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Posts Tagged ‘Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Les Poéses de Marie’

La Mere Germaine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Cuisine: French traditional bistro style; Southern Rhone cuisine

Visit: August 2012

Price: medium (three-course lunch menu €23; four-course dinner menu €37)

This vibrant and friendly restaurant was first opened in 1922 by Madame Germaine Vion, who was previously the chef at the Élysée Palace in Paris. Thus the name of this iconic Chateauneuf-du-Pape restaurant was born. Recently it was renovated and reopened by its new owner Andre Mazy, who also monthly selects special local wines for wine enthusiasts visiting from all corners of the world. During my visit, there was a large Chinese group wine tasting in one of the rooms, but the wine tasting area is separated from the other dining rooms and we had a relaxed lunch with tremendous views of the vineyard-dominated Southern Rhone landscape.

Terrace at La Mere Germaine

Atmosphere: Casual, artsy and fresh. There are three dining areas. The first has been infused with art as paintings hang, sculptures stand and wine is being tasted there. The second has huge old windows and a mirrored wall allowing the natural light from outside to lighten up the room. The last is a terrace protected from the Mistral wind by windows built into arches, so you can savor the sun and fresh air without your napkin flying all over the place. You can wear anything you want except a swimming suit. It is a very casual place where locals cross with foreigners. Although the entire menu is in French, the friendly staff will explain to you what each dish is about.

Restaurant inside & view

Food: Traditional yet innovative with daily change of the lunch menu so one never gets bored by the food there. There is usually one fish and a number of meat courses, vegetarians will have to request something special unless there is already something suitable on that day’s offer. The food is honest, the portions generous and it is intensely tasty – no salt and herbs was spared on preparing these meals.

Since the food is changed daily, I will try to give you an idea, what it could be like from the dishes we had during our Monday lunch at La Mère Germaine.

We tried all the three appetizers on offer. They were all delicious and each of us went for something appealing to his/her palate.

Fish Terine

The Terrine de Poissons Aux Herbes, Tartare de Tomates was delicate, full of flavor and quite a light starter. The fish in the egg-based terrine was freshened up with herbs, and zesty chopped tomatoes on the side added juice to the otherwise dry terrine. It was perfectly balanced and excellent with a glass of a medium-bodied white Rhone wine.

The cantaloupe melon was in season and most of restaurants in the region included it in their menu either in the classical melon with ham or in a more sophisticated starter. At La Mère Germaine they have adopted the later. The Fraîcheur de Melon et Caillette, Gaspacho de Melon was a complex starter. With a side of a small cantaloupe gaspacho, the chopped melon slices with herbs and vegetables made into a salad and a meat terrine there was a little bit of everything. The gaspacho was refreshing and not too sweet, the salad with melon resembled more Asian style of fruit and veggie mixed salads and the terrine was a based on a great quality meat. With a dish like this though one struggles to choose the right wine to pair it with. I would say, that anything medium-to full-bodied should work. Just avoid feeble or crisp white wines.

The third starter of Foie Gras Confit, Chutney de Melon Jaune, Cake à la Verveine was another story in terms of finding the right wine match for it. An aromatic even slightly sweet white wine would do perfect and even a fruity and juicy red would cut through the fatness of the duck liver. Another great use of cantaloupe in this dish. (I almost think they must have had over-production of melons this year in France). The sweet character of the melon chutney combined with a verveine (verbena) infused cake instead of the commonly used bread was a unique and surely very tasty accompaniment to the delicate Foie Gras.

Foie Gras Confit

From the main courses we went for the Filet de Cabillaud Roti, Matignon de Légumes et Coques, Fleur de Courgette Farcie. The roasted cod filet with vegetables, cockles (small mussels) stuffed in a courgette flower had not a fault. It was an interesting way how to prepare cod in an engaging fashion. White wine is a must as seafood combined with fish and green vegetables rarely go with red, unless there is a rich sauce such as tomato or a meat juice.

And finally, the real carnivores would be delighted by the Gigot à Agneau Rosé, Pommes Croustillantes, Légumes Sautés, Tomates Confits. The traditional chunks of cooked veal were served with potatoes, sautéed vegetables and conserved tomatoes. If one was still hungry after eating the big thigh of veal, then a dessert would fill the gap. We had space only for a cup of coffee and tea and a wine tasting in front of us so we had to preserve our stamina for the afternoon happenings. Judging from the neighbors’ plate, the sweets looked delicious, so if you are not in rush, just savor one of them without hesitation.

Veal Filet

Drinks: The wine list is specialized on the Rhone Valley wines for great prices at a restaurant. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines are listed by vintage with the oldest wines reaching over 40 years back. The owner offers a special local selection of great-value-wines each month. Nevertheless, there are some Burgundies, Champagne and other lesser known wines from around France. We drunk first a local white wine from Domaine Lou Devete 2010 Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc Les Poéses de Marie.
It is a blend 50% Grenache Blanc and 50% Clairette aged for 6 months in barriques (small oak barrels). The production is quite small. Depending on the year it usually reaches about 1.300 bottles. It was refreshing yet deep and ideal with our appetizers. Later we ordered another lesser known red from Domaine du Lampourdier 2010 from the nearby Côtes du Rhone appellation. It was intense with a hint of spice from the Syrah in the blend. Great and juicy wine with the beef, but a bit too intense for the fish main course.

Contact: +33 (0) 4 90 22 78 34

Address: 3 Rue Commandant Lemaître; 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape; France

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