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Com $$$ Le Mesturet no longer faraway from THE outdated BOURSE (THE FORMER FRENCH inventory trade) Le Mesturet, formerly a nook café and now an easy, pleasant eating place, is sort of a souped-up Gallic model of a brand new York espresso store, an inexpensive, informal position the place locals opt for easy, tasty convenience foodstuff once they don’t consider like cooking. What’s made this position with wan lighting fixtures and negligible decor a tremendous hit is mostly reliable meals for terribly moderate costs and the contagiously jolly surroundings generated by way of humans letting their hair down. The amiable proprietor, Alain Fontaine, resources at once from small manufacturers in southwestern France, and is the reason the succulent confit de canard (duck preserved in its personal fats after which grilled), Rocamadour (a creamy cookie-sized cow’s-milk cheese from the Dordogne), and ideal Corbières, a hearty purple wine with a cherry body spray from the abbey of Fontfroide within the Languedoc-Roussillon. “In a rustic as agriculturally blessed as France, there’s no cause you shouldn’t consume good, even for modest prices,” says Fontaine. On a Friday evening previous to Christmas, we went as eight—five Parisians, viewers from Chicago, and a chum from Marseilles—and this tough octet enjoyed the meal that undefined. Grilled eggplant crowned with melted goat cheese and surrounded through a tangy tomato coulis on a mattress of salad leaves used to be redolent of fine olive oil and Mediterranean herbs, and a do-it-yourself terrine de chevreuil (roebuck) with an incredible lobe of lush foie gras in its middle tasted of the wild—this entrée used to be a true shock at the menu in this kind of modestly priced eating place, due to the fact that online game is dear in Paris. Alain Fontaine’s menus assiduously persist with the seasons—I nonetheless have in mind a scrumptious open tart of sardines with a compote of shallots and grilled purple peppers on a summer time night—and mignons de biche (venison medallions) in a sauce of preserved wild blueberries and a young civet de marcassin (braised child wild boar) have been either first-class. although tempted via one of many greater blanquettes de veau (veal, mushrooms, and child onions in a lemon-spiked cream sauce) in Paris, I couldn’t steer clear of the confit de canard, duck preserved in its personal salted fats, which got here with pommes dauphinoise (potatoes baked with cream); the crisp dermis of the chook contrasting with its melting flesh is among the nice pleasures of the French desk. whereas we have been idling after dinner, over espresso and Vieille Prune eau-de-vie, a scrumptious amber spirit distilled from plums in southwestern France, Fontaine got here to the desk. “Tell your folks i purchased them a few Bénédictine,” he acknowledged, reminding me that the final time I’d been in his eating place have been a number of months ahead of with neighbors from Seattle, who had yearned for a tot of the natural liqueur made via Benedictine priests in Normandy. I dutifully knowledgeable Seattle and acquired the next e mail: “Fontaine is a real restaurateur—he is familiar with any solid eating place is all within the information, and his hospitality is outstanding. inform him we can’t wait again!

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