Daglan is a beautiful, peaceful little French town in the Ceou Valley. The buildings are medieval looking and made from that same honey coloured stone as many of the buildings in this part of France are. All the windows have shutters on them and are dressed with planters full of beautiful little flowers. They looked like tiny explosions of bright pinky purple colour against the buildings. It really is a beautiful and tranquil place.
After a busy day looking after our niece and nephews whilst Dan and Katie got their car fixed, Sam, Barbara and I, decided to go out for dinner in the nearby town of Daglan. Sam’s brother Dan kindly dropped us off so we could all enjoy a glass of wine or two. We had driven through Daglan several times earlier the week and already spotted Le Petit Paris restaurant. So picking somewhere to go was an easy decision. I was in the mood to try some authentic French cuisine and get a little outside my comfort zone.
After a little time admiring the view around the restaurant we decided it was time to eat. We chose to sit outside and enjoy the rest of the evening sunshine as did a lot of guests but inside seating was also available. One thing I noticed straight away is that all of the tables were round which meant that you had ample space for food as well as drinks without feeling squashed. All the tables were nicely spaced so that you didn’t feel crowded by other diners.
Browsing the menu I just didn’t know what to have. There wasn’t a huge choice on the menus but there was more than enough to pick between – there were two menus, I think one was seasonal and the other one was a la carte. We were able to choose between them if we wanted. I decided upon smoked salmon for my starter, sweetbreads of lamb for my main and chocolate mousse for desert. I’ve never tried sweetbreads of lamb before but everything else that came with it sounded delicious so I thought I’d give it a try. I like to think I took a leap of culinary faith. I think its always good to try something different once in a while.
Whilst we waited for our starters the waiter brought over a little appetizer for us. We had duck pâté with bread and a kind of fresh tomato sauce to add a little fruity zing. I’m not a huge fan of pâté – I have to be in the mood for it, but on a warm, French summer’s evening I was definitely in the right frame of mind.
About ten minutes or so later our starters arrived and they looked amazing. Barbara and I had smoked salmon each and Sam chose spring rolls with salad. Honestly, both looked delicious. The smoked salmon was just divine and I enjoyed the salad it came with. Even the green apples, which I would never have thought of pairing with salmon, tasted amazing with it. Sam said his spring rolls were delicious and he loved the tiny fried quails egg on his salad.
The air was still wonderfully warm and there was that dusky evening smell that you only get in beautiful sun drenched places. I couldn’t help but admire all the medieval architecture with their window boxes full of small colourful flowers, even though the buildings were already honey coloured, the golden glow of the evening sun added a wonderful hue. It kind of made the whole place, really quite magical. I had completely fallen in love with France by this point.
After about twenty minutes or so, which I thought was a nice amount of time between courses, our mains arrived. Barbara had veal steak on a bed of roasted vegetables (first picture in post), Sam had a duck leg confit with a bean stew and I had sweetbreads of lamb in a red wine gravy with crispy potatoes. I’ve never tried sweetbreads before and I thought they were really quite tasty. They were delicious actually, they had slightly caramelised on the outside, giving a sweet taste and firm texture, the inside was kind of like a meaty sausage. They were also coated in delicious red wine gravy with carrots and mushrooms. The potatoes were like little fluffy puffs of creamy potato that had been cooked twice, first to create a silky mash and then roasted in the oven to create that delicious crispy outer layer. Everything together was delicious! I was quite glad this was a fairly small size for a main because it was incredibly rich. I think I may need to re-create something like this dinner at home. French inspired roasted mash potato balls with sausages, carrots and mushrooms in a red wine gravy? Mmm. Sounds delicious.
We finished our mains and enjoyed the rest of our wine. A lovely bottle of Bergerac rouge. I do like wine but I am by no means a connoisseur, but I have to say, French wine is delicious. I think I’m quite partial to the varieties from Bordeaux but Bergerac rouge has a beautiful taste. It went so well with my smoked salmon starter and my lamb main. Since being back in the UK, I’ve found myself craving French wine. The selection we have at my supermarket isn’t that great so I might have to have a look into some specialists and see what I can pick up.
Dessert came about twenty minutes after our main and it looked spectacular. Sam and Barbara had a chocolate souffle with a ginger ice cream and I had a chocolate ganache with oranges. To be perfectly honest, I had a little bit of food-envy looking at the souffle although, Sam did let me sneak a taste. It was souffle-perfection, silky yet fluffy, creamy yet light and the ginger ice cream was fresh and cleansed the palate so you could appreciate each chocolatey bite. My ganache was like creamy and thick, the oranges were super sweet. I liked it but, I definitely had food envy!
After dessert I was feeling decidedly full, but still had space for a little after dinner coffee. We placed our orders with the waiter and then admired what the restaurant and village looked like at night. It was a cool evening, I do wish I had a cardigan with me but I knew I had a hot drink arriving that would warm me up.
The evenings are wonderful in France, the air is still warm and it just feels magical. I loved being outside in the evenings watching the sky gradually darken as the sun sets, first to a wonderful orangey pink, and then warm to cooler blue tones till you end up with that wonderful shade of cosmic blue-black. Sitting in the courtyard of the restaurant I had a perfect view of the sky, with all its stars and I honestly just felt very happy in that moment. There really is something magical and wonderful about eating dinner outdoors.
My latte arrived with a chocolate chip cookie and this strange little slightly sticky cake on the side. I ate the cookie first, and it was delicious! The perfect amount of chocolate, crunch and gooeyness. MMMM! I don’t know about you, but for me, cookies should always be a little gooey on the inside. Anyway, after eating the cookie I wasn’t sure about the little cake but I’m glad I ate it! It was amazing. It had this caramelised outer crust with a cakey, doughey kind of pudding like centre. Either way, it was absolutely delicious! It totally got rid of any food-envy I had earlier. After doing some research I discovered they are called canelé – a vanilla rum pudding cooked in a special copper moulds that are lined with a mixture of beeswax and butter to create the caramelised crust. They are particularly famous in the Bordeaux region of France where they are considered a delicacy.
I’m glad I stepped outside my comfort zone and was able to try some authentic French cuisine. I want to try and bring a little bit of French cuisine into my home this autumn, beef bourginon, canelé and coffee and those little cripsy fluffs of mash potato. Mmmm.