August 27, 2010

French Desserts

Crème Brûlée

Yesterday we indulged.
I had two days off in a row and we were celebrating some recent good news, so we took ourselves out to lunch.

After consulting my Minervois Restaurants and Wineries notebook and sorting through the various criteria - price, wine included or not, shade or sun, inspiring menu, possibly somewhere new - we had it narrowed it down to a few places. I called the first one to book a table and there was no answer.
Fair enough, it was only 10:30am.
I tried again at 11am and still no answer.  By 11:30 we assumed that they had shut down for les vacances and started calling restaurant #2.
Same story.  No answer, no "we're closed for vacation" message.  Nothing.
By now it was almost noon and I was starting to worry that I would end up having to cook, so a final, desperate phone call was made to restaurant #3.

Mousse au Fromage Frais

The third time was a charm.

We ended up in Olonzac at Le Minervois Bel, a restaurant that's tucked away on a dead-end side street, across from the middle school and next to a bar, and so well hidden that we often forget it's even there.

The owners are charming and the shady courtyard is a plus, but the food is the main attraction.
Yesterday's €13 lunch menu (which changes every day) was a chilled tomato soup with a dollop of whipped, herb infused chèvre and a parmesan tuile;  fillet of merlu in a succulent, slightly garlicky white sauce with a potato and wild mushroom timbale and sautéed carrots; followed by cheese or dessert of your choice.

We both opted for dessert.  I tried the mousse au fromage blanc avec fruits rouges and my husband ordered crème brûlée. 
The mousse au fromage blanc was sublime.  I mean really, really sublime.  And the crème brûlée was some of the best I've tasted since moving to France.

Since becoming a cheese addict I usually prefer cheese over dessert, though sometimes my sweet tooth wins.  I know there's no comparing the two, but when they're done right, French desserts really do take the cake.  Pin It


Veronica said...

mmm, the meal sounds gorgeous! I love crème brûlée when it's done right (that means only cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar -- NOTHING ELSE!). One of my other favourite is crème renversée -- another of those simple things that has to be done right: barely set, no bubbles!

And then there's tarte aux myrtilles ... so beautiful, so good.

PigletinFrance said...

It drives me mad when places don't leave a message to say they're closed. How do we know not to bother ringing back until they re-open? Nuts!

Not a huge fan of Creme brulee, but oh my, the mousse looks absolutely delicious and has me craving for some!

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

That crème brûlée makes my mouth just water, one of my favourites. Diane

meredith said...

Your dessert looks wonderful!

Ken Broadhurst said...

Did you ask for a recipe for the mousse au fromage blanc? sounds like something I'd like to make.

Graham said...

A quick look at their web site only mentions 22€ and up menus. Do you know if the 13€ menu is a regular lunch feature?
From your comments it sounds as of the kitchen has the skills to do justice to more expensive menus.
Realise I keep asking questions.......

Chez Loulou said...

I love it too - when it's done right. And very often it's not!
Never tried crème renversée. Sounds lovely!
I miss the copious amounts of blueberries I used to eat every summer in Washington State. We have figs galore, but I miss blueberries.

We thought it was pretty funny, and rather annoying! :)
The mousse was amazing. I was in heaven.

Not one of my favorites, but when it is done perfectly, one can't help but love every bite!

It was!

I didn't...but I should have. If we get back there in the near future (we don't eat out very often) I will be sure to ask the chef if he would be kind enough share the recipe.

Yes, the 13€ lunch menu is a regular feature. It changes every day.
They definitely could charge more, but they keep their prices very reasonable. And their wine prices are excellent as well.

Veronica said...

One word for the blueberries: the fruit cabinet chez Picard. They always have myrtilles!

Valerie said...

You're right - it's easy to forget the Bel and the indoor dining room is a little bit cavernous and therefore can be cold. We've never had the chance to eat on the patio - I must give it another go....
But my main question is what was the good news???

Anonymous said...

I had the same experience in Paris a few weeks ago - it took me nearly two hours to find a restaurant to have dinner with a friend who's leaving town! Glad your meal was so good - love the sound of that whipped chevre.

Chez Loulou said...

That's where I usually end up buying them. :)

They've done a bit of redecorating inside (thankfully!). I think you guys would like it. I think they're open on Monday.
The good news...
I'm pregnant!

Just kidding. :)

The whipped chèvre in the cold tomato soup was fabulous! Great textures and flavor combo.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

A delightful meal for a even more delightful price :-) I think it was good not to get through to the other places.

Chez Loulou said...

I think we got lucky as well!