Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kinoa (Montpellier)

It was an awful grey and wet day in Montpeyroux so we decided to take a drive and do some food shopping in Montpellier. Since the weather was so bad, we decided to eat at Compagnie des Comptoirs because one of our friends has never eaten there and they have parking. When we got there, to our surprise they were closed. So, we decided to eat in a Japanese restaurant that has had a lot of good reviews in the old city. Walking through the rain; again to our horror, the restaurant was closed until 5 Jan. So, we decided to walk through the rain to Les Bains. However; half way there, we noticed that Kinoa was open. Yippeeee!!! We decided not to walk any further in the rain.

The restaurant was so full, that we had to wait about 15 minutes (which was not too bad), we were just happy to hear that our table would be ready soon because some customers were paying their bill. Kinoa is well known and is considered a very good restaurant. As well as having one of the best quality and price ratio. In short; a very very inexpensive set lunch menu. At 17.50 euros for an appetizer, main course and a glass of wine or half bottle of water (coffee not included; it was 2.50 euros). A fantastic deal. No wonder the place was packed.

The first appetizer was rouget. Two large pieces of cold rouget on top of a fresh salad and accompanied with onion doux and soft carrots. The rouget had a nice and tender meat. A simple dish but very tasty.

The second appetizer was home-made fois gras accompanied with lentils. I really liked the idea of the fois gras with lentils instead of sweet fruit. The fois gras was rich with flavour and a soft & creamy texture.

The first main course was entrecote. The entrecote came out cooked as asked; saignant. The meat was tender and had good flavour. The dish had the typical side dishes to accompany the entrecote; baked potato, broccili & carrots. However, the side dish of fried rice noodle was a waste and did not add anything to the dish. It was bland and a bit oily. The sauce for the entrecote was simple but very nice.

The second main course was civet de cerf. This was a wonderful dish. A great comfort dish with such horrible weather. The cerf was so tender and rich with flavour. The potato gratin was rich and creamy. The sauce from the cerf added another dimention to the gratin. We definately would like to have this dish again.

We always forget about Kinoa when we come to Montpellier to eat. After this lunch; we will not forget this very nice and inexpensive restaurant again.

The service was very efficient from a young man full of confidence and energy.

Please click here for directions to Kinoa

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home grown Chillies (Montpeyroux)

Over the summer, we started growing our own chillies in the garden and many other organic vegetables.

Here is the outcome of the chilli harvest.

We are now going to dry them and I will have a stash of chillies to use when I want to cook Thai or Vietnamese food. I hope they are very very spicy.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Restaurant de Lauzun (Gignac)

Gignac has a very famous restaurat now called the Restaurant de Lauzun. It has not been opened very long but the 24 year old chef Lauzun is being written up about in press. I think he was also just named one of the young and up-and-coming chefs to watch in the Gault Millau.

We had the table by the window and I had the view of the dinning room. I found the dinning room to be cold and sanitary. No personality or charm. However, I like the spacing of the tables and the accoustics of the room is good.

The wine we decided to have for the dinner was Le Chemin des Fees 2003. A nice wine from the region. Good fruit, accidity and colour.

The amuse bouche was parmentier de boeuf. The french version of a mini shepard's pie. For a small cup, it was full of flavour.

The first starter was coquillages; marines au basilic et au citron vert sur un tartare de betteraves. Pesto, d'estragon et julienne de Grany Smith. A beautiful presentation; the contrast of black slate with bright red and green sauces, golden brown tempura and the other colours on the dish was all eye candy. The dish tasted very good. But; somehow, we felt it was a bit too complicated. Too many flavours trying to get our attention and in the end we did not know what we were eating.

The second starter was saumon fume; par nos soins en roulade moelleuse et mascarpone au citron vert, vinaigrette au wasabi. Petite conserve d'oeuf brouille. Another lovely presentation. This one was more pure than the first appetizer. The saumon fume roulade was a nice way to present this dish. I thought the vinaigrette au wasabi could have been more strong to add some constrasting flavour. However, I am sure the chef did this on purpose because the people down here do not like very strong or spicy ingredients. I thought the Petite conserve d'oeuf brouille was brilliant. Intense, rich and creamy. Very nice. The tempura was pefectly deep fried to a golden brown. The deep fried bread sticks were a waste of space and totally useless on the dish.

The first main course was lotte cuit a basse temperature, nage de moules de bouchot et choucroute de choux rouge. Fricassee de champignons des bois. Again, the dish was a lovely presentation. The fish was cooked very nicely. The flavours of all the different seafoods was very good. However; again, we felt this dish had too many flavours fighting for our attention.

The second main course was filet mignon de cochon, cuite letement, petit ragout de cocoa facon cassoulet et mousseline de topinambours. Pate de citron confit. This was a nice and simple dish. One of those comfort foods that you look forward to in the cold winter nights. The amount of cochon was plentiful. The couchon was cooked to a perfect pink and was tender. The accompaning side dishes paired very nicely with the cochon.

The third main course was canette cuite a basse temperature flanquee de morceaux de coings braises. Puree de carotte parfumee a la genievre et jus de persil fort. The canette was very tender and cooked to the perfect crimson red. The coings added the sweetness to accompany the canette. However, I often do not think canette needs sweet fruits to accompany it all the time. I also liked the idea of puree de carotte instead of pomme puree.

The first dessert was chocolat et cafe dans deux tasses 'surprise' croustillantes. A very nice and creative presentation. The tasses were made from chocolate crispy biscuit and filled with chocolate and mocha mousse. The flaovours of the mousse were just lovely. At the bottom on each tasse was a surprise cake, also flavoured of chocolate and mocha.

The second dessert was ananas en differentes textures sur un financier et une mousse legere au caramel. Sorbet pinacolada. A refreshing and also creative interpretation of the ananas. The ananas was served in different textures. From dried to freshly diced, all with fantastic flavour. A nice dessert because it was naturally sweet.

We liked the food; it was good and creative. However, we thought it was too complicated. It had too many flavours to concentrate on. The chef was being too creative for our own good. I actually like it when chefs are being creative or even inventive. However, the flavours need to be precise and more focused. And, that is what I think the chef Lauzun should do.

The service was friendly and efficient.

Click here for directions to Restaurant de Lauzun:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Le Pastis (Montpellier)

We have heard and as well have read good reviews of a bistro in the old city of Montpellier. Since, we had to be in Montpellier to pick up a friend from Geneva. We decided to try that particular bistro for lunch.

The bistro is called Le Pastis.

Le Pastis has an open kitchen and is well decorated.

It felt very cosy and warm.

The first dish we tried was creme topinombour. The soup was very nice. Rich, creamy and tasty. A nice comfort soup for a cold winter day.

The second dish was nem stuffed with confit of duck and lamb accompanied with lentil salad. The nem was nicely deep fried to a light and cirspy brown. The suffing was a good mix of flavours.

The third dish was veal with peanut sauce accompanied with terriyaki pasta. I think there was only 100 g. of meat. I am not sure if the chef thought we needed to be on a diet, but this was not very generous at all. Though the meat was cooked well and had a good flavour. The side dish was a bit strange. It was more like an American pasta salad but warm instead of cold. I think the chef was trying to be creative but I felt it turned out to be more of a picnic side dish rather than in a bistro.

The fourth dish was pintade with polenta. I had a shock when the dish arrived. It was nicely presented on a black slate plate. But, there was only two slices of pintade and the head of the beast. How they dare serve this kind of portion is beyond me. However, the pintade was nice and tender. On the other hand, the portion of polenta was copious and it tasted fine but nothing outstanding.

Le Pastis did not live up to its reputation. Which is too bad. I thought the appetizers were much better than the main courses and the I thought the portions for the main courses were not generous. I was hoping to have another nice place to eat in Montpellier. I do not think we will be returning to Le Pastis any time soon.

Click here for directions to Le Pastis:

Saturday, December 27, 2008


We have not been into Montpellier since we arrived in the south of France. We have been very busy preparing and celebrating Christmas. On the 26the December, we had a friend arriving from Geneva, who will be staying to celebrate the New Year with us. We had to drive into Montpellier; so, we had a chance to walk around the city and have lunch before going to the train station.

We were very lucky with the weather, blue skies but very cold.

The entrance to the main city park. Its almost like le jardin de Tuileries in Paris; with its gravel walk paths, large statues, water fountains and huge old trees.

One of the main entrance into the old city. To me, it looks like a mini replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The beautiful palace de justice.

One of the main boulevards in leading to the old city.

One of the plenty of gothic churches in the center of the city.

It was very quiet in the old city, during our walk. Of course the outdoor terrace for the cafes were empty due to the cold. Most of the people are in Place de Comedie.

We are heading now to the restaurant for lunch. We read very good things about a very good little bistro in the old city.

Friday, December 26, 2008

La Terrasse du Mimosa (Christmas Eve Dinner)

Christmas Eve and we decided to have dinner at La Terrasse du Mimosa. They were having a special Christmas Eve menu. Christmas Eve is normally when families spend the evening at home instead of going out. So, it was no surprise that the wine bar was a bit quiet. Non-the-less, we enjoyed ourselves very much.

The wine bar was dimly light and sparkling with candles lit on each table. The Christmas decorations added a festive mood. A lovely, cosy and relaxing atmosphere.

We started the evening by opening a bottle of champagne. The champagne was Pierre Peters and this has got to be one of the finest quality and price ratio champagnes around (Pierre Peters champagne website)

The amuse bouche was a fois gras creme brulee. A rich and tasty amuse bouche. It went very well with the champagne.

The first dish was home-made fois gras accompanied with home-made fig chutney and gravalax accompanied with fresh beets. The fois gras was splendid; rich, creamy and intense goose liver taste. The fig chutney added sweetness to the fois gras. The gravalax had a good texture and the beets added freshness and sweetness to the gravalax.

The next dish was gratin de queues de langoustine et de gambas. A very nice hot and cosy dish for a cold winter evening. The langoustine and gambas added a very nice seafood flavour to the creamy and soft gratin. Another nice aspect of this gratin was that it was also light in texture, not so heavy on the cheese and cream.

Since it was a special occasion, we opened a Beringer 1989 Private Reserve. We decided to get away from French wines this evening and try different wines. I have had the Berringer Privae Reserve several times and I have never been disappointed. I have to agree with the Wine Spectator who gave this vintate 91 points because the wine was indeed, complex, and at an ideal drinking stage, with pretty plum, black cherry, currant, anise and spicy notes, finishing with firm, softening tannins and a nice dose of creamy oak. We totally enjoyed it.

The next dish was pave de biche aux airelles. The biche was a stunning piece of meat. So tender that it sliced liked butter. The taste is unique and very good.

The next dish was a plateau de fromages au lait cru affines. You can never get enough of the cheeses from around this region. All fine yet intense with its own unique taste. And, wow the roquefort was strong. It had a big kick and long after taste.

For dessert; the dish was a buche de Noel aux fruit exotiques. A very light dessert after a filling dinner. The exotique fruits added the sweetness and acidity to a lovely dessert. The cake was light and practically melted in the mouth.

The last wine was the famous Dominus 1988. The Dominus is a blend of 88% cabernet sauvignon, 11% cabernet franc and 3% merlot. Parker gave this wine 91 points. Parker review: "The dense, opaque ruby/ purple colour exhibits great saturation and intinsity and the nose is beginning to offer up smoked herb and ripe cassis aromas. In the mouth, the wine is deep, medium to full-bodied, with excellent concentration, and one of the longest, richest finishes I have found in a Cabernet Sauvignon from 1988." I could have not said it any better.

All the wines displayed to be bought and consumed.

Click here for directions to La Terrasse du Mimosa:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Le Hide (17th arrondissment)

We heard about this great bistro from Francois Simon, the popular food critique, named Le Hide. He chose Le Hide as the bistro of the month (click her to read: francoissimon). To our luck, its very close to the apartment. So, we decided to try it. Le Hide is a very small bistro with about 15 tables cramped very close to each other. The decor is minimal but its the food that is the star. The interesting thing about Le Hide is that the chef is Japanese (Chef Koba) and is cooking French food. He has cooked in some of the finest restaurants and he finally opened his own restaurant about 1.5 year ago. Thank goodness he did.

The first dish was galette aux queues d'ecrivisse au beurre demi sel citronne. It was a busy day and they ran out of galette, and asked if we would mind if they replaced the galette with ravioli instead. The outcome was a very tasty dish. The ravioli was freshly made and it was layed over the ecrivisse. When you lifted the ravioli, there were hundreds of ecrivissse in a sauce of butter and lemon.

The second dish was salade de lentille, roquette et saucisson de Lyon tiede. Sounds simple enough, but it was more complicated than that. The cleverness of the chef; he created a dish with three different temperatures. The lentils were hot, the roquette was cold and the saucisson de Lyon was warm. A great combination.

The third dish was oie rotie aux marron sur risotto a l'huile de truffe blanche. I have not had goose in a long time, so this was an easy choice. The goose was tender and fell off the bone. The marrons were a great additional taste and texture. The risotto was cooked perfectly and had a lovely taste of white truffle. A great winter dish.

The fourth dish was cote de veau (350g) poelee au beurre demi sel. We could not believe the size of the cote de veau. Luckily we were hungry. The cote de veau was cooked to order; pink. The sauce was a simple demi-cream sauce so to not overwhelm the cote de veau taste.

The cote de veau was accompanied with pomme puree. A rustic/ country style pomme puree. Big chunks instead of the potatoe being mashed into a smooth consistency. Simple butter and a few herbs made this dish a simple pleasure.

Le Hide is now one of our favourite bistros and thank goodness its walking distance from the apartment.

Click here for directions to Le Hide: