It is often the case that on extended vacations to Occidental countries, a craving for Oriental food kicks in after a few days. This craving is directly proportional to the average age of the vacation group as well as the distance of the vacationing country from the home country. That being said, I was surprised and impressed that we had managed to go so many days without having any Asian food at all.
By the tenth day though, the urge was just to strong to resist. We all trooped down to a Vietnamese joint in St. Remy for a quick lunch. If you recall, St. Remy was the scene of a disappointing lunch a few days earlier, and this time around it was no different.
One of the waiters in the restaurant looked like a Vietcong, and would probably have as happily killed us as brought us our pho. The French though, apparently are quite fond of Vietnamese food, because there were a number of French couples and families having lunch, braving the murderous waiter and the lethal amount of MSG in the pho.
How can anyone go to a Vietnamese place and not order spring rolls? The rolls came accompanied by some fresh lettuce, and were heavily deep fried. They were passable, but certainly not authentically Vietnamese.
Almost everyone opted for the beef pho, since that's about as Vietnamese as it gets too. Unfortunately it contained more monosodium glutamate than beef, and left my mouth and throat tingling with irritation. I think it's safe to say that everyone thought that lunch was pretty much of a let-down, so the less said about it, the better.
Dinner was at La Riboto de Taven, a charming restaurant near our hotel set in the lee of a rock face. We were shown to a dining room which we shared with some other diners (though ours was by far the largest table), and dinner commenced without much deliberation, since the menu was set, saving us the need to make any agonising choices over what to eat.
Dinner commenced with a starter of artichoke and salad in a creamy sauce akin to hollandaise. Artichokes are not commonly consumed in our part of the world, and appear exceedingly formidable when you first view them, but are in truth, extremely delicious. They have body and depth of flavour, yet are not harsh and do not take any getting used to. Even my father enjoyed the dish, though he's probably only eaten artichokes on at most one or two other occasions.
Main course was a faux filet of bull, served with Provencal-style vegetables in a reduced red wine sauce. Now supposedly bull is a lot meatier and stronger in taste than beef, but quite honestly I couldn't have told the difference. It was very good though, and very very tasty. It was quite tender as well, and as the faux filet is, I believe, from the same cut that forms the sirloin, this was rather surprising.
Dessert was a strawberry and nut affair. I don't like strawberries and I don't like nuts, but on top of that I found the strawberry ice cream (sitting underneath the medallion of caramelised praline) intensely sour, and not a very satisfactory end to the otherwise fabulous dinner.