Food fit for a birthday

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:


Perfectly cooked cod, on a bed of spinach and zucchini.

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:

Beef dish

Beautifully cooked beef cheek on a bed of puréed Jerusalem artichoke.

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:

Wine bottle

A beautiful, light red wine -- but from what grape?

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:


Chocolate, chocolate, everywhere.

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:

Candy box

Flashy but classy packaging from the folks at Fauchon.

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.


Nine different flavours, and all of them spectacular.

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!”

This entry was posted in French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Dordogne, Weather in the Dordogne and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Food fit for a birthday

  1. Rob West says:

    Well played Smithers!! A birth day well spent, I should say. Oh Happy Day!!

  2. Jens et Francoise says:

    As-tu déjà pris un bain au chocolat, de Fauchon, naturellement?

  3. Jens et Francoise says:

    Bon anniversaire

  4. loren24250 says:

    Merci beaucoup, Françoise et Jens! Et, mais oui, j’ai pris un bain au chocolat — avec Jan!

  5. Debra Kerr says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Loren sent with best wishes from South Florida….

  6. Lisa at fLVE says:

    Happy Birthday!!! So nice that you received such a wonderful birthday present! The chocolates do look very delicious! It’s now on my list to try…Lol.

  7. Lesley says:

    The chocs would last a day max in our household. I like the idea of numbers actually on the choc. it must make the menu/crib sheet easy to match to the sweet. Perhaps you can sort of feel the raised number, like Braille, so as to get the favourites in reduced light.
    Belated best wishes on your Birthday.

  8. loren24250 says:

    Thanks very much, Lesley, for the birthday wishes. You’re right — the numbers on the chocolates do work well! Too well, in fact, because the chocolates are now gone. (I’m very, very sorry to say!) Maybe the kids will think of Fauchon again when Father’s Day rolls around…

  9. Letitia & Roy says:

    Belated Happy Birthday Loren, sounds like you had a really lovely day.
    We are looking forward to lunch at Le Grand Bleu too.

    See you soon x

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