Definitely was not smoked. He grilled the piece of pork.
The following are the dining highlights from my family’s trip to Provence. We were based in St. Remy de Provence but traveled all over the region.
Chez Bob (Arles) The restaurant is actually just south of Arles, in the Camargue region. My wife and I have eaten here twice before and this time was just as good as our previous visits. There is a set menu at Chez Bob. The meal begins with a beautiful huge basket of fresh crudities, radishes, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, potatoes, cauliflower, etc. There is also great country bread and usually a fish spread. This time there was not fish spread, but something I would describe as salmon jerky. The main dish you have your choice of grilled duck breast, local beef, lamb or grilled pork. My daughter and I had the grilled duck which was fabulous. My wife tried the pork which was very good, but we were not sure of the cut. It seemed like a really meaty pork belly. The others reported the lamb and beef were also excellent. Then there is a cheese course and finally a very nice pancotta with the freshest raspberries. It is such a pleasure to dine at this restaurant. You must have reservations because they only cook for who has reserved a table.
Le Terrail (Bonnieux) The restaurant is in the beautiful town of Bonnieux. There were 16 in our group, so finding a restaurant that we could all dine at on the fly was a challenge. We arrived on Sunday afternoon in Bonnieux and did not have a reservation so we figured we would have to split up. However, we stopped at Le Terrail and they have an absolutely beautiful outdoor dining area that was almost empty. Once our waiter got over the shock that we were 16, he sat us and took great care of the group. The food here was good. But the view from the outdoor dining area made the lunch better. I had a nice steak frites with an outstanding mushroom sauce. Other had the steak with a great blue cheese sauce. My wife had the duck which was good. Others had rabbit, omelets and salads. Everyone seemed satisfied. We tried the house white, red and rose wine by the pitcher, all were good. We skipped dessert because there was a great looking ice cream shop next door to the restaurant. If you face Le Terrail, it is just to the left. I had coffee and coconut both of which were great.
Bistro Paradou (Paradou) This is another restaurant in which there is a daily set menu and the price includes wine. On the day we went the meal started with a fried eggplant dish with a thick tomato sauce on the side. It was fabulous, I could have eaten a bucket of the tomato sauce. For the main course, you had a choice of either rabbit or chicken. My daughter and I had the rabbit which came with mashed potatoes and a broiled tomato. The rabbit was great. My wife had the chicken which came with mashed potatoes and ratatouille. The chicken was also very good. Then a massive cheese tray is presented to the table. There were at least 12 different types of cheeses, along with several different sides of jams and fruit. Finally, you had the choice of at least 8 different desserts. I had a chestnut cream dessert which was good. My wife had a very nice crème caramel. Overall a great experience. They took care of our group of 13 with great care, in fact, my daughter was dancing with the waiters by the end of the meal.
Mas du Capoun (Molleges) One of the most dining areas I have ever seen. It is a room that opens on two sides but is covered by a roof. It is both indoor and outdoor dining. Beautiful stonework along with nice artwork really makes this space. My wife started with a cannelloni with fish and ricotta cheese with a tomato broth, she was very happy with this dish. My daughter had a salmon tartar with melon and mozzarella cheese which was good. I had a beef Carpaccio with goat cheese and a light anchovies dressing which was tasty. My daughter had the duck with peaches and ricotta which she ate every bite. My wife had the guinea hen with herbs and béarnaise sauce which was good. I had a sea bass a la planca with vegetables and carrot foam which was light and beautiful. For dessert we had a trio of sorbet – mango, citrus and raspberry which was very good and a delicious lemon tart. We had a nice bottle of white northern Rhone wine with this meal.
Bistro de la Bourse (St. Remy) This restaurant is just off the town square. It is rather non-descript, but has good solid food. I had a nice starter salad with warm goat cheese, lardon and olives. I had a pasta with a pistou sauce which was okay. My wife had a beautiful salad and pizza. My daughter had lamb chops with frites and salad which were good. The people here are very nice and accommodating.
L’Grosse d’ Ail (St. Remy) This restaurant is on the main circle road, just down the street from the church. I had a very nice salad with blue cheese and walnuts as a starter. For dinner, I had some wonderful grilled scallops, I was surprised how good they were. My daughter had some basis pasta with chicken and cream sauce. In fact, she had two orders. I forgot what my wife had, but I do recall that she enjoyed it very much.
L’Industre (St. Remy) This restaurant is also on the main circle road in town. They were very accommodating to our group of 16. The food was presented in a very prompt fashion. I had a veal dish in a tomato sauce which was fair. Everyone in the group that ordered seafood was very happy. Additionally, one in the group ordered frog’s legs that were great. We tried two desserts, a caramel tiramisu, which was fantastic, and a dark chocolate cake also good.
La Mandarin (St. Remy) This restaurant is also on the main circle road, close to the tourist office. This is a Vietnamese restaurant. On our last night, some in the group needed something other than French food, so we gave it a try. Our friends have been going to St. Remy for about 20 years and have never tried this restaurant. It was overall good and run by a very affable man. I started with a good soup with pork and prawn dumpling. I also had the fried Vietnamese eggrolls which were fine. Finally, I had a prawn dish with ginger and black pepper which was nice. My daughter had two plates of some very nice sushi. If you want something different, give this place a try.
La Roma (St. Remy) This restaurant is also on the main circle road, just up from the church. Just look for a line of people. I have no idea about the actual food served at this place but I can speak about the ice cream which I had almost everyday. They have about 30 different flavors of ice cream and sorbets. The coconut ice cream was great and the lemon sorbet was most refreshing.
Market Day (St. Remy) Market day in St. Remy is Wednesday. I went out into the market to forge for lunch. I picked up a roasted turkey breast wrapped in bacon. Additionally, I picked up a nice piece of porcetta; some great cheeses; fresh tomatoes, cherries and peaches. I also got some very nice fresh pasta. I brought them back to the house and had a nice lunch by the pool with some rose.
The following is a report on our breif visit to the Normandy region:
We arrived in Bayeux at lunchtime on a Monday and went directly to our Hotel Reine Mathilde. This is a very comfortable and convenient hotel. We received a room in the hotel's new building which is separate from the original hotel but only 30 yards from the main hotel and beautifully set along the river.
We decided to just eat lunch at the restaurant at Hotel Reine Mathilde and were pleasantly surprised. I had the special of the day, a rosted chicken dish with provencial vegetables and it was nicely done. My daughter had a pizza which was also good and my wife had an omlette which she enjoyed. The restaurant has a nice covered patio area and the service was prompt and very friendly. Overall, a very nice experience.
That evening my wife and I had dinner at Le Petit Normand. This meal was quite possible our least favorite of our entire 3 week trip to France. The restaurant was very warm and the service was incredibly slow. My wife started with a very average onion soup and I had the most bland galette of ham, potatoes, cheese and cream. Next, I had a very nicely prepared skate with a good creamy sauce but it was accompanied by an spinach side dish that was inedible. My wife tried the rib steak but it was very tough. For dessert, my wife had a tarte tatin which she took one bite and put down her fork and pushed it away. I faired better with a nice pair crepe which was not bad. Overall, this place was a disaster for us.
The next day we explored all of the landing beaches on D-Day. For lunch, we stopped in the town of Grandcamp-Maisy which is just below Pointe-du-Hac. We had lunch at a quaint little restaurant on the beach named, Le Plage. This restaurant is just down from the Ranger Museum. It was a beautiful summer day and we ate outside on their deck which thankfully is protected from the wind. We had a seafood feast. The Moules frites was the highlight of this lunch. For 10.50 euro, the three of us could barely finish all of the mussels and the broth they were cooked in was outstanding. I also tried some local oysters which were sweet and briny. My wife tried the langoustines which were good but tough to get at the meat. Finally, my daughter had the scallops which were also excellent. We tried a large bottle of the local cider biere with lunch which was nice. In total our lunch was right at 50 euro for all that seafood which was a great deal.
For dinner we returned to Bayeux and tried Le P'tit Restro, in a word -- amazing. This is a fun little restaurant just down from the entrance of the cathedral. The staff is very nice and helpful, it is very modern with lots of fun glassware and plating. My wife had an excellent Salmon mousse for a starter and I had a foie gras with apples and bacon with a delicious caramel sauce. My daughter skipped the starter and opted for the cheese course. For our entrees, my daughter had a duck "burger" which was strips of duck breast on a bun and very good. My wife had a very nice monfish which was served with quinoa and also good. I opted for the rabbit served with almond prune rissoto which was interesting and tasty. My daughter's cheese course may have been the best item of the evening, although I think everyone had their favorites. It was blue cheese with almonds and currants or white raisons which had been finely chopped and then molded into a loaf pan and sliced. It was very tasty we eaten all together. For dessert, I had a great pair tarte with blackberry sorbet, extremely fresh and clean. My wife had what they called a strawberry marshmellow which was very inventive and tasty and my daughter had a chocolate "brownie" with ice cream, which she inhaled. I would highly recommend restaurant.
The next day we went to Mont Saint Michel and just grabbed a sandwich on the island. That night we returned to Bayeux and my daughter was tired and wanted to stay in, so we ordered her a pizza from the hotel restaurant and she had room service. My wife and I decided to try the wine bar that was about a 30 second walk from our hotel. We had been there on our first night for some wine and cheese and it was very nice and the owner is most accommodating. The name of the restaurant is Le Volet qui Penche, the sign is very small just look for the sign that says Cave Bistro. It is along an alley just down from the tourist office and along the river.
This is both a wine store and a restaurant. The menu is pretty limited but the food is outstanding. There is one menu of the day, a few salads and sandwiches. The menu on the day we ate their was a starter of charcuterie which was made in house and most excellent. As a bonus, the owner gave us some of his homemade wine sorbet, both white and red both were really good. The entree was beef tongue braised in a tomato sauce which I tried and was outstanding. It was very tender and had great flavor. My wife opted for an openfaced type sandwich which had ham, potatoes and cheese and was toasted with a nice green salad. It was good but not as good as the tongue. The dessert was a chantilly cream dessert which was fine but not very memorable. Even if you decide not to have dinner here, please stop by and have a glass of wine and some cheese or charcuterie, you will not be sorry.
The next morning we decided to try somewhere in town for breakfast because the breakfast at the hotel was fine but nothing exciting. We stopped at a little shop on Rue Saint James, this is the main street and on the same side of the street as the tourist office. Sorry, I cannot remember the name of this place but it looks mainly like a bakery and sweet shop. It is right next to a bar/tobbaco shop where all the locals gather. We had a very nice breakfast of quiche and breakfast sandwiches followed by the most amazing meringues. Very good tea and coffee as well.
Finally, before we caught our train we had a quick lunch at Au Louis d'Or which is a nice crepe restaurant. It is just across the street from Le P'tit Restro. My daughter had a basic ham and cheese galette. My wife had a cheeseburger galette which she said was good. But I had the best, a galette with smoked duck, goat cheese and cooked apples and a nice green salad. Very fresh and clean. We passed on the dessert crepes although they looked good because we had sweets from our breakfast place to eat on the train.
Overall, there was some good food to be found in Bayeux and Normandy if you look.
I just returned from Paris. The best way to beat the line at the Eiffel Tower is to get there as it opens at 9:00 and walk up the 777 steps to the second level, from there you can take the elevator to top. When we went the lines for the elevators were at least 2:00 hours but in less than 30 minutes we were standing on the very top.
I agree, when I suggested we start with a cheese course I was prepared for a standard French response of "Not Possible" but it did not seem to bother them one bit for this "strange" request.
Just returned from a wonderful three weeks in France with my wife and 10-year old daughter, one of which was spent in Paris. The following is some dining highlights while in Paris:
Le Severo -- On our first night in Paris, I figured that I would ease my daughter into French dining with some Steak Frites. My wife and I had dined here 5 years ago and enjoyed it very much. Our starters were the fried boneless pig foot which was delicious, a pate which was actually more like a headcheese also good and beautiful tomatoes and mozzarella salad. We all had Steak Frites, my wife and daughter had the filet and I tried the faux filet, the filet was better and the frites were outstanding, in fact my daughter had a second order. I cannot recall what we had for dessert but it was good. I had a decent bottle of Burgundy and an outstanding bottle of Southern Rhone.
The next day we had lunch at Les Papilles which is a fun small bistro. We all tried the menu of the day which consisted of a stater of a wonderful Gazpacho with fried Spanish ham. The entree was an Osso Bucco with great provincial veggies, eggplant, olives, etc. The meat was a little tough but the sauces and veggies were outstanding. Next was an outstanding cheese offering with some pineapple jelly. Dessert was oustanding Pan Cotta with an awesome Creme brulee foam. The foam may have been one of the best things I ate on this trip. Had a nice Rose with lunch.
Dans les Landres -- We had dinner at this tapas themed restaurant. We shared several different dishes, including: fried squid, which as very good; fried polenta with smoked duck, much like a croquette also good; excellent grilled quail; Falafel with duck and foie gras, good but middle eastern spices overpowered the dish; Prawns with Thai sauce, my daughters favorite; pork belly with a great sweet sauce; and fried camembert cheese with apples, this dish missed to much fried crust not enough cheese or apples. Overall a good restaurant and a good choice if you have a large lunch and want something lighter for dinner.
The next day to Versailles and toured the palace and grounds. That night we had tickets to go a fireworks show on the grounds, so we went into town to have dinner. After a couple of false starts in the rain, we ended up at a lovely new tea shop on Rue d' Anjou just a short walk from the palace entrance. The shop is run by Mike, a very friendly Brit and his wife. The wife and I had some much needed wine and my daugher had some great tea. His shop is worth a trip if in Versailles. He recommended the crepe shop next to his shop. So we went to Le Carre aux Crepes. The place was very good. They have a great variety of both savory and sweet crepes. Our waiter was great, in fact he was the only waiter for the entire restaurant which could probably seat 60. Even when the place got busy, he was very prompt with service.
Chez Denise -- The next day we had lunch at Chez Denise. My wife and I have eaten here before and enjoyed it very much. We started with an awesome Pork terrine with great house mustard and gherkins. I had rabbit in a tasty mustard cream sauce, in fact, my daughter may have eaten more of this dish that me. My wife had lamb chops which were fine but clearly from a older lamb. If you like a stronger lamb flavor, these are for you. My daughter ordered a beef brochette with frites. This dish was huge and solid if not spectacular. We shared a creme caramel for dessert which was very light and sweet. We had a nice bottle of the house red which comes from a cask on the bar and had a great conversation with a local at the next table.
Philou -- We were suppose to have dinner there but after Chez Denise and being tired from touring with passed on this restaturant.
Les Jalles -- We had dinner her the next evening. It is a fairly new and very sleek bistro. It is a very clean and pretty interior. The restaurant has a fairly limited menu, 4 or 5 starters, and the same number of entrees. None of the starters particularly appealed to any of us, so we decided to go direclty to the entreee. My wife and I agreed to split a veal chop for 2 which was to be carved tableside. My daughter decided on the beef medallions. The waiter informed us the veal would take 40 minutes to prepare and suggested we have a starter, so we decided to begin with cheese plates to go with our delicious Bordeaux wine. While this is out of the ordinary in France, the restaurant accommodated us with no problems and even brought our daugher a simple green salad. The veal chop was delicious and beautifully prepared and carved. My daughter said her dinner was good and I will have to take her word because she did not share one bite. We had a great lemon tart and a nice dark chocolate tart for dessert. This was our most expensive meal, but I believe it was worth it.
Fish la Boissonnerie -- On Sunday evening we ate at this tiny but very good restaurant in the St. Germain area. If you go here, reservations are a must. The restaurant seats around 30 and all tables were reserved. This restaurant not only has very good food but it is also a great value. A 3 course dinner was 35 euro. Unfortunately, I lost my notes from this dinner, so I am having to go by memory. My starter was a great vegetable quinoa with some outstanding okra. My daugher had a nice tomato salad and I cannot recall what my wife had, but it was good. We had duck with peaches, pork crown roast and salmon for dinner. All were very good. For dessert, I had a chocolate cherry dish which was great, I do not recall the other desserts but I do believe they were good. NIce, well priced wine list. This was probably my favorite place to eat for combination of good food, great value and fun place.
I am going to prepare separate posts for our time in Normandy and Provence.
I would like to recommend Patricia Wells' "Food Lover's Guide to Paris" app if you are travelling to Paris and like to eat. It has a nice French to English food glossary if you are French challenged like me. Also, it has a great map of all of Paris which I used instead of carrying a map. It is also useful in supplying addresses and phone numbers.
Two years ago, I had a great lunch in Cassis at Villa Maddie. It sits just outside of town up on a cliff overlooking the ocean, stunning view. The food was very good, but it is expensive.
For Arles: Rabanel is very good and a lot of fun, we had a 2.5 hour lunch there and it was a great way to spend the afternoon. I would highly recommend Chez Bob, which is about 20-25 minutes out of town but well worth the effort to get there. Reservations are a must but the food and the setting are awesome.
For the St. Remy are I would recommend Mas du Capoun in Molleges which is about a 10 minute drive, good food and a beautiful dining area.
For Cassis, I have dined at Villa Madie which is a beautiful restaurant and has great views of the water. Food was good, but expensive, but an overall great experience.