Firstly the good news is that our local ‘superette’ has reopened after sitting there dismally neglected for well over a year. The previous managers got into financial difficulty and upped and left all of a sudden, although it was clear things were rapidly going downhill. The meat and vegetables were left on display long after they were past their best and the cheerful people who took over the shop became rather surly and bad tempered. The customers voted with their feet and didn’t go in unless it was a dire necessity.
The new people have completely gutted the interior and transformed the shop into a clean and spacious area where there is a small but comprehensive selection of all the basics. Unfortunately they have a large number of ‘Grand Jury’ products – a ‘cheap’ brand which is cropping up in all the supermarkets and is noticeably of inferior quality.
However, the bright smiles and welcoming attitude of the ladies who have taken over make you want to support them and wish them well in their new enterprise.
The second news item is that we have a market on Saturday mornings now. Nearby villages only have a market once a month so we are being spoiled. It’s strange though, that some weeks there is quite a good selection of stalls but at other times there are only a couple of fruit and veg merchants and the fish van. But on March 12th we are promised an extra special market including lots of local products that we don’t normally see on our doorstep.
Now, the final bit of news is that today I plucked up the courage to try ‘steak tartare’ at the local restaurant. It appears as one of the ‘plats du jour’ from time to time and I have often asked myself if I dare give it a go. Yes, I’m usually game to try anything edible and there aren’t many things I really dislike – oysters and tripe come to mind – so it was high time I gave the raw mince a chance.
“I’ve never eaten steak tartare so I’d like to try it” I said to Fabienne when she came to take our order.
She nodded approvingly, “with chips and salad? That’s how it’s usually served.”
“And a side order of sick bag” whispered Bear, but Fabienne doesn’t understand English.
Actually, Bear was quite concerned and assured me that I didn’t have to eat it. He even offered to get me a second meal if it was awful.
The restaurant was busier than usual and we had to wait a bit longer for the meals to arrive so I’d drunk half my wine by the time Fabienne appeared carrying three plates.
She put down Bear’s ‘boeuf braisé’ and then there, in front of me was a plateful of meat (with a raw egg on top) and chips and another plate full of mixed salad.
“It will take me all afternoon to finish this!” I exclaimed.
“Don’t worry, we’re not closing” quipped Fabienne.
Well, it was much better than I’d expected: already seasoned and the texture was softer than I had thought. In fact, it was quite delicious.
There were just two small problems: why did they put the hot chips with the raw meat and serve the salad on a separate plate? And, why was there so much of it?
It was very good but I simply couldn’t finish it all. About a third of the meat found it’s way back for the chickens and cats (by way of a small plastic bag) and I had to leave half the chips on the plate. But, I was a good girl and polished off all the salad.
Would I choose it next time it’s on the menu? Well, I’d be tempted but I wonder if they do half portions.