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