France, The Memorable Meals

At Les Halles in Narbonne

For the most part in france Guilhaume and myself stuck to way, way out of the way places. We ate with vignerons and their families, at restaurants that do simple good food, and once, because we had no other choice, at the Buffalo Grill. Here are the most memorable:

The best:
The Kitchen of Anne Houillon
Anne Houillon has two stoves, one is a big industrial multi-burner deal, and the other is a beautiful wood fired deal that is the stove of someone who not only knows how to cook, but knows how to do it. We had a roast beef that had been been slowly cooking for 24 hours, rice, and the best pain au levain i had in France. If there is a meal to make you forget you’re drinking Overnoy vintages, this is it.

The steaks is burning prize for best steak:
One morning in Narbonne upon seeing Guilhaume when waking up he says to me “man, i want a steak today.” No good morning, or hello or any such pleasantry. Luckily for him we were headed to Calce that day (perhaps the greatest concentration of exciting vignerons in the world can be found on a single street Calce, from Gauby to Olivier Pithon) and, as we were to find out, they know how to prepare a steak. Rare, salad, wine. Perfect. i can’t find the name, but since it’s the only place in Calce it shouldn’t be hard to find if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

The “i had a different experience than anyone else” award

Le Verre Vole was definitely on my list of must drink at places in Paris. So three of us headed out, grabbed some Mosse savenniere and got down to it. But wait a minute, this wine is corked! Even Jon Bonne, spotted at a different table agrees. So we tell the waiter, who gingerly lifts it, smells it, and declares. “No it’s not.” Wait a second, we counter. It’s corked. It’s an oxidative style, he tells us, that’s what you were smelling. No, we’re pretty sure we know the wine, and it has never smelled like before, unless it is, you know,corked. No it’s not, he repeats. Well fuck it, we say, we’ll just drink something else, because we aren’t drinking that. Sevice is terrible from there on out. Bottles take 45 minutes to reach the table, some bottles are refused us. Besides the boudin noir the food is unremarkable. And we were still charged for the corked bottle.

The best restaurant cats in France award:

i have already written about Lou Cantoun in Gaillac which has a great counter cat. At Le Baratin they also have a cat, though this one wanders about meowing. The food is also top notch, and the by the glass list is the best i’ve ever seen (Lassaigne, Pacalet, Foillard, and maybe 11 other

The best meal i ate in Paris was Italian award:

Rino, like 6 courses. Cozy setting, serious, but no too serious food. Only two menus to choose from, the almost everything or the everything menu. Wine list is good as well. Comes with the added bonus of being located on Rue Trousseau in Paris.

The best single bite of food award:

Brasserie Troisgros, Le CentralDoesn’t have the wine list as it’s three starred big brother, but the food is great. Guilhaume has a sardine risotto which may have been one of the best things i’ve ever tasted.

The worst single dish award:

Andouilette in Beaune at Caves Madeleine. Luckily we had some 2007 Overnoy and some Lassaigne to wash it down. AAAAA or no, i’m not with this sausage. Good restaurant even if i can’t stomach their sausage. Great list from rarer, cool burgundies to a wide range of natural stuff.
The DIY buy a sausage and boil it in wine award:

Guilhaume and i, for doing just that. Purchased the sausage in Beaujoulais somewhere, cooked in Nimes.

The seriously you’ve had Pied au Cochon 4 meals in a row award:



~ by Cory Cartwright on April 19, 2010.

5 Responses to “France, The Memorable Meals”

  1. Buffalo Grill? Fuck.

  2. Caves Medeleine in Beaune is where I experienced my first andouillette and I ended up back in my hotel room, in fetal position. And I can usually stomach all kinds of offal. Loved Verre Vole and hope to go back next month. Other than that and Le Baratin what other natural wine restaurants/bars in Paris did you recommend I check out?

  3. Oh wait, just read what you actually said about Verre Vole. Really? For the record I had a TERRIBLE experience at Le Baratin last year. I’ll check out Rino though.

  4. Sorry about your Andouilette experience, and i sympathize with you. the first time i ate this dish it was by mistake, at a restaurant in Montlouis after a few good visits and I was feeling great. My wife and I went to this restaurant she was excited about and I read it as Andouille. I don’t know if it was AAAAA or not, but when I began to eat it I thought it might be mushrooms. My wife still loves to tell this story about how I ordered tripe sausage and had no clue. In the end I was intrigued, and I’ve had it since. It’s a terrible dish when done poorly, but it can also be really good. Maybe another day on another trip in another restaurant you’ll have it again and i hope it will be better.

    And I LOVE Caves Madeleine. Sounds like one hell of a trip.

  5. In my experience, French people have no ability to tell whether a wine is corked or not, even people who are supposed wine professionals. I think it’s because they all smoke too much.

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