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

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Voles, horses, ducks, swans and dogs – 2

What happened before ...

At precisely half past one we were back at ‘La Grange du Petit Rat Mulot’. The place was in full swing … All the tables were still taken except one, which had a little card ‘reservé’ on it. When our young hostess saw us come in, she immediately showed us to this table and handed us the menu card. The party of twelve we’d seen earlier had just finished their aperitif. They were talking rather loudly, and from what we could hear we deducted that the tall man sitting at the head of the table was the school principal who had invited the teaching corps to celebrate the end of the school year.

June 2009: La Grange du Petit Rat Mulot in Triel-sur-Seine
(click on the link to read the menu card)

‘La Grange’ presents itself as a ‘savoyard’ cheese restaurant. The menu card is very eclectic though, including tartars, special hamburgers, cheese and charcuterie boards, ‘pierrades’ (meat grilled on a hot stone) salads, etc. It’s inspired by the current chef’s grandmother who had the very first ‘Grange du Petit Rat Mulot’ in the mountain canton of Vaud.

My friend had an unusual Beef Tartar Savoyard (minced beef with a topping of melted Reblochon cheese and garlic) and I had a Hamburger Savoyard (open bun with a hamburger topped with melted Reblochon cheese and thin slices of crispy grilled ham, onions and tomatoes). As usual we had a bottle of Saumur-Champigny.

A Savoyard hamburger ... What a whopper!

Service was quick and friendly. In less than no time the girl arrived with our order and the plates were … huge! As soon as she put them on the table, we knew that we could never eat all the food that was on them. In spite of their contemporary presentation, they were clearly inspired by the nourishing and rustic meals people living in the rugged Savoyard Mountains used to eat in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

At a nearby table some businessmen were talking about working conditions in France and Belgium. I'm not ashamed to say that we listened in on their conversation while we were struggling with our meal. Pretty soon it became clear that one of the men was Belgian. When the businessmen wanted to order dessert, the girl said that all the desserts has been sold, but that she would see if the chef could quickly come up with something. The men looked and sounded overly disappointed, which we attributed to the wine they had had with their meal.

However, when five minutes later the girl returned with a big birthday cake with candles on it, they all started singing ‘Happy Birthday to you’, except for the Belgian businessman, who immediately turned red in the face, looking very embarrassed. The whole ‘there-being-no-more-a-dessert-thing’ had clearly been pre-arranged by the other men and the waitress, to surprise their Belgian colleague. When the singing stopped, all the other patrons, including us, applauded, which made the poor man look even more ill at ease.

By then we had finished our lunch. I’m ashamed to say that we left one third of our meal. This seemed to worry the waitress when she came to clear the table. “Is there a problem? Didn’t you like it?’ she enquired worriedly. We assured her that the meal had been excellent but simply too copious for us ‘city folks’.

(to be continued)


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