|Cassoulet with duck from Carcassonne.|
From there, we were just a short train ride into Provence, where we spent time in Arles, Nimes, Avignon, and Aix-en-Provence. Our guidebook discussed a “gastronomic dining experience” at the restaurant of famous chef Jean-Luc Rabanel. Fortunately for our wallets, his expensive ($150/person) put-your-meal-in-the-hands-of-the-chef restaurant was closed both nights we stayed in Arles. However, his also recommended bistro A Cote next door was open where the 4-course dinner was 37E.
I ordered a seafood main which included a filet of white fish cooked in a single-serve paella-style pan with lots of mild, roasted garlic, carrots, mussels, and a prawn.
Will ordered the fois gros starter, lamb with potatoes and vegetables, the cheese plate which had three lovely selections – one local, and both others from France – a camembert and a goat cheese.
Everything was very delicious. I didn’t find it especially “experimental” like the guidebook had described it, except for possibly the dessert, which was awesome. It was a layer of chestnut mousse topped with a “fromage blanc” (which our waitress described as “yogurt.” I would have called it “crème fraiche.”) That layer was then topped with a baked layer of carmelized tart sweet apricots. The combination of flavors and the thick creamy but slightly grainy texture of the chestnut mousse was outstanding.
In any case, it was fun to know we were experiencing the work of a renowned chef.
|The untouched dessert, as presented in its ramekin. With such lovely layering of the custards, |
I was surprised it wasn't served in a clear serving dish to highlight the contrasts.
|After we scooped below the top layer of apricots - see the cream topping with the chestnut mousse on the spoon!|
The two salads were basically the same base of fresh mixed greens, tomatoes, and a balsamic vinaigrette. One was topped with lots of tiny cubes of three different cheeses and the other topped with squid. I was boldy and bravely venturing for nearly the first time into squid territory (because of my positive experiences on this trip with octopus). Concerns about chewiness be gone! This squid were the silkiest, most tender salad toppings I could imagine. They were stewed in a flavorful broth, then served warm on a crisp bed of fresh salad greens and dressed with tomatoes and vinaigrette.
|Salad with cheeses.|
|Salad with squid.|
After that, we had a tenderized flank steak with an onion-cherry confit, and a duck breast with a yogurt-cheese sauce.
|Triple chocolate mousse cake.|
|Calisson confections interpreted as a dessert.|
|Actual calissons in their expected form from the confectionary.|