the other half of our 2010 christmas adventure spectacular involved driving from paris up to rouen, then passing thru deauville before settling into caen. the next day we would venture down to mont saint michel, back to caen for the d-day memorial and bayeux tapestry. Continue reading
avignon is one of these odd places where it’s surprisingly difficult to find a good place to eat on the weekends without winding up in either a tourist trap or a fancy joint requiring jacket and tie. a lot of restaurants are closed on not only sunday night but also saturday night, and the few that are open book up quickly. i suppose that when one has access to such beautiful produce at local markets, the cooking at home is rather alluring.
le petit bedon was not my first choice (my first choice was closed on a saturday night!), but it turned out to be a charming sort of place. the restaurant seats under 20 people, light, airy and romantic on the inside. it’s a place where guests walked in wearing both cocktail dresses and t-shirt/shorts combo. 3 menus were offered at dinner: a 3 course for €25, a fancier 3 course for €38 and a la carte. we went for the €25 option. the maître d‘ on duty the night we went was part british and spoke exquisite english.
the food is fresh, somewhat conventional and heavily spiced with provencal flavors: cumin, thyme, fennel, olive oil, tomatoes abundant. the dessert felt like a bit of an afterthought. a slice of cake or panna cotta (not pictured) that was placed on a plate and then arranged with some sauces to dress it up. it’s not quite a meal that i’d rave about or warn against; it’s somewhere in between. a solid effort and a place to go again, if i found myself in search of a non-touristy restaurant open on a weekend night.
Le Petit Bedon
70 rue Joseph Vernet
Avignon – 84000
hubby and i had our misgivings when we walked into le jardin du quai. it was rather large and absolutely empty. we could only hear the staff somewhere in the back of the house clanging pots, dishes and silverware. we walked around the garden a bit, and i suppose that the sound of our feet crunching against the gravel had alerted the staff of our presence. we were soon seated in the garden and the waitress explained to us that they only had one 3 course menu for lunch — meaning that we would have to eat whatever we were served with no alternatives or substitutions. that day’s menu included grilled salmon over a couscous salad as a starter, followed by roasted lamb and a strawberry shortcake of sorts. we said yes and the food started to arrive.
the main entree consisted of roasted lamb chops, tomatoes on the vine and zucchini all kept whole. the simplicity of the dish impressed me. hubby, who rather hates lamb, actually thought that the lamb was the best lamb he’s had — it didn’t have that “lamby” taste that he detests. he also gobbled up the tomatoes — provencal tomatoes are delicious. sweet and savoury, they proved to be tastier than the tomatoes we later ate in florence.
i think the strawberry shortcake parfait they served us ranks among my favorite desserts i ate on the trip. it consists of a layer of sponge cake on the bottom of the glass container, layered with the most delicious french yogurt and slightly sweetened strawberries. i could probably eat 10 pots of the stuff!
by the time we left the restaurant, it had filled up nicely and was really rather packed! i guess we’re early birds when it comes to lunching in provence.
with some time on our hands, we took a short drive to chateauneuf-du-pape after lunch . . . but more on that later.
le jardin du quai
91 avenue Julien Guigue
Vaucluse – France
3 course lunch – set menu – whatever the chef picks – no choices
hubby and i were lucky enough to find ourselves in provence on a sunday with nothing better to do than taking a mini-roadtrip to l’isle sur la sorgue. and on sundays, this tiny island community becomes transformed into a lively town market, selling everything from brocante to provençal linens to roast chicken to the most bountiful summer harvest. we meandered through the market for a good 2 hours or so.
i took photos nearly every 50 feet or so. here are some of my favorites:
i was rather tempted to purchase a whole basket full of market delights for lunch, but i had made reservations at daniel hebet’s le jardin du quai for lunch . . . it was definitely worth the wait but more on that tomorrow!
ps. everything the guidebooks say about getting to l’isle sur la sorgue early is true. while parking in town is free, it gets incredibly crowded past 12 noon. we arrived at 10 am and it was packed but not unbearable. by noon, it had become physically tedious to move through the crowds.