Sorry about the hiatus. We've just spent 10 days travelling (and eating!) in Normandie and Bretagne with our little family. While we unpack our bags and upload the photos, I'll share some photos from our last trip to France in August 2009. Back then we were still three - our daughter just 7,5 months old - and we had a chance to eat in two 3-star restaurants. Excellent meals both, and I'll start with Anne-Sophie Pic's restaurant, where we had a lunch, a full tasting menu and breakfast.
Anne-Sophie Pic (born in 1969) is the head chef at La Maison Pic in Valance, France. She's a third-generation la chef cuisinier of the family restaurant, which was previously run by her dad and grand-dad. She earned the third Michelin star already at the age of 37, and is one of the only two female chefs in France and of female chefs in the world to win the accolade. Earlier this year she was also named the World's Best Female Chef (you can read an excellent synopsis of her culinary credentials and history here). Even before that last award, I was extremely excited about the chance to have lunch and dinner at her restaurant. Valance isn't on most tourist routes, but as we were driving down from Lyon to our friends' wedding in Sauzet further South, it was conveniently on the way. Lucky me :)
Anne-Sophie with her dad and grandfather:
Upon arrival we had some nibbles in the courtyard, while our room was being prepared. From left to right: tomato and lemon macaroon, basil and ricotta sphere, peanut marshmallow, foie gras and apple:
That was a great alternative to the more usual nut selection:
After settling into our spacious room, we headed for lunch at Bistrot Le 7. The name Le 7 is an homage to Route Nationale 7, a famous motorway connecting Paris and Côte d’Azur (The French Wench has written more about it).
Le tarte fine croustillante de saumon salma, légumes croquants aux aromates (for me):
K. was very pleased with his tomato starter - Les tomates de variétés anciennes, crémeux de mozzarella di bufala - one of the reasons why he's so supportive of my grow-as-many-tomato-varieties-as-you-can hobby:
For the main course, I went for the veal dish - Le poitrine de veau, confite aux aromates, etuvée fondante de fenouils et poivrons rouges:
K. chose the cod - Le cabillaud, cuit sur la peau a la'huile d'olive,fondant de carottes des sables a la fleur de thym:
For dessert, I opted for the classic strawberry-basil combination - Le fraisier version 2009; biscuit pistache, sorbet basilic (for me):
K. opted for the cheese plate:
We were very pleased with our lunch - it was flavoursome and very pleasing to the eye.
We had a pretty late dinner. I apologise for the quality of the photos - there wasn't any natural light, of course, and we didn't want to use the flash. We opted for the News Menu (or Menu Actualités), which was the one of the tasting menues on offer.
I loved the personal touches on the cutlery and dishes (see also the amuse bouche plate above):
Lobster tail in a spicy broth:
I loved the cucumber crocant that accompanied this subtly flavoured fish:
Rinse-bouche: coffee granita with Limoncello foam:
A beautiful cheese board:
A very pretty dessert with raspberry sorbet:
Overall the food was very tasty. We appreciated that Anne-Sophie Pic came to personally greet us at the end of the meal and speak about the difficulties of travelling and dining out with a baby :) She had seen our little daughter, sleeping at the Reception (we had asked about being allowed into the restaurant with the baby and they assured us it's fine and that they're happy to babysit the baby during our meal - which the kind receptionists ended up doing. Very thoughtful).
However, when looking at the visual side of the meal, it was all quite pared down and beige-brown (NB! I'm talking about dinner here!). We had another 3-star meal during our trip (@ Régis Marcon's restaurant), which was visually much more entertaining and impressive (our only other comparison is with lunch @ El Bulli in 2008). The only real 'eye candy' was the dessert.
Breakfast - croissants and other pastries, yoghurt verrines, some fresh fruit:
Oh, the hotel gave our daughter a little present - a green soft frog with Maison Pic's shawl. She loved (eating) it :)
Here's me, my daughter and the Chef, just before we checked out:
Would I go again? Yes, definitely - both for the food, for the hotel, and for the beautiful chef :)