Sidelights (Getting Out of Dodge-y Paris Once in Awhile)
I thought I’d eaten marvelous French food in Paris, then I went to Dinan, that little walled city in Britanny about10 miles east of Dinard. I spent a couple weeks in a three-story medieval house on the original cobble stone street (rue du Jerzual) that runs from the Port de Dinan up to the center of town.
I was near the river, about a minute by foot, and there beside the stone bridge leading up hill to Lanvallay stands L’Atelier Gourmand. Oh, goddess help us all. The food can make you weep. One traveler on Trip Advisor said simply: “It was the best restaurant on our whole trip.” Trust the Advisor if you don’t trust me.
Fish is what you want to order and if the gods are with you there will be fish soup on the menu that day You might try the fish soup elsewhere first, the thin Oliver Twist-y stuff that is meant to punish. Then have the real thing, thick and velout-y with just a soupcon (hint) of nutmeg. The aioli, croutons and grated cheese that come with it are dazzlingly fresh (6,90e).
Short story: The day of the fish soup, an American who spoke no French came in with a French friend. The American wanted soup; the Frenchman had not seen the ardoise (blackboard with the day’s menu) and was hesitating. I called Pauline over, the waitress, and asked her to encourage the “soupe du jour.”. I thought the American would be amazed. Oh, he was! He was! He took a spoonful, then a second, then I heard him say: “This is really delicious!” Little did he know, I thought, how the gods were smiling on him.
If too much fish is too much you might have one of the amazing starters (5,40 – 6, 90e) like the “Petite chevres au lard” a goat cheese salad with tiny chunks of fried bacon, or salad with bacon bits and a poached egg. And don’t forget to start the whole adventure with homemade sangria. You will not regret it, if you remember it.
For the “plat” try “Dos de cabillaud en Papillotte,” a filet of cod steamed in a tin foil envelope with white sauce slightly pinked and new potatoes dancing in it (13,40e). I had it with a 2008 Cotes de Provence, a vin rose from the Chateau Galoupet, the color of a baby’s bottom and unforgettable (4 e a glass).
If you have the Escalope gratinee de volaille , the game cutlet with ham, mushrooms and cheese (12.60 e), order the lovely and willing 2007 Bourges Martineau (25.20 e a bottle)
And for dessert, I do not care what kind of diet you are on or if you have always hated the caramel gunk that sat in a kitchen cupboard and got harder and harder till no one in the family knew what it was for – do yourself a huge gourmand favor and have the caramel sundae. You will not know what hit you. This is homemade caramel, fait maison, a specialty of Brittany, runny and buttery with just exactly the right measure of salt, a river of gold flowing down that hill of vanilla ice cream --topped with the real whipped stuff, if you are a total dare devil, as I am --or share it two ways or three ways or four, whatever. Just do it!
The owners are the handsome glittery eyed Fabrice, the maitre d’, and his wife, Christine, who does the cooking. Fabrice told me that the restaurant, beautifully balanced there on the Rance River, is featured as one of the Windows 7 themes. First one to find it wins.
Tell Fabrice hello from me. What a grand place. Don’t miss it if you really love good food.
Tél : 02 96 85 14 18
4 Rue du Quai
Port de Dinan
Dinan (3 hours from Paris, Gare Saint Lazare, to Dol de Bretagne and then a tiny local train to Dinan)
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New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotteís professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
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