January 10, 2010

HAPPINESS IS FOOD-SHAPED

Photo courtesy of Jim Craig's Loire Valley Experience website.

We arrived in Le Grand-Pressigny on Saturday 26th December and during the following week we ate out - one way or another - almost every day !!
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On Sunday we went shopping - yes, Sunday shopping is commonplace in France, although it's not so much the national pastime as in the UK. Very handy for us, arriving often on a Saturday evening after the shops have closed. On our way back from shopping we thought we would keep our eyes open for anywhere we might be able to get lunch.
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We drew a blank until we stopped in Barrou, a small village a few km from Le Grand-Pressigny. Its restaurant is called Les Tilleuls and it had a sign that said "ouvert" and a menu planted outside the front door. The front door is in the little square off the main road, therefore at the back of the restaurant, if you see what I mean.
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This seems to be a typical French village restaurant, run by a couple where she does the waiting and he does the cooking. When we walked in at about 1.15pm, there were no other diners.
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I have a theory that arriving before 12.30 for lunch is the best way to make sure you will get a meal - any later and the place will either be full, meaning no lunch at all or there will be an incredibly long wait - the French take their two-hour lunch-breaks very seriously - or closed up if there have been no customers. Unless, that is, you have reserved a table. So we knew that as it was quite late we were pushing our luck. The owners had papers spread all over several tables doing (presumably) their end-of-year accounts and looked astonished when we walked in.
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However, we were in luck. We enquired if lunch was a possibility, pointing out (in our best French) that it was no problem if it was not. The owners exchanged glances and a few words and then we were seated very comfortably at the far end of the restaurant, near a radiator and well away from all their paperwork.
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We both chose the same to eat, which made it easier for them, too. It was excellent. Goat's cheese salad for starter, with some pancetta wrapped around the cheese before it was grilled, and some walnuts scattered amongst the salad leaves . After that we had pork in a cream and pepper sauce followed by some cheese then crème brûlée and coffee. Delicious and sensibly priced and served with charm and cheerfulness considering we had disrupted their book-keeping. We will definitely be going back.
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Question du jour - how would one pronounce "Tilleuls" ?
The "ill" is probably "ee" as in "Abilly" and the "eu" could be "err" as in "heure" but I'm not at all sure. There are people out there who will be able to tell me, I am sure of that !!
According to Google, a tilleul is a linden tree.

6 comments:

  1. I'd say tee-YULL. But you'd have to be able to reproduce my yankee accent...

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  2. Walt is right of course. That's the -ull- of lull or lullaby, not the -ull of full and pull, if you know what I mean. You could write it tee-YUHL (stress on the second syllable).

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  3. Firstly Jean I would like to wish you a full and speedy recovery from your op! Secondly, whenever we pass this restaurant (which as you know is quite often) we always look and say we must try it, but such is life it is always the wrong time of day or it is closed! It will now be a definite for our next visit ...

    Gail

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  4. Walt and Ken - I knew I could rely on you !

    Gail - it's definitley worth a try. It makes a change from GrandMa's - except that you can't just stagger home on foot if you've had a drink. Or if you had two good feet - haha !

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  5. Hi Jean
    Is 'reasonable' under 30 Euros?
    I'd help you with the pronunciation but it just isn't possible.

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  6. Ken - Nick always remembers stuff like this and he says it was the 18euro menu, four courses plus the cost of wine and coffee. They do more expensive menus (up to 28euros) and a 10euro lunch menu on weekdays.

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