Provence: Sous la lune

let’s take just a little break from our regularly scheduled program so we don’t get too backed up over here. this past weekend, i made it out to provence to get my french fix. which looks a little like this:

flayosc is a tiny village in the var. we were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of it while the moon was sitting low over the horizon. there’s a lovely restaurant here, called l’oustaou, that serves all kinds of traditional provençal fare. pieds et paquets , for example, which is a rather homely looking dish made of mutton tripe. it’s alright, but i’ll take daube over the p’n’p any day. flayosc was just one of maybe six different towns we managed to hit over a couple days, we also made it out to

the gorges du verdon, where i went a few years ago with the parents. (for some reason, i only manage to get out here in january. i’m betting it’s even better in the summer.) unfortunately, we had to cut this visit a little short so we could get down to chez bruno, in lorgues. bruno is a serious truffle freak. you’re greeted at the driveway by two monstrous truffle sculptures on either side of the gate. there are huge baskets of black truffles scattered around the dining room and too much truffle paraphernalia to even go into. bruno may be a little discomfitingly into truffles as well as himself, but he does serve some decent food (on truffle-embossed, monogrammed plates, no less):

guests get to choose between several truffle menus (one with just the white guys, one with both white and black, and the most expensive with just the black ones). we did the €58 lunch, which i think had both kinds. not sure though. the amuse-bouche: a quenelle of chickpea purée in a rich, meaty, wine-y sauce. with truffles on top.

we each got not one, but two poached eggs in a creamy truffled sauce (france = sauce). with truffles on top. two was definitely overkill, but this was amazing. definitely my favorite.

the house specialty: hyperspéciale potatoes, in, yes, a creamy truffled sauce. and you’ll never guess what they put on top. the potatoes were remarkably sweet.

perfectly cooked 5-hour lamb, in some ridiculously good sauce. i really should have the menu in front of me so i can copy down the components and whatnot here, but the pictures give a good idea, no? with root veg (celeriac, etc.) and more truffles.

surprisingly, they didn’t manage to sneak any truffles into dessert. here’s the cutest little crème brulée i ever did see. i wasn’t so keen on the spice element (these pastry dudes tend to go overboard with the whole exotic cardamom-cinnamon-clove thing), but the small proportions give just the right ratio of crunchy-to-creamy. nice mini-palmier too.

the regular-size dessert: banana tarte tatin with coconut ice cream. who knew that lemon sauce could complement caramelized banana so well?

altogether a fine meal. i wouldn’t go again necessarily, but i’m glad to have been. no better place to get the full Tuber melanosporum experience, particularly when they’re in season. speaking of which, clementines are definitely on the decline at the market, but we’re finally hitting some glorious peaks with the blood oranges:

i’m always struck by their softer flesh — there’s less snap, less resistance than with other oranges. this one was particularly acidic, but still super juicy.

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