In our village there is not even one cute shop – no boulangerie, no patisserie, no supermarket, no bar. Indeed if you didn’t have a car you would starve – the nearest anything of convenience is 7 ks away – a nice enough drive, but a nasty stroll.
But there is a restaurant – do not ask me why. A restaurant that is open Wednesday – Sunday – for lunch and dinner and, very clearly when we have been there, for drinks at the bar for the local inhabitants of this very small, very picturesque, rural French village. It is in the village centre, next to the war memorial, just a second from the mayor’s office, in sight (and sound ) of the village church, also quite large for size of village, it seems to me. We have been twice now and might go again before heading back to the joys of London.
Most handily for those of us whose French is only primary level and that from nearly forty years ago – the Maitre’d (and possibly the owner?) has a decent smattering of English. This is because he has spent time working in French restaurants across New York. You can only wonder what on earth he is doing back in his tiny hamlet of origin after time in the Big Apple. However his ability with English was appreciated – having eaten some exceptionally strange and intriguing things in Paris, Timor and Shanghai in the past due purely to language difficulties.
Both evenings now we have supped from the set menu – 4 course at just over 18 euros per head, not including wine, but including cheese. Entrees are salad arrangements that would stand as a very decent lunch – salad and little lightly fried fish, salad and dried meats and cheeses, salad and bacon and beautifully poached eggs – lots of fresh lettuce, tomato, cucumber, dressing and endless crusty bread to go with everything.
Main courses have been hearty, filling and just wonderful. I’ve never seen beef, pork or chicken cooked in such a way – no such recipes can be found in any of my French cookery books. The first week I had slices of pork with some lovely cheese melted over it, plus carrots, wedges, peas and other vegetables. Beloved and baby girl had tender rounds of beef and same veggies. Filling, tasty and good choices made by all.
Then the cheese – a tiny pot of something very runny with a spoon and a slice of what looked like edam but wasn’t – a smoother but bitier taste. The runny cheese pot was not possible for beloved and child, but i found it all (yes, I helped them out) quite yummy spooned over the bread. Second visit, however, we abstained from the fromage.
Main course second week saw pork cheek in some lovely sauce for beloved and chicken leg (not wings as we’d expected – slight language issue) with mushrooms, stuffing and sauce for off-spring and myself. The veggies were a mix of squash, peas, capsicum and something else and potatoes like i’ve never had. They looked like warm potato salad but tasted like heaven. This was the best chicken dish of my life – tender, succulent chicken, firm mushrooms, textured stuffing that complimented the rest. Even the girl-child who can be mushroom shy ate it all up. My sample of the pork said that was pretty sweet too.
Desserts were special – some caramel confection, sort of meringue but soft and melty and so sweet week 1 and week 2 a rhubarb pie. Which was nothing like a pie at all – not something with cream or ice cream with pastry on the top –no, indeed. It was a flan thing, with soft centre and caramelised rhubarb on top and within. Sweet, delicate, filling and lovely.
We waddled home, fuller than any old goog, utterly replete on such exquisitely cooked food. Filing, fresh, interesting and fabulous.
Oh and the house aperitif is almost worth a visit on its own – red, sweet, hint of marzipan and red berries and completely chilled. I could drink a carafe of that. One strange note – on the first Thursday night we dined they were playing Foo Fighters. Mm, daughter and i wondered, very disconcerting here in rural France to listen to old Foo Fighters songs as we eat fab French food