Provence - Days Seven and Eight
Monday was an "offal" day, both dining and weather. Rain once again but we decided to drive to Lourmarin for lunch, wander and explore. We went back to the little brasserie where we had lunched on Friday and since we were returning to La Cloiserie in Ansouis for dinner we did not want a three course set menu for lunch but simply one dish from the carte. I ordered an anduilette and a beer, still more food than was necessary, but....
As the rain was now very light with occasional flashes of sun, we drove down a number of the small, unpaved tracks and let the gps rescue us if we got into trouble. Some really pretty fields and views in the broken light and we poked around for most of the afternoon.
Back to La Closierie for 20:00 to discover that not only had they killed the fatted calf for our dinner, they had dispatched the fatted goose as well. Since the set menu had not changed since Friday and since it consists of a choice of one of two entrees and of two plats, one of each of which we had each ordered on Friday night, we ordered from the carte, which unfortunately for us, meant larger portions than would have been the case with the set menu choices. I ordered tete de veau as an entree and "pieds et pacquets en style de mamie" for my plat while V chose a dish of fresh spring vegetables for an entree and grilled pigeonneau as her main.
My tete de veau was a disc about the size and shape of a hockey puck, resting on a disk of warm potato salad made with a very mustardy dressing. Resting on top of the tete de veau was a massive slice of fois gras. The tete was marvellous, sauteed to a very crisp covering on the outside but once cut, rich, meaty and properly gelatinous on the inside and the mustardy potatoes worked very well with it all and would have been excellent if that had been all. But the fois gras while amazing, was massive and would have fed a pride of lions; very generous on the part of the chef, but pardon the pun, definitely overkill.
My pieds et pacquet were three de-boned lambs feet stuffed with tripe and braised for hours in a rich, meaty, tomato and vegetable reduction. Fabulous, but at this point I was rapidly succumbing to vast quantities of overly-rich food and would have gratefully crept under the table and moaned my way into an hours troubled sleep had some small remaining vestige of good manners not intervened. V's baby pigeons were also very good but she too was the subject of the chef's favour and her dish included the other half of the poor goose's liver that I had started the meal with.
V had sorbets for desert and I had a rum baba, which when it arrived was about the size of of a small head of cauliflower, split down the middle. The waiter brought over a bottle of rum and began to pour and I watched and he continued to pour, and I watched before it dawned on me, it was very late in the evening after all, that unless I told him to stop he would continue to pour until the bottle ran dry or I said stop , whichever came first; I said stop. V ate her sorbet and I drank my baba. For the first time in a very long time, purple-hued and moving very slowly, we climbed into our groaning little car, opened all the windows in spite of the weather and somehow crawled our way home in the dark and rain. True nose to tail dining and a stop at every port in between.
Tuesday opened in the way that we have now become accustomed to, cold wet and rainy. Off to Cucuron for the Tuesday market. Since tomorrow, May 1 is a May Day and a national holiday in France and many restaurants are closed and since we leave for Paris early on the following morning, we decided to cook at home on Wednesday evening for our getaway dinner, and so off to the market to shop. Bought a small roasted gigot of lamb from the rotisserie market stall and will warm this up with fresh asparagus. Picked up a freshly baked apricot tart from the boulangerie so we are set.
Spent the afternoon driving around the area. The clouds finally began to lift as we drove home past Chateau La Dorgonne so stopped in and picked up two bottles of the pinot noir that we had enjoyed on Saturday night. Sunset left us hopeful, not exactly red sky at night but sufficiently rose coloured that we have great hopes for Wednesday, our last day here. Dinner was at Numero 9 in Lourmarin, a restaurant that our host had recommended. We intended to order simply and sanely and did so. For me a cigar shaped entree of raw salmon wrapped around a very light filling of whipped chevre and herbs and a main of a a rare faux-filet of beef with a sorbet to finish. V had the vegetarian set menu which included one of the the best dishes that she has enjoyed to date, a wonderfully refreshing gazpacho with lightly curried whipped foam floating on top. Very pleasant restaurant and a keeper for our next trip.