This is a short tale about three restaurants two of my friends & I ate at last Thursday & Friday. To me it sort of shows part of the joy of living and eating in France. The occasion was one of the overnight hiking trips that we take. We being a floating group of friends, all at least in our 60's and all of whom like to walk and eat well. We try for interesting walks, a decent place to stay & above all - a good restaurant.
This trip were were staying in Calvinet in the Southern Cantal. The hotel/restaurant was Beausejour. Maitre Peusch is a master chef. Anywhere where the meal price is nearly the same as the room price usually offers a pretty good dinner! Anyway, off we went, a bit late due to Michaels encounter the evening before with a bad mushroom from his garden, but that's another tale.
The countryside is beautiful in that part of Cantal & we quickly worked out a circular walk which turned out to be very nice. By the time we did the circuit it was nearly 1:00PM and time for lunch. Not wanting a big lunch & not wanting to eat where we were having dinner we headed for Cassaniouze which was the nearest village of any size. Sure enough we found a small hotel/cafe which was full of locals. We asked for a table for three & Madame quickly checked with the kitchen & allowed that there was food. We were sat down & asked what kind of wine we wanted. Red vin ordinaire we said. We got a 1 litre bottle which later turned out to cost 4 euros. No menu, but food started coming. First a salad with numerous slices of home cured pork sausage, then a platter of braised beef with its juice and aligot. So much we couldn't eat it all. Then a platter with 4-5 kinds of cheese was placed upon the table. Finally, believe it, plastic packaged creme caramel desserts. All for 13 Euros. About as classic a French village lunch as you could hope for. Not the least bit fancy, but plentiful, cooked well and nourishing.
Ok, another walk after taking a close look at a simply stunning working chateau then to our hotel. We checked in arranged dinner and decided to go for a drive. We went up to Marcoles which is a pretty bastide town. Back for a shower & clean up and then down to dinner. We decided to have the Menu Evasion, a sort of tasting menu at 60 Euros a head. To be honest it was a disappointment. Perhaps our standards are too high? The soup course (Cold leek with foam & dried truffle) was good. The fish (crispy langoustines over salad) was also good. The next course (foie gras with waffles & a ? white sauce) was innovative, but let down by so so foie gras. The centerpiece pigeon course was a disaster! The pigeon was completely drowned by a very dark, strong highly reduced sauce, Yuck! Cheese was a nice Blue de Auverne which had been split & coated with a fig compote. I would have preferred to have the compote on the side so I has a choice as to whether or not to eat it. Desserts were lackluster. All in all not as good as expected for this price & pretension.
The next morning we took a glorious walk up a stream then a 450 meter hill above the river Lot. Fantastic views along the ridge & then down to the river. We arrived in Viellevie in time for lunch. A real find this place. We sat on a beautiful wisteria covered patio overlooking the river & pool. I had the plat de jour (10.50 Euros) which was comfit de poule served with vegetables and a baked potato followed by a choice of cheese or dessert. I had the cheese selection. The chicken & veggies were great as was the cheese selection. Donald had a omelet with cepes and a large salad. (14.50 Euro) He choose the dessert which was an apricot clafoutis. Michael had a full menu; Langustines & salad followed by lamb chops & kidneys with veggie, cheese and a very complicated fruit dessert. All was nicely presented and very well cooked. A real find & unexpected.
Hard to tell why I love France isn't it?