An Irish Chef in France

Euro-Toques chef Martin Dwyer and his wife Sile, formerly of the much-loved Dwyers restaurant in Waterford, now live in the Languedoc, where they take guests - and feed them very well.

This month: The summer fruit and veg season in France brings joy to all.

As I write this at the end of May in France, we are still suffering from the restrictions of the dread virus which has hugely affected our lives since mid-March. Now we can feel that the strings which bind us are slowly loosening, but also that it will be a long time before we are as free as we were last January.

However - because it is the beginning of the summer season - there is a huge consolation which is warming everyone’s heart here: the summer fruit and veg are starting to arrive.

It all started this year with the asparagus, at the beginning of April - about four weeks earlier than usual.

The asparagus growing family always know how to excite us and to make sure their pickings sell quickly they put a sign up on their gate telling us that the first of the season’s crop will be sold at nine am on Friday morning. You had better note that well because I promise by 9.30 all that will be left will be some scrawny stems suitable only for soup.

Next to arrive - around the beginning of May - are the new potatoes. They like them firm and buttery here, not particularly floury as in Ireland, but their flavour is special - mind you I always sneak a few leaves of mint into the water as I boil them, to remind me of home.

Next up are the strawberries - here two varieties fight for my attention: the large juicy and flavourful Magnums, and the small intense Garriguettes which are only a small step up from the wild strawberries, les Fraises des Bois.

Around the beginning of June the soft fruit start to arrive on the market stalls and on the shelves of the shops. First usually are the cherries - the best early ones come from the town of Ceret about 100 km away from us. Around this time it is usually worth having a spin in the car to the Haute Languedoc as a lot of the smaller growers often prefer to sell them outside their farm gates rather than go through the middle man. Here is where I sometimes find some Yellow ones - Napoleons, which make the very best jam. While we are out and about we keep an eye open for some apricots which will be coming on stream. Apricot Jam is essential to French Croissants as Orange Marmalade is to our toast.

I remember stopping by one such apricot farm gate and attempting to buy a tray from man who was plainly an experienced grower. He stopped me. “What are you going to do with them?” When I told him I was going to make jam he shook his head. “They are too ripe,” he told me. “Have you got a large cool cellar?” I told him I had. He then went back into his shed and produced a box for half the price. “Keep these in your cellar for two weeks and then make your jam.” I did what I was told - and the jam was delicious.

So now, as June unfolds, I have these to look forward to - and the white peaches, the nectarines, the melons... With this I can manage to forget about the Coronavirus for a while and just enjoy the summer bounty of the south of France.


Martin 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 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:;



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