Thursday 25 September 2008

A Rallying Cry to Les Rosbifs

Disturbing news from France. Heaven forbid the French are going the way of the AngloSaxon snackers - the thought of so many decent restaurants closing down is grim indeed... We must all resolve to go to France at every opportunity, and once there eat in a restaurant at every opportunity, with aperitif, wine and even dessert, and leave a generous tip. I shall be leading the charge in a couple of weeks, when I'm heading for Avignon, DV (or do I mean TGV?).


  1. Well, that sounds like a nice trip en prospect for you. I hope you find some good local restaurants. When I spent a while in France, nine out of ten restaurants in the area were crap, far inferior to their local equivalents in the UK and probably in Italy and Spain too. The idea that France is the home of eating well is a myth, imho. The French seem hidebound in this regard and haven't yet mastered the art of providing what their customers might want, in the way they want it. Bon appetit!

  2. Mon dieu - you must have been very unlucky, Mark (or incredibly lucky in the UK). The French are up themselves of course - about this as about so much else - and gastronomically Brussels tops Paris - but all the same...

  3. This coming week, I'm off to Belgium. Having in the past never called Belgium and included it, to anything exciting. Given that nipping to the casino 'with the little boat' is not and never will have resonance with me.
    I am going to see what is a graveyard.
    Some have an education based on the Classics, some arrive at an education based on the classics. But the reality is that unless you see the theater of dionisis, old Corinth or the Delphic gorge you just do not get it.
    You can park your arse and write with conviction.
    For me, the first war was fought in France, that is what we were told, but not France, not France. Belgium.
    The Grand National,'money boat is crossing the Menin road,' and later Red Rum doing the same thing presents a memory without a resonance.
    I am Irish and I was baptised in the RBK&C, and what you will not do is sneer.
    Anyhoos I'm off the Belgium and will Pray for all.

  4. Mark, I would imagine you've been eating in that city south of Bagnolet and north of the Porte d'Italie, there be duff eateries. However, after over 40 years visiting France, at one time very frequently, I can count on one hand the number of bummers, even the CAF Bossons refuge grub, cooked by Nepalese Sherpas wives is fine. The Uk is OK now except for the silly prices and pretentious restauranteurs. Some of the best value food can still be found in the Les Routiers. The best Chinese restaurant I know is in Chamonix, the best Italian in Anneccy, the best of the lot used to be the Hotel Scholly (used to be Mitterrands favourite watering hole) in one of the acs south of the Dordogne, last stn on the line from the Gare d'Austerlitz.

  5. Yikes, Mark -- where are you in France? I find even simple creperies make far better food than most restaurants in the U.S. or U.K. Here in St. Martin, the French restos are astonishing, but expensive (due to the power of the euro). Today we had lunch on a beach on a tiny islet we had sailed to in a catamaran. Nothing fancy, but well-made and beautifully presented (crab salad with avocado and fruit; chicken grilled with mango; mozzarella and tomato; a green salad with vinaigrette; a few beers and daquiris). We were sitting in wet swimsuits with bare feet, dining on fabulous fare. However, the bill arrived and we were literally scrambling to find the (wet) dollars to pay it.

    We soon discovered that our little lunch in a palm-thatched hut on the beach cost more than renting a catamaran for four hours.

  6. Susan, you're rubbing in in again.

  7. I was in the Corbières region, roughly bound by Carcassonne, Narbonne and Perpignan. The nearest large town, quite a long distance away down a twisty mountain road known locally as le serpent, was Limoux. Very beautiful area, especially up towards the Ariège, but there are reputedly fewer people in much of it than there were in the middle of the nineteenth century. I think the area is now called Le Pays Cathar by desperate tourist authorities but I suspect the Cathars had better restaurants than you'll find round there today, though unfortunately they often found themselves on the grill. Local produce, though, was superb if you were prepared to cook yourself. Great area, but really for backwoods types and I suspect if you stayed up there in the mountain fastnesses for long enough you'd go bonkers.

  8. Sounds like Le Pays Lanarkshire Mark, weren't wearing kilts were they?