We weren’t actually supposed to be here. Yesterday (Friday) was my birthday, and so we had made reservations to spend the night at Le Vieux Logis in Trémolat, an hour or so west of Daglan, eat at its Michelin-starred restaurant on Friday, and then have lunch today (Saturday) at Le Bistro d’en Face (across the street from the inn).
But then duty called, and our plans had to change. Suddenly I had a rush assignment from a client in Toronto to write the copy for a major website, and I knew I couldn’t take off that much time from writing. However, there is always time for a nice lunch at Le Petit Paris in Daglan, especially if it’s your birthday. So I cancelled the Trémolat reservation, and made another, for Le Petit Paris.
At yesterday’s lunch, we began modestly with a simple kir as our apéritif. (Okay, I admit we had a glass of Champagne at home before we left for the restaurant. That was only sensible — we were finishing off the bottle of champagne we had started that morning, mixed with orange juice of course, for my birthday breakfast of French toast.) Then my wife Jan and I both ordered from the seasonal menu, the one that changes regularly.
Each of us began with the bisque of langoustines, studded with mussels, which was outstanding. I didn’t bother with a picture of the soup, because to be honest a bowl of dark reddish-brown liquid isn’t that photogenic. But the flavour was incredible, capturing the strong taste of the seafood perfectly.
For her plat principal, Jan chose the cod, knowing that Chef Sylvain Guilbot has the knack for cooking it perfectly. This time the cod was decorated with almond slices, and sitting on a bed of spinach and courgettes (zucchini). Here’s her dish:
For me, there was no question about my main course. It had to be the beef cheeks, cooked slowly in Pecharmant (a robust red wine from a small region just east of Bergerac), and then sitting on bed of puréed Jerusalem artichokes, with a piece of grilled bread on the side to help soak up the sauce. This was perfect — tender, rich, delicious. And here it is:
What wine to order for two such different dishes? I thought a light red might work, and Jan was happy with the idea, so we asked Madame Guilbot if the restaurant had received its shipment of Sancerre rouge. (Deliveries had been slow earlier in the season, because of the icy roads we endured for a while, which stopped many trucks from getting through.) Sure enough, the wines had arrived, and she agreed that the Château de Sancerre rouge would be a good choice. Here it is:
Now if you know a bit about French wines , you’ll know that nearly all Sancerres are white, and are made solely with the sauvignon blanc grape. I had never thought to ask what the reds were made from, so I asked Madame. And for once, she was stumped. (She’s very knowledgeable about wines.) So we all thought about it for a while, ruled out various grapes, and finally I came up with what I figured would be the answer — pinot noir. At that, Madame went off to find her master wine encyclopedia, to look up Sancerre rouge.
When she returned, she was beaming — I had been right! So she was impressed, I was chuffed, and all was well.
Then our thoughts turned to dessert, and the clear choice was chocolate. Here it is: a puddle of milk chocolate sauce, underneath a chocolate-flavoured “risotto” of rice and pineapple, underneath a scoop of dark chocolate ice cream, with a caramel tuile on top:
So that was the birthday lunch, but not the end of the birthday treats. Because today we received a surprise delivery from Fauchon of Paris (Paris is a large French city on the outskirts of the Greater Daglan Area).
It was a gift box of chocolates from daughter Anne and son Michael in Toronto, who know how much I love these candies. Here’s the flashy box that holds the chocolates:
I’ve had chocolates at specialty shops in San Francisco, Toronto, London and Brussels, among other places, and to my mind nothing can compare with the chocolates from Fauchon. They look nice (see below), but then so do lots of other chocolates.
What really sets them apart is the intensity of their flavours, as well as the perfect textures. And so after lunch today, Jan and I each had a chocolate for a mini-dessert. Perfect.
And as Jan said over lunch, “You know the kids really care — when they order from Fauchon!”