Sunday, March 7, 2010

Dining in France: What Restaurant Should We Try Next?

Add to Google Reader or Homepage“Well, I can no longer say that I’ve never had a bad meal in France! “

This was Ellen’s pronouncement as we left a small vegetarian restaurant – and she was right: the vegetables were over-cooked and without the advantage of herbs, the cauliflower sauce was gummy, the pasta was bland and there was nothing memorable about the food or the presentation. I could have sucked on old tennis shoes with more flavor. It made me think of the contrast of how wonderful were the vegetarian meals we had in Cairo over the Christmas holidays where they know how to use spices and herbs to enhance flavors.

Our friend Cindy pointed out that no one in the restaurant was overweight – an observation that was easy to comprehend because no one would have wanted to  “clean the plate.” It was a waste of time to have spent a meal there but we had walked out to the “lunch only” restaurant called “Auberge de la Brocante” and it was “complet” (sold out). Since we passed the veggie restaurant on our way back, I agreed that we stop there when Ellen said she had always wondered how the food there was so we decided to try it. . . It turned out to be a BIG mistake--BIG. We all agreed on that. (My bad!)

In contrast to this disappointing experience, we went to La Lyriste  in Vaison la Romaine for Ellen’s birthday and chef Benoit created another menu that was superb. After amuses bouches of hummus and olive tapenade, we had an entrée of his foie gras with salade frisée and a crème brulée . The main dish was salmon with sesame seeds en brochette and shredded fennel in an orange sauce. Cheeses came from the Vaison cheese shop – the best of which was the Reblochon. Dessert was a parfait of pear mousse, chocolate mousse and a final layer of pear mousse and pear chunks.

Happy birthday, Ellen.

SNOW - Encore

Ellen’s good friend Cindy left the snow and grey of Michigan and came to spend a week with us. So far, she has discovered how mean the Mistral winds can be and today, on March 7, she has been served a healthy portion of snow – approximately five inches of “Lake effect-type” snow. Meanwhile, the temperatures in Michigan are higher than here and the “spring thaw” of Lansing appears to be in full swing. As our Lansing neighbor Jeff commented a while ago: “It's 30 degrees, the sun is blazing, and folks are coatless and drivin' w/ the windows open. Must be mid-Michigan! “

Welcome to Provence, Cindy!

[IMG_1333.JPG] From the “So what?” department: It was two months ago (January 8) that we had 20 cm of snow in Vaison la Romaine.

On Wednesday when she arrived I told Cindy that she and I would need to get pictures of the almond tree blossoms to post at this blog. Now, the blossoms are covered with snow and since they are so white/light pink, it will be a while before they are visible again (if they dare open their petals ever again). Before it snowed, she did get to see the Roman ruins, the medieval village, the olives of Nyons (at Huilerie Richard) and, today, a French dog show in Valence.

We may be an ocean away from the US, but I can now report that dog shows are the same on both sides of the Atlantic. Dog shows are held in large, poorly ventilated buildings into which the organizers try to make space for too many show rings. Then the people come – dog lovers all – and squeeze into the spaces between the owners, the breeders and the plethora of dogs.

I thought it would be fun to take Ellen to the dog show. It has been almost five months since we had Smokey and Braise visiting us and Ellen has been missing our deerhounds. So, we drove to Valence to the dog show at which there were NO deerhounds! But, we got to spend time with the wolfhounds and the Ibizan hounds and, in small measure, Ellen got her dog fix.Add to Google Reader or Homepage