Hubby and I were in town a little too early to pick up the boys after rugby the other day, so we strolled around aimlessly for a while. Good thing, too, for we suddenly realised that something was up in L’Isle-Jourdain! In the little street right between Place Gambetta and Place de l’Hôtel de Ville, there were 2 (TWO!) new businesses, a Salon de Thé with a pretty, frilly retro-style decor, and the Atelier d’Eric, a delicatessen run by a chef who had had enough of working in big kitchens and became his own boss.
The place has been open for just a week, but Eric is pretty pleased with his performance so far. It’s early days yet, but he has an interesting range of local Gersois specialities (confit, cassoulet and foie gras), but also a very nice selection of mustards, oils, vinegars and condiments of all sorts.
In his refrigerated display, there are some traditional traiteur dishes involving good-quality shrimp and home-smoked salmon, and – very interesting when you’re living in the sticks and the closest sushi bar is 40km away in Toulouse – his personal range of maki and sushi. For now, he only does salmon for the fish maki, but he also makes basil chicken maki and foie gras maki (they were already sold out!) and some assorted vegetables rolled in sheets of nori.
I bought a few maki for the apéritif, and some pepper, but besides finding Eric enthusiastic and pleasant to chat with, I can’t give you much of an idea on his wares just yet. Give me a couple of weeks.
I’m so delighted there is more choice for the people of L’Isle-Jourdain, for this has been a bone of contention between Hubby and myself for years: I enjoy the peace and beauty of living in the country, but not at the absolute cost of choice, innovation and animation. I’m what you could call a “citadine contrariée”… a city girl at heart, who happens to have married a bear and given birth to three boys who are pretty impossible to control in polite company. So space is of the essence. But what I wouldn’t do for a real, honest-to-goodness Indian tandoori or a ramen joint or proper New York City Jewish bagels… In the Gers!
At least we have proper honest-to-goodness fresh pasta, creamy burrata, and runny gorgonzola by the ladle at the little Italian delicatessen called Casa Venezia, opposite the Post Office in L’Isle-Jourdain. There is no shortage of quality butchers and there are half a dozen bakeries, chocolatiers and little terraces to have a drink in the sunshine. What we don’t have (yet?) is a proper poissonnerie for fish that looks fresher and more tempting than the miserable display at the supermarkets. I also have a serious mind to open up an international bookswap café with cheesecake, ginger snaps, wifi and, why not? meeting rooms for a book club, knitting/sewing/drawing classes… My husband is laughing his butt off right now. Only one of us has to live in the real world, and I’ve decided it wouldn’t be me.