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Gourmet Travel - Gourmet Restaurants in France

Georges Blanc Restaurant, Vonnas, France

by Wade Rowland - Part 3

Our dinner at Georges Blanc was a jolly marathon that began with half a dozen tiny, clever amuse gueule or appetizers (e.g. a tiny veal stew presented in an egg cup) served up in the cozy bar along with aperitifs while we perused the folio-sized menu.

Chef Georges Blanc at Georges Blanc Restaurant in Vonnas France
Chef Georges Blanc at Georges Blanc Restaurant in Vonnas France
Photo by Christine Collie

I ordered cuisses de grenouilles sautés comme en Dombes and a main course of poulet de Bresse à la créme façon Grand-Mére Blanc, the herbed frogs legs and chicken in cream sauce that had made the Blanc name famous; Chris chose croustillant de foie gras de canard et petite salade potagére and gateau de crabe aux sucs de champignons et truffes.

The duck liver pate and the creamy crab with mushrooms and truffles were not, strictly speaking, dishes native to this region, having their roots father to the south and west in Perigord, the part of France Chris likes best of all. My dishes, though, were solidly in the tradition of Bresse cooking, which is based on the food of the farm kitchen, and is quite simple in its essence.

It is the attention to detail that lifts it out of the ordinary. Pastry shells are so flaky you can cut them with a sharp look; vegetables are so fresh and so perfectly prepared that they are almost unfamiliar. Sauces are bursting with the flavour and aroma of just-picked herbs. The chicken, its texture and flavour, is unrecognizable unless you happen to have grown up on a farm back in the days when the birds were left to raise themselves. And above all, Grand-Mére Blanc's tiny masterpieces, the little crépes Vonnaissiennes, feather-light potato pancakes spiked with caviar and smoked salmon.

The presentation was impeccable, each plate bringing a little murmur of surprise and delight, as a stage setting sometimes does when the curtain lifts. Then, the dessert trolley, which groaned under the weight of a dozen spectacular offerings concocted of the freshest cream and eggs, the finest chocolate, the tenderest pastry and the most succulent fruits and berries the region has to offer. The cheese tray was a smorgasbord with everything from creamy artisan-made Roquefort to tart local chévres.

Finally there were tiny petites fours which the pastry chefs regard as a test of their creative mettle and are irresistible even after so lavish a feast.

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