Friday, August 19, 2005

Vacationing in Provence: a wonderful dinner at the Moulin à Huile in Vaison La Romaine

The gastronomic highlight of the vacation was a dinner at the Moulin à Huile, a Guide Michelin one star restaurant in Vaison La Romaine.

The restaurant is located in a former olive oil mill at the foot of the city's famous roman bridge. At the door, our group was warmly welcomed by Mme Bardot, who led us to our seats in a handsome dining room with an arched ceiling, white painted walls, and embroidered tablecloths. Our party included four kids, aged between 11 and 15 years old, who proudly took possession of their own table.

Chef Robert Bardot offers a six course tasting menu called Promenade au soleil de Provence, which showcases a creative cuisine combining Provençal and exotic flavors.

We started with a very tasty Friandise de foie gras et langoustines sur copeaux de mangue, sauce siam, radis et cornichons

For the fish entree, we had the difficult task of choosing between two excellent dishes:
the Pavé de lotte, cocos de Mollans, sauce ravigote de la Réunion

and the Filet de rouget rôti, lime, compote de fenouil, tapenade, huile de safran et coriandre

The wine list features a rich selection of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côtes du Rhône wines from local wineries.
We selected a 2003 Vacqueyras Blanc Domaine La Monardière to go with our appetizers and fish. Showing a lovely aromatic nose of floral, pineapple, and roasted chesnut flavors, the wine had a richly textured palate with a fat mouthfeel and a long lingering finish. It was a fabulous wine to accompany such a flavorful cuisine.

The main course was as delicious. The menu proposed a Carré d'agneau rôti aux trois parfums, risotto au parmesan, curry, combava, carotte au miel et cumin, huile de rouge

or a Râble de lapin au romarin, beurre de moutarde, petit palet des hauts de côtes et pistache, mousse de petits pois, pommes de terre negresse

With these dishes, we drank a 2001 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Domaine de la Janasse. Showing a ripe, fruity nose, the wine was dense and spicy but smooth on the palate, followed by a lengthy finish with additional notes of chocolate with almond. It was the perfect match for the oriental spices of the lamb as well as the mustard sauce and gamey flavors of the rabbit.

Followed a plate of local artisanal cheeses called Symphonie du berger.

At this point, we were not hungry any more but the dessert course seemed too yummy to be missed. We had the choice between:

the Sablé aux fraises, gelée de Bissap, caramel de beurre salé,

the Millefeuille à la crème vanillée,

the Palet de chocolat aux amandes, crème à la violette,

and the Tian aux oeufs et vanille, chocolat au lait glacé.

As if that weren't enough, an offering of Mignardises arrived after dessert. Everything looked delicious but unfortunately, there was no way we could eat any more food.

We found the rich flavors and textures of all these dishes perfectly balanced. The dinner was also a memorable experience for the kids. They had a wonderful time and loved every part of the menu.

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