Today we decided to treat ourselves to a Saint Valentine lunch at a restaurant in a nearby town – Parfums de Garrique, which is situated in Maraussan, just outside of Beziers. Someone had recommended this restaurant before, but we forgot about that until we came across it on TripAdvisor. It had good reviews so we (well I (Rod)) decided it would be a good place to spend a lazy Tuesday afternoon.
We were welcomed at the door and led to a table towards the back of the restaurant. The tables were well spread out ensuring privacy. There were about a dozen couples in the restaurant, mostly French. Some Americans were at a table behind us.
The waiter greeted us in French and asked if we wanted some water and the carte de vin. Surprisingly we were able to understand him quite clearly, which is a first for us. Both Paige and I were suitably impressed with ourselves.
The waiter asked if we wanted the house cocktail which consisted basically of champagne and grenadine. It was very nice.
We ordered a bottle of Deutz champagne. So nice to be able to buy champagne without paying the earth for it. Going to restaurants in France is really a good way to learn French, as you are constantly asking for things or being asked. It really puts you on the spot, but its a great way to get the language flowing. Most of the waiters we have come across are very happy to tolerate our very poor French and the waiters at Le Parfum de Garrique were no exception.
It wasn’t long before our first course arrived. an Amuse Bouches, consisting of a couple of prawns, a broccoli & mushroom soup with truffles and a few little bites of various things. It was quite nice, quite a lot considering we had seven more courses to go.
Second course was Fine crème de Langouste et Raviole au romarin – Cream of lobster ravioli with rosemary. That was very nice and tasty.
Third course was Zéphyr de Saint-Jacques aux juliennes de légumes. Scallop with julien vegetables. This dish was absolutely delicious and along with the scallop there were mussels, a scampi and what we think was shredded crab. The seafood was very tasty as were the vegetables. It was on abase of semolina which was excellent. An interesing inclusion was the tiny slice of bright purple potato (in the top right corner of the dish below).
We had a bit of a respite for fourth course. It was a refreshing Granité pétillant au Champagne rosé. Sparkling rose granita with grapefruit and champagne.
We were up and running with the fifth course in no time. Médaillon de volaille “à la royal”, Jus aux Truffes, Gratin de Pommes de Terre et Fricassée de Cèpes. Chicken medallions with black truffles and truffle oil and potato with mushroom fricassee. Very, very tasty and filling. There were a couple of things on the plate we were unsure of. We managed to work a few out for ourselves – aubergine and pork belly, but one item was a bit unusual, tasty, but unusual. It was a type of nut we couldn’t identify so we asked the waiter what it was, he said it was “marrons”. Didn’t taste like marron to me. He didn’t know what the English name was so he went off to the kitchen and came back with a little plate of them and the other waitress to translate. I think he thought we asked for more. The waitress said they were chestnuts! Oh well, not exotic, but nice enough. All of the flavours on this dish combined to make it very very enjoyable.
By the time the 6th course came out, we were starting to struggle. We had a choice for this course. Sorbet de fromage blanc au Miel et Pollen de flours, sorbet of “fromage blanc” (a yoghurt-like product) with honey and pollen or Assortiment de fromage fermier– assortment of farm cheese. Paige chose the sorbet and I chose the fromage.
…and there was more!! Seventh course was dessert. Lingot D’Or, Chocolat-Gingembre au fruit et sorbet passion. A selection of pieces surrounding a rich chocolate gateaux in the shape of a bar with gold-tinged icing. This included some berries, passionfruit, a sorbet and a little chocolate & vanilla cream box (flower) all immersed in a very delicious passionfruit sauce.
As if 7 courses wasn’t enough, out came the 8th and final course. A selection of biscuits, sweetened cumquats and little spoonsful of coffee flavoured creamy concoction, which tasted deliciously like a decadent cake batter. We were asked if we wanted coffee, but we decided to skip that. We still had wine to drink.
At the end of the meal, chef Jean Luc Lanture came out for a little chat. It was a “little” chat as we could not speak much french and he could not speak much english. However we managed to let him know of our plans about touring France and told us to look up his friend in Chablis, I think his name was Jean Servin. That’s all we have to go on.
Three hours after we arrived we rolled out of the restaurant clutching our cute little red souvenir pens presented to all St Valentin diners as a parting gift.. It was a good thing we had no breakfast. Soup and baguette (if anything) for dinner I think. A very nice day out. C’est le vie!