Lost In Limoges

From the sheep-dotted pastures of France's underpopulated Southwest, Limoges rises in all its grey glory. The city's claim to fame: fine porcelain. The half-timbered houses of the Medieval center are surrounded by strip malls and McDo. Land-hungry Brits descend with flailing pocketbooks (thanks, RyanAir). The weather is remarkably cool year-round. Sure, I live on rue de Nice, but this is NOT the Cote d'Azur. Welcome to Limoges, "the middle of nowhere"-- or as Pierre says "everywhere"-- France.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

La Baleine Bleue: Dinner in Saint-Martin de Ré

It was such a good meal; I'm kicking myself that I don't remember every little detail! Pierre ordered the fish paired with vegetables prepared in a tagine style (those clay Moroccan pots where all the flavors simmer for hours, the aromas steeping, slow-cooked to perfection). My fish came with sautéed cèpes and a tiny pot of saffron-flavored crème brulée. In fact, the menu was brimming with choices of freshly-caught fish-- like a bountiful marketplace of the local catch.

We hadn't made reservations, just walked in. And it turned out to be one of those meals that lingers with you. So even if I forget the exact ingredients of those perfect sauces, I remember the artistic presentation, the glasses of Loire Valley wine, the big white plates against white tablecloths, and most of all, the cobble-stoned lanes along the harbor where the lights reflected in the water, the boats perfectly still (protected by Vauban's impressive reinforcements against the marauding English invaders), the air heavy with the sea.

The harbor may be perfectly picturesque during the daylight hours, but it is a million times so at night. Under shadow, with the sea fog rolling in, mysterious and romantic. We took our time strolling back to the hotel after a meal like that. (The finale? Delicious dessert with a flaming firecracker/birthday candle shooting sparks.)

PS. La Baleine Bleue's been around for 18 years and it's still serving tempting, tasty plates.


Post a Comment

<< Home