Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

An outstanding lunch

Whilst driving home after spending a week in Vouvray, I asked my friends which were the highlights of their first Loire Valley trip. The very first thing they mentioned was the lunch we had at L’Hélianthe in Turquant. It started with and aperitif on the sunlit terrace. B. and J.L. had the ‘house aperitif’, which was a chilled Saumur Champigny in which bay leaves had been macerated. I had a glass of Crémant de Loire, a local bubbly. With the aperitif came a ‘verrine’ – a very fashionable presentation of an appetizer served in a small glass – of broccoli mousse. While sipping our drinks we studied the menu card and were pleasantly surprised by the prices. Starters were at 5 euros and main courses at 10 to maximum 15 euros. This is extremely good value for this type of restaurant! What did we eat?
Aperitif, wine and cod with sweet patatoes ... some elements of an outstanding lunch!
J.L. was the only one to take a starter. It was a mousse of salmon and red peppers, tightly sushi-style rolled in a piece of seaweed. It was served with a nice crayfish sauce. Next B. and I had a perfectly steamed filet of cod with a kind of pudding (not a mash) of sweet potatoes and a delicate lobster sauce. It was simply devine. J.L. had a stew of river fish and ‘forgotten’ vegetables, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Dessert was a Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese with a ‘poire confit’ and gingerbread for J.L. and me and a ‘Pain perdu’ with ‘pommes tapées’ and vanilla ice cream for B. The unusual Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil called ‘L’Hurluberlu’ which we had two year ago was no longer on the wine list. The landlord recommended another Saint- Nicolas de Bourgueil with an unusual name: ‘Tsoin Tsoin’. When something is ‘tsoin tsoin’ it means that it’s top of bill. And it was. All through lunch we were wondering what was hidden behind the red curtain hanging from the back wall of the restaurant. When I returned from washing my hands, my travelling companions had disappeared! I thought they had left without me (but they wouldn't do that, would they?), until I heard a stumbling noise over my head. I looked up at the mezzanine, and there they were!
Mezzanine at L'Hélianthe: notice the mysterious red curtain! When they had asked the landlord what was hidden behind the mysterious red curtain, he had invited them to go and have a look for themselves. They had discovered a staircase that led to the troglodyte upstairs dining room. It was fabulous: a very intimate décor which would be perfect to spend a romantic tête-à-tête over a candlelight dinner. Something to keep in mind the next time we are in the area! Hungry anyone? ______


Jim Budd said...

I keep meaning to eat here. Must find the time...

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Sorry for the late comment on Tom Dice but I've been watching him on youtube and other things - He's good value. Has he released any CDs as yet?

Anonymous said...

Your description left me breathless! I love good restaurants and Saint Nicolas de Bourgeuil reds. Tsoin-tsoin!

Carolyn said...

How were the poires tapees? I remember you blogged about visiting the place where they make them, but I can't remember if you ate any.

ladybird said...

Jim, You won't regret it! It is fabulous.

Leo, I'm glad you like the song. Tom has released his first CD album called 'Teardrops'.

Dedene, LOL!

Carolyn, I didn't have any this time, but my friend B. liked the pommes tapées that came with her dessert. Personally, I'm not a big fan as they I find them a bit dry and they can be rather bland. But if you haven't tried them yet, you should, as tastes do differ!