For the second year in a row, my wife Jan and I celebrated Valentine’s Day (Saint Valentin) with a lovely lunch at Le Petit Paris, the excellent restaurant right on Daglan’s Place de la Liberté that is less than a two-minute walk from our house.
The basic good news is simply that the restaurant is open again after its traditional winter break; the really good news is that Chef Sylvain Guilbot has expanded the menu to include more choice, both in the tasting menu and in the “ideas of the moment” selections that he changes frequently. Here’s a taste of what we enjoyed, and why:
Chorizo is the bacon of sausages. Like bacon, Spain’s chorizo sausage improves the flavour of almost anything, especially if you enjoy a bit of spice. (For instance, I like to slice chorizo thinly, fry it lightly, and then pour beaten eggs over it, for scrambled eggs.) Today our soup was made with topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes) with slivers of chorizo at the bottom. (I will have to try slivering the chorizo for my scrambled eggs in future.)
Duck shows up again. One of the two choices for plat principal in the “ideas of the moment” menu was a hamburger, Périgord-style. You guessed it — made with duck. So naturally, Jan and I chose that as our main course. The “hamburger” patty was made of ground duck meat, which was then topped with a thin slice of smoked duck breast (serving the traditional role of bacon) and a much thicker slice of seared foie gras (serving the traditional role of a nice fatty cheese). Finally came some sprigs of roquette (rocket, or arugula if you prefer). Our verdict was unanimous: this was absolutely delicious! Have a look:
Cahors wine can be drinkable. Quite drinkable. I had wanted a bottle of red Sancerre with our meal. However, our hostess, Madame Guilbot, apologized and explained that the restaurant hasn’t yet received its full shipment of wines, because of our recent icy weather. Instead, she recommended a Cahors wine, quickly adding that it wasn’t at all typical of wines from that area south of us — namely, heavy, so dark they are almost black, and very tannic. Neither Jan nor I like them at all. But Madame certainly knows her wine, and we finally gave in and ordered a bottle. And you know what? It was quite good. (If you’re interested, just Google “Mas del Périé” and you’ll discover what this vintner can do with Malbec grapes, the dominant grape in the region.) Here’s a look at the bottle:
Where’s the chocolate? It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without dessert, and of course dessert pretty much has to include chocolate. So that’s what we ordered. Here’s mine — a “profiterole” that (unfortunately) looks a bit more like a chicken pot pie, with a ball of rich chocolate ice cream (and several caramelized hazelnuts) sitting inside the pastry, which in turn was sitting in a large puddle of chocolate sauce.
And then it was time for the short walk home. And who should we see in front of our house, wondering where we were? The truck driver who delivers our wine (we order it online). How’s that for timing? Just ducky, if you ask me.