One day, from our House Sit, we went out to a 4 star Michelin Chef restaurant that had raving reviews on Trip Adviser, and was also highly recommended by a neighbor.
The host/owner offered impeccable service and the menu looked absolutely scrumptious:
We liked the soup a lot – a thick mushroom soup, in a tiny bowl.
I was truly excited about this meal…
The asparagus/scallop appetizer was what I looked forward to the most because I love scallops. We could not see or taste a scallop, and the dish was a cold mouse/gel aspic, with a few cold asparagus.
The next dish was lamb, slow-cooked 6 hours. You would think it would be tender, but the lamb was as tough as chewing on leather. The potatoes were delicious, as well as the baked onion, but the white carrots were tasteless. The ambiance was elegant, the service was impeccable, the presentations were perfect, but what about taste?
I was sure we would enjoy the 4th course, a baked light flaky pastry stuffed with cheese and apples – unfortunately, there was just no flavour at all.
Finally I was positive that at least I would like the chocolate cake with strawberries, but again – bland.
Tucking into the wallet at $120 CAD – this last experience has us almost ready to swear off Chef-Reknown restaurants. This is now the 3-4th time we have been thoroughly disenchanted with meals at supposed “top” restaurants.
But we’ve eaten in small French cafes, medium size restaurants, and from big cities to villages in France with little change in experience. Either our taste buds have changed or something else has.
The crusty breads we’ve had here (baguettes and bakery breads), are super super crusty, and actually tough to chew. I guess we’re soft bread people. It’s nice that they don’t use preservatives though, but that means that the next day the bread is already getting a bit dry.
And the croissants? Ordinary. Now the croissants we had in Buenos Aires, Argentina – they were something to write home about!
Lesson 5: Don’t believe that food in France is always superb!
We’re not whining… really… just sharing our experience. Maybe we expected too much. Sometimes that happens when you hear about something wonderful, like French food being superb. Your expectations become unrealistic. French food in Canada has always been my favourite, so I expected it to be even better at it’s origin, in France.
Well, you can’t beat the wines and cheeses of France… oh, and most of the chocolate…
And the countryside is beautiful absolutely everywhere in Southern France. Lush rolling green hills with endless hues of green, from bright lime green to deep forest greens, red clay-roofed towns dotting the green hills, gorgeous vistas across valleys, castles on hilltops, winding country roads, the deep azure blue sea, and everywhere city to country was spotlessly clean.
The landscape more than met our expectations. One could drive and drive in that country for months, and not get tired of the scenery. Nor could you see everything in a few months. There is so much to see, you could spend a year travelling around, and never see it all.
Ironically, the best meal we had in France was an Italian Pizza! One of those paper thin crusts with hardly anything on it that absolutely explodes with flavour and knocks your taste buds off!!!
Come to think of it, this could apply to travel to any country. We’re lead to believe, through our own research, or television, Facebook, online forums, and other travellers, all the wonderful things we can expect from visiting a particular country.
Expectations. That’s the kicker. If our expectations are far higher than the reality, we will, inevitably, be disappointed. (Lesson 6).
Of course the solution is not to avoid all the touristy spots or world heritage sites, or that special place your Aunt Hilda told you about, but maybe the secret is to be open to new opportunities, stop at places that are not on your itinerary, slip down that little side street and try a little Mom & Pop restaurant, go to a local event. Flexibility is usually what leads to the most memorable travel experiences.
But darn it, where is all that luscious food you hear about in Southern France???
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