Les Templiers

Templiers design

Original features of a beautifully restored building

The Combles Room

The Combles Room

We stayed in the Combles Room in the attic, featuring original comble roof beams, a stand alone tub, bathrobes and interesting light fixtures. In fact, the whole property was accented with eye-catching lighting. It is these small details which really make a place stand out, it’s obvious that the owners paid attention to every element of the decor, and I must say they have very good taste.

Breakfast on the following morning was a real treat! Father and son team Rémi and Aurélien are wonderful hosts and are passionate about doing what they do. Aurélien makes his own yoghurt as well as bakes his own delicious almond cake. The jams were supplied by his friend in a neighboring village, and the cheese was the freshest Saint Nectaire I have ever tasted. We had fleeting thoughts about buying a yoghurt maker, but leaving it to sit on the kitchen counter over night is just not a good idea in Hong Kong – maybe in the winter …

A thoroughly homemade breakfast

A thoroughly homemade breakfast

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