This week has been below par. No, actually, I should say above par. OK, I think this golf reference is as messed up as the past few days have been. Only fitting, if you ask me. Instead of staying safely on the fairway, I have been hitting the ball all over the rough, digging my way through bunkers and out of waterholes.
One of those weeks. You know what I mean.
Hubby, too. One crap day after another.
So we decided to take things into our own hands. “Life is what you make it!” and “Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today” and finally “You can’t take it with you!” we cheered, as if we believed it, because what we did this afternoon was a bit pricey.
Who needs shoes/school lunches/petrol anyway, right?
I can always lay the blame on the Hubby. I had no idea where we were going, and we only got to go because someone cancelled and the restaurant called to give us their table. And so we went to Michel Sarran in Toulouse. Michelin give him 2 stars.
You could miss it and walk right past the front door, but that’s how the chef likes it. “More a house than a restaurant”, it says on the website, and it’s true. There are salons with old chimneys and draped windows and a mix between modern decor (especially the lighting) and old-fashioned panelling on the walls. Except there’s staff, which I don’t have in my house. Lots of staff. Very nice, cheerful, at always at your elbow.
Since you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, Hubby gave the chef carte blanche. “Surprise us!” Choosing a wine when you don’t know what you’re eating is a bit tricky, but the sommelier gave us a good tip: a red Côteaux du Languedoc from the Domaine de Montcalmès. A fabulous, rich red that was a pleasure from start to finish, plus it went well with everything.
I can’t possibly describe everything we ate. Between the actual courses, there were so many bites and morsels and spoonfuls of delicious… stuff… that this post would be a short story. Everything was spot on and a lot of regional products were beautifully worked to bring out their very best, like the super-tender rosé porc Noir de Bigorre, smoked in its cocotte with dried thyme, with two types of mushrooms and a red wine gravy (I did think that the local produce showcase went a little far with the soup being presented in a hollowed-out rock from the bottom of the Garonne…)
The WOW-moment? Definitely when they served the scallops on a bed of soft celery cubes and the chef de salle put on white cotton gloves to grate fresh black truffle over everything. And on the side of that dish was a little egg cup that looked like an iced soufflé with a slice of truffle on top. Under the foam as light as sea air was a raw scallop tartare with Argan oil, pistachios and tiny bits of Piquillo peppers. Two mouthfuls of heaven. Literally. It might have been a cloud. Le sigh.
Fabulous cheese board. Five or six types of bread. Dessert was pretty, but I’m the wrong person to ask… It was a kind of sablé with mandarin and gingerbread and fluffy something and a bit of ice-cream. And I’ll be honest: except for Tarte au citron, in my opinion, citrus fruit is best enjoyed as Nature intended.
The chef came around to see the tables towards the end of the meal. Besides being a great man in the kitchen, it turns out he’s a TV celebrity, too. We had caught on to something at the very start of the meal when the server introduced the first amuse-bouche with the words something-something “façon Top Chef”. We were a bit puzzled, though – we don’t exactly watch a lot of telly and are a bit behind in popular culture at times. We caught on, however, when we overheard the conversation between the chef and the people sitting at the table beside us. Michel Sarran has actually been one of the 4-chef panel of judges on the TV programme Top Chef for two years. The show is on M6 every week. The other 3 judges are Hélène Darroze (3 stars over 2 restaurants in Paris and London, voted “Best Woman Chef in the World” in 2015), Jean-François Piège (multi-star chef with several restaurants), and Philippe Etchebest (“Meilleur Ouvrier de France” and 2 stars. Also presented France’s version of the TV reality show “Kitchen Nightmares”). And we were clueless.
We actually used to watch the show with our kids until they started giving grades for everything from the morning porridge to fish and chips from the chipper in Crosshaven. They went too far!
We spent close to three hours over lunch. Time melted into oblivion. It was a perfect oasis away from real life.
So, if you have something to celebrate, this is a lovely place to do that. Saint Patrick’s Day was yesterday (we did nothing special). Today is Saint Cyril’s Day (we made up for yesterday). Hope you had a happy one.
PS: I skipped dinner tonight. I doubt I will have more than coffee for breakfast. Holy cow.