A French Christmas #5: the five-course Christmas Lunch Review by Lisa and Georgie

Being our first French Christmas, and being together, Lisa and I decided to do food review like the many that we did back during our three weeks travelling around China!

The places we went to and tried out the food in were: Kunming , Li Jiang , Dali , Chongqing , Chengdu & Jiu Zai Gou & Xi’an and Pingyao.

Now, in the city of Nantes in north-western France, we have taken it upon ourselves to once again review what we are eating! In the festive spirit, we have chosen to review the Christmas lunch we had at a restaurant with Léa’s mum’s side of the family. As well as being asked and braving to read the set menu in french to her family, we had had serious conversations with our stomachs that we were going to make it through the five courses. (I’m kidding about the serious conversations but I was feeling the pressure! 😀 ) 

the set menu!

Our review works like this: Lisa and I choose three categories – namely Flavour, Appearance, and Texture – and review each course out of ten. We have tried to give the scores of the dish as a whole rather than only marking the bits we enjoyed. Then it’s fair!

I am going to attempt to translate the names of the French dishes as best I can (with the help of Léa at the time and the use of google translate and common sense now!)… but just note that I don’t do French so I do apologise if it is awfully wrong. 

Now, bon appetit!

First Course: 

15878311_10153880916406706_1577535217_o‘Cappucino de la mer et son nuage de crème vanillé’ et ‘Macaron de foie gras à l’huile de truffe’ 

Google translate: ‘Cappuccino of the sea and its cloud of vanilla cream’ and ‘Macaron of foie gras with truffle oil’ … close-ish!

Me: ‘a cappuccino style vanilla and seafood cream’and ‘a macaroon filled with fois gras and a hint of truffle oil’

The Cappuccino: The flavour is really unique, it is a combination of seaside flavours and cream. It has no cappuccino in it – don’t let the name fool you! – so we decided that that is the way the dish is served (as it came in the tiny beer glasses / mugs. It is creamy and warm (but not hot) as well as salty yet subtle… It could have prawns in it. The texture is smooth and sits on your tongue for a while. Overall, we liked it! 

Flavour: 6 out of 10
Appearance: 9 out of 10
Texture: 7 out of 10

The Macaroon:

It was odd to start with as the macaroon is has a sweet sugared taste yet the foie gras is thick and salty. We thought that the rich savour filling was served in perfect balance with the light and sugary macaroon. We’d never think of it ourselves but it was lovely, and not heavy to digest either!

F: 8 out of 10
A: 8 out of 10
T: 8 out of 10

Second Course:

15750316_10153871647001706_1539001707_n‘Tatin de foie gras à la royale gala arrosée de son givre Nantes’ 

Google translate: ‘Tatin of foie gras at the royal gala Watered with its frost Nantes’

Me: tatin of foie gras with [royal gala] apples cooked in a specific Nantes sauce?

Lisa and I had a slightly different opinion on this course. The cooked but cold apple sat at the top of the little tower, with foie gras layered in the middle, and gingerbread cake forming the base. It is another dish that combines salty and sweet but this time I felt that the flavours didn’t complement each other. Instead, it was rather overpowering. Lisa did note that the texture was moist and creamy and she enjoyed it more than I did. When I cheekily used some of the foie gras on fresh baguette, it was parfait !

F: 3 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 5 out of 10

F: 5 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 5 out of 10

Third course:

15824043_10153880916396706_32694785_o‘Suprême de chapon farci, coiffé de son lard truffé, accompagné de ses pommes de terre fondantes, et de sa crème de pleurotes au piment d’Esplette’

Google translate: ‘Supreme of capon stuffed, capped with its truffled bacon, accompanied by its melting potatoes, and its cream of oyster mushrooms with Esplette’

Me: ‘Stuffed cockerel (formally known as capon) with truffled bacon, accompanied by melting potatoes and a cream of oyster, mushroom and esplette pepper sauce’

The potatoes were the star of the show. They didn’t fall to pieces when we cut them but genuinely melted in the mouth as we ate them. The cockerel meat and stuffing was rather dry, although the skin on the outside was salty and tasty. The sauce was good but Lisa said that it needed more of a “kick” or flavour as well as a more prominent and flavourful stuffing. It was a good sized portion (as my food coma had already started to kick in…) and those potatoes get their own score of 9 out of 10. ❤

F: 5 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 5 out of 10

Fourth Course:

15820162_10153871647236706_1651893622_n‘Curé Nantais et ses graines de sésame, wasabi en croustillant sur sa mâche Nantaise, vinaigrette à la framboise’

Google translate: ‘Curé Nantais and sesame seeds, wasabi by crunching on his Nantes cheese, raspberry vinaigrette’ (HAHA, this made me giggle.)

Me: Curé Nantais [is a well-known cheese specific to the region], fried/crisped with wasabi and served with a raspberry vinaigrette

The cheese had a similar chewy texture as halloumi and had a more cheddar like taste. The layers of .. whatever they fried it in because it was too thin to be pastry .. were thin and crunchy. We didn’t detect any wasabi flavour but the raspberry vinaigrette on the salad leaves was refreshing. Léa’s family members noted that the cheese is meant to be soft and melted rather than a solid block but I really enjoyed it. If it was served to me again, I would definitely devour it. Lisa enjoyed it and said that if the vinaigrette had a bit more of a vinegar flavour, it was be a gooood dish. 

F: 7 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: 8 out of 10

At this point, three hours into the meal, Léa says “I’m not too full, it’ll be just the right amount”

My face dropped in amazement… I’ve been full since the main course! You are an inspiration Léa! 😉 

Fifth [and Final] Course:

15857301_10153880916391706_1115808089_o‘Délice Dulcey tuilé sur son croustillant à la praline’

Google translate: Delight Dulcey tiled on her crunchy praline

Me: Dulce de leche [I really struggled to find an english word because I don’t think we even have one…. so here’s a spanish word instead] on a crunchy praline base served with dark chocolate, and a caramel sauce.

The ‘dulce de leche’ itself was light, not too sweet and melted in the mouth. They praline base was crunchy and not too sweet either. Lisa would have preferred a thicker base for a greater crunch to accompany the creamy flavour of the ‘dulce de leche’. The biscuit stuck in the side seemed a bit unnecessary as it was a little soft and didn’t add any particular or exciting flavour. The combination of the cheesecake and chocolate was delicious as the dark flavour cute through any sweetness. However I found the caramel sauce to make it overpoweringly sweet. We both agreed that if the dessert had been accompanied by a fruity sauce or coulis it could have given more flavour than just sugar. In the end, it was tastyyyyyy. The scoring may seem like we are contradicting ourselves but as I mentioned earlier, we try to review the whole dish with all its components, not just the bits we liked. Therefore…

F: 6 out of 10
A: 7 out of 10
T: Lisa 6 out of 10   — Georgie 8 out of 10

And that’s our French Christmas Lunch!

I hope it’s given you a bit of an insight of what French cuisine is like and maybe some ideas for you to try at home for yourself! We are so grateful to Léa and her family for sharing Christmas with us and our stomachs are almost ready to forgive us for eating so much… so for now:

Happy New Year everybody!



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