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An Irish Chef in France

Martin & Sile Dwyers Terrace

Euro-Toques chef Martin Dwyer, is much missed in Ireland since he and his wife Sile sold their eponymous restaurant in Waterford and moved to France. They now live in the Languedoc, where they take guests - and feed them very well.

This month: On Coping with the Weather 

Every so often I get a chance for reflection on our life here in the Languedoc and this morning, sitting at 7.00 in a guestless house, coffee in hand, enjoying the cool of the morning before the heat of the day descends, is a perfect one for such thoughts.

We recently had a group of visitors who came to attend a wedding from about two hours north of here in the Tarn. They spent the time complaining about the heat. They asked us, as nearly all visitors do, what persuaded us northerners to come so far south and were plainly incredulous when I explained that it was probably searching for sunshine which brought us down here.

Let me just give you a general picture of the weather here in our part of the Midi. Our winter is a short one, lasting from sometime in January to late in March. At this time it is cold in the mornings and the evenings and we are glad of the stout wood burning stove in our living room.

The temperature rarely slips below freezing point and quite often the sun will warm us up to entice us to sit on the terrace in the afternoons. Certainly the longest season here is the Spring/ Autumn. This covers roughly 7 months of the year, from April to June in the rising of the year and September to December in the fall.

These times are without doubt, the best times to live in the South of France. Sometime in April I discard socks, vests and jackets and put on my summer wardrobe of sandals, shorts and short sleeved shirts which I will wear until I get respectable again around Christmas.

It is also very likely that the rain will happen during this time and even though we don't have a huge rainfall we do have sufficient to keep our vines producing excellent wine. The rain also has a certain tact and often happens with great intensity in the form of a storm which produces the same amount of irrigation in a few hours as does a week of "soft Irish rain". (Also, an added bonus, it rains more frequently in the night than the day.)

However I still have to talk about the months of July and August, these are the hot ones, temperatures hanging about in the thirties in the middle of the day. The mornings and the evenings are usually cooler and the dining room moves to the terrace for breakfast and dinner. This mid-day heat, mind you, is usually a dry heat and not the heavy humidity which happens west of us where the air is saturated with moisture from the Atlantic.

How do we survive these times ? Well we take a lesson from Noel Coward and become like the natives, we close the shutters against the heat of the day, put our fans into action, and proceed to do as little as possible.

Last week our guests from the Tarn arrived back at the house mid-wedding all hot, flushed and sweaty and complaining of the heat as they went upstairs and discarded their finery for shorts and t-shirts before returning to the festivities.

You see Mr. Coward it is not only Mad dogs and Englishmen - but also people from the Tarn - who Go out in the mid-day sun .

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Martin & Sile DwyerMartin Dwyer started cooking professionally over 40 years ago in the legendary “Snaffles Restaurant” in Dublin. After a time in a Relais Chateau in Anjou and in “The Wife of Bath” in Kent he opened his own much acclaimed restaurant, “Dwyers”, in Waterford in 1989. In 2004 he sold this and moved south to France where he and his wife Síle bought and restored an old presbytery in a village in the Languedoc. They now run Le Presbytère as a French style Chambre d’Hôte. Martin however is far too passionate about food to give up cooking so they now enjoy serving dinner to their customers on the terrace of Le Presbytère on warm summer evenings. Martin runs occasional cookery courses in Le Presbytère and Síle’s brother Colm does week long Nature Strolls discovering the Flora and Fauna of the Languedoc. 

Le Presbytère can be seen at: www.lepresbytere.net
email: martin@lepresbytere.net

Twitter: www.twitter.com/DwyerThezan

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