Thursday, February 01, 2018

Food du Moment

I know that I haven't been providing enough food porn for those of you who live for that.
Let me say that we have been getting our share of delicious meals. Many times, we'll go wandering the countryside and stop for lunch. Then if we're hungry in the evening, we might just have bread and cheese. Those three-course meals at lunch really fill you up!
Saturday evening, on a day when we had nothing scheduled, we decided to go out for a fancy meal.
I searched for restaurants near us and found Le Mas Charentais. Mas is kind of like an inn, but they also had a restaurant.
I emailed for reservations because I'm still afraid to make phone calls in French. (Remind me to tell you about the carpet salesman le marchande de tapis) who showed up at the front door dressed in his classic cashmere coat.)
We had a few glitches finding the place in the pitch blackness that is the French countryside, and I might have stopped short at one intersection, causing the seatbelt to tighten across Earl's throat and possibly crushing his windpipe (but he shouldn't have been wearing his seatbelt up that high). Finally, we turn into a road that goes across a farm field of grapes. We come to a T and a sign laying down at the intersection points to the sky. Which way should we go? An impatient car behind me put on its left turn signal so I turned that way.
A driveway dove precipitously past a building and wound around to a dark parking lot. I backed in, ready for a quick getaway if need be.
We climbed stairs and crossed a patio to a well-lit dining room that rang with the sound of French chatter. We stood awkwardly for a few minutes until a woman came hurrying from the back room full of quick French. The gist was that she should have been paying more attention to the customers rather than talking in the backroom since they were a business. I smiled, hoping I understood what she was saying.
We settled at a table for two and were immediately given the amuse-bouche, this is a starter that can sometimes be as simple as a bowl of peanuts. At this restaurant, it was four squares of bread, two with ham and cheese and two with pate and a pitted black olive.
We chose our meals from the menu of the day -- remember, it's always less expensive to choose the menu of the day rather than a la carte from the menu.
Our aperitifs were brought first. I had kir au vin blanc. You may have heard of kir royale, which is kir with champagne, but I'm not a champagne girl, so I ask for kir with white wine.
Yes, I had nearly finished it by the time I took a picture.
Earl had pastis, as usual. He's a southern France guy at heart.
Everyone received a first course of vegetable soup, but don't think American vegetable soup. The French like something called a velouté, which is basically pureéd. So imagine a vegetable soup that is pureéd into a lovely, creamy, smooth soup. This one was a beautiful cream color in a pale striped bowl. I didn't take a picture, but the taste was slightly sweet. I imagined it contained potatoes and cauliflower.
For our next course, Earl chose escargots while I had pate

I've never taken to snails, but Earl will get them occasionally, even though the tools used to eat them can get tricky. My meal included some ham and butter as you see. That's a jalapeno of some sort on top.

For my main course, I had duck. I love eating duck in France, its rich and fatty. A side of squash and some fries that I couldn't finish. FYI, the brussel sprouts are not more enticing in France than they are at home. 

Earl had pot au feu, which is basically beef that is cooked slow with vegetables like carrots, potatoes, leeks. I've never seen it served with a side of noodles.
Then comes dessert. I took this picture because I've noticed a change in the French language. You know how everything used to be soupe du jour, menu du jour -- soup of the day or menu of the day. Well now it's du moment -- soupe du moment, les desserts du moment -- of the moment. We see it everywhere and from Paris to Aix en Provence to Poitou Charente where we are now. 

Time for dessert. The choices of "du moment" are also listed on a chalk board.

I had the créme brulee ...
and Earl had gateau caramel beurre salé, a salty caramel cake with salty caramel ice creme and fruit. He said this visit was the first time he noticed so many salty caramel food items in France.
Of course, we've had delicious meals in other places, too. 
Above is an example of the velouté I mentioned earlier. I had this one at a seaside restaurant in Royan, a day when Earl and I went looking for the sun, but found the Atlantic Ocean instead.

Finally, the ile flottante dessert I had in Saintes, basically balls of meringue in a créme anglais sauce, drizzled with caramel sauce and sprinkled with shaved almonds. As often happens, I relied on Earl to visit my dessert at the end of a filling lunch.


Anonymous said...

Tagliatelle with pot au feu is new to me, too. There are potatoes in pot au feu, so pasta would be piling on the feculants.
I read this while eating lunch--a bowl of velouté of cauliflower. Velouté is as velvety as it sounds, one of my favorite words.
Glad you're finally enjoying eating after a rough start.

Jeanie said...

Fabulous food porn! it looks just wonderful -- every single big! I love "du moment"-- it makes it seem like "you must have it now for in a moment it could be gone!" It sounds like a lovely spot and a well deserved grand meal after being ill, fighting floods and that bad first home sit!

Paulita said...

Francetaste, Yeah, I thought the pasta didn't really go either. You're right, veloute is velvety.
Jeanie, I like that description of du moment. Yes, we're in a smoother path right now, though I am still sick, not as sick as before. I have a raspy voice. Maybe that's my sexy French voice.

Just Me said...


Sim Carter said...

I just realized your posts have been going to my old email address! I have to stop by your blog to see if you have new posts and I don't always remember to do that! I've resubscribed so hopefully it's all corrected now.

The velvety velouté sounds yummers. May I ask if that was an especially expensive meal? It sounds it. By the way, I don't know about Ohio or France but here in LA, Brussell Sprouts have been having their moment. Lots of places serving them in very enticing ways!

It sounds like you've found your sea legs! Enjoy.

Paulita said...

Just Me, Yes, wish I could share with you.
Sim, Including a full bottle of wine, which we took home with us since we didn't finish it, the meal cost 75 Euros ($93.81 at today's exchange). Ridiculously cheap in my opinion. At home, I know we would have spent well more than $100 on that meal.

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