The response to my blog launch has been very positive from friends and family and having spent a good deal of time, of late, dedicated to all things ‘blog’ related, I recently decided to have a complete day off (well almost) and visit the city of Limoges with a friend for a day of retail therapy and to ‘do lunch darling’.
We selected a lovely restaurant called Les Tables du Bistrot, arriving unfashionably very early and without any reservation at 11.55am, we dithered around outside for a few minutes wondering if perhaps it was something of an actual crime to be expecting to be allowed entry at this unholy hour. We needn’t have worried for the restaurant actually opens to it’s patrons at 11.45am in order that they can be seated and enjoy an aperitif whilst they peruse the extensive menu or simply take the ‘plat du jour’ for a more express lunch experience.
I believe that the restaurant is connected to a working farm and as you enter the converted barn there is a glass partition that allows one to see into the adjoining ‘working’ barn housing a collection of some of the animals. Chickens milled around the feet of a cow who, according to the name plaque, was called Marguerite and a donkey who was named Viktor. For one horrible, squeamish moment, I thought it was a case of choosing your lunch, like you do when you visit some seafood restaurants and are asked to point at which lobster in the tank you would like to dine upon, but these are clearly longstanding ‘pets’ and whilst I imagine some might find the idea of seeing the livestock a little distasteful just prior to eating a slab of Limousin steak, I suppose that it is actually quite important that we keep in mind what we are ultimately eating. So often, the meat we eat is from a sealed packet from the supermarket or at least prepared by a butcher to such a degree that it is all too easy to lose touch of its origins entirely. There was something very organic and thought provoking about seeing the cows and chickens, roaming freely around outside just before you sit down and make your selections from the menu.
Inside, the restaurant is wonderfully rustic with lots of very quirky, antique touches but it is also a very well staffed and slick operation that in-hand with it’s laid back vintage feel brings it right up to date as a quality eaterie. Despite that it has three separate very large interior dining areas and also an expansive terrace, no sooner had we been seated, it started to fill up very quickly indeed and we were altogether quite thankful that we had arrived as early as we had. It is obviously a very popular choice amongst local clients and having enjoyed a superb lunch there, it’s incredible popularity is no longer of any surprise. The menu is varied, the portions were huge and thankfully we were left to enjoy an unhurried dining experience, allowing us plenty of time to gently plough through our three substantial courses. I elected to partake in the rabbit terrine, the Limousin beef with a rather yummy glass of Bergerac and a tart au citron to finish with. It was all excellent and there is absolutely no doubt that I will be returning to this restaurant many times more in the future.
After taking on board about a zillion calories from our huge lunch and our bodies wishing to expend all available energy on digestion, we no longer felt much in the mood to trawl around the medieval city and capital of the Haute Vienne, looking in all the shops and possibly trying on clothes that almost certainly would make us feel even fatter than we already felt. Instead, we decided to pop to a rather upmarket supermarket so that my friend could buy some ‘expensive vegetables’ before heading back home. I suppose you could compare this particular supermarket to the food halls at some of the more high-class London department stores, it being a rather refined establishment. Well, especially to someone (me) who normally does their weekly shopping in Lidl of which, of course, there is no shame in that, I love Lidl.
Anyway, aside from the huge variety of wonderful delicatessen meats and cheeses, olives, pastries, the fresh fish counter and the many other wonderful produce that you would only normally find in the top most speciality épiceries, it has a fabulous fresh fruit and vegetable section. The veritable banquet of which, literally relax and recline in what can only be described as five-star luxury surroundings. It is virtually a Champneys Spa for fruit and vegetables.
The salad is constantly being tended to with a fine, chilled mist to keep it moist and fresh, giving the impression of a Sri Lankan mountain tea plantation on an early, misty morning and conjuring up so many wonderful images and memories of when I toured Sri Lanka some twenty years ago.
I was attempting to take some really artistic photographs with my phone, in order to fully apprise you of the scene, when I was approached by a stern looking employee who told me that photography was not allowed. I must confess, I had not seen any signs prohibiting such activities, so I gave him a puzzled look and kind of made my apology by way of “D’accord, desolé” as I hurriedly put my phone away. My friend and I then giggled and joked about it for the rest of our time in the shop. I mean, imagine not being allowed to take a photograph of vegetables, whatever next?
So, as the ‘produce’ seemingly relax in their five-star luxury spa, they can also rest assured that any lurking paparazzi will be dealt with swiftly and unforgivingly. I was quite surprised, in fact, that they were not also provided sun loungers and a cocktail service.
Obviously I am not normally one to break the rules or do things that I have specifically been told not to, but since I had already snapped a photograph or two before the stern employee told me ‘no photography’ I reasoned that I have not really done anything wrong, in as much that I obediently stopped taking pictures as soon as I was told to.
So here is a photo of the ‘VIP Vegetables:
I now, actually feel like a real journalist, publishing clandestine pictures that have been gained illicitly and generally living on the edge.
Here is another picture that was taken at the deli counter of the ‘anonymous’ supermarket.
for this I literally have no words…………
After writing this, I have concluded two things:
One: that I will certainly do some further research into whether the invasion of privacy of vegetables is an actual thing in this politically correct, world gone mad!
and Two: that I really need to get out more!
Thanks for taking an interest in this weeks food oriented post.
A bientôt et bonne dégustation
The Virtual Recluse