Escape to the countryside of South Western France

Chateau Montfort

Gluten-free Hazelnut Crusted Goat Cheese & Apple Salad

Gluten-free Hazelnut Crusted Goat Cheese & Apple Salad

Spring has come on the wings of wet Atlantic winds that have brought so much rain, the garden seems almost unnaturally green. Another thing that has arrived recently is a mountain of mulch. After weeks of pruning the orchard and a very old overgrown laurel hedge, we finally succumbed to the need for some outside help in the form of an industrial mulching machine and our local ‘Mr garden Magic’ Monsieur Bigné.  After some customary French exhaling and eyebrow-raising as I showed him the job at hand, we sipped coffee and agreed on an appropriate place to deposit what would clearly be a gargantuan amount. Within the space of 8 hours, a mountain of branches became a slightly smaller mountain of apple scented mulch. It’s amazing how the sweet, crisp perfume of an apple is imparted into the wood of the tree. We’ve kept the larger branches for smoking bacon and ham later in the year, but for now, this beautifully perfumed mulch is destined to top our garden beds; already weed-matted and clearly, very well watered.

Pierre de Ronstadt rose Chateau Montfort

First bloom of 2018. One of the many Pierre de Ronstadt roses that surround the kitchen terrace

This recipe for Hazelnut-crusted Goat Cheese and Apple salad comes from Clotilde Dusoulier’s latest book Tasting Paris. It’s a book that’s very special to me because I was lucky enough to be involved with the recipe testing. The hardest part was waiting till the publishing date to write about all the delicious recipes.

Hazelnut-crusted Goat Cheese and Apple salad is such a lovely alternative to the classic French goat’s cheese salad, traditionally served on little rounds of toasted baguette; it’s lighter and perfect for those who are gluten intolerant or just want to cut down their intake of bread. Accompanied with a glass of chilled Rosé and eaten as we did, under the shade of a beautiful tree with the symphony of Spring birdsong, it makes for a perfect indulgence after a morning hard at work on the mulch barrow.

garden Chateau Montfort

Adelaide (left) and Stanley waiting in the walled garden. Stanley is very good at a ‘sad face’ and sad crying when he’s left out of the fun.


Super green lawns—the result of record rainfall and a Spring dose of fertiliser.

Bluebells. Chateau Montfort

The kitchen terrace, Chateau Montfort

Garden Chateau Montfort

Shade planting under the Tilia tree on the kitchen terrace


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