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Everything posted by grahamtigg

  1. One guide that hasn't been mentioned is the Guide Hubert. I haven't seen one in a French Librare for a couple of years, but amazon.fr list it. The edition I've seen is in thick glossy magazine format and covers the departments in the southern half of France plus Paris. They use a rating system (one to five) of plates or, where the cusine is true to the local terrior, marmite pots. There are also crowns for degree of luxury in the surroindings plus a Gault-Millau length description. An interesting addition to Michelin/GM as it's reasonably light and relatively inexpensive (€ 15).
  2. I’ve always soaked dried ceps and found the resulting liquor full of flavour for boosting a sauce, but the re-hydrated ceps themselves have always been left with a low key flavour and somewhat wilted spongy texture. Completely by accident I made a personal discovery the other day that resulted in transforming dried ceps into succulent flavour packed specimens that were delicious morsels on their own. I was making duck “confit” by poaching (for several hours at up to 85 deg.C) duck legs in olive oil to which I’d added sliced shallot, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, dried orange peel and, of course, a few bits of dried ceps. It was when I came to strain the cooled oil that I discovered how the ceps had been transformed. I’ve never bought ceps preserved in oil. I must experiment further. Has anyone else tried this?
  3. By a total coincidence Sue and I stayed at Le Vieux Pont just a day or two after Bux. When you take everything into consideration - the food, wine, atmosphere, setting, personalities behind the operation, the accommodation and value then this is firmly on a very small podium of our favourite destinations. We have been fortunate in being able to visit at least once a year for some time, but inspired by Bux's kind note left for me at reception this is the first time we've opted for the no choice menu with four savoury plats - not least because Scallops and Pigeon are perennially tempting. We were given a amuse bouche of a deep fried crab, lentil and pig’s trotter croquette on a little white green cabbage – light and tasty, it should be a full dish. What worked for us with the scallops was the play between the bitter endive, sweet scallop and the richness of the dried fruit creation. On the Dorade dish I would add the seasoned crispy skin that gave the other end of taste and texture spectrum to the marbled white cocos and gelatinous (ours was not fatty) bits of veal foot. We agree that the seared foie gras was divine, the potato straws were like a topping of deconstructed rosti and there we a few baby vegetables to give a lighter contrast. The pigeon breast was melt in the mouth and the sesame sauce must have also had some fresh ground almonds, the sesame flavour was appropriately delicate. Of the dessert selection my star was a millefeuille of banana coffee cream, crunchy biscuit topped with seared banana. We managed to eat every morsel, but were surprised that we had been sat down over four hours. You are right that Nicole’s cooking has become more sophisticated. One or two dishes on our meal last October perhaps had one or two ingredients too many, but for this meal they all had their place. On your second night did you have the Pavé de veau d'Aveyron et du Ségala, sabayon à l'estragon, trait de sauce soja, mangue et purée de céleri-rave? The veal is cut in a triangular pyramid and brilliantly cooked. An outstanding effort. Something we only discovered last year was Tea d’Aubrac, an infusion made from a plant from the same name. It seems to do wonders to help digestion.
  4. For a much better map than my site use the Michelin link here. You can zoom out until you recognise somewhere you know.
  5. Certainly sounds a good find and one I'll be able to check out as it's ideally placed between the Languedoc and Lyon (airport). They have a web site www.domainedebarres.com by the way, although the menus look to be at least last year's. Your fine description didn't mention anything about the wine list so I assume it was OK and presumably it's strong on the Rhone and Languedoc? On the subject of wine, my approach of recent years has been to more or less give up trying to match wine an food. I choose the wine we want and if it doesn't go with a dish stop drinking it. Rabbit always seems to be a bit hit an miss and I'm convinced it's as much to do with product variability as it is with kitchen skills. On the subject of GM vs. Michelin for dining it's really no contest for me simply because GM provides a description of the establishment. Below the Michelin two star level there are only three categories and no words as a "guide".
  6. Bux - I'm always suspicious of places where locals or other French don't seem to eat. I'm guessing this was a Tuesday night in which case being half full is fine. I hope to put my Belcastel notes together this weekend (we had the same menu so direct comparisons will be made )
  7. grahamtigg


    Bux - we found Le Sud a great place to ring the menu changes in Lyon, plus it generated a good lively atmosphere as the evening progressed. I recall that you were keen to try Poivre d'Ane - are you holding your pen back or is it one for "next time".
  8. I've just come across this topic, but can't find the plans beyond North America for this World Tour?
  9. Interesting comments on Le Jardin de Sens. We had many fine meals from 1993 to 1995. Each was different and seeking to be inventive, sometimes a bit Jeckle and Hyde -- a symptom of having two chefs? Since then we have returned once, in 1998 (soon after 3*'s were awarded) where we had a fine meal. I noted that the food had simplifed a little with each dish based, by and large, around three main ingredients. It seems that creativity and consistency in dining experience are at odds here. Also interesting that you classify Le Mimosa as a bistro! However, thinking about it that's an appropriate description for somewhere that serves ingredient led food that is given the minimum of cooking transformation - somewhere where one can eat every day. What's more it's a small family operation and a requirement of the staff is a warm personality.
  10. Bux - Sarpoil is near Issoire. Type Sarpoil into Michelin web site or try this link. Passredon is 2Km north west from Sarpoil, just to the south of the D999. It's shown as a white square below the spot height "425". Nicole has been maried for at least five years now. We have talked to Michèle in our best French and, when explaining that our travels took us on to near Montpellier, she explained that she had never been out of the area - something I found quite extraordinary at the time. Have a great trip, we'll compare notes when we return. Don't worry that Bras will only just have opened. Our only experience of late is that one needs to go easy on the aligot, and sometimes the Aubrac beef portion (a speciality of course) can be overwhelming.
  11. Bux - in the ellipse that takes you from Lyon down to the delightful Vieux Pont (Belcastel) you have obviously picked the two most highly rated establishments. If you're looking at the more intermediate level to fill in then I've three suggestions. If you end up in Rodez and are in need of lunch (or even dinner) then Gouts et Couleurs covers a range of dining options. Perhaps a bit far to the north La Bergerie at Sarpoil is highly enjoyable and staying at the amazing b&b Château de Pasredon (04 73 71 00 67) is not to be missed. Finally there's a place that's top on our list to visit in the area that we haven't been to - Le Haut-Allier at Alleyras. I've had a couple of strong recommendations. Don't expect cutting edge cooking at these places, although one or two dishes may well surprise. For the drive your wife has the right idea - get out of the (dull and industrialised) Rhone valley and into the hills as quickly as possible. Do also take detours onto minor roads, that's the best way to see the countryside (at least form a car). Although it's been a somewhat mild winter, there is a chance that approching Bras from the east (over the high plateau) could hit some late season snow, so keep an eye on the weather and allow time for a detour. We'll also be in France over Easter. Except for our last night in Belcastel (Saturday 6th April) we're sticking to the warmer south, starting with Cetet and Les Feuillants. Have a great time
  12. I found the point of La Regalade to be gutsy cooking in an environment where close tables, low budget decor and rapid (but friendly) service are compensated by the prices. A year ago the menu was £20 and a (small) glass of champagne under £4. If the bill had been £87 for 2 I would be somewhat less enthusiastic.
  13. grahamtigg


    We booked lunch for a Thursday towards the end of January with less than three weeks notice, although I enquired, optimistically of course, about dinner first and that was full. The restaurant is small (but you do get plenty of personal space) and yet the three or so upstairs tables were not being used. This may be deliberate on their part for lunch. One thing to note if you do go is that their surprise tasting menu includes wine, but this will be a surprise bottle (probably white) rather than a selection of glasses.
  14. I would support Robert's comments about La Cagoulle, stick to the simple dishes plus don't expect much from the desserts. I would only suggest it as an option for Sunday as they open 7/7. Can't help you with the rest, but if Guy Savoi is on your radar then you must read the terrific write up by Jake in the "Paris Trip Reports" thread. This link http://www.egullet.com/cgi-bin/topic.cgi?forum=11&topic=36 should get you there.
  15. grahamtigg


    We had lunch at Poivre d'Ane (29 rue Molière, Angle rue Bugeaud Lyon 6. 04 72 74 44 14) in late November. It's small, friendly and feels very much like a neighbourhood bistro. The cooking has great confidence in emphasising the natural flavours of the ingredients, be it steamed baby vegetables with olive oil or a sublime roast saddle of hare with civet sauce and mash. If you're a wine buff then La Romanee's (19 Rue Rivet, Lyon 1. 04 72 00 80 87) list is a creation of love plus the food is more than adequate with several Provençal dishes, such as a "presse" of red mullet and auberine, helping to ring the changes. The menus in both places are around €20. For your tablier de sapeur try La Voûte (11 pl Antonin-Gourju Lyon 2. 04 78 42 01 33) where it's on the timeless menu Léa. To the south of Lyon consider the Le Côte Rôti at Ampuis (18 Les Allées, 69420 Ampuis. Tél 04 74 5 12 05 Fax 04 74 56 00 20) which is a more contemporary alternative to La Pyramide. We dined there back in 1999 when it was fairly new, but it appears to be making good progress. If you head north to Beaujolais country then Le Cep (69820 Fleurie-en-Beaujolais 04 74 04 10 77 Fax 04 74 04 10 28) is strong on regional specialities e.g. Coq-au vin, prepared to the highest standards in pleasant surroundings. We had a most enjoyable Friday night there a couple of years ago, not least because a thunderstorm delayed our walk back to the hotel and ordering an eau de vie here means the bottle is left on your table.
  16. La Cagouille does relatively simple fresh seafood dishes in a simple cafe like environment and is open 7/7. We had Sunday lunch there a couple of years ago and are considering going back for Saturday lunch (an equally impossible time) on 26th Jan. La Cagouille, 10/12 Place Constantin Brancusi 75014 (opposite 23 rue de l'Oues) Tél.+33 (0)1 43 22 09 01 Fax: (+33) 01 45 38 57 29 email: lacagouille@cognacnet.com NB. There's an interesting small museum dedicated to the French resistance abouve the nearby Monparnasse station.
  17. As a Londoner, we are fortunate in being able to visit France for about four weeks over the year, mainly the Languedoc. You already have excellent advise on the chefs highly rated by the guides, in particular you should go to Michel Bras, but note that they close at the "end" of October for the winter. I would also endorse L'Astrance in Paris and we want to return to the Auberge de Cimes in St. Bonnet-le-froid sometime. La Pyramide at Vienne is also outstanding. Robert also recommended Vieux Pont in Belcastel. The gap between the cooking here Michel Bras has narrowed over the past 5 years. Robert (bux) describes the cooking as simple which should be interpreted as a great complement. We love the place because it is family run (not Relais and Chateau run) and as a bonus the setting in a picture postcard village is worth a visit in its own right. Of equivalent style with a stunning wine list do also take in Le Mimosa (also has a hotel) in St. Guiraud 40 Km north west of Montpellier. What else? If you make it down as far as Montpellier (where the weather will be warmer and more reliable that the Massif Central) you will not only see a city the English coin as the Oxford of the south but you can dine and stay at the Jardin des Sens. What you should also do on your trip, irrespective of your budget, is balance out your dining experience with more everyday French restaurants that serve lovingly produced simple regional dishes. In many ways giving recommendations for these is harder. If in Lyon certainly dine at Le Lyon de Lyon, but also take in a couple of bouchons as well. I do hope that despite this weeks horrific events you are able to go. Let us know your plans and I may be able to help fill in the gaps.
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