Back to right-sized servings

I really enjoy a lot of the American food classics, from barbecued ribs, thick steaks and fried chicken to cole slaw, potato salad and fresh shrimp. On our recent extended trip to Florida’s Anna Maria Island, we had them all, and a lot more. But if Florida restaurants know their American classics, there’s one thing they don’t know — and that’s portion control.

Good grief, are the servings ever huge! Last Sunday my wife Jan and I took my mother to a lovely lunch at the Waterfront Restaurant on the island, and began with excellent margaritas. For our main courses, Jan and I ordered a mushroom risotto that was delicious (although a bit heavy on the Parmesan cheese). But both of us left a substantial portion sitting on our plates, because there was simply too much to eat.

A few things about the huge servings bother us. One is that they represent unnecessary waste, and expense to the restaurant. Another is that they encourage over-eating (and believe me, I indulged in that fairly often over the past few weeks). Finally, they simply look inelegant, turning mealtime from a civilized activity into something like an all-you-can contest. (I still shudder at the memory of a huge serving of fried fish draped over a gigantic mound of mashed potatoes, served to me at a supposedly “fine dining” restaurant on Florida’s Atlantic coast a few years ago.)

And now that Jan and I have returned to the GDA (that is, the Greater Daglan Area of southwest France), we’re back home to sensible, “right-sized” servings of food that both look and taste delicious. For example, let’s review our lunch yesterday at Daglan’s own Le Petit Paris, a brisk 90-second walk from our home.

As our amuse-bouche, Chef offers a small jar of duck rillettes — the delicious, fatty, coarse pâté made of duck meat– to be spread on fresh-baked rolls, plus a small glass holding a creamy broccoli purée. Here’s my plate, with a roll torn into small chunks and spread with some rillettes, as well as the chilled broccoli soup:

A simple way to whet the appetite.

A simple way to whet the appetite.

For our plats principaux, or main courses, Jan and I each chose a specialty from the restaurant’s seasonal menu — a nice piece of trout that was roasted and then served on a small bed of puréed peas and topped with a slice of Spanish Chorizo sausage, a Parmesan tuile, and a Parmesan cream sauce. Delicious.

Nicely baked trout, with some strong extra flavours.

Nicely baked trout, with some strong extra flavours.

For her dessert, Jan chose the classic pear-with-ice-cream-and-chocolate-sauce sundae called Poire belle Hélène, which looked like this:

A classic pear dessert.

A classic pear dessert.

Meanwhile, I had an unusual cheese dish to finish the meal. It was a circle of Rocamadour (a type of Cabécou, or regional goat’s cheese) that had been marinated and then topped with small chunks of black truffle, and served with toasts and a small green salad. The cheese was creamy and full of the earthy taste of the truffles.

Truffle-studded cheese, with a roll and small salad.

Truffle-studded cheese, with a roll and small salad.

Along the way, it should be said, we each had a kir (a glass of white wine flavoured with cassis) and then shared a bottle of Chablis, followed by coffees at the end of the meal.

The bottom line? Not too much, not too little. Just right. As it should be.

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

7 Responses to Back to right-sized servings

  1. Rosemary McCaffrey says:

    I am glad you are back! Le Petit Paris is going on my list of “to-do” places for next September. Thank you for sharing your adventures, Loren.

  2. Loren says:

    Thanks very much, Rosemary. I’ll look forward to your comments on Le Petit Paris, when you do try it. And of course, I’m assuming you’ll also try Le Grand Bleu in Sarlat!

  3. Paul says:

    Sounds like you had a great time in Florida, glad you both enjoyed it.
    We will be in the DGA in the last two weeks in May and have just booked a table at Le Petit Paris for our first Sunday lunch. Reading Back to right-sized servings brought back memories of some wonderful meals there. Hope to see you both then.

  4. Loren says:

    Thanks, Paul. For sure — see you all in May!

  5. Gaynor Black says:

    I am convinced that living in France will secure you both long and healthy lives. North American portions are out of control — and the more reasonable portions in Europe probably explains why it’s more reasonably priced there too. I’m looking forward to hearing about your Spring adventures now that you are back.

  6. Loren says:

    Thanks so much, Gaynor! And I really like your logic about long and healthy lives! (Although in fairness, life in Florida has proven pretty good for my Dad — who lived to age 96 — and my amazing Mom, who continues to drive and thrive at 90!)

  7. Caitlin and Albert Woodbury says:

    After five months in California wine country, we seriously need to return to “right-sized eating” again. See you soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.