Monday, January 07, 2008

La Maison de la Lozère

One of the most amazing gifts that Jube and I received was lunch for two at la Maison de la Lozere. Jube and I have been to some nice restaurants, but we aren't usually able to afford the really really nice ones. (One exception, of course, was the Manor House Restaurant where we had our wedding!) I was getting over my cold and Jube had just caught a watered-down version, but we were both able to smell, taste, and see. We were in for a treat!

We both ordered kir royal for our aperitif, which came with two plates of mises-en-bouche. The first plate was a savory trio shaped like desserts. They were: one cream puff with a vodka cream filling (chou a la creme a la vodka), a dark chocolate bonbon with leek filling, and a little hard-candy shaped mozzarella treat with poppy seeds and herbs. The three were served on an inch-thick rectangle of Plexiglas. The second plate of mises-en-bouche was a bit more substantial, including one salmon sushi and one carrot gelee. They were both very tasty!

By this time, though, Jube had begun to worry that we were only going to be getting tiny portions for lunch. Our first course proved him wrong. It was a marinated tuna steak served on top of a citrus gelee, with a small salad on the side, a candy-like rectangle of seaweed, and an "emulsion d'eau de mer" (a small amount of what looked and tasted like sea foam). The food was wonderful, and I was getting excited about our main course.

Jube chose hare, which was served wrapped in ham. His sides included a "croustillant de tete de veau" (a 3-d rectangle of fried meaty goodness) and a poached egg. I chose the fish, which was served with a sweet corn mousse and tempura-fried leeks.

At la Maison de la Lozere, every main dish is served with aligot. Aligot is a mixture of cheese (tomme de Lozere) and mashed potatoes. It is the regional dish of Lozere. (We actually made it once, and you can see the picture here.) Jube happened to grow up in the region, and he was used to eating aligot made by the peasants of Lozere: in a big pot with a huge wooden spoon. When the aligot would stick to the spoon, the peasant (probably smoking a cigarette with dirt under his nails) would push the aligot back down into the main mixture. It would be served by slapping the aligot into the bowl or plate that was offered.

It is served a bit differently at la Maison de la Lozere. The waiter or waitress picks up a serving of aligot held between two spoons. He or she then twists the aligot into pretty patterns while placing it into our single-serving bowls. Jube and I were both reminded of a Japanese steakhouse where preparing the food is as much fun as eating it. The aligot filled up any holes we might have had from small portions, and we were offered more (and we both declined).

For dessert, Jube had a plum crumble (mirabelles) and I chose a small turnover filled with bananas and mangoes. Both were served with sorbet, and mine was served with a sweet avocado puree. (In fact, the avocado puree was part of the reason I chose my dessert. In Nice I fell in love with the avocado ice cream sold at several of the artisanal ice cream stands. I have to say that the avocado puree was almost better!)

Afterwards our waiter offered us coffee, but neither of us took it. Mistake! I thought that our lunch was over, but how could I forget that sweets often come with the after-dinner coffee in France? Luckily, we were still able to eat the after-dessert dessert. It included a small glass of chocolate ganache, one coffee-flavored macaron, and one white-chocolate truffle. The macaron and the truffle were served impaled on sticks that protruded from another inch-thick slab of Plexiglas.

The food was wonderful, and I only wish that someday I can go back - and get coffee!

(Yes, I know there are no pictures! Jube and I were too embarrassed to get out our big digital camera. Rest assured: the food was beautiful, as was the restaurant. It is located in one of the medieval buildings in Montpellier, with vaulting stone ceilings and a view on a private terrace.)


joy suzanne said...

Mmmmm! My friend's boyfriend is a chef at that restaurant. Not bad! It's nice getting invited to their place for dinner..

Gem said...

How nice! I always wonder how they make their special dishes... I guess you could find out if you wanted!