Canal du Midi adventure part III: Drifting off course into Pyrenees-Orientales
Two more meals in Capestang, and they were opposite sides of the coin. Le La Galiniere was a great value for lunch, 13 euros for a lovely salad with balls of new potato soaked in a cornichon dressing and a buttery fish main plate followed by dessert and coffee. Very friendly service. The restaurant's terrasse sits adjacent to the village fountain, which trickles pleasantly, matching the noise of old men loading their glasses of rose with balls of ice. The village boules court is a short walk away, so you can while away the afternoon after lunch by watching the local leagues heckle each other.
On the other hand, La Bataliere, right by the canal, was double the price of the other restaurants in town and not good at all. Pre-sliced baguette that had gone hard at the edges and a Nicoise with poor quality tuna for 19 euros (with a Badoit).
We wanted to see one of the officially designated most beautiful villages in France, and I'm interested in Catalan and Cathar history, so we drove to Castelnou, where we expected gorgeous views but tourist-quality food. Not so! D'Ici et D'Ailleurs served the best salad I've had on this trip (L'Antillaise, with hearts of palm, smoked chicken, avocado and shrimp) with one of the village's seedy, dark pain d'epices rolls (you can buy bags of the spices and honey at the terroir agent down near the opening of the village). A bit of L'Occitane salad that I tried was also very good (smoked duck, roquefort, potato, tomato). The castle has a small Pays d'Oc tasting room outside, but we didn't stop because of the heat. Le Coin Catalan serves drinks, a limited menu, a few types of ice cream, and, more interestingly, a few Catalan specialities. I had the "mel a mato": fresh cold cow cheese drizzled with a little local honey and topped with some chantilly and nuts. It was awesome--a bright, clean flavor, with a texture like fresh goat cheese.