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Mireille's Musings

MIREILLE’S MUSINGS: Summer in Provence

Like in Paris, lots of new restaurants...young chefs going out on their own after some amazing training with great chefs. Many lovely meals at small establishments, with very reasonable prices considering the quality, are a treat and a wonderful way to entertain "foodie" friends.

First the great places: In Provence, at least in our corner of Provence, Alexandre in Garrons/Nimes and Oustau in les Baux are the amazing two-stars deserving three and remain incredible experiences, each in its own right. No one has ever come out less than ecstatic at the creativity, quality, passion, enthusiasm and service. I've written about both in the past, and year after year there is not the slightest disappointment...they are actually getting even better.

Then there are some wonderful, wonderful no-stars...well one just got one...La Chassagnette in the Camargue and a new favorite in Avignon called l'Essentiel. And of course, for an all melon meal, a trip to Prevost. Now if he does not get a star soon something is very, very, very wrong with the system...his melon with lobster is a dish unlike any I have ever tasted, and the whole experience is always a treat. Can't have these meals in other parts of France or the world.

Last week a little photo with caption in the local paper made me jump: 1) a young chef from Eastern France (where I grew up) and his wife Emilie (a pastry chef) recently opened MÉO restaurant near the train station in Tarascon...and off we went, request of moi...as I explained to my husband that 2) both had trained and met at Michel Bras in Laguiole (another of our favorite restaurants but hard to get a table at the last minute and a long drive in the center of France in a mountain area...but what a place...even to sleep at...) and 3) they must have been the best as Bras sent them to open his restaurant in Japan...and after 3 years, 3 stars. Now that is already more then enough to convince me of their talent. Tarascon's Place de la Gare has amazing platanes and the house they found is right in front of the station. My kind of place...at all levels. Simplicité, saveurs, sourire, what else can we ask for?

We started with an amazing array of tomatoes...13 if one counts the paste and little condiments on the side....but all were glorious, different, and breathing the Provence sun. Perfect balance.

The anchovy was special too...trust the chef with his choice of herbs and spices to enhance those little guys. Amazing.

Then we shared a slice of fresh foie gras poêlée, served with a slice of melon that had been carefully poached in a bouillon of herbs and a fig...accompanied by a glass of demi sec white Banyuls. Wow, wow, wow.

The main course was angus (local from an Argentinean breed), cooked perfectly and served with warm radicchio.

Wonderful bread (grains, olives, tomatoes), and dessert was also shared, a cake with blueberries. And for the trip home, just in case, they give you a small bag of 2 mini madeleines (specialty of Commercy, Lorraine...his) and 2 mini canneles (a Bordeaux specialty, hers), clever and sweet.

Can't wait to go back for dinner and their ongoing themes....