Anjodi, cruising along the Canal du Midi, painting by Stanley Rose

Hello,

Welcome to the September edition of the lock-keeper.

In this month's Lockkeeper we have a report from La Dolce Vita, a profile on Anjodi chef Toni Stock, we follow-up on Rick Stein's French Odyssey with a recipe from Rick's new book of his tv series French Odyssey - this weeks show (BBC2 8.30 pm wednesday) featuring Anjodi had an audience of 2.85 million viewers, and his book was last week's best selling non fiction hard back in the UK, so the show is generating a lot of interest in French cuisine and certainly on barge vacations in France.

To compliment this interest we have a great article by Loudon Temple cruising on the Anjodi. We have some late availability cruise information, we announce our August competition cruise winner and launch our September competition, so lots of hopefully interesting stories for you to read.

Vintage Clue to warmer spring weather in Europe

As the season draws to a close, thoughts naturally turn to spring and next season.

Scientists have used wine to help track climate change in France over the past 600 years. Wine makers in Burgundy have registered their first day of grape harvesting every year since the 13th century and these are closely related to temperature.

The findings show that Spring and Early Summer in Burgundy was warmer this year than virtually any year since 1370. Great news for those seeking a spring barging break and a refreshing glass of Chablis aboard our Burgundy fleet.

I look forward to hearing from you, and seeing you at our website, where you can find out all about GoBarging and keep up to date with the latest news as it breaks....

please read on and welcome aboard,

best regards,

Derek Banks, Chairman


Derek Banks - Chairman and Barge skipper


in this issue:

La Dolce Vita

Rick Stein recipe

Chef profile

French Odyssey taster

Late season dates

August competition winner

September competition

News

back issues:

january 05

february 05

march 05

april 05

may 05

june 05

july 05

August 05

(please note that past competitions are now closed)

visit our website
GoBarging.com
barge cruise at
www.gobarging.com



La Dolce Vita
by Christina Tarantelli & Karen Ungaro

Christina and Karen won our La Dolce Vita cruise competition and have just returned from their trip to Venice. They kept a diary and took lots of great holiday photos and have kindly offered to share their story with us.

Christina contacted the Lockkeeper from an internet cafe while out in Venice to say.. "We are on Day 2 of our La Dolce Vita cruise. I am writing from an internet cafe after biking 8 kilometers on the Lido.

There are 2 couples on board with us . . . Tom and Dee and Bud and Kay. All are well travelled and loads of fun! Tom & Dee biked over with us this afternoon to the Villa Laguna, the meeting point. We managed to make the ride in less than 90 minutes, so we have stopped for a gelato and to send email. We will rendezvous with La Dolce Vita in 90 minutes when they pull into the dock in front of the Villa.

Observations so far . . . the crew is fantastic and the food is unbelievably great! Captain GianPaulo, Chef Massimiliano, and Leonardo, who handles everything else!

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and were driven to the barge, which was in the middle of the Brenta River surrounded by gloriously decorated boats which were taking part in the local regatta. Many of the passengers in the boats were dressed in period costumes from the 1800s, and their oarsmen were pressing hard to get the most applause from the crowds that lined the river. Boat after boat passed us, with much waving and shouting. A thrilling event!

The food is out of this world. Last night we were treated to a seafood dinner of mussels, clam risotto, and a whitefish plate. Dessert was an awesome blueberry mousse. The wines that were selected were agreeable to all, and we turned in early after this exciting day.

Tonight we will be dining at the Villa Laguna, and will head out tomorrow for another adventure!"
the regatta, Karen at dinner,sunset on the Lido,open air market on Chioggia, shipmates Tom and Dee enjoying the breeze topside on La Dolce Vita Karen also kept a diary from which the following excerpts come;

Karen's cruise news

Sunday 11 September
Arrived late but staff & fellow passengers offered no complaints. Regatta on the Brenta River in Mira; fun, many decorated gondola-style boats, costumed locals commemorating the annual event. Fun to watch the boats pass by, honoring the crowd by raising their oars high. [The regatta ended with awards distributed to the best boat/crew/costumes!] Moored in Laguna overnight.

Monday 12 September
Small fisherman's island of Chioggia- very obvious local flavor- older gents sitting at the cafe al fresco sipping espresso & trading tall tales. We met up with Mario & his band of merry men whilst taking pictures alongside the canal. Mario -- maybe 80 or so -- called us over & welcomed us to take a picture of him & his compadri. We were invited to join them for an espresso & to share a few tales of our own, living in Italy some 35 yrs ago & visiting the "old country" again.

We sisters agreed that one of the fascinating things about traveling is taking the time to enjoy the local people; helps to appreciate other cultures & simply enjoy life at a different pace, if only for a short while. [Karen left out the part where I stood and sang the Italian National Anthem for Mario & his friends; this convinced them that we did have Italian roots!] Bicycle ride on the Lido in the afternoon, riding some 8km to the Villa Laguna (meeting point) with an opportunity to meet & mingle along the way. [The "mingling" Karen refers to consisted of us asking the locals for directions after we got lost!] Dinner at Villa Laguna on the veranda- especially set aside for us. Beautiful evening, friendly & fun company, delicious food.

Tuesday 13 September
Venezia - on our own for an hr & 1/2, then met up with tour guide Marina for narrated tour of Doge's palace & St. Mark's Cathedral. Martina was very knowledgeable, friendly, enthusiastic- gave us a delightful tour. It was wonderful to have everything managed for us -- everything just sort of fell into place (or so it seemed, I'm sure there was plenty of planning that went on behind the scenes.) After the tour, we went back to La Dolce Vita for lunch (as always, delicious). We had another opportunity to go into Venezia in the afternoon & be tourists or people watch or shop. Sailed into Burano to moor over night.

The cruise was well put together- allowing us freedom to choose activity (or not), to choose our manner of activity- shopping, walking, biking. Meals were at a specified time, but never seemed rushed to meet "deadline". Food was fabulous throughout, as though we had our own gourmand on hand.

MANY THANKS TO GO-BARGING FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE IN THIS EXCITING TRIP OF A LIFETIME! - Chris Tarantelli & Karen Ungaro

More from the ladies in the October Lockkeeper... back to top



RICK STEIN RECIPE
Vetou's magret de canard with red wine sauce


Vetou's magret de canard with red wine sauceVetou’s magret de canard with red wine sauce (serves 4)

  • 8 dried Agen prunes
  • 4 duck breasts, about 175-200g each
  • 150g carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 600ml red wine, such as Languedoc or Corbieres
  • 3 cloves
  • Large sprig thyme and 2 bay leaves
  • 15g plain chocolate
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sauteed or pureed potatoes to serve

 

Put the prunes into a bowl and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 1-2 hours. Season the duck breasts on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Add the duck breasts, skin-side down, lower the heat slightly and fry for 2 minutes until the skin is nicely browned. Turn over and brown them on the other side for 2 minutes, then lift onto a plate and set aside.

Add the carrots, onions, shallots and garlic to the duck fat left in the pan and fry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then, until soft and golden brown. Add the wine, bring to a rapid boil, then light with a match and shake the pan for a few seconds until the flames have died down. This burns off the alcohol. Then lower the heat, add the cloves, thyme and bay leaves, and leave the sauce to simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Return the duck breasts to the pan, skin-side down, cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn the duck breasts over, re-cover and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. This will give you duck that is still pink in the middle, but if you like it a little better cooked, cook for up to 1 minute more on either side.

Lift the duck out of the sauce onto a plate, cover with foil and leave to rest in a low oven (about 100 degrees centigrade) while you finish the sauce. Add the chocolate to the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes more. Then pass through a fine sieve into a small pan, pressing out as much liquid as you can with the back of a ladle. Drain the prunes, add them to the pan, and simmer over a medium heat until they have heated through and the sauce is nicely reduced and well flavoured. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, lift the duck breasts onto a board and carve, on the diagonal, into long thin slices. Lift each one onto a warmed plate and spoon 2 of the prunes alongside. Spoon some of the sauce over and around the duck and prunes and serve.

Recipes courtesy of Rick Stein's French Odyssey - BBC BooksRecipes courtesy of "Rick Stein's French Odyssey - BBC Books"
Images courtesy of James Murphy.

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CHEF PROFILE
TONI STOCK - Anjodi

GoBarging chef Toni StockToni is our chef on board Anjodi in France and has been a little ray of sunshine for all our food-loving guests.

She has been involved in catering for two and a half years but this doesn't mean that she's new to cooking - on the contrary, she's a globe-trotting connoisseur of international cooking who only recently decided to take it up professionally.

Toni did her apprenticeship as a chef in London. Her practical training was rather extraordinary in that she was thrown in well and truly at the deep end, when asked to cater for high calibre events including the society hospitality boxes at London horse races, exhibitions and shows such as the Chelsea Flower Show. By the end of her training, she knew her way round most of the London horse-race courses and had rubbed shoulders with international celebrities - even the Queen, for whom she made smoked salmon sandwiches and chocolate brownies!

She actually found out about European Waterways from her grand-parents who had travelled on board and had recommended she apply to us for a job. We are very glad she did, because she has been a real gem.

Originating in Johannesburg, South Africa, Toni got her enthusiasm for travel from her mother who encouraged her to go out and have a look at the world. Her globe-trotting took her to Australia, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt and across to Europe. While travelling, she found jobs in hotels, restaurants and kitchens and picked up all sorts of experience along the way, developing her cookery book and her recipes as she went. This was a good grounding for the path she was to choose in the world of chefs!

Outside cooking, Toni is fond of the healthy life, which also includes fishing and diving. When she was in Australia, she used to go diving for ablony, mussels and oysters. Because of her love of all things fresh and healthy our passengers are assured of getting a good healthy and imaginative diet! Not only that, but she often takes our passengers out swimming amongst the oyster beds, diving and kayaking!

Visit Anjodi

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Travel - Get set for a taste of
Rick Stein's French Odyssey
By Loudon Temple

There is a definite 'edge' that makes Languedoc interesting. It's hard to pin down but it feels completely different to the rest of France.

The feeling is heightened when cruising, or more accurately, travelling at a pleasantly gentle chug, aboard a beautiful old barge on the magical Canal du Midi.

Stepping into this relatively under-promoted region seems, as one of our travelling companions puts it, a "bit like passing through the Stargate into another realm".

No wonder this place has attracted inquisitive artists and writers down the years, not to mention lovers of hearty, rustic cuisine.

The fine old hotel barge Anjodi has earned its fair share of admirers and in the process won the kind of reputation for the calibre of food and wine that is served onboard, to attract celebrity chef Rick Stein to base his soon-to-be-screened TV series - French Odyssey - around it.

As Stein discovered, one of the delights of this slow-motion travel is getting to sample the best fare of the region along the way. And nowadays in Languedoc that includes the wines, many of them so good they are rarely allowed to escape any further afield.

Historically, this IS a very different place, once a separate country in its own right and still deeply steeped in traditions that are protected and enthusiastically celebrated.

So, when you encounter a piper (yes, bagpipes) playing an instrument that dates back to medieval times, and hear stories of how the region was once home to Romans, Cathars, Greeks and Phoenicians
Anjodi - and at various times invaded and over-run by Vandals, Visgoths, Alamanni and Saracens, you start to get a handle on what it is that makes it so distinct and rich in character.

The piper was no part of any pre-arranged stunt by European Waterways, who have been taking curious passengers on voyages of discovery through all this rugged beauty for over twenty five years.

A daunder off by bike through farmyards and past ancient churches to villages that lie half-dormant most of the time and mostly free from intrusion by tourists, led eventually to the cool interior of the local cafe.

The national sport of Languedoc is rugby union so the walls were smothered in local hero pictures of players and teams.

When the owner recognised the unfamiliar accents, welcoming calls - "Ecosse" - echoed through from bar to kitchen and soon, complimentary glasses of wine and beer were being placed on the table, complete with savoury treats that would have been a hit if served in any of Lyon's better bouchons.

That instant, the thought passed through my head - "I bet Rick Stein would relish this". Then, as if by magic, the ancient, muted sound of the bagpipe drifted in through the open window shutters.

The thing that occurred to me was that, if we had been cruising on sister barge Highlander, from Inverness to Fort William and the same thing had happened, it might have seemed ever so twee and staged.




Travel - Get set for a taste of
Rick Stein's French Odyssey
continued

Yet, here, in the shadow of Carcassonne, with its extraordinary castle, a piper skulked in the background, not in any kind of show-off way, but adding to the genuinely warm feeling of kindred-spiritship.

There is something ever so relaxing about barge cruising through rural France. As an easy-does-it way to unwind, it slows the heartbeat and plays games with the mind.

Most who have surrendered to this for a week, end up saying they feel as if they have been away for three. As deserted hamlets, fields of sunflowers and deep, dark forests float by, the pace of life slows to an almost meditational level.

Even when warm and balmy, there's always a cooling breeze up on the sun deck from the gentle 4mph forward motion of the vessel.

Every waft carries scented hints of herbs and wild flowers growing alongside. You get the chance to see and savour things which would be no more that a gone-in-an-instant snapshot viewed from motorway or rail line. When something really enchanting comes along, you can simply hop off and have a closer look.

Life on board is such a completely satisfying experience, they have to lay on some extra-special treats to tempt passengers ashore.

The week is planned to offer guests a different trip each day with mini bus and guide laid on to ferry passengers to village markets, vineyards, castles and chateaux.

Those who prefer to explore the surrounding countryside at their own pace, can take a bike off for the day, or a few hours, and rejoin the barge later.
AnjodiThe cruise includes a visit to Beziers, the capital of Languedoc wine country, and Capestang with river and canal craft of every shape, size and vintage tied up and mostly going nowhere, thanks to the idyllic perfection their owners have discovered there.

The fairytale pinnacles of Carcassonne, impossible to resist, and elegant Narbonne, once the capital of Rome's first colony in Gaul, with attractive tree-lined streets and esplanades, are also on the colourful agenda.

But, most who have travelled on the astonishing Canal du Midi would agree that it is the main attraction. The waterway, so unique, it was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, was a realisation one man's dream - to link the Mediterranean to Toulouse and the Atlantic - by the formation of a navigable route.

Thanks to the vision of Pierre Paul Riquet, it is possible for people like us to be soaking up the atmosphere and still travelling in style - over three hundred years later.

Anjodi accommodates up to eight paying passengers in four well-appointed cabins. Our group included a documentary film maker and his wife from western North Carolina and two fun-filled couples from Cork.

The week ended with a sumptious Captain's Dinner, much laughter, a sadness to be leaving and promises all round to one day do it all again.

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French Odyssey Late season Cruise Availability

Cruise Availability for 2005 Barging in Southern France following in Rick Stein's footsteps from his BBC series Rick Stein's French Odyssey

We do still have a few cabins available in 2005 in Southern France. (Prices are based on 2 people sharing a cabin. Single occupancy and charter prices available on request). Prices are shown in Pounds Sterling, but US Dollar prices are also available.

ROSA South West France - Bordeaux Region
Cruise Dates Cruise Itinerary Stateroom Price p/p person
16th - 22nd October Castets en Dorthe to Agen 1,460
23rd - 29th October Agen to Toulouse Available for Charter Only
30th - 5th November Toulouse to Agen Available for Charter Only
6th - 12th November Agen to Toulouse Available for Charter Only
Meeting point for all the above cruises is Toulouse
ANJODI-Southern France - Canal du Midi
30th - 5th November Canal du Midi 1,400
6th - 12th November Canal du Midi 1,400
13th - 19th November Canal du Midi 1,400
Meeting point for all the above cruises is Montpellier
IMPRESSIONNISTE -Southern France - Provence & Camargue Region
Cruise Dates Cruise Itinerary Jnr. Suite Price p/p person
2nd - 8th October Avignon to Agde 1,820
9th - 15th October Agde to Avignon 1,820
16th - 22nd October Avignon to Agde 1,820
13th Nov - 6 week
Trans Europe cruise
(Reserve 1,2,3 or 6 weeks)
Avignon to Amsterdam 1,000 per week
SPECIAL PRICE
Meeting point Avignon or Montpellier depending on the departure date

Other late season offers

We are also pleased to offer a $500 or 250 discount per person for customers booking remaining cabin space in 2005 on board the following barges:

Actief, Anjodi, l'Impressionniste, La Belle Epoque, Scottish Highlander, Nymphea

Customers booking remaining cabin space in 2005 on board Magna Carta will receive a 20% discount.

For dates and further information, please contact us at;

GO BARGING - European Waterways Ltd
35 Wharf Road, Wraysbury,
Middx, TW19 5JQ, ENGLAND
tel: 44 (0) 1784 482439
fax: 44 (0) 1784 483072
USA: 1 800 394 8630
CANADA: 1 888 342 1917
email:sales@gobarging.com

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August Competition Winner

win a luxury cruise in Burgundy
Last month, we featured our flagship La Belle Epoque with a competition to win a luxury cruise for two in late October 2005. Find out who's won our competition.

September Competition

This month you can win a superb prize fueatured on Rick Stein's website www.rickstein.com - Champagne and Truffles for three lucky winners. Enter the competition
here.

News

CALLING ALL BARGE GOLFING ENTHUSIASTS!

GOLF CRUISE FOR INDIVIDUALS - 28TH MAY - 3RD JUNE 2006

Breaking from the norm of offering golf cruises only to charter groups, we are pleased to offer this golf week to individuals. One stateroom and one suite are still available to book.

The price includes 7 day/6 night cruise on our luxury hotel barge
Scottish Highlander, between Inverness and Fort William, accommodation in twin cabin with ensuite, all meals cooked by on-board chef, open bar, use of bicycles, service of full-time crew, tee times, daily golfing, transfers to and from the golf clubs.

Price per person (based on two people sharing a cabin):

Pounds Sterling:
2150 for accommodation in the stateroom
2350 for accommodation in the suite

US Dollars:
$3790 for accommodation in the state room
$4190 for accommodation in the suite

OTHER BARGES WHICH ARE BREAKING FROM THE NORM ARE:

Anjodi, cruising on the Canal du Midi in Southern France
Magna Carta, cruising on the River Thames in England

For Golf cruise dates for individuals, please contact us at sales@gobarging.com


If you have any suggestions, feedback or barging stories to tell us, then please e-mail us. We'll be glad to hear from you and share your inputs in the lock-keeper.

Why not email this edition on to a friend, and let them share the fun. New subscribers can sign-up here, and are very welcome. More people are joining every day, so let's keep building a great Barging community..!

That's all for this 27th edition of the Lockkeeper, and hopefully the above articles have whet your appetite for that well-earned luxury cruise..!

Please visit barge cruises and have a look around, or follow the individual links above.

The next edition of the lock-keeper will be out in October, 2005, so we'll see you then.

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