Friday, July 8, 2011

France, part two: FOOD

For part two of my pictures from France, I thought I would highlight some of the food we enjoyed.

In general, meal time- lunch and dinner- were enjoyed at a relaxed pace, at least an hour for lunch, more like two or three for dinner.  Much of the conversation centered on, naturally enough, food and wine.  Anna's host dad said to me that other than eating food, the Frenchman enjoys talking about food.  What we are eating, what we have eaten, what we will eat.  And of course many other topics!

So here is a taste of France!  Once again, feel free to click on the pictures to see them at a more mouth-watering size.

Part one featured a photo of the cheese plate.  Here it is again.  Coming at the end of the meal, it was usually accompanied by fruit and/or a fresh salad with vinaigrette and, of course, bread.  Here in addition to a Menetou-Salon red, Denis had a treat for me- a bottle of 1999 Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape from his cellar.  Duskier and smokier than the newer local wine, both were delicious.

Our favorite dinner during our week in Aix-en-Provence.  In the evening we would stroll the streets of the old town, looking at menus and deciding on a whim what looked like the best choice for dinner.  Cafe Terminus we really stumbled on.  It was a lurker- I normally wouldn't pause at a restaurant in France that had a Ben & Jerry's ice cream menu- but the clientele looked like they were enjoying the place, the tabled food looked good, so we gave it a try.  We were delightfully surprised.  Here I'm having the chef's daily special of roast lamb chops with fig/honey sauce, ratatouille, potato and salad.  Anna had gnocchi with pistou (pesto) sauce.  (She also had the Ben & Jerry's!)  We only returned to one restaurant during our week in Aix: Le Terminus. (for canard magret [Anna] and flank steak [me])

Not a meal, but a scene from a street market.  Sausage!

My favorite meal from the trip was with Anna's family at the cozy traditional village restaurant in Menetou-Salon, C'heu L'Zib.  Anna's family is well known by the owners of this place, which is now in the third generation.  When we arrived, in the company of another family who dined with us, bisous were warmly exchanged all around.

At the long table in the cozy dining room, as we wait for our aperitif.

My starter course was delicate smoked salmon, served simply with lemon.  Anna had melon.  (And some of my salmon!)  Wine was a local white from Domaine Jean Tellier.

The courses were served family style.  This is the fish course, which I believe is a house specialty.  It is poached pike served in a cream sauce.  The fish was perfectly firm/tender and the sauce smooth.  I was trying to pace myself, but I went back for a small helping of seconds on this one.  Anna warned me about this dish, and she was right.  Heavenly.

The fish course plated.

The meat course was roast lamb, served with small potatoes and ratatouille veg.  The roast was thinly sliced and nicely medium rare.   The potatoes were parboiled then deep fried with a crispy exterior.  The ratatouille was simple and delicious.

Mid-meal conversation.

Next was salad and cheese.  My plate here is starting with the important stuff.

This large cheese, which Jean-Jacques is holding up for the picture, was left on the table for us to enjoy.

I did not photograph the dessert, a baked Charlotte cake. The food coma must have already set in.  We arrived at the restaurant at 8pm and said goodbye to walk home at midnight- four hours of good company and good food.

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