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

Friday, 22 January 2010

Musical Cheeses - part 2

The village with the intriguing name “Chaumes-en-Brie” in the French Seine-et Marne Department is just one of those typical French villages. There’s a church, a Mairie, a little grocery shop that also sells fresh baguettes, as there is only one bakery, four restaurants that obviously take turns on opening hours, and the mandatory “bar tabac”.

‘L’Hélicon” is one of the restaurants. Luckily for us it was open on that Friday in June some years ago when we discovered the village on our annual return journey from the Loire Valley.

The interior was in complete contrast with the somewhat run down exterior. There was a high wooden beamed ceiling, a very attractive wooden bar and all the tables had nice linen table cloths and shiny cutlery. There was a piano and the walls were decorated with photos of musical instruments and the main attraction was a real life sousaphone or helicon hanging from the ceiling. Behind the bar a smiling black-haired lady was preparing aperitifs for six patrons who were sitting at one of the tables by the window. From the kitchen came the sound of someone stiring in a pot and the sizzling noise and lovely smell of meat that was being grilled.
In the back of the dining room two more tables were occupied by people who were already eating. We got a nice table for two by the window and ordered an aperitif while we were taking a closer look at the menu. We decided we’d just have a main course and maybe some cheese afterwards. I had the “confit de canard” (leg of duck) with sautéed potatoes and green garden beans, while my friend had four grilled giant wild shrimps with a delicate curry sauce and pilaf rice.

The cheese platter consisted of three local cheeses: Brie de Meaux, of course, a Fougères and a Coulommiers (from just down the road!). When the lady heard that we were from Belgium, she called her husband, the chef, who had been busy in the kitchen. Like most Frenchmen, he had some Belgian friends and was curious to know if we knew them. They were living North of Brussels and the husband of the couple was a fireman … Surely we must know them! As I personally don't know any firemen … and even if I did, the chances of us knowing the chef’s friend were non-existing. We had a nice chat though and left “L’Hélicon” satisfied and happy, with the promise that we would come back the next time we were in the area.

And that is what we did, on three or four more occasions. Each time we were greeted very warmly by the chef and his wife and each time we had an excellent lunch.

I highly recommend this restaurant whenever you are in the area. The food is excellent and the owners are very welcoming and chatty!



Carolyn said...

You two know how to travel. I enjoy reading about restaurants you've been to, including one particular place that looked like such a charmer and was not too far from where we often stay. I was going to put it on our list, but it's now out of business.

So please keep dining out and blogging about it. Maybe we'll follow in your footsteps.

ladybird said...

Carolyn, Now you've made me curious. Which restaurant are you talking about? I've gone through my list ... and I've come to a blank. Please don't leave me on tender hooks!! :)) Martine

Carolyn said...

It may have been in Evreux, Dreux, or somewhere near there. I can't remember how long ago you blogged about it. There was a picture of the outside with a climbing vine (maybe!). I'll give it some more thought.

Carolyn said...

Martine, it's La Mere Corbeau in Pacy sur Eure, and fortunately I was wrong about its being closed.