Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Dinner

Add to Google Reader or HomepageEllen and I joined French friends for Christmas dinner in L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Daniel had found the restaurant, made the reservations and invited us to join them. We loved the idea and jumped at the chance – one of the best decisions in years.

Daniel lives in Auch but chose to visit L’Isle sur la Sorgue for the holidays. It is a town about 50 km from here and a town that we know well having spent two weeks there several years ago. The town is an antique hunter’s paradise but as we discovered, it is also a gourmet’s paradise.

We ate at a restaurant called Le Vivier – a word which means fish tank/fish pond. The restaurant is located along side the Sorgue River, so the name may have something to do with the location. In any case, the setting was attractive, the service was impeccable and the food was fantastic.

The restaurant had put together a special lunch-time meal as its Repas de Noël (Christmas meal). The meal started with canapés and amuse-bouche (mouth pleasers) including a light mousse of cream and fish served with a piece of crisp bacon, oyster paté served on an oyster shell and a lobster roll.

The Entrée (first course) was “Maki de Saint Jacques, cressionnière à l’ail noir, emulsion au lard rance.” – I’ll never get the word-for-word translation for this item. Suffice it to say that it was a lovely, thinly-chopped scallop wrapped in basil (or spinach) topped with a watercress and garlic sauce. The sauce was a bright green and looked lovely served in a white bowl.

There were two plats (plates) for the main course. The first was: Turbot rôti, citron confit de Menton, gnocchis de potimarron et blinis. Roasted white fish (turbot) served with a crispy slice of preserved lemon (from Menton, Fr.), gnocchis made from pumpkin and little pancakes.

(Daniel chose a Jurançon sec for the above courses. Wonderful pairing. We had a burgundy – Auxey Duresses – to go with the second part of the main course. Another wonderful pairing!)

The second plat was: Dos de cerf aux poivres, velouté de topinambour à l’huile de noisette, copeaux de châtaigne et pomme de terre en transparance. Venison rubbed with coarsely ground pepper served on a sauce made from Jerusalem artichoke and hazelnut oil with pieces of roasted chestnuts; potatoes sliced so thinly that they looked transparent after cooking.

The cheese course was warm St. Marcellin cheese (creamy, soft cow’s milk cheese) with a slice of truffle in it. Saint Marcellin truffé, servi tiède.

Dessert was: Boule de Noël aux litchis & pommes (a Christmas ball that contained an apple/litchi ice cream). –and the Christmas ball was a sugar confection, i.e., edible!

Merry Christmas
Joyeux Noël

Et bon appétit!


  1. Welcome back! All I can think of is that my husband will think he's died and gone to heaven reading - and drooling over - this post! Please add this special place to the short list when we return! Hugs and misses!

    PS You missed all the epic-ice-storm-power-outage excitement. Good plan. Some in your 'hood just got power back today - 8 days! Good times here in the mitten!

  2. Wow! I'm certain that I have checked more frequently but find that I have missed many of your 2013 posts, especially since May. Had I read them earlier, it would have been difficult to eat anything as mundane as the daily offerings at 8436 Newcombe. Both the Repas de Noël and the October offering with those lucky auction bidders from Meals on Wheels were truly mouth watering. OMG! Wonderful! Impressive that you prepared one of Benoit's offerings. Surely, a special treat for anyone used to the meat and potatoes menus of the mid-west (Or, should I say the U.S.?)