c

catfur's Profile

Title Last Reply

A week in Florence and too many choices.

A delightful greetings to all. 2 years ago I posted both an inquiry and eventually the trip report of our 16 day visit in Provence. The point being- the chowhound community responded with a wealth of information and opinions that helped guide us to one of our more memorable trips. I hope it will occur again! We're spending a week in Lucca, another near Radda and finally, Florence. While we have thoroughly enjoyed following our noses during the previous 4 visits to Florence, I'm doing a bit more research this time. I Due G was one of our walk by then in "discoveries" and we'll definitely visit again. We're staying in the Oltarno in early Sept.

A number of our possibles for dinner or a sit down lunch are
Trattoria Diladdarno, La Casalinga, Osteria Santo Spirito and Mama Gina in the Oltarno, and Trattoria Antico Fattore, Osteria il Buongustai and Sostanza in Central Storico. Chances are we'll take lunch on the fly, Nerbone, Mario's seem safe bets, but anyone know about Il Cernacchino on Via della Condotta or Chiaroscuro near P d Repubblica?
Suggestions as well as opinions are welcomed!

Jul 18, 2013
catfur in Italy

How to contact Ferme Auberge Le Castelas (Luberon)

How terrible! I was just beginning to plan our next trip to Provence and had targeted Le Castelas for one of our meals since we weren't able to dine there last year. Ah well, maybe Lyon this time.

Mar 16, 2012
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

I thought boredough said you had!

Dec 13, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Even with the wonderful recommendations from so many on this board, Les Papilles in Paris met and even exceeded all our expectations. The ambiance, being warmly greeted and shown to our table as if we had been dining there regularly for years, the professional yet courteous explanations of how one selects the wine from the bins and what will be served, the attentive service where the bread basket and water were never allowed to empty and the thoughtful recommendation of the best wine to accompany the meal were simply icing on what was easily one of the most enjoyable meals we had on our trip. Les Papilles is the restaurant you always wish to discover, be it on a vacation or
near home. Delicious well prepared meals, warm and attentive service, generous portions, fun and easily a great value.

The amuse-bouche was simple, A platter of thinly sliced Serrano ham and a basket of baguettes, and noticing how we devoured the ham, the owner behind the bar bend down and produced the hand operated slicer, placed it on the bar and began slicing then nodded towards us with a smile as one of his waiters passed. A moment later we had another platter and more bread. The soup was next. Bowls filled with lardon, croutons chives and a big dollop of creme fraiche were placed before us along with a tureen that provided 3 helping of Cream of Celery soup for both of us. And that soup was rich and so delicately flavored that I rank it among the best I've had in a restaurant. The Plat was Beef Cheeks, prepared similarly to the pork cheeks we enjoyed at L'Epice et Love in Avignon but being beef, it was much richer and packed more flavor, Again fall apart tender to the touch, along with small new potato, carrot, meaty lardons and decorated with italian parsley and sprigs of thyme, and to take a description from Parigi, orgasmically delicious and its made me a huge fan of this dish. The cheese plate was a nutty and flavorful soft cheese with an sweet onion relish, I want to say Brie but it had more flavor and I'm sorry I didn't ask. The dessert came in a large glass and was something between a creme brulee and marscapone over and around poached sweet pear. This was a meal and dining experience one does not forget. Add me to the long list of admirers!

Dec 13, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

The following day, Sunday, was the most enjoyable by far. We drove to L'Isle sur la Sorgue and spent the morning wandering around the stalls and shops and saw too many roasting chickens, cheese, breads, olives and crisp apples to consider finding a restaurant for lunch and did get to Fontaine de Vaucluse later in the warm afternoon and enjoyed our lunch near the headwaters, under a scattering of sunlight then headed home to Bonnieux with dinner reservations at L'Arome that evening, but stopping at Pont Julien to watch the sun set between the stone arches and listen to children playing where legions once marched. Everything was perfect at L'Arome. The cave was warmly lit, the service impeccable, the presentation of the dishes, from first amuse bouche to final dessert were works of art yet each course, each dish, each ingredient somehow lacked or missed something. Not one was memorable. Enjoyable for the most part but Memorable, no
We started with an amsue bouche of Cream of Parsnip Soup and if there was a direction to this dish, it had no purpose that I could find. It was a soup made from parsnip, bland, directionless and it wasn't clean enough to prepare the palate for the following courses. Next was a Lentil Soup with Truffle and poached egg. The lentils were delicate and perfectly prepared, firm but cooked through, but the eggyolk was almost fully cooked so didn't spread and infuse the soup with the intended richness it needed.
My Plat was Scallops with chorizo chips and served with a side of steamed shredded carrots and brussel sprouts, compacted in small ramekin then inverted on the plate. The scallops were small, nicely caramelized but cooked opaque and too firm and the chorizo chips were thin and cooked so crisp that all detectable paprika and flavorings were gone. They were crispy chips, adding little to nothing so had no idea why they were even in the dish. And this Plat, the heart of the meal, was half the portion of the starter we enjoyed earlier in the week. Next was a rectangle of dark grey slate that had a perfect square of chilled, shiny blend of gelatin, cream and Roquefort on Pain Espice, gingerbread, with a perfectly placed spoonful of sweet quince jam. Lovely to look at but I'm glad they told me it was Roquefort.

Wife's Plat was Wild Boar and it was basically a Daube Straightforward bowl of meat, served on its own, very tender of course, in a dark reduction sauce and easily mistaken for a pot roast, only a little less memorable. Her poached apple with caramel sauce for dessert was very nice. Our disappointment was three-fold. It fell short of our expectations. We had already had better for far less cost. And the only reason I can recall what we ate is because I took notes.
Discounting the cost, it was average.

Nov 30, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Leaving Avignon was difficult to do. On our walks around the old city, we passed so many of the restaurants I had read about both here and on other sites and even tho had we stayed longer, I would have been sorely tempted to take a "Toledo" at Dimanche, we promised each other to return on another trip. Next up, the Luberon.. We drove from Avignon to Bonnieux in less than an hour, much less really. Someone had suggested we just base ourselves in one or the other on the initial thread proposing our itinerary and it was sound advice. The distances are not great at all and one can easily visit many villages and sights from either. But we still preferred staying first in Avignon without a car and then driving to Bonnieux. After checking in, we drove to Saignon to enjoy a Chocolate Festival that weekend and lunch at Auberge du Presbytere. I don't think we've ever dined in a more picturesque and pleasant courtyard. Even tho it was nearing November, the sun was out and the air warm. We both ordered the fish menu of the day and while the presentations were lovely, the meal and various courses were a step down from what we had been experiencing.

Entree Crayfish, marinated in lemon juice and served with lemon slices and chives on a bed of baby greens, including some peppery arugula. Very colorful plate and a big mound of crayfish. Unfortunately cooked just a little too long or possibly steamed an hour or two earlier for they were somewhat grainy and not very tender. A second glass of a nice Sancerre helped. The Plat was monkfish and in all my life I had never seen or been served a portion that large. It was the size of two healthy lobster tails and draped over a bed of rice, served with grilled tomatos and quince and topped with marinated red peppers then completely covered with a bright yellow thick sauce that didn't add much other than moisture. I know monkfish is often substituted for lobster and offers firm resistance when bitten, but this was just a little more than resistance and a little stringy. Flavor was clean and the fish fresh so can only suspect it was again, held in heat just a little too long. Not long enough to ruin the meal and all in all, it was a good lunch, filling, and a lovely setting with great and attentive service. We just ordered the wrong plate or at least that's what I hope. We skipped dessert and picked up a few odds and ends for dinner that evening.

Nov 22, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Because of Kurtis' extraordinary report last April (thank you for that) we approached L'Oustalet with great anticipation and reverence but the morning had begun poorly. Heavy rain swept across Avignon so rather than a leisurely walk down to the Shuttle stop to ride to the TGV station and pick up our rental car, we called for a cab and, thankfully, immediately stepped up to the counter, filled out the paperwork and knew we would easily make our appointment at Chateau Beaucastel even with a stop in Chateauneuf-du-Pape for coffee and a look around, then... "Passport please?"
O Damn. We forgot we had left them in the care of the B&B. My wife found a chair near the floor to ceiling windows, looked out at the rain, opened her journal and, smiling, quite possibly wrote something rude. Another shuttle bus was just leaving and I jumped on then just made the city bus by a hair and trotted back to the B&B. Passports in hand, returned via bus and Shuttle, rushed through the terminal and into the Avis office and stopped cold. A train had just arrived and there was a line. A long line. A long line of people who must have spoke Martian. We skipped the CdP stopover and lost our way on one of the country roads to Courthézon, arriving just as our scheduled appointment and tasting would end. Arranged to return later that day and got directions to Gigondas. The rain diminished as we parked across from L'Oustalet, with a minute or two to spare before our reservation for lunch. The rain had stopped now and the air was still and fresh and clean and the autumn leaves on the ground were a riot of color, and the patchwork of vineyards just over the stone wall extended into the distance. The world was right again. The interior was more modern and sleek than I had imagined and the room between tables, spacious. The wine list was immense and impressive but since we would be tasting the remainder of the afternoon, decided to order just a glass of rose for each of us rather than a bottle. The Service, conducted by 3 individuals, was prompt and professional yet unhurried.
We selected our Menu and then a plate holding slices of Serrano ham, fresh shucked oysters,olives, roasted almonds and a helping of salty anchovy paste along with a basket of bread was set between us. Not accustomed to "Amuse-Bouche" or being served items we had not specifically ordered, my wife and I glanced up at each other. This was going to be GOOD and sent a mental "Thank You Kurtis"

The second Amuse-Bouche Sauteed Chicken Breast with grilled fennel and a quince compote provided an exciting combination on the palate. Another upward glance. This was going to be better than GOOD.

Our entree arrived. Risotto with Chanterelles surrounded with a cream foam. Lovely, delicate flavors and, slightly, very slightly underdone. Still a Wow.

The plat A thick, very thick Roasted Veal Chop- tender and perfectly Pink in the middle served with Anchovy and a cup of pan juices for dipping along with braised celery and chard stems to the side.

Too full to even consider dessert with our coffee, a slate rectangle was set before each of us, holding a mini creampuff with a button of burnt sugar on top that my wife is still raving about, a small coconut marshmallow, a Meringue puff with a toffee cream center, and almond paste shaped into an almond with an iced hint of orange topping and a small block of dark dark chocolate. After that we almost ordered dessert.

This was only our 3rd day in Provence and we'd already enjoyed 3 incredible meals and were looking forward to the next 3 weeks.

Nov 20, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Thank you Kurtis. It's amazing how finding this site has increased my appreciation of dining. We took photos of several meals and made notes, something we had never done before, not really to write a review, but simply to be able to remember and "re-enjoy" if that can be a word, the meals we had as well as trying to live up and provide the kind of report I've read and enjoyed here.

Nov 19, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

L'Epice et Love in Avignon
Coming off the "highs" of both a dinner at La Cuisine du Dimanche and lunch at L'Oustalet in Gigondas, (which will need more time to compose a proper report) L'Epice et Love was a walk by then walk in selection on our second evening in Avignon, and more than held its own in its own way. The meal and course after course was well prepared and remarkably tasty and the owner/chef/waitress, Madame Marie Chantal is a delightful host, patient, friendly and treats her guests with a sense of good spirit and a twinkle in her eye and she is, and rightfully so, proud of her establishment.
We had returned to Avignon early in the evening from an amazing lunch at L'Oustalet in Gigondas and a series of wine and barrel tastings at Chateau Beaucastel, Chateau Saint Cosme and Domaine les Goubert and had not made dinner reservations but strolling around the City for an hour, looking into cafe and restaurant windows, we found ourselves hungry enough and wanted to enjoy another meal. L'Epice was packed, noisy, cute through the window, and the aromas when we opened the door settled it. Madame Marie was very sorry she couldn't seat us immediately but we could be seated in an hour. Doing our Arnold impersonation, we told her "we'll be back" then walked around the block to have a glass of wine at Ginette et Marcel, a nice cafe/coffehouse that serves great looking dessert tarts and pizza. An hour later we were warmly greeted as old friends and guests and seated. We ordered a half pichet of admirable house red and looked over the carte, Not even having to ask, Marie took the time to describe each dish, especially drawing our attention to the "special" of the day, Pork Cheeks in Red Wine, explaining that this wasn't prepared for the menu that often "After all, pigs only have two cheeks" I looked up and replied, "No, I think they have four" There was a pause as she absorbed the comment and then she broke out into infectious laughter. I ordered it and my wife went with the Vegetable Platter, Risotto with Artichoke Heart and Ratatouille. A large basket of baguettes and assorted breads were placed on the table along with the first course, a substantial platter of anti-pasti, consisting of an intensely flavorful Olive Tapanade on toast points, marinated grilled red peppers, grilled eggplant, thin slices of very lean and very good prosciutto, a variety of olives and a green salad of baby lettuce, lightly dressed with a fine olive oil in portions large enough for two.

I had not eaten Pork Cheeks before so have no bases for comparison, but these were delicious. They were stewed for a very long time in Red Wine till fall apart tender and served in a deep ceramic crock with boiled new potatoes, a few slices of carrot and herbed with Turkish Bay Leaves and another flavor that we couldn't immediately identify
but it added immensely to the overall flavor. Marie came by and asked how I liked them. I asked if I could kiss her. She laughed, looked at my wife and said May I? She did and we all laughed again and engaged in conversation. The herb was Juniper Berries. She goes out and collects them herself. Later, she brought out a jar of the berries and poured out a handful into a napkin for us. The restaurant was beginning to clear and Marie spent even more time conversing with us over dessert, which for the life of me I can't recall what it was but I know we enjoyed it along with Marie's company.
Oh, and this meal was 16 euros, a coffee included.

Nov 19, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Previously reported

Nov 19, 2011
catfur in France

Restaurant in Paris, wishlist

Norwegian, we've just returned from Paris and did dine at Les Papilles and, like many others here, were delighted we did. The tables are close and the space cramped and unless you are party of 4, you will be sitting side by side with two other diners, but I can assure you, you won't mind at all. The service is both professional and warm, the selection of wine extensive and good and the food, well, it will take much restraint to not say it is GREAT. I'll write a full report on my other thread but wanted to offer my recommendation. Dine there, you won't be disappointed.

Nov 19, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Thanks. It will take some time to organize the notes I made and write reports on the other dozen or so meals. Dimanche was one of 3 that stood out above all the others.

Nov 18, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

La Cuisine du Dimanche
Cocktail - 3 layer Pousse-Cafés in large bowled wine glass, one composed of mildly tart crushed Raspberries under a layer of raspberry puree with a dry white wine floated over those two layers.
and the slightly sweeter version with the lower layer of crushed blackberries then the puree with the white wine floated over that. Both tasty and interesting look/presentations and a nice way to look over the menu.

Amuse-Bouche Hard to give it a title but I’ll describe this in detail basically a firm hummus log served with thin toasted slices of a bagette, but so much more. I, on first look, thought it might be a tuna tartare then after tasting, thought the base was white beans, eventually decided garbanzo because there was just the slightest taste of that.

This dish must take a day to prepare. First the cooked chickpeas are marinated along with finely chopped red onion for I’d guess 8 to 12 hours in a combination of fresh lemon and lime juice, then mashed or pulsed in a food processor along with red, yellow and green bell peppers and some Italian Parsley leaf to a paste, then lightly seasoned with a sprinkling of very short chopped stems of cilantro that are folded in. This mash was then rolled into a log, chilled until firm and presented on a plate surrounded with toasted slices of a baguette that had been rubbed very lightly with fresh garlic. The “hummus” was delicious and the red onion and the lemon and lime juice marinade completely altered the flavor of the garbonzo beans into a fresh, lively spread, and then those cilantro stems provided little explosions of flavor as you ran into them.

Entrée (Two)

Risotto with Saint Jacques
The bed of risotto was made with Canaroli rice, which is less starchy than Arborio and the rice I prefer anyway. That’s a nice touch/start to this dish already, and it was prepared perfectly and a true al dente, and not the hard nugget interior that is commonly served as al dente, this risotto was a collection of firm grains and not a mush, but creamy so it was probably cooked in a combination of a rich chicken broth with a bit of milk, then had a very good (not salty) young parmesean and a scattering of finely chopped Italian Parsley flakes folded in, and then another surprise. There were little bits of orange zest throughout the risotto, not a lot of them but enough to provide another unexpected explosion of flavor in a bite here and there. On this delicious bed lay 4 perfect scallops, the exterior seared in butter and carmelized while the interior remained almost translucent. The shallow bowl was dusted with smoked sweet paprika and a sprinkle of Italian parsley flakes.

Gnocci with Chanterelles
Again, perfect preparation. Feather light potato gnocci served with sweet fresh and sun dried cherry tomato bits in a mildly rich cream sauce then presented with a substantial (and I mean many of them) layer of chanterelles on top, possibly sauteed with a bit of sherry in the butter. Lovely. And if gnocci can ever be called elegant, this was.

Plat wife and I chose the same
Oven roasted lamb Slow roasted till it can be easily pulled off the bone with a fork, combined with roasted chestnuts and thin slices of small white potato, very sweet pieces of sun dried tomato The seasoning was fresh basil and Turkish Bay leaves and this combination was further “stewed” together and served under a good helping of lightly sautéed chanterelles. Exquisite.

Cheese Plate - Small portion of Chevre infused with fig and a mild blue

Dessert Wild cherry and pear compote crumble. Intense fruit flavor under a crispy crumble. Nicely and not overly sweetened and a perfect finish to what was one of the best meals on this trip.

La Cuisine du Dimanche is in Avignon

Nov 18, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

We might have created a new euphemism To Toledo out! We will be tempted for sure. But to experience the rarest of pleasures, to be completely satisfied and in harmony with the universe is too compelling to limit those opportunities. Once some time ago I was fortunate enough to know marianne and her husband chef Josef and were invited to attend their restaurants grand opening. When we neared the final few courses, I took the linen napkin from my lap and began wiping my eyes. Marianne came over and asked me what was wrong and I looked up, partially faking a sob and replied, the meal is almost over!

Oct 19, 2011
catfur in France

Trip Report Provence, Montpellier, Nimes, Aix & Paris

Well, we begin our trip next week and I wanted to thank everyone for all the suggestions and opinions before we depart. Parigi, we only have 3 days in Paris near the end of the trip but will try to lunch at Chez l'Ami Jean if nearby Restaurant Mariette doesn't appeal to us when we walk by the previous day. The tips from everyone and especially your trip report Kurtis inspired this dining adventure. The one disappointment is that we won't be able to enjoy Le Castelas in Sivergues. Our pace had been dramatically slowed so we aren't over extending ourselves (and our stomachs). And I've arranged to spend some time with the owner/winemakers at 3 Rhone establishments and will include our tasting notes. So the next post in Decemberwill be the first of the trip report!

Oct 17, 2011
catfur in France

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

Since we'll be spending 5 days in Montpellier I've been looking for nearby villages to visit and Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert seems of interest and one we would enoy, then learned of Restaurant de lauzun, in nearby Gignac. Has anyone dined there or heard reports?

And Heather, thanks for mentioning the Met at the Collection Lambert in Arles. It's a definite possibilty for lunch, esp if the weather is reasonable. And the tip about the truffles at Les Fruits de L'Isle stand is perfect! I've been searching for some small gift to bring to dinner, beyond taking our friends out to lunch or dinner another day, as a gesture of our gratitude and thanks. Truffles will do nicely, especially if offered with a selection of chocolates from one of these incredible shops I've been reading about. I know the first week of November is a bit early for fresh truffles and that's about all I know, but if I present my ignorance honestly and explain that this is for a gift for dear and local friends... perhaps he'll take pity and select a good one. As for Lourmarin, time just doesn't allow a visit this trip.

While in Montpellier, we'll make reservations for dinner at Les Bains and Les Gourmands, which we are told is reliable. then for lunch at L’Amphitryon in Castillon du Gard,
(Parigi's recommended restaurant in Collias wont be open for lunch the day we're in the area unfortunately) but if we choose to spend a day in Sete, we're definitely going to lunch at Ptipois' Bistrot de Plaisance. And as many times as I've selected the restaurants in Paris, I've changed my mind. Confusion reigns but La Cerisaie and Au Bon Saint Pourcain always seem to survive when I trim the list.

Sep 20, 2011
catfur in France

Restaurant in Paris, wishlist

Parigi, like Norwegian,, we've happened upon restaurants that provide a special ambiance that enhances and elevates a meal into an exceptional dining experience fondly and long remembered, partly because it HADN'T been anticipated, and conversely, being terribly disappointed after extensive "research". But I do agree, research provides the better odds.
We'll be in Paris for just 3 days in November and I've taken the research route and thanks to Parigi, DCM, and so many other contributors on this and all the other threads, am enjoying it immensely, We're staying near the Jardin du Luxembourg as well and will probably dine in the preselected establishments, but are always willing to follow our noses should they lead us elsewhere, and report our findings and opinions.

Sep 13, 2011
catfur in France

Paris Which of these for Lunch and which for dinner?

Hello again! After Provence, we'll be in Paris for a few days and have just 5 meals left to schedule and request some help refining my selections The restaurants are

Cafe dei Cioppi 159 Rue du Faubourg St Antoine in the 11th (only considered for a lunch)
Hope some of you are familiar with this one. We're planning to spend half a day roaming the galleries and Cioppi is located in one of them so is very convenient for a lunch. Reviews seem fine but we can easily eliminate it and choose to have lunch in one of the others and have a meal in one of the alternates.

La Cerisaie 70 Edgar Quinet in the 14th
La Bouteille d'Or 9 Quai de Montedello in the 5th
La Tournebievre 65 Quai de La Tournelle in the 5th

Alternates
Au Bon Saint Pourcain 10 Rue Servandoni, in the 6th
Dans les Landes 119 Rue Monge in the 5th (seems more suited for a lunch - no?)

-----
La Cerisaie
Boulevard Edgar Quinet, Paris, Île-de-France 75014, FR

Sep 10, 2011
catfur in France

2 Weeks in the Luberons in Early April 2011: Trip Report

Kiwi, did you dine at Presbytere? I'm hopeful you'll have a chance to comment before our own trip begins at the end of October. I' was beginning to secure reservations in the "must visits" , among which is Presbytere, but was told by the staff of the hotel we're staying in that it wouldn't be necessary to make reservations as it is "off season". I'm assuming she meant, not necessary to make them - this early. Still, I'm taking Parigi's comment
"The top tables for the tiny village are supposed to be La Petite Cave and the Presbytère. Often full every night, even during off-season." and requesting them anyway.

Sep 02, 2011
catfur in France

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

Just bumping this thread up for a review and any polite "you would be better off " warnings. Many of the restaurants have been reviewed or mentioned here in chowhound, some haven't or at least I couldn't find a reference to them and I really wanted to include some of those, just for the joy of exploration and maybe find a jewel and contribute to the knowledge found here. And I've left a number of lunch and a few dinners open and intend to "follow our noses" which sometimes is risky business but for the most part, we've always had great success by peeking in and finding a house filled with locals. I wont bore anyone with a day by day itinerary and just list the city or village and the establishments we intend to try. Again, please advise (warn) me if I've veered off the delightful culinary path.

Avignon 3 days
Lunch - open
Dinner - Au Tout Petit

Lunch -picnic from Les Halles or inside at Cafe Francoise (pending weather)
Dinner - Cuisine du Dimanche

Lunch-L'Oustalet (in Gigondas)
Dinner - revisit either Dimanche or Au Tout Petit

Bonnieux 4 days
Lunch - Le Vieux Bistro in Cabrieres d’Avignon (stopping here on the way)
Dinner - L'Arome in Bonnieux

its sunday in L'isle sur la Sorgue and undecided probably light salads
Lunch-Le Guinguette in L’Isle sur la Sorgue
Dinner- Auberge de la Bartavelle in Goult

Lunch-L’Auberge du Presbytere in Saignon
Dinner - open

Lunch -L’Etape du Promeneur in Buoux
Dinner-open

Saint Remy just an overnight on the way to Montpellier
Lunch - Lunch-Bistro du Paradou
Dinner - open possibly Le Cassoulet or Les Gaubois in Saint Remy

Montpellier 5 days
Lunch open in Aigues-Mortes
Dinner - Les Gourmands -Montpellier

Lunch l’Amphitryon in Castellon du Gard
Dinner Open in Montpellier

In Sete
Lunch open in Sete
Dinner Insense -Montpellier (informed service is erratic- true?)

In Arles
Lunch - market picnic in Arles
Dinner - open (either in Arles or back in Montpellier)

In NImes
Lunch - Le Cosy in Nimes
Dinner - Les Bains in Montpellier have locals recommendation

Aix 2 days
Lunch - will be lunching with local friends
Dinner --La Poivre d’Anne

Lunch - Open
Dinner - Open

Paris 3 days
Lunch - open
Dinner - dining at and with friends family

Lunch -
Dinner - La Fontaine Gourmands

Lunch - Le Timbre
Dinner - open

Aug 13, 2011
catfur in France

Just returned from 10 days in Paris and let me tell you...

The vineyard is further south, on silverado, couple of baseball throws south of Oak Knoll Cross. We're heading to Provence after harvest, late Oct, (challanging year isn't it) and are still following the threads started by Kurtis even tho I kicked off one of our own. Just a wonderful source of information and suggestions to be found here, I think I've probably imagined dining at most of the establishments half a dozen times already. I haven't dined upvalley for years. Really disappointed to discover Wappo closed up. How's Terra still good?

Aug 03, 2011
catfur in France

Just returned from 10 days in Paris and let me tell you...

hmmmm is it too late to alter my itinerary back to 16 days in Paris and 3 in Provence this coming November?

jaimie, thank you. The report struck an excellent balance of information and opinion. You UpValley?

Aug 03, 2011
catfur in France

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

June 12, 1963 it was a brave little hotdog, meaty but with a spring in the casing....

Aug 02, 2011
catfur in France

Anniversary trip--Looking for recommendations and comments

It's been years since dining there, but DeSchmire a few blocks out on Bodega Ave from downtown Petaluma used to be reliably outstanding and a reasonable value. Anyone been there recently who can confirm it's still up to snuff?

Aug 02, 2011
catfur in San Francisco Bay Area

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

Ptipois , I'm not into "stars" per se as my experience with "THE" restaurant, or just the very expensive establishment has generally been either a letdown or outright disappointment. Granted, when dining in such places my expectations are extremely high but I don't feel those expectations are unreasonable. So my inclination is to look a few notches down the proverbial list of best restaurants, not so much to find a terrific value, but trying to find those that are trying to move up the ladder. I've experienced far fewer disappointments with that group. However, my generalizations may change after this trip. They've already been altered a bit by discovering that many of these wonderful restaurants in Provence are in Hotels! A great hotel restaurant here in the States is a rare rare bird.

Anyone familiar with two restaurants in Montpellier, L'absolu and La Diligence?
Also would really appreciate a suggestion for a Moroccan themed restaurant either in Montpellier, Nimes or the immediate surrounding area? We want to take our hosts to both a lunch and dinner.

Aug 02, 2011
catfur in France

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

Demo, thanks. Both were already high on my list and I may yet manage to work Mas Tourteron into our itinerary, however, according to ViaMichelin and another website, Mas du Capoun closes down for a month mid Oct thru Nov. I'll send an email to them just to confirm but as disappointed as I am, the alternative for us that day would be Le Bistro Paradou which seems to be among everyone's top recommendation. I'm now trying to plot out the second week of dining with Montpellier as our base, spending a day each in Arles Nimes, Uzes, &, the villages around the Gard and Montpellier itself. And Kurtis, if you're still monitoring this thread, I now understand what you meant by rearranging your life!
But back to Mas Tourteron. I'll definitely try to dine there should we opt for a 2nd major dining experience on the same day, but not solely because it is a fabulous restaurant. One of the joys of dining is being welcomed as a friend.

Jul 31, 2011
catfur in France

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

It's obvious I will have to trim down (pun not intended) both destinations and meals as well as carefully reconsidering our selection and duration of the home bases but I now feel all of you have provided enough information to do so. Thank You. And forgive the further inquiries which border on the mundane.

Parigi, when I use either angloinfo or the viamichelin maps to estimate time and distance, the road from Lourmarin to Buoux and the road from Bonnieux to Buoux are listed as almost the same approximately 12 km taking 18 minutes which is why I chose to include it on one of the days we would be based in Lourmarin, providing a day to visit villages north of Bonnieux. from Bonnieux. Are those estimates correct? And, yes, I see your point about Saignon being much more convenient to visit from Bonnieux. And perhaps taking lunch at L’Auberge du Presbytere in Saignon and eliminating Caseneuve will slow the pace to a more enjoyable level that day. It's just that I hadn't found a reference to La Sanglier Paresseux on here and thought this is an opportunity to contribute something. Adjustment underway! Also now knowing Aix's and Saint Remy's markets are so similar, I'll reverse the sequence of visiting Saint Remy and Les Baux as you suggest or possibly switch days as boredough has suggested. (Are there still massive crowds in November at these two?)

Also switching days 4 and 11, the saturday visits to Apt and Arles seems more logical now, it just requires we check out and leave Avignon a little earlier that morning and we can drop off our luggage in Bonnieux before proceeding to Apt. An aside, I've been finding a number of cautions that it is almost a certainty that someone will break into the car at these markets - this can't be true, can it?

And Kurtis, the reasons for adding Lourmarin as a home base right after staying in Bonnieux are rather pedestrian. It cuts the cost of accomodations in half each of those 5 days as well as being closer for those day trips to Aix and then another to Val Joanis and Cucuron, and finally, further south should the area experience an early snow. Or is snow something I needn't consider?

Boredough, I have to laugh, more difficult? It's a delight! Thank you. Grrrrrrr

Jul 12, 2011
catfur in France

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

"so many restaurants, so little time"
I not only second that sentiment but 3rd and 4th it Boredough and I'm not just referring to visiting and dining in them, I'm applying it to this research stage stage as well. But I imagine everyone here has gone through this, several times. I have noticed that one of the benefits of devoting time and effort considering possible restaurants is that I've been focusing and refocusing the trip to smaller specific areas, which, in turn, allows a more in depth study of the history and attractions. As for restaurants, I haven't fully explored Nimes and Montpellier yet. I don't believe I can absorb half the information already provided on Paris so my inquires and requests for suggestions will remain firmly lodged in Provence.

The first 3 nights will be in Avignon as initially planned. The next 3 nights will be spent in Bonnieux and as you suggested Parigi, I've reserved an apartment in Lourmarin for the next 5 nights, so I can focus on the villages around both. There is still more driving than I care for but it seems manageable. We'll spend the next 3 days in an apartment in Montpellier which our friends have graciously provided. So now....

Day 1 Avignon after long travel day
Dinner - Le Petit Peche

Day 2 Tour Avignon
Lunch - Shop Les Halles Market for picnic.
Dinner - Cuisine du Dimanche
Sleeping in Avignon

Day 3 Rhone wine tour from Avignon (We'll have a rental car from here on)
One winery visit in Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, (Seguret if time or skip) but definitely Vacqueryras because I'm not familiar with these wines.
Lunch- L'Oustalet in Gigondas
Dinner -Au Tout Petit or back to Dimanche if we liked it enough.
Sleeping in Avignon

Day 4 Arles on Market day, then Pont du Gard
Lunch-L'Amphitryon or Les Clos des Vignes in Castellon du Gard
need help picking one or the other
Dinner-La Bartavelle
Sleeping in Bonnieux

Day 5 l'Isle sur la Sorge (Sunday market day) Fontaine de Vaucluse if time
L - Le Vieux Bistro in Cabrieres d'Avignon
D - Flambee or Le Saint Andre in Bonnieux
Sleeping in Bonnieux

Day 6 Bonnieux Gordes Senanque,
Lunch - Un Jour Charlotte in Gordes(may be closed) Le Pont Julien is the alt
Dinner L'Arome
Sleeping in Bonnieux

Day 7-11 sleeping in Lourmarin

Day 7 Lourmarin and Buoux
Lunch Auberge de la Loube in Buoux
Dinner - Suggestions please

Day 8 Saint Remy on Market Day, Les Baux
Lunch - Bistro Paradou
Dinner-something light Crepes or salads, many choices available anyone familiar with either Cafe Gaby or La Louche a beurre?

Day 9 Aix on the Thursday Market day
Lunch Ze Bistro
or we could easily opt for market prepared lunch, ie roasted chicken and those potatoes underneath all those rotating birds)

Dinner Grand Mere, Chez Charlotte or Ze Bistro
A little suspect of the reviews found about Grand Mere, all similar wording, but if you've dined here and like we'd like to try the place either for lunch or dinner due to what appears to be a really lovely setting

Day 10 Ansouis, Jardins at Val Joanis, Cucuron
Lunch - Du Lac in La Motte d’Aigues
Dinner - Restaurant de L’Horloge in Cucuron

Day 11 Apt for Saturday Market Day Saignon
Lunch - La Sanglier Paresseux in Casaneuve
Dinner - Ferme Castelas in Sivergues
or reverse lunch and dinner spots pending availability and weather

Day 12 We leave Lourmarin and end up in Montpellier
Lunch Mas de Capoun in Molleges (Finally manged to plot this in)
Dinner- Would really love recommendations in Montpellier because we'll be with our friends who lent us the use of their apartment. (It's a Sunday though)
Sleeping in Montpellier

Day 13 Nimes
Lunch Le Bistro Nimois
Dinner either in Nimes (Magnolia) or in Montpellier (?) help?
Sleeping in Montpellier

Day 14 Arles
Lunch L'Affenage in Arles
Dinner- in Montpellier ? anyone?

Day 15-16-17 Paris
(friend having us over for dinner with her family one of these nights)

Day 18-19 Amsterdam might as well visit the Van Gogh Museum and SEE some of his paintings.
Have reservations at Toscanini.

I know a 3 or 4 of these days are ambitious dining adventures and we'll certainly curtail consumption on a dinner if necessary. The sightseeing appears reasonable, a village or sight before lunch, a walk and a second village or sight after lunch then an a couple of hours at whichever home base with a glass of wine before dinner.

I can't wait!

Jul 11, 2011
catfur in France

What is the best sauce/condiment you've ever made?

a tapenade equal parts chopped fine red onion, can of chopped black olives, small jar of pimento and a tin of anchovy, chopped. mix it together its done

Jul 06, 2011
catfur in Home Cooking

16 Days in Provence and the proposed Itinerary and Restaurants

Sderham, since you live in and no doubt are familiar with the many restaurants in the villages around Viason-la-Romaine, would you be kind enough to comment along with everyone! We'll be spending a day in the area and after researching, have these 4 to choose from for our afternoon meal and quite possibly another for dinner instead dining in Avignon that evening.

Restaurant L'Oulo in Mazon
Coteaux et Fourcheltes in
St Hubert in Entrechaux
L'Oustalet in Gigondas

Jul 05, 2011
catfur in France