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Southern France - Input on Food Itinerary Requested

In Arles, if you eat at Atelier Rabanel, I doubt you will be able to eat dinner because of the number of course. In Arles, I would highly recommend Chez Bob, it is outside of town and you must make reservations. It is awesome. I also love Bistrot du Paradou, great lunches but check to see what they are serving on the day you plan to visit.

1 day ago
hamcolvard in France

Franklin Barbecue

I doubt many people have not heard of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. This weekend I had my first taste and it is good. I am not sure it worth the 4-5 hour wait that many people endure but it is good. I was lucky to get a pre-order for Friday, July 3. If you go to Franklin's website, it will give you instructions on how you can pre-order and skip the line. We arrived at 10:00 am to pickup our order and were out of there by 10:20. At that time, there were at least 300 people in line.

We ordered a whole brisket, 2 racks of ribs and 2-lbs of sausage. It comes with pickles, onions, sauce and bread. We drove back to my friends farm where everyone was waiting with much anticipation. The brisket was outstanding, tender, moist and great beef flavor. It sliced very nice with just the right amount of fat. The brisket was the star of the show. The ribs had great flavor but since they had been wrapped in foil and then placed in a cooler for the trip home, they were almost too tender. The bones would pull right off the meat. Again, they tasted great but I would have liked a little more pull to the ribs. The sausage was fine, nice flavor but it is a hard-pack sausage and I am not as fond of that texture as I am of a loose-pack sausage. Everyone really liked the coffee flavored sauce. The BBQ did not need any sauce but the coffee sauce was nice.

Again, top quality BBQ. For me, pre-ordering is the only way to go. Is it good, YES. Is it worth a 4-5 hour wait, no. Franklin is good, but it is not so much better than other BBQ in Texas, such as Snow's in Lexington or Killen's south of Houston.

1 day ago
hamcolvard in Austin

Charleston, SC Dining Report, June 18-23, 2015

The following is a review of the restaurants we dined at while in the Charleston, SC area:

The Grocery (Dinner) – A very good farm-to-table restaurant. It is a very nice space, very open and inviting but not loud. We began with a charcuterie plate that featured all of their current offerings, which was 8 different meats, pates and mousses. It came with the usual accompaniments and was nice because it was perfect for 2 not too large but just a few bites of each offering. We also went with 2 smaller plates, a sliced squash salad with pecorino, preserved lemon vinaigrette, pine nuts, and tempura squash blossom and a beet salad with baby leek vinaigrette, arugula horseradish, and dill. Both were very good and you could tell the vegetables were fresh. For dinner we had wanted the whole wood roasted fish, which we saw when we walked into the restaurant but it was the last one for the night. Instead, my wife and I split the duck with sweet corn ‘farrotto’, pickled peaches and blackberry vinaigrette which was excellent. For dessert, we had a scoop of their homemade peach ice cream and a chocolate peanut butter dish, both were good, however, the peach ice cream was the better of the two. They have a nicely composed wine list and a very helpful individual to guide you through the list. If I lived in Charleston, The Grocery would be on regular rotation of restaurants.

Husk (Lunch) – Very stylish restaurant, we sat upstairs which was nice and very open. Before lunch, they served some of the best rolls I have had in a while, very light with great taste. We started with two appetizers: pig ear lettuce wraps with sweet marinated cucumbers and red onion and fried ciabatta with pimento cheese, pickle relish, and crispy country ham. Both were very good however the lettuce wraps could have used more pig ear. At lunch the menu is fairly limited, I had the fried chicken and my wife had shrimp and grits. The shrimp and grits were excellent; it came with a n’duja-tomato sauce, roasted peppers, fennel, and sausage. The fried chicken was well cooked and came with a tomato-corn relish and a wedge of cornbread. It was good but for $17 I would have expected more than just a leg and thigh. Finally, we split a very good rice pudding with fresh berries and a honey brittle. The food was good but nearly as inventive as I expected of a Sean Brock restaurant.

Minero (Dinner) – This is a relatively new Sean Brock restaurant and his take on Mexican food. This is certainly not Tex-Mex, but closer to Mexico City street food, not that there is anything wrong with that concept. It is a small shotgun style restaurant but in a nicely redone building, very lively and loud. It has a very good list of tequila based-drinks and a nice selection of tequila. We started with queso fundido with roasted poblano, chorizo, and very good tortillas and a very fresh yellowtail ceviche with freshly made tortilla chips. We then split a taco al pastor with marinated pork, pineapple, and avocado and a pork carnitas taco with pork confit, jowl, chicharron, and salsa verde. In addition we had something they call “Enmolada” which is tortillas dipped in their mole, and then made into a sort of enchilada with refried black beans, pickled red onion, chihuahua cheese, and cilantro. For dessert, we had the churros. I am a sucker for churros and these very excellent. These were more like “churrettes” because they were about 4-inches long but there were 6 in the order and served with a hot chocolate sauce, delicious.

Charleston’s Farmer’s Market (Breakfast) – We went to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning to see what it had to offer. We had some delicious pastries from EVO bakery to munch on as we walked around with our coffee. There are several food vendors at the market; we split a crepe from the Charleston Crepe Company. It was a very tasty ham, swiss, egg and Dijon mustard crepe. Additionally, we got an outstanding grapefruit and elderflower soda from the Cannonborough Beverage Company. I have to figure out a way to get this stuff to Texas, it is that good. It was fun to walk around the market and look at all the good local products that were being offered. We only wished that we had a kitchen to cook in while in town to take advantage of those products.

Two Boroughs Larder (Lunch) – We attempted to go to Dave’s Carry Out for some fried seafood but they were not open for lunch even though it was posted it was supposed to be open. Evidentially, Dave’s schedule is somewhat dependent on the owner’s mood. Luckily, Two Boroughs Larder is right next door and had been on my list to try while in Charleston. The restaurant is set in what I would describe as a little neighborhood market. You can buy items to go or eat in the restaurant which has excellent air conditioning, which was good because it was crazy hot while we were in town. I started with the beef tartare which was served with little wild onion pancakes. I felt the beef tartare was really flat; it needed something, a little salt or spice. I asked my server for some salt but it was never brought. Additionally, the wild onion pancakes were doughy and did not have any real taste. This dish was one of the few misses on our trip. My wife ordered the burger which was served with cheez whiz and was excellent. The burger was nicely cooked and very tasty. I order the noodle bowl with pork confit, soft egg, pork broth to which I added extra pork and sesame greens. This was one of the best noodle dishes I have had and I love pho and ramen. The broth was very flavorful and the noodles were tender and tasty. Overall a good place, the servers were a bit irritable but otherwise I would return.

FIG (Dinner) – We went to FIG for a late dinner on Saturday night after seeing a show. Got there at about 9:45 and the place was still packed. We did not have a reservation but they sat us at a community table that sat 7 people, there were 2 other couples there when we sat down. I like the community table concept and enjoyed visiting with the other people during dinner. My wife started with the peaches & rapini with buttermilk, nardello pepper, and chicken cracklin’, it was good with a nice balance between sweet peaches and bitter rapini. I started with the garganelli & razor clam dish with tomatoes and olive oil. A light pasta dish, it was good but could have used some additional razor clam in the dish but nicely cooked pasta and the tomatoes were amazing. For our entrees, I had the fish stew in cocotee with shrimp, squid and mussels and rice and served with a rouille. I love cioppino and this was a nice low country version. Even my wife who generally does not like fish stews said it was good. Very fresh and clean, not a hint of fishiness to the dish. While my dish was good, my wife’s dish was outstanding. She ordered the suckling pig served over rice, beans and peas. The pork was so tender and tasty, I hate getting out ordered. In researching FIG, I noticed a number of complaints about the cost versus the portion size. While I would say that the portions at FIG are smaller than other places; however, the money is definitely going into the quality of the ingredients. Anyway, smaller dishes were good because we were eating well at every meal. Also, outstanding service at FIG.

Poogan’s Porch (Brunch) – We headed here on Sunday morning for brunch before heading out to the beach. We started with a couple of appetizers, pimento cheese fritters and biscuits and gravy. The pimento cheese fritters were very good, basically a very thin crust of breading containing molten pimento cheese. The biscuits and gravy were just okay. The biscuits could have used a couple more minutes in the oven and the sausage gravy was on the sweet side. My wife and I split an entrée which was a chicken-fried pork chop with eggs and potatoes. The pork chop was tasty, if not a bit over cooked. The eggs and potatoes were fine but not stood out about them. Overall, there was nothing wrong with Poogan’s Porch but there was nothing that would make me want to return to this restaurant. In comparison to the restaurants we dined at in Charleston, this would be at the bottom of the list.

The Ryder Cup Bar, Kiawah Island, Ocean Golf Course (Late Lunch) – After going to the beach and checking out Kiawah Island we ended up at the Ocean Golf Course which is at the far end of Kiawah Island. The scenery here is amazing. We sat outside, enjoying the ocean breeze and looked out over the golf course and ocean. If nothing else, come he for a drink and the view. We had the crispy shrimp with a sweet chili sauce and they were excellent. We also split a pimento cheese, fried green tomato, country ham and served on jalapeno cornbread. It too was a tasty sandwich. The food is good for a golf course/resort type setting.

Edmund’s Oast (Late Night Snack) – After a full day exploring the various beaches and barrier islands, we came back into Charleston. It was late and while not starving we wanted a little something. We ended up at Edmund’s Oast which is on the north end of the Charleston peninsula. This area is undergoing revitalization and is very cool. The building itself is like a large stylish barn and very comfortable. They brew their own beer here and serve it along with about 45 other local beers on tap. They also have their own in-house charcuterie program and you can see all the meats hanging in a cooler over the kitchen. We went with the aged charcuterie plate which had 5 different types of aged sausages, very tasty. We also tried roasted pole beans, peanuts, bacon, nuoc-cham, and thai basil. This was an interesting dish. If you just had a bean it was nothing special but when you got a little bit of everything in a bite it was outstanding.

Artisan Meat Share (Lunch) – After looking at the menu online, I knew I had to try Artisan Meat Share and it did not disappoint. This place is not very big but it is very friendly and accommodating. We came in an ordered and then took a seat at the counter. We started with the pork rinds and pimento cheese. They make the pork rinds to order so they were still popping when they were placed in front of us. The pork rinds were good and so was the pimento cheese, but I liked putting their homemade Korean mustard on the pork rinds. My wife went with the Chef salad with greens, chopped egg, cheddar cheese, ham, turkey, roast beef, sweet onion and parmesan vinaigrette. This is no ordinary Chef salad. They use mainly baby greens like arugula and other peppery greens. Also they do all of their meats in house and they are incredible. Best salad I have tasted in a long time. Also the meat to greens ratio was about 2 to 1 which is nice. I went with Porchetta sandwich which came with 'nduja, pork cracklins, watercress, caramelized onions, mayo, and served on ciabatta. The sandwich was placed on a panini press. What an outstanding sandwich, very well balanced and the caramelized onions really made the sandwich special. I also tried one of the sides which was a pea and peanut salad with green goddess dressing, very light and refreshing. Baby green peas with roasted peanuts for crunch and just a hint of dressing made for a nice side. You can tell these guys really have a passion for what they do. If I lived in Charleston, I would be in here for lunch every week. Parking in this area is a bear, so either walk or take a cab.

Wild Olive, John’s Island (Dinner) – We drove out of the city to go to Wild Olive and were not disappointed. Wild Olive is an Italian restaurant which makes its own pasta. We went on a Monday night and as a bonus they have 5 white and 5 red wines that are $19 a bottle. We selected a very drinkable Nero d’avola. My wife started with a soup of charred corn and tomatoes with country ham, it was very good. I started with some “Clammer Dave’s” clams, it a nice spicy white wine broth. The clams were tasty and very clean. They have a selection of about 10 different pasta dishes in both appetizer and dinner sizes. We decided to have 3 appetizer size dishes so we could taste a variety. We had Agnolotti stuffed with orange braised duck, ricotta, natural braising sugo, parmesan, and scallion. Great thin pasta and a delicious duck filling and very light sauce, I was worried that it might be too sweet but it was not. We also had Bucatini with shrimp, nduja, tomato, red onion, and parsley. Perfectly cooked pasta and shrimp and the nduja gave it a great smoky flavor. The third pasta was long-corkscrew pasta with a heavier red sauce and pancetta; it was good but too heavy for the heat of the summer would have been better in the winter. Great place with a very attentive wait staff.

Glaze Gourmet Donuts (Breakfast) – I stopped by this donut shop while on an early morning bike ride because I am a sucker for donuts. I got a small selection of maple-bacon, raspberry jelly, cinnamon sugar and dark chocolate filled to share with the wife. All yeast donuts which were very light. The maple-bacon was good, but how can you mess up a maple-bacon donut. The star was the raspberry filled jelly donut, usually I do not like jelly donuts but this one was outstanding with great fresh raspberry filling.

Hominy Grill (Lunch) – We went here for lunch before heading to the airport. They serve breakfast until 11:30 and then lunch after 11:30. We arrived at 11:20 and opted for lunch instead of breakfast. We each got the 3 veggie plate. I selected stewed tomatoes and okra, lima beans and mac and cheese. My wife ordered collard greens, field peas and rice and applesauce. Each plate came with a hunk of delicious cornbread. We also order a small basket of fried chicken which contained a leg, wing, thigh and half a breast. It also came with an awesome pepper jelly dipping sauce. Fried chicken was good, not the best I have ever had but a solid fried chicken. We each tasted all the veggies and they were all good, nothing mind blowing up good solid southern comfort food at excellent prices. Desserts looked good but we had to run to the airport for our flight.

The Gin Joint/The Belmont (Drinks) – We went to a couple of great bars while in town, The Gin Joint and The Belmont. Both are smaller bars but serve nice cocktails. The Gin Joint, as the name applies, specializes in Gin cocktail. The Belmont has wide array of cocktails, I had a great Manhattan here which was the perfect after dinner drink. Both had great staffs and were very accommodating.

Jun 25, 2015
hamcolvard in Southeast
1

Normandy/Caen/ Bayeux

Le Petit Restro in Bayeux

Jan 29, 2015
hamcolvard in France

Where to find the best in Luberon and St Remy de provence

I would also highly recommend Mas du Capoun, a beautiful restaurant and excellent food and Bistro Paradou is always delicious and fun. If you feel like going a little farther, try Chez Bob which is south of Arles about 45 minutes to an hour from St. Remy. Must have reservation, he only cooks for those with reservations the food is excellent and the setting is very cool.

Jan 29, 2015
hamcolvard in France

Cape Cod Report - August 3-13, 2013

Savory and Sweet Escape in on the West side of Route 6 and it is north of Blackfish. It might actually be in North Truro. It is across the street from the school. You cannot miss it.

I agree an outdoor seating area would be nice.

Also, the farmer's market in Truro on Mondays and Wellfleet on Tuesdays are great. Try a vendor Wild Truro for outstanding baked goods at the Truro market. There is a restaurant that brings baked goods to the Wellfleet market that are very good, sorry cannot recall the name of the restaurant.

Cape Cod Report - August 3-13, 2013

My family just returned from a 10 day visit to Cape Cod, August 3-13, 2013. We were staying at a friend’s house in Eastham, so most of the report focuses on the outer cape.

Chatham:

Chatham Squire: We went to Chatham on a rainy Friday and the town was mobbed. We spent some time shopping around while we waited on our table. After we were seated, I tried their Lobster Bisque on the recommendation of a friend. The bisque was okay. It had nice pieces of lobster but was overly creamy for my taste. I felt that it needed a good shot of sherry to lighten it up and give it some punch. I followed this up with a dozen Wellfleet oysters on the half-shells. They were nice and fresh. The rest of my group had lobster rolls or fried shrimp. Both were passable but not spectacular. Overall, I think the Chatham Squire has a better reputation than actual food.

Eastham:

Friendly Fisherman: We ate there once and had take-out once. Both were very good. Great lobster rolls, very large pieces of lobster and very little dressing. The fried clams and shrimp were also very good, not greasy at all, as well as the onion rings. My wife got a fresh tuna roll on her second visit and she stated that it was quite good. The best part of the Friendly Fisherman is the fresh fish market. We got fresh seafood from their twice and cooked on the grill. Great fresh shrimp, scallops, tuna and salmon. We also got lobsters from their one night which we had them cook and crack and took them home to eat on the deck. Very friendly help. Stop by early to get the best selection or place your order for lobsters. You will not be disappointed.

Red Barn Pizza: We went to see the 250th anniversary fireworks in Wellfleet, which were awesome being shot over the harbor. On the way home our daughter decided she was hungry at 9:45 pm. Most places were closed or closing. We called the Red Barn and they indicated they were closing but would take a to-go order. My daughter got a sausage and cheese and my wife and I got a veggie pizza. The sausage and cheese was the better of the two pizzas; however both were good but not great. They get high marks for being very accommodating for taking the late order.

Nauset Light Ice Cream: Great ice cream all made in-house. We made 4 trips to here for ice cream. I especially liked the coconut and coffee flavors. They are usually very busy at night, but have lots of help and it never took us more than 5 minutes to get our order.

Hole in One Bakery: Stopped in here on our last morning. Nice selection of doughnuts, pastries and bagels. I opted for the doughnuts. They were quite good cake doughnuts. My wife enjoyed an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese. The case was filled with nice looking sweet treats; however, I did not try them.

Towne Center Wine & Spirits: Nice selection of well-priced wines; 20% off, if you purchase 12 or more bottles. An outstanding selection of craft beers.

Orleans:

Cookes: I did not actually eat here but my wife; daughter and sister-in-law did eat lunch at Cookes. My daughter reported that the clam chowder was great. They all reported that they lobster roll was the best they had on the entire trip, my sister-in-law would know as this was they only thing she ate while on the Cape.

Lobster Claw: We had gone to see the Orleans Firebirds game and planned to picnic at the game but it began raining after the second inning, so we ventured into town to get something to eat. We stopped at the Lobster claw. Menu was that of a typical Cape Cod seafood house. I had a cup of passable clam chowder and split an order of fried lobster with my daughter. The fried lobster was okay, not great. This was the overall sense I got from everyone that dinner was fine but just average at best.

Provincetown:

Ross’ Grill: This is a very nice restaurant in Provincetown which sits on the second floor of the Whaler’s Wharf. It has a great view of the harbor. My wife and I enjoyed a great lunch. We started with ½ dozen oysters and ½ boiled shrimp, both were excellent. The shrimp were delicious and huge. I then had a bowl of steamed littleneck clams which were served in a white wine broth, they were quite tasty. My wife had steamed mussels which were good but a bit gritty. We shared a huge basket of hand-cut fries with our entrees; they were the best fries of the entire trip. They have a nice selection of homemade desserts, we did not try but my sister-in-law destroyed a piece of peanut-butter pie. Best lunch of the trip.

Sandwich:

Sam’s Seafood: We went to Sandwich to make jam at the Thornton Burgess Society; it was a great deal of fun and produced tasty Peach jam. Afterwards, it was late and we asked the folks who ran the jam making session where to eat locally and they suggested Sam’s. Sam’s is a typical fried seafood place. I had the fried clam strips and onion rings, both of which were solid, nicely fried and not greasy. My wife had a crab and lobster roll which was very good. The remainder of our group had various fried seafood items which all looked good and everyone seemed satisfied.

Truro:

Blackfish: Best meal of the entire trip by far. It was our last night on the Cape and my wife stated that she could not eat another fried anything, so we went to Blackfish. Blackfish is an upscale restaurant with excellent food; the one drawback is that it is extremely noisy. I began with seared sea scallops with a parmesan fondue. I know this combination sound odd, but the chef really makes it work. The sauce is a nice compliment to the sweet scallops. My daughter had fried Wellfleet oysters and she actually shared one with me, they were great. In fact, she had a second order for dessert. My wife had a deconstructed clam chowder for her starter. It was littleneck clams steamed in the shell served with smoky cubed bacon and potatoes in a light broth. I thought this dish was brilliant. I had a seafood stew in a spicy tomatoes broth. It had clam, mussels, calamari and fish. It was good, though I thought it was a tad heavy on the amount of calamari versus the other seafood. My wife had a great piece of halibut on top of a corn and fresh veggie mix. The halibut was cook perfectly and it was a very nice dish. My daughter had an additional 2 appetizers for her dinner, duck confit and a pork belly dish. The duck confit was very nice, excellent crispy skin. The pork belly was fine, she did not like the shallot marmalade that was served on it but I thought it was quite good. Overall everything was very tasty, beautiful setting and a nice well-priced wine list to boot.

Savory and Sweet Escape: Nice ice cream store with a huge selection of interesting flavors. We got there just before closing so we had to make a decision quickly which was hard with approximately 40 choices. I opted for the safe coffee toffee which was solid. My daughter had fluffernutter which was good. My wife had some sort of butter brickle ice cream it was good as well. I would recommend stopping by and trying out the ice cream. They also did a shaved ice that looked great.

Looking for a location for a 65th anniversary lunch on Cape Cod

If they are willing to drive to Chatham, the Chatham Bars Inn is beautiful.

Picco Restaurant Review

We flew into Boston and were headed out to Cape Cod but wanted to get some lunch before we got onto the road. We went to Picco and were not disappointed. It is a nice looking restaurant with an open kitchen and a good deal of seating outside. It was a nice day and would have sat outside but it was full and we did not want to wait for a table so we sat inside. My wife started with a cup of corn chowder, it was full of fresh corn and potatoes in a thin broth. It was very good and nice that it was not full of heavy cream. We split a Broccoli Rabe, Olive and Sausage pizza. It was delicious. The dough was nice; it was light and had a good pull to it. They cook the crust until it has a char to it, but you can ask them to cook it lightly. We went for the char and it was a good light char. The toppings were fresh and a nice combination. We had a nice bottle of Vermentino with lunch. We finished the meal with an absolutely fabulous bowl of white peach ice cream. This was some of the best peach ice cream I have ever had and I was born in Georgia and have a great deal of fresh peach ice cream.

Provence Trip, July 2012

Definitely was not smoked. He grilled the piece of pork.

Jul 25, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Provence Trip, July 2012

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.

Jul 25, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Normandy/Bayeux Report, July 2012

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.
The man who owns the shop is a recognized pastry chef and has clippings in the window, it should not be hard to find.

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.

Regards,

Hamcolvard

Jul 25, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Paris with chowpups -Days 2 and 3

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.

Jul 23, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Paris Report -- July 2012

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.

Jul 23, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Paris Report -- July 2012

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.

Regards,

Hamcolvard

Jul 23, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Provence Restaurants

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.

Jun 11, 2012
hamcolvard in France

Provence restaurant recommendations_Arles and Cassis

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.

Aug 12, 2011
hamcolvard in France