Clever food in Cahors — Dish No. 1

We have never really enjoyed, or understood, the town of Cahors — at least until yesterday. In the past, my wife Jan and I had somehow missed the sights or the shops or the restaurants that everyone else raved about.

But yesterday,  Jan and I were driven to the capital of the Lot département by our friends Tish and Bob, who have a lovely holiday home near Salviac, and who know Cahors well.  Our goal? Lunch at Le Marché.

And there at Le Marché we had a wonderful meal, including a couple of dishes that I thought were particularly clever. Today I’ll show you one of them; tomorrow, the next.

But let’s start with an overview. Cahors is about 53 kilometres south of our village of Daglan, so it’s roughly an hour’s drive. The historical town of just over 20,000 sits on the Lot river, which explains the name of the département. These days it’s well known because of its “black” wine; it’s a dark and highly tannic wine, made primarily from Malbec grapes, and definitely not a favourite of ours.

In any case, we’re told that Cahors has an excellent weekly market, which happens to take place in this square — which is also home to yesterday’s destination, the restaurant Le Marché:

The square where the market takes place.

The square where the market takes place.

And here’s the entrance to the restaurant Le Marché, right on the street where the market takes place, with Jan and Bob approaching:

Approaching the entrance to Le Marché.

Approaching the entrance to Le Marché.

Once the four of us had settled inside, we ordered apéritifs (kir vin blanc for Jan, Tish and Bob; a vin de noix for me) and studied the menu. Eventually we chose the 36-euro lunch, which includes an amuse-bouche, an entrée, a plat principal, and a dessert. The amuse-bouche was a glass filled with a mixture of finely diced avocado, mango and passion fruit, seated on a bed of fresh (young) chèvre (goat’s cheese). Quite yummy, although it was neither wildly clever nor photogenic.

But now we get to the clever bit — the entrée that both Tish and I chose.

On the menu, it’s called Automnal de cèpes, served with bouillon de poulet and an oeuf surprise à la truffe. It wasn’t a difficult choice for me, since I love cèpes (porcini mushrooms, in other words) as well as eggs (which I assumed would be soft-boiled, to create a sauce). But it was even more unusual than I had expected, and here it is:

My entrée, as presented at Le Marché.

My entrée, as presented at Le Marché.

Yes, it looked like a crunchy ball of something-or-other in the centre of a bowl of mushrooms and chestnuts, seated on an artichoke heart. But when I cracked through the crunchy shell, out flowed the soft yolk of an egg, like this:

The "surprise egg" is opened.

The “surprise egg” is opened.

I have no idea how it’s done, but one theory (okay, it’s just a guess) is that an egg yolk is frozen and then the crunchy topping is placed around it and then deep-fried. But again, I honestly don’t know. I do know, however, that the dish was both delicious — as well as very clever.

Tomorrow, I’ll show off what I considered a very clever dessert.

This entry was posted in French food, Life in southwest France, Restaurants in France, Restaurants in the Lot, Travels in and out of France and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Clever food in Cahors — Dish No. 1

    • loren24250 says:

      Well, I still don’t know. This was quite different, in that the “coating” was cooked spaghetti, and the whole thing was steamed. Whereas what we ate was quite crunchy and had clearly been baked or deep-fried. Hmmm.
      On another note, I found this video quite amusing. For all their precision, the chef and sous-chef were a bit like the Keystone Cops, almost bumping into each other, and using three motions where one would do.

  1. Keith Raymond says:

    But the method of getting the yolk in the coating would be the same. Cook up some stuff, put in ramekin, chill or freeze, fill and add the top. Must have dome some molding as yours looked seamless. What a production though! That is what sous-chef is for.

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