Sunday, July 7, 2013

France Part 11: Paunat

We drove to a nearby town called Paunat to eat at a highly recommended restaurant housed in a former Abbey next to the church.  Looking back, I see that a lot of our decisions in France revolved around meals.

The village of Paunat is picturesque, as most villages in this area tend to be.  I like this photo because it shows poppies which we saw a ton of in both towns and open fields and because it shows typical houses.

We even saw school children playing at recess in a schoolyard in Paunat.  We were starting to wonder where all the French children were.

The Paunat church was large, old, and beautiful as we had come to expect.  In the photo below one can see the restaurant Chez Julien in the church's shadow.  Everyone told us this restaurant has great atmosphere, and they were right.

We arrived early and walked through the church first.  There were many lovely stained glass windows.

I especially like the cobwebs in the above photo.  It's nice to know dusting isn't high on the priority list for someone other than me.

Chez Julien was a typical restaurant with pretty outdoor tables as well as simple, elegant indoor seating.  We sat inside because it was misting.  I really liked it when the menu was written on a chalkboard.  The server would carry the huge board over and either prop it up on the table or on an easel.  Some restaurants had only one board that rotated around, while others had several copies that could be used at the same time.  The writing seemed so lovely and carefully done.

This was one of our last meals in France, so when we noticed escargot on the menu we decided to go for it.  I've never eaten a snail before, and I may not ever again, but I'm glad we tried something decisively French while we had the chance.  They were covered in garlic and butter so overwhelming that the "meat" was indistinct.  Later, while telling the kids about our unusual meal, we wondered out loud about who first had the idea to eat a snail!  Nate guessed it must have been some really poor person who had no choice.

For dessert we enjoyed creme brûlée (Cody's favorite dessert of all time) and the tartest lemon tart ever made.  My lips are puckering just thinking about it.

I can honestly say we never had a "bad" meal in France.  There were a few dishes that were not as stunning as most, and this restaurant had a few of the non-stunning courses.  That's not to say they tasted bad.  But by this point, we had eaten so many amazing plates of food that our expectations were inflated.  I probably ate 10,000 calories a day while in France.  All that butter, foie gras, wine, and a pastry (or two, or three...) for breakfast every morning.  Yes, I said every morning.  I had a favorite pastry.  We always stopped at the Boulangerie to pick up a chausson de pommes.  It's like a fried apple pie, except flakier, richer, tastier, and better all around.

I usually ate them so quickly I didn't get a chance to photograph one until the very last day when I figured it was my last opportunity.  Sadly, my last chausson de pommes was slightly overcooked, as seen in the photo.  Did that slow me down or hinder me in any way?  Nope.  I'll forgive one over-toasted pastry for the dozens of perfect samples I enjoyed throughout the week.  Look at those flaky layers.

I am so thankful to France for their food.  They have a lot of other things going for them, too, but oh how I love their food with all my heart.  I would like to formally thank the entire country right now for their culinary genius.  Oh, and also thank you for making the best wine.  Ever.  Keep up the good work.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Ha! Agreed...every word of your last paragraph! :)