Thursday, November 29, 2012

An unexpectedly good lunch in Foix

   A week or so back, we needed to buy art and crafts supplies in Foix, which called for a trip to Majuscule, my favourite stationery shop in this part of France. We also had to be somewhere near Foix at 2:15 p.m., so doing the math meant there were two hours to occupy in the middle of the day because, around here, almost all shops close at noon.  (On the bright side, parking is almost always free between noon and 2 p.m. and you generally get 15 minutes thrown in free as well.)
   Sooooo.... what you do is have lunch. Not a swift trip into the sandwich shop for a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato on wholewheat but a proper sit-down meal in like-minded company.

   It's a while since we last ate at Le Jeu de l'Oie (named after a kids' game) but I think they've changed ownership. Where meals here were always reliable, they weren't especially surprising. You did sort of know that the entrée would always be pâté or something else, and I could recite the dessert choice from memory.
  When I say this was "unexpectedly good"(see title of this post) I don't just mean for what we paid. Not that entrée and plat du jour or plat du jour and dessert with a glass of wine or a coffee, and the usual basket of bread, all for 9.80 euros isn't a bargain--and that's including taxes and tip.
   What was unusual was the care and thought that had gone into it.
   In the open kitchen, we could see two young guys working seamlessly and at ferocious speed, with the occasional blaze of flame from the stove. It was incredible teamwork that was a joy to watch. 
   Medals all round too for the wisely-chosen menu du jour. They served a single entrée--potage Crécy--vegetable soup, which was clever. You could make it ahead, reheat it, and garnish, as needed.
    Two plats to choose from, one of them tartiflette with a little salad. The ingredients in tartiflette are Reblochon cheese, bacon, potatoes and onions. Does that sound good? It is. Delicious, satisfying, tummy-comforting and available everywhere, including at local markets where you can buy it dolloped into take-away containers. 
   So you could pick familiar comfort food, or...

    I'm a huge fan of squid and its relatives. On the menu today were tiny seiches, cooked for just the right amount of time so that they cut like butter. These were seriously good, and topped with what the menu said was "persillade". Normally this translates as a mixture of garlic, parsley and olive oil. This version was several rungs up the culinary ladder with the addition of tiny cubes of courgette and red pepper. Linguini dressed with pesto on the side. All in all, very satisfying.

    For dessert, there was familiar tarte tatin or a milles feuilles, the pastry topped with a commendably crackly caramel, and sandwiching a mousse combining whipped cream and puréed starfruit. We could see the one serveuse pause briefly between kitchen and table to scribble some raspberry coulis on the plate. She was also taking care of tables one floor above too, racing up the stairs with three plates balanced on her arm.
    Meanwhile, the little room hummed happily with people eating, drinking and talking. Judging from all the bisou-ing going on, all are regulars. You can see why.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Angela,
I used to read your food column in the Straight and enjoyed it so much. I had no idea where you'd gone so today I googled you and here you are--in France! I look forward to reading through your posts.
Merry Christmas to you and yours