Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch is a time honoured tradition in rural France. Families gather together to eat a big meal lasting at least two to three hours. Many restaurants are full to bursting on Sunday afternoons.

We had been given a recommendation by our walking guide, Sally, for Restaurant du Pont in Castelfranc. We decided to have our Sunday lunch there.

We stopped by the restaurant at 11:00am and Joe asked for reservations at noon. "Oh no, Monsieur. Only at 1:00pm can we seat you."

While we were waiting for our appointed hour, we drove into a neighbouring village to hike up to a crumbling 11th century castle keep. We thought we might as well build up an appetite.

At the stroke of 1 o'clock, we returned to the restaurant hoping that there would be a table available for us. We rushed in and stopped dead in our tracks. The place was virtually empty, save for a table of 10 people in the corner. Why couldn't they have seated us at noon? Why did we have to wait until 1:00pm? There are many things I do not understand about France and that is one of them. It is like there is secret code of conduct and I have yet to figure it out.

No matter. We were there for Sunday lunch and excited for the experience.

Our lovely waitress came and asked if we'd like to start with an aperitif? Bien sur, Madame! We drank a 'fenelon', a mixture of Cahors wine, eau de noix, and creme de Cassis. Very tasty.

And then the food started.

A little plate of nuts and sausage arrived on our table, followed by an 'amuse bouche' of tomato gazpacho. It's the small unexpected surprises like these that we love about the French.

I had the 'soupe de poisson' to start and Joe had the 'carpaccio de canard'. I thought he was going to fall off of his chair and start rolling on the floor groaning with pleasure. Who needs sex when there is food like this?

We both ordered 'coq au vin en croute' for our main course. Our eyes nearly bugged out of our heads when it was brought to the table! Each dish would have fed a family of four, never mind just us! The Belgian family next to us smiled and clapped when they saw our food. The man called out, "Congratulations!"

One of the chefs accompanied the chicken to our table. He gave us some very sage advice. "Eat slowly and continuously."

The earthenware pot was topped with a crusty dome of puff pastry. We took our knives and plunged in. Underneath was a stew of chicken and potatoes swimming in a rich, black sauce. It was DELICIOUS! Although way too much food. WAY too much. Try as we might, we could not finish it.

We didn't know how we were going to get through the next two courses. Thankfully the cheese course was a small round of cabecou (goat's cheese) with some coarsely ground pepper and a smear of cherry jam on the side.

Joe ordered the 'fondant du chocolat' for dessert. Again, much groaning ensued. I couldn't even entertain the thought of dessert (that's how full I was) so I went with the 'soup de peches'.

After lunch was over, both chefs came out to talk with us. The first question out of the older one's mouth was, "Vous avez un restaurant, Madame?" I laughed and replied, "Moi? Non, je suis un professeur Monsieur!"

We had some laughs with the chefs, took some photos and bid everyone a fond adieu.

Sunday lunch is a tradition worth keeping. Even if it does send you into a food stupour.

*At the time of this writing it has been 19 hours since yesterday's lunch. I have not eaten anything since. And I am still full.


  1. so really it is like diet food if you only eat once ever 2 days or so.
    I see that you are now able to put the photos amid the text- the ipad mastering has begun.

  2. Diet food indeed! I have hardly eaten anything today. I am still full!

  3. LOVE Joe's face!! And the chef's look very happy with their adoring patrons.
    Jo xo

  4. French women don't get fat, so they say :)
    That fresh, beautiful food must be so much better for you than what we are usually served in N. American restaurants. You enjoy, Madame!!!

  5. I love the chef's hand on Joe's belly.... what cheek!

  6. Bon jour Nancy and Joe.
    Just wanted to let you know that your blog has become one of my morning pleasures. After toast and coffee, I can't wait to hear about your and Joe's adventure's in paradise. Between you and watching the Tour de France, I'm ready to sell our house and move there tomorrow.
    You and Melissa look fabulous - happy and sooo relaxed.
    Looking forward to reading more.