Salad, all the ingredients are from the gun toting christian nutbar farmer, though I did add some unapproved pepperoncini and feta cheese. The salad was good but the next day I blended the leftovers all up to make a sort of gazpacho and that was EXCELLENT. Liquid salad. I could eat that every day.
There are a billion ways to make gazpacho. As far as I’m concerned I could pour a can of tomato juice into a bowl and dump some chopped vegetables into it and I’d be good with it. But when you’re serving dinner you need it to be a little more fussy than that. And fussy I am.
I took a jar of roasted red peppers and blended it to liquid with a can of tomato juice. Added some celery, cucumbers and onion and blended that too. Then I strained off the pulp leaving a thin, or at any rate, thinner soup. Then I chopped fresh peppers, celery, cucumbers and onions sorta coarsely and put it in the soup allowing it to fester all day.
After that I added some worcestershire sauce and olive oil. I poured the finished soup over some thick grilled toast and topped it with briny olives and sour cream and added a splash of balsamic vinegar.
It was amazing. The presentation was a little messy but that doesn’t affect the taste as much as all the Top Chefs would have you believe.
Hands down best meal. Gazpacho, pasta alla norma, savory cheese and mushroom casserole, the best wine we’ve had so far and for dessert caramel and pecan tarts. OK, so I didn’t make the tarts, and to be honest, I bought the base for the gazpacho — you can buy gazpacho in cartons in the fruit juice section of the store and it is delicious!!! All I did was chop the vegetables. I made the pasta alla norma from scratch which is only eggplant pasta with capers and isn’t that hard, but it was excellentemente. The cheese and mushroom casserole (recipe follows) was amazing (we had a lot of cheese to get rid of) and I bought great wine. A St Emilion grand cru 2005 (insert tooth sucking noise).
The service was impeccable and Ashish did the dishes!
Savory cheese bread pudding
Preheat the oven to 350
3 cups of stale bread cubes (I used egg bread which is somewhat sweet)
2 cups milk
Fresh thyme, like a tsp
2 cups assorted shredded or cubed cheese (I used a mixture of gouda, carambola (oh god I could die for this cheese) and parmesan, plus more for topping.
Salt, a lot of pepper
To this you can add just about anything. I sauteed about 5 sliced mushrooms and threw them in.
Whisk together the eggs and milk, add the bread and allow to soak for 5 minutes, add cheese, thyme, mushroom if you’re using them, salt and pepper. Pour into buttered basin of some sort, sprinkle more cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes or so, it should be bubbling and brownish. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving if you can resist.
This was the beginning of my next to last meal in Hyeres before I left without knowing I would never be back. I was at La Taverne Royale a restaurant that locals think is ridiculous. All suits of armor and crests. It may look foolish to them and they do not go there but it’s their loss, the food is great, if not the service.
This gazpacho was absolutely incredible. I have no idea how they accomplished it or what made it so good or even why I thought it was the best I’d ever had. But it was. And the slightly charred cheesy toasts they served along side were also amazing.
I wanted to go back again the next night with Loralyn for my last meal but they wouldn’t let us sit at our own table. The place was virtually empty but they wanted us to sit at a four top with other people (WHO WERE SMOKING!!!) and although there were at least 10 empty tables, they said no. Loralyn said (in French) “So you’d rather have us walk away than sit at a table for four?” The maitre d’ said “Oui!”
All the people there laughed out loud (at him, in case it wasn’t obvious). And we walked away.
When we walked by later after a lovely meal elsewhere, the place was closed. Tant pis.