I like food. I like eating it, I like cooking it, I like reading about it, I just like, it. So it’s not surprising that I like restaurants too. I love trying out new ones and revisiting old favorites. Researching new ones for special occasions fills my heart with a special kind of joy, I can spend hours scouring the Michelin Guide, La Fourchette and Tripadvisor, pen and paper at my side scrawling lists before whittling it down to ‘the place’.
I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember, carefully choosing the restaurants to celebrate my passing birthdays; my 15th at Tavern on the Green, my 17th at a tiny place called Cafe Tabac because I had read that Madonna and all of the supermodels hung out there so I just HAD to go (we’re talking Campbell, Evangelista, and Turlington so now you know that I’m incredibly old), and then back to NYC for my 30th at The Monkey Bar… if it was good enough for Carrie and Big, then it was good enough for me.
This year was no different, Gregory and I would be going out to celebrate my birthday with The Londons and I excitedly put my restaurant research hat on. But for some reason I wasn’t having any luck finding any restaurants in the Toulon area that were doing it for me (Mr. London had to work that weekend so they couldn’t come to us). They all looked OK but none were shouting at me (actually two were shouting at me but their prices were downright screaming so they were a no).
I called Mrs. London to tell her that I wasn’t having any luck and she said not to worry, Mr. London had taken care of it and booked a place already. Normally that would make the little controlling gremlin that lives inside me toss and turn and shake with nerves, but whether it’s because I’m a bit on the busy side at the moment, or finally mellowing in my advancing age, I breathed a sigh of relief (people who know me are probably reaching for the smelling salts right about now).
Twenty minutes north-east of Toulon sits a small village called Solliès-Ville. It is now my Disney Land, my Mecca, my Shangri-La because it is the home of Le Tournebride, my all new favorite place on Earth. Gold Star for Mr. London.
It was like walking into some one’s cozy living room complete with a toasty fire, except the fire was where all of the cooking would take place. The menu was simple; you could choose between lamb, beef, or pork and after l’apéro of Ricard for the boys, Kir Royals for Mrs. London and I, and homemade black olive tapenade, we chose what we would like and sat back while plates and plates of food were put in front of us; Corsican sausage, Figatelli, on toast, followed by fois gras topped eggs and polenta, and finally a plate of what I can only describe as slices of pork pie.
We ordered a bottle of red wine. Even though there was no actual wine list, and they just bring you a bottle of what they’ve got, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. Actually I would have licked the inside of my glass when the bottle was finished if I had any less willpower.
By the time the main courses were pulled from the fire and placed in front of us, we were almost full, but still managed to eat every bit. The London’s had chosen the beef and Gregory and I, the pork. Oh me oh my! There are no words to describe the pork, all I can say is that if I had to only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it might very well be that pork. Oink.
After our plates were taken away a whole round of Camembert was placed in front of us. It too had been in the fire, it was perfectly gooey on the inside. It was served with a simple green salad in the most amazing and light vinaigrette I’ve ever tasted. I’m kicking myself for not asking for the recipe.