Scrumptious dinner with Pierre et Baby pronounced “Bahbee” so not quite as obnoxious as it appears in print), b2’s second cousin on Grandma’s side, after an exhausting day of sightseeing. SW french food from the Toulouse region, so specializing in all things duck: confit du canard, magret du canard, smoked proscuitto-like cured canard, gizzard of canard and of course, the liver of canard, the king of the innards, foie gras. (Balfour, stop reading right here, though I choose to believe these are gently and humanely raised giant-livered happy geese.) We climbed down a steep spiral staircase into a whitewashed cave with a very low stone ceiling (note to Bruce, Skip and other tall persons…duck! ar ar ar) lit unfortunately with 100 watt bulbs.
The gratis glasses of chilled, late-harvest muscat (gorgeously floral and syrupy with enough acid to keep it clean in the back of your throat) helped to mellow the wattage and illuminate instead how cozy and charming the two small rooms were. The women were handed menus without prices…whaaaa?! Is this cave a magical world that just transported me five decades into the past? Disturbing. Bizarre.
Peering over b2’s shoulder I received another shock…at the reasonable prices. (Hmm, maybe we have been transported to a few years past.)
Our hosts, who have a combined weight of 120 dripping wet, each ordered an entree and plat, whereas b, b2 & I split their special app of the day, brouillade: eggs whipped with truffle. A gray color with the consistency of gluey oatmeal and little truffle flavor that I could detect—though studded generously with flecks and shavings—it was strangely delicious. Though I was a wee bit jealous of Baby’s dinner-sized plate of dressed frisee, loaded with thin slices of cured duck and four large rolls of chevre fried till crisp, then drizzled with honey while hot, creating a chewy, sweet crust. Oh la la. I’ll be trying that one at home, though recreating that texture isn’t going to be possible. Pierre’s gizzard salad really was delicious…but it too was generous to a fault, which is perhaps a tiny bit of a fault when one is talking gizzard salad.
The tasty bowl of truffle goup was followed, por moi, with fresh pasta dressed simply in butter, topped with a couple of slices of light-as-air fried foie gras and ringed by prime-rib-rare and tender slices of duck…heaven on earth in every bite.
b1 made it through half of her duck rolled in pate in turn rolled in a French phyllo, lightly sauced with a rich cream and jus reduction. You could have replaced the center duck with a napkin and it would have been delicious. b2 ducked the trend and had veal kidneys…with foie gras…and like the gizzards it was delicious but a bit too kidney-esque for my tastes. Baby continued the duck fest with a duck scallopini topped with morels in cream sauce (I believe there was a slice or three of foie gras tucked in amongst the bounty), and Pierre had their special of the day, magret with curry and pears. Curry seems to have taken southern France by storm – Jill take note.
Dessert ended with b1 and me splitting an apple crepe “purse” in caramel sauce, pear sorbet floating in a glass of poire william for Baby, and b2 and Pierre quickly regretted the insane decadence of their preneaux glace (whoever heard of a too-creamy ice cream, but there you have it) drenched in Armagnac, poured over the ice cream at the table from a magnum, yes a magnum, of aged Armagnac.
With a bottle of 05 St. Emillon, out the door for $45 per person? Ridiculous. And happy. Oh, and the day in Marseille? Fantastic. But more on that in another post…maybe…..