kate5kiwis: Bon appétit!


“If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with which to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth.” — Mitsugi Saotome

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bon appétit!

I was mistaken. I thought that Gold Mela is an Italian ristorante. Bien sûr, it is a Français restaurant. I was expecting pizzas and pastas, instead we drank our first pastis, and ate escargots, as a tribute to our Parisian holiday. Funny thing about escargots, though: it seems they're correctly pronounced es-car-GOH (oui, the em-PHA-sis is on the second third syl-LAH-ble - not at all ES-car-goh, which has been my historical pronunciation) and we were rather glad that we gave them a second chance. Our declaration of escargots in Paris was "...they taste like a rubber chicken!" but here, in this adorably kitschly decorated place, they were tender and tasty, albeit drowned in garlic butter, but we assume that's par for the course.

The ambience at Gold Mela is rather like a scene from Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are: the ceiling hung with vines and the walls became the world all around. That's right, there is a veritable jungle in the ceiling and le garçon kept us amused by continually dodging a certain tendril until finally it got the better of him, whence he precariously threaded it up again. All over the walls is an electic collection of paintings, wine corks, garden implements, baubles and bric-a-brac from a bygone era, and more plants: which could have been off-putting, except that with our first sip of pastis, we truly felt like we were sitting in a little village in Provence. Le garçon was unobtrusively attentive. As the fiery aniseed liquid coarsed down my throat, he rushed back to our table and explained, rather endearingly (what is it about an English sentence tinged with French that turns my heart to candy floss with every word?) that many people prefer the glass topped up with water, which he kindly did for us. Ah! We toasted the coming year and deeply inhaled the balmy provincial air.

Sir had ordered the salmon, oven baked in lemon butter and adorned with a selection of perfectly roasted vegetables. He chose a French pinot gris, which we uninitiated hedonists pronounced a perfect wine match for the fish
. I requested the Filet de Boeuf aux Champignons, a delicious eye fillet steak with a delicately creamy mushroom sauce, which came with the most amazing ratatouille I have ever tasted. It seems that Le Chef had chargrilled strips of courgettes and bound them in the tender thickness of tomatoes and sweet onions. (We made instant plans for its velvety replication at home!) The French Syrah was my wine of choice: which proved to be irresistibly curranty with a predictably oaky finish.

At the end of our main course, dessert was offered, at which point we looked at each other, simultaneously grinning and groaning; so the waitress left us contentedly sighing. But quelle surprise! a few minutes later La Propriétaire arrived with two complimentary glasses of limoncello! Yes, it turns out that Sir taught her son at school last year. The limoncello was light and intensely lemony, a perfect end to our dinner, we thought. Mais, non! It must've contained something magical, because suddenly we could fit in dessert! An espresso was poured over vanilla ice cream for me, and Sir had caramelised bananas flambé with rum: again pronounced très délicieux by us both. (Of course we have a habit of passing food to each other by fork and spoon across the table - don't you?)

There is a lovely line in one of my favourite movies, A Good Year. Uncle Henry is asked, "What is the secret to good comedy?" and his cheeky reply, interjected just before the question ends is, "Timing!", of which this restaurant is the master. The service is unfaultable, and the food excellent. Not that we're food critics, but if we were, this evening would receive five gold stars, make no mistake.


Anonymous Sarah said...

Je peux goûter les aliments d'ici! Un soir magnifique. Quels magnifiques souvenirs.


5:50 PM  
Blogger Little Miss Flossy said...

Sounds like a divine evening... mind you anywhere without sticky little fingers and giggly little fart jokes would be a treat. Has been a loooooooooong, wet day in the Garden City. And limoncello... fabulous. Of course we pass food, sometimes we order two mains just so we can have half each. Most times in fact. Loved your 'review', almost as good as being there... sigh...

6:44 PM  
Blogger Katepai said...


sounds just perfect. next time you come here, well not next time coz you've never been, anyhow when you come you can have all the snails you want!!!


9:20 PM  
Blogger Katepai said...

My vege garden is snail free so far but I'm sure I'd find some under a log somewhere..

And yes I used your quote after you had it on a recent post... It just grabbed me so thanks,.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous BeachMama said...

It is only 10am yet I am suddenly hungry for Escargots. Your dinner sounded divine and yes, I would love a little of that Limoncello.

3:54 AM  
Anonymous teeni said...

OOoh - I almost felt like I was right there at the next table, watching you two pass food to each other, twining your arms together to exchange bites. :) Sounds like a wondefully romantic time.

2:24 PM  
OpenID romans1513 said...

only tried them once
sounds like a nice dinner

check out my new blog

7:25 PM  
OpenID justhay said...

If I wasn't Buddhist, and compassionate, accepting, yada, yada, I would hate French people. It's not enough to eat the four legged fur friends among us? We need to add frogs and snails to the list? Bastards.

9:15 PM  

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