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MIREILLE’S MUSINGS: MEO in Tarascon (Provence)

1 Place de la Gare
13150 Tarascon
04 90 91 47 74

A word or two about Tarascon...we all learned about Tartarin de Tarascon reading Alphonse Daudet in French school/class but the small city attracts mostly tourists interested in history and culture...till now...we hope gastronomy will make a historical, cultural and gastronomical town all about sense and sensibility.

Our second visit at MEO (here's my post on our first) did not disappoint (if anything it makes us want to go back once more before the summer is over...let's hope for another excuse!) and visiting foodies we sent also rave about the place which feels like a home (too bad Tarascon is not in the golden triangle, but the food—such a meal for 35 euros is rather unbelievable these days...it could cost 6-8 times more in some establishments we know), the chef Johan Thyriot and his lovely wife Émilie, the pastry chef, and the Italian manager who is a pro training the local kids and an amazing sommelier. What a winning team. We wish them the best...wish we could take them to Paris or New York...but maybe we should let them build their reputation and if word of mouth works let’s hope the ten friends we sent will sent ten more and we'll check them out next spring.

From the surprise amuse (most places in Provence with stars—or no star but hefty prices—serve gazpacho: good but easy way out!) to the tomato farcie (stuffed) with herbs, the lisette (a delicious local fish) with quinoa, filet of volaille de bresse (chicken) with artichokes and a fabulous eggplant/ginger purée (lovely creation considering the same potato purée is offered from top establishments to bistros all over the world, some better than others but still a cheap accompaniment in both senses of the word even though anybody loves baby food), a simple but superb cheese selection and wild blueberry chutney plus fantastic breads to accompany them, a poached pêche plate (the flat and white peach variety, oh so delicate) perfect with a strawberry sorbet and a panna cotta with apricots/almonds and bites of caramel and that dainty little gourmandise with café included the most amazing macaroon filling (you have to come and taste it) and a mini chocolate tart. Magnifique patissière.

P.S. A few more words on Tarascon...it's also known for the royal collégiale Ste Marthe (one of the most beautiful churches in Provence); its Middle Age castle, le chateau du Roi René; the museum of Souleiado fabrics (remember the Pierre Deux stores of NY and San Francisco); and a small roman chapel just outside town. If this was not worth a detour, now you add MEO and you may want to prolong lunch with tea in their salon de thé and cocktail in their bar à vin and an overnight stay nearby. It's all about enjoying the moment, a gastronomic moment that is bound to give you lots of pleasures. Allez-y ...

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