Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tour de France, aligot and last pizza in Paris

We took the bateau-bus to Champs Elysees stop to get to Arc de Triomphe. When we got closer to the streets we understood why there were crowds everywhere: it was the final of Tour de France. Main streets were closed and we needed to use metro accesses to cross a street. After we reached the Arc, we just took the metro to our favorite bistro, Chez-Flottes. It was difficult to move in the crowd, but fortunately it was very close.

They still had a table outside which we got. The street itself was quiet. Last time we arrived with the Pope, and this time we witnessed the final of Tour de France. The food was excellent there as usual. We went with onion soup followed by duck confit and delicious aligot.

Our son chose a spaghetti Bolognese which seemed delicious. He was happy, so we could just relax and enjoy Paris. The personnel was very attentive and the waitress talked to our son whenever she approached. She also offered to split the aligot since it is very filling, so we didn't have to pay much more as by default potatoes were included, but not the aligot. Some people were waiting to get a table there. The man who made us to seat is an older man and he was here every time we went to this restaurant over the years. It is a bit expensive, but this is Paris. It was very hard to get to Rive gauche, only metro was accessible, but we walked to the Louvre and went through the shopping center, and then we could get to our bateau-bus quay. We have been to Paris on many occasions, so we didn’t need to rush, and just spent our day cruising and enjoying the city in nice weather.

Pizza pasta vino e birra We sat at this pizza bar/restaurant which is located right on the corner of St Michel and Quai Grand Augustin for our last glass (well that was a pitcher) of wine/beer of our vacation. I ordered a pitcher of rose wine which was not cheap. While seating there our son decided on a pizza. I wasn't too hungry and chose a beef Carpaccio.

The waitress didn't speak much French or English. She couldn't explain the dish and finally she said she's never seen it. She was probably new to Paris because she didn't know anything about the St Michel RER station we were seating in front and which was closed. My Carpaccio was just enough for me and husband and son shared a truffle and eggplant pizza which was excellent (I have tasted it). Food was surprisingly good for such touristy and popular location. I am not a person who would spend a fortune on pizza in France (too many French food options to try) but it was good. The big plus, it was facing Notre Dame, so we could take in Paris. After that we went packing and finished with some wine in our room before going asleep.

Dinner at Brasserie Toche, Bandol

Nice seafood and fish restaurant facing the port.

This was our last restaurant meal in Bandol and I wanted to try this nice restaurant. This restaurant is just beside Auberge du port and they share some of same items. Basically the same restaurant with a brasserie section. It is better to book especially on a weekend or a holiday.
I went with a menu and my husband decided on aioli, to sample food.
Our son had a child menu and his steak hache pas perfectly cooked after our instructions. The most impressive for him was how his plate was presented: he was served on a white rectangular plate his steak hache, his fries on the same plate in a big verrine and a smaller verrine of ketchup. His meal looked as high end sophisticated meal. He was very pleased with it.

My coquillages appetizer came very nicely presented on ice rocks and another plate on the side with garlic sauce which my husband liked better than aioli sauce, red vinegar with onions (this is exceptional with oysters, I had previously tasted that in Cassis).

I have to mention this place also serves spectacular boats of seafood for 68E for 2 to share, but my husband is not an amateur of raw seafood. My main dish was a loup (bar) fish grilled with fenouil (fennel) which came with a delicious sauce made from tomato pieces and herbs and vegetables on a side. My husband received a big plate with various vegetables and fish and aioli sauce. For desert it was eclair au cafe served with home made vanilla ice cream and vanilla and surrounded by grilled almonds and a coffee sauce.

A dinner for 88E for the 3 of us with a good wine. This highlights were seafood and the presentation of each dish which was exceptional. Recommended for seafood lovers.

Lunch at Du Thym a l'ail, Bandol

Great restaurant despite touristy location.
This restaurant is at the end of the touristy promenade covered with shops along the port and the beach, but I read good reviews on that place and we decided to try it. The daily menu is available for 12E and 14E which is very affordable, this menu could be ordered until 7PM. Our son had the traditional steak hache and fries, this one was perfectly cooked as we explained. As appetizer we chose marinated herring. I am a herring lover, mostly salt sort, and often buy it whole and clean and prepare it with onions and olive oil. This herring came covered with vegetable which included carrots and it was truly delicious. Then my husband ordered shark, I was surprised because he is a meat lover mostly except for salmon. So, I ordered blanquette de veau just to ensure we could swap plates with him.The shark arrived served with garlic, tomatoes and basil on top, with rice, carrots, zucchini and roast tomato. The shark tasted like swordfish (espadon), it was good.

Now the blanquette, which is usually a common plate in Montreal was simply delicious. It melted in my mouth. I wasn't sure anymore I wanted to exchange it for shark, although I love fish. Of course my husband couldn't resist the meat and so I finished the shark and he finished the blanquette.

We splurged with a 14E menu and ordered a creme caramel each (I couldn't resist this desert). Our son had a choice of cafe gourmand, creme caramel or sweet crepe included. He is not too much into sweet like me except for an ice cream. The waiter was really nice when he saw our son's grimace, he offered him just home made vanilla ice cream to see a big smile on our son's face. For 53E for the 3 of us we got an excellent meal.

Diner at le Pinocchio Pizzeria, Bandol

This pizzeria was very popular and right at the doors of a hotel in Bandol. Our son wanted to try pizza and they made wood oven pizza. Personally I didn't necessarily want to have pizza just because there is so much of French cuisine to try in Bandol for that price and besides we have that home in Montreal, but we only had a pizza a couple of times in our 1 month stay in France purchased from to go places, so it was OK. Wine was expensive 13E for half a bottle. I went with mariniere mussels which were OK. Although I prefer salty food these were too much salt for my taste. They are definitely not the specialty. My husband had a calzone and our son was happy with his rabbit like pizza.

I tried the pizza and it was good, but I wouldn't spend 58E on a pizza meal in France unless just can't live without pizza as our son. Many places to go sell very good quality pizza for a much lower price. The meal itself was pleasant and the personnel very friendly and attentive with kids.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Diner at La marmitte in Bandol

It is located in a small street between Pons and Republique streets in Bandol, next to Auberge Provencale. We stopped at this restaurant as they displayed oysters on their ardoise menu. We were seated in the street terrace and I had a small sea view from there. As an aperitif we were served 4 types of sauces/tapenade. One anchoiade, 1 tapenade, 1 zucchini sauce very good, and another sauce I can't remember. The wine came by pitcher and was inexpensive. My oysters arrived on ice with a lemon and garlic butter and my husband went with a fish soup with croutons and rouille. The soup portion was big and it was delicious. Our son was served a steak hache with fries. Asked to cook it more, and the waiter changed his plate also no problem. Then my husband got his taureau with vegetables which was delicious. He first asked for a well done meat, but the waitress recommended to cook it less and she was right.

I received my exquisite bowl full of mix of fish and some mussels. Now, I think this was the best dish I ever tried in Provence in our 3 trips there. The fish was perfectly cooked and very tasty. It was served in a yellow sauce made of fenouil, garlic, safran and other ingredients, it had a nicely cut carrot and a potato.

A real delight in each spoonful. For desert our son had an ice cream with pistachio and cassis and we decided on creme brulee in lavender liqueur. The creme brulee was exquisite, although the lavender taste was very light. This restaurant doesn't have seafront to sell, if it is there it is because of high food quality and excellent cooking. The price was inexpensive of 53E for 3 of us for this quality of meal.
I highly recommend this place for our best meal in Bandol and we sampled a few restaurants there staying for 2 weeks.


Lunch at Le Grillon:

After we completed our tour of Arles with the small train we just walked back to this restaurant by les arenes. I had spotted it during our visit of Arles. Husband and son went with crepes with ham and cheese and mushrooms with a fried egg on top, very tasty and filling.

And I decided to try the plate of the day as it was lamb for only 10E. My lamb roast with Provencal herbs arrived on a big plate with ratatouille, roast potatoes and fries.

Everything was so good with half a bottle of a rose from Provence. I had to share my fries, it was too much for me. 45E for 3 of us including wine.

Arles ice cream:

Arles market paella:

Arles market:

Lunch at la Petite Cour, Cahors

This restaurant is easy to find as it is right on the main road along the river in Cahor facing the old bridge. After our visit to Pech Merle grotto, we drove there. Despite a week day the restaurant was full and only 2 tables were left, one of which was under sun.

I chose the shaded table on the terrace while my husband was parking our car. Another couple arrived while I was waiting and reading menu. Their table was really close to ours. They said hi and sat. The man was very polite and asked me a permission to smoke. I don't really like the small of smoke while eating, but since I was waiting I just said it is ok for now with a smile. He didn't smoke however at all when he saw our son. The restaurant had a lunch menu as all of restaurants we have been to, but I decided to try local cuisine as Cahors is renowned for wines and terroir. So I chose on the menu a tatin de foie gras, which was delicious and big served with a salad. We shared that with my husband. I was made sweet with honey, and although I don't eat much sweet, this was an interesting combination that I enjoyed a lot. Then I chose duck confit and my husband decided on pave de rumsteak petite cour.

The duck confit was good, but the rumsteak was really delicious, served with foie gras on top and with sauce. The meat just melted in my mouth when I tried it.

All with a good rose wine.
Our son had a child menu with vegetables and salad included. He loves vegetables.
We had an excellent meal for 60E for the 3 of us.

Lunch at le Petit Paris, Daglan, Dordogne

We were the first to arrive to this restaurant and were seated at the terrace in a nice street in Daglan. We visited the Castelnaud castle and war museum inside and I wanted to have our meal at this restaurant. We could park no problem in the small public parking just in front, at 100 meters. The weather was cloudy in the morning, but then became sunny.

This restaurant doesn't have a child menu, but they arrange a plate from the menu in a more simple version for a child. We ordered duck confit nems for him from the apetizers section.

We were served complimentary rillettes de canard to die for with bread accompanied by a rose we ordered. I went with 25E menu and my husband chose the 29E one. I ordered a foie gras carpacio, it arrived served spectacular on a delicious toast.

It was surprisingly big. My husband also had duck confit nems which in his case came with a duck broath with green tea and rice vermicelli. This was an original presentation.

Then we both selected ris d'agneau in balsamic vinegar accompanied by gnocchi made of chesnut flour. The ris d'agneau was exceptional and very tender.

My husband then chose the cheese plate with black cherries confit, excellent according to him.

We were surprised, but the bill has to be paid inside. We waited for a moment to have the machine at our table but finally were told to pay inside. Everybody were very polite at the restaurant.

Lunch at Auberge du Pont, St Leon sur Vezere, Dordogne

St Leon sur Vezere:

On a Saturday for lunch many places are closed in the region. Auberge du pont in St-Leon sur Vezere looked like a touristy place from the outside and because of its central location. They had a big shaded terrace which seemd to be pleasant. So we sat there and chose from the menu. I went with roast lamb and my husband with a lamb gigot.

My lamb came accompanied by gratin dauphinois, zucchinis, roast tomatoe and half of a renverse of zucchini. The food was good, the lamb very tender. My pieces had a lot of grease on them that I did cut out, but the meat was tender.

Renversee of zucchini didn't have much taste, and I had only tried potatoes because I don't like bechamel sauce. Despite of this I had more than enough food with the meat and all vegetables. The lunch was very pleasant there with a glass of wine and a beer.

Brasserie in Brantome, diner

After our visit of Brantome in very nice and sunny weather, we walked around to chose a restaurant.

We went to Charbonnel at first, but a very nice lady there explained all tables on the terrace were booked and offered us a table inside. It was a Friday night, so it was normal, but we didn't feel to eat inside as the weather was so warm and pleasant. So we just crossed the small bridge and asked for a table at this brasserie. all first row by the river tables were reserved, but we could seat in the second row. still very pleasant.

I wasn't too hungry, so I decided on a lamb rack and we ordered a bottle of rose wine. My husband went with a 18E menu and our son chose the quiche which came with a salad and fries.

Many families were having their meal there, the atmosphere was relaxed. My husband chose gesiers confit salad which was huge, but very nicely presented and colored. I had to help him a bit with this appetizer. Then he had a duck confit and my lamb arrived in a big plate with small square fries and salad.

It was perfectly cooked, slightly rose and was very tasty.

Then my husband didn't have much room for a desert, so he gave his ice cream to our son. The ice cream was very nicely presented and was big. We could spend our evening there and could watch the boat fights (joutes).

Very good and pleasant meal in nice weather. I can recommend this place.

A Lunch at l'Epicerie, Amboise

We couldn't find easily the restaurant because of our GPS indications, but it was in the street facing the castle walls.
After visiting le Clos Luce we could park easily in the road parking along the river and walked a bit into the pedestrian area of Amboise.

We were seated at the terrace. We chose a 22E menu. Our son went with child menu and received a very nicely presented steak hache with a fried egg on top and fries. We had to ask the steak cooked a bit longuer and his plate changed. He then had a choice of ice creams. The personnel was very nice and patient, they served us with smile and talked to our son every time they served us.

I went with a soup, very good and nicely presented and my husband chose the terrine. Followed by duck confit with delicious potatoes. I didn't find the duck being crisp, but it was good. We had a cheese plate with 3 pieces of cheese, one of which reminded me a havarti cheese. Then I chose a crumble, which  was very tasty, but too sweet for me ( don't like too sweet and on rare occasions have a desert). My husband had the apple pie, which was not too sweet. He finished my crumble, but found it very sweet too.
The food was all very good and the wine, a rose was good, but I found it to be more rustic than the restaurant in Bracieux. My husband was happy to see big plates of food, but I couldn't finish all my potatoes. The visit of Amboise that followed was more difficult for him, since he ate a lot.
A very good experience in Amboise.

Restaurant Relais d'Artemis in Bracieux

I swear, I still could taste some ingredients for a few days. It is a very good restaurant and it is possible to sample food as they have several menus to try. We arrived for lunch after visiting Chambord and before heading to Cheverny.

We could park in front of the restaurant. The restaurant had a big restaurant section almost full on a Wednesday, a bar section, more casual where we were seated, and a garden, which was closed since big clouds were around. I dressed in a blazer, but many people were just wearing jeans for lunch, still some business people who were dressed. The 2-3 families were sat in the bar section which had comfortable settings. Our son and another kid were playing DS.
The personnel was attentive and nice. They also have high chairs for kids, better to reserve and child menu.
We were served an anchoiade with bread to start with. Our son had a big plate of roast chicken and fries followed by an ice cream, so he was enchanted. We went with 18E menus.
We had each a terrine, followed by magret de canard (duck magret), then I went with cheese plate and my husband with a caprice du chef au chocolat. The terrine was good with delicious compote d'ognions. The magret was presented as a flower, perfectly rose with tasty sauce and accompanied with a renverse which was sour but very good (I tasted that for a few days in my mouth). There was also a potato cut in two and presented as another flower.
At first my husband thought he won't have enough food, but with his desert it was just enough for visiting Cheverny. I receives my cheese plate with 3 tiny pieces of cheese, but the surprise was each cheese had a pronounced smell and specific taste, and with bread I felt I had enough food. I really enjoyed cheese plate.
All accompanied with a house rose. It was the most refined meal(in terms of food) we had during our 1 month trip to France.
I highly recommend this place.