Ladies who lunch..Chez Papa..

Ladies who lunch_20apr_2585Uncovering treasure is not an accurate science. I say this with an authority that I do not possess, as treasure and I are rarely, if ever, seen together or even spoken of in the same breath. The same can be said of Ikea and good food, which was why we had fled the Mall of Mammon and found ourselves meandering, in our furniture filled, hired white van, through the vineyards of Muscadet. We were searching for the elusive “bonne table” that is so often written and spoken of, yet so rarely eaten at. Time for searching is limited in the French countryside as hospitality at lunchtime only occurs in a two hour window. Outside of that window – well, you’re outside of the window. Disappointment was a hair’s breadth away; my eye was attracted by the sign on a vineyard declaring it to be Domaine de NoΓ«, which was interesting, as the NoΓ« grape is proscribed owing to the amount of methanol it produces, giving it a kick which makes that of absinthe reminiscent of mild cough mixture: and then, there was Chez Papa.Grill_saucisse_20apr_2573

It had the look. It had the look of a place where people would stop to be restored. The car park had a scattering of ordinary family cars but, more interestingly, there were mountainous piles of “sarments”, or vine trimmings, which are a wonderful fuel for an open fire on which to cook. Just inside the front door was a fire on which to cook, next to which was pile of those same “sarments”.notice board_20apr_2589

There’s no question but that the good people who run this restaurant are sensibly trying to attract customers, of any and every sort, which would account for the “props” that proliferate. I liked (like) the place so much, that I wouldn’t have minded if the waiters came out singing, dressed like the Seven Dwarves – they didn’t, so I wasn’t tested on that insane declaration.

This is how I like to eat. A good terrine de joue de boeuf en gelee with a glass of local Saumur de Champigny. How often is one presented with a carte des vins written on a piece of paper taped to a small block of wood? Not often enough: this list was small and dealt solely with well priced, delicious wines of the Pays de Loire, which is where we were. On the back of the block of wood was written ” Demandez notre liste de Premiers Crus”. How’s that for understatement. No need to go through the litany of dishes, but it’s worth saying that they were all well cooked and not fucked about.Β Chez_papa_20apr_2586

France unplugged is where we were. A table of ladies, of a certain age, enjoying oysters and good local Muscadet. Families at table, intent on the pleasure of eating and each other’s company. The care of a kitchen where the grill is fired up, with a bunch of fresh vine cuttings, to cook each single saucisse au Muscadet or boudin that is ordered. Finally, a wonderfully moist ( oh God, I’ve had to use the word) moelleux d’orange with a boule of dark chocolate ice cream. So good – and then the road home with blue skies and soft, white clouds. I was restored.Ikea road trip_20apr_2628

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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49 Responses to Ladies who lunch..Chez Papa..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    It looks like you and the ladies were well lunched πŸ˜‰

  2. This is all as it should be. If only the politicians would go away and leave the French to get on with life.

  3. Yum. Yum. Yum.

    You and MTM would get along, Roger. He loves treasure hunts for places like this. In every place we visit, he makes it his mission to identify the best place to eat by the signs, props and people.

  4. That place is just so French. What a wonderful place to eat.

  5. Michelle says:

    Thanks for the visit. I want to be there. Even if just driving in the car. Right now.

  6. Andy Szpuk says:

    A great find Roger, and wonderful use of ‘moist’.

  7. You used the “m” word…made me chuckle! Love places like this, and even driving a hired van full of furniture you managed to refuel in style. Glad the waiters weren’t decked out as the seven dwarves though…could have turned a moist situation into a damp squib 😦

  8. Now this is my kind of “ladies who lunch”. πŸ™‚ I wish we had something like this around here. Sounds like you had a lovely day.

  9. I love this! Lucky you to have discovered it.

  10. cecilia says:

    But did you find the table? i want one too and am sitting at a wobbly painted piece of old rubbish until the perfect table appears.. how divine to find such a gorgeous little place for some replenishment.. Loved the fireplace. I hate the word moist too, in fact i was thinking about words i hated just the other day and tittilate (sp but I don’t care) is another one – I hate that word. c

  11. I love the picture of these ladies lunching. That’s how lunch should be. Enjoyable foods, relaxing, and good conversations. So glad you captured that moment.

  12. Eha says:

    The lunch must have had serious undertones: where are the smiles on the eager lunchers’ faces πŸ˜‰ ?!

  13. It would seem that I am, ahem, also of a certain age.. I would be right at home there. I have an affinity for props myself.. What an escape it must have been.

  14. ChgoJohn says:

    Your opening photo speaks volumes, Roger. Great perspective.

  15. Tandy says:

    I love places like this and wingert as we call vine cuttings here make for great firewood!

  16. Karen says:

    Especially enjoyed you post today. Incredible photos that make remember why I love traveling in France so much.

  17. Oh, to be in France again. Swooning over here. . . .

  18. Roger, these places I know so well. they are the best, full of surprises, comfortable as a pair of old slippers. Glad you found yours.

  19. Wow, how wonderful!! Sounds like a real treasure πŸ˜‰

  20. I really don’t know how you could make a day in the French countryside look more appealing than this. Gorgeous rapeseed field.

  21. lojardinier says:

    I just wanted to say – like all those above in this column – how much I enjoyed this post. As someone who is too often outside the window, making do with stale bread and sausage, I know what a find this was.

    • You and me, Richard. I just love it when I find one those rare, and becoming rarer day by day, little simple restaurants that make good simple food. You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, would you?

  22. thomas peck says:

    Je lis le blog, et l’amour de France -de la France profonde – me monte au coeur. Paris, c’est pour les cons. moi, j’aime la compagne! A bientΓ΄t!

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