Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Enchantée, M. Bocuse

The past several days, we've all been in a mad rush to prepare things for a two-week adventure throughout Southern France and French-speaking Switzerland. As the Roneys have been gearing up for presentations and missionary interviews, I've been madly rushing around to make sure that we have all our school supplies in as compact a form as possible (I probably broke multiple copyright laws by copying several book chapters in their entirety...). And so it was that in a frazzled state of exhaustion, we happened upon a gastronomic gem on Saturday evening.

Remember Paul Bocuse? The chef of French culinary stardom and potentially the character that Ratatouille's Gousteau was based off of? Well, he not only has a cooking school down the street from mission headquarters, but he also has several restaurants throughout Lyon--the most celebrated of which charges 230 euros a plate (and no, I didn't forget to put a comma in between the two and three). The other restaurants, fortunately, are much more reasonably priced. Since their arrival in France, the Roneys have been trying out the cuisine at L'Ouest, L'Est, and Le Sud (named after the cardinal directions), and I had actually gone with them on two occasions. But in spite of having high expectations and imagining thoroughly enjoying fine cuisine, I'd actually been fairly disappointed and started thinking that Paul Bocuse simply wasn't all he was cracked up to be. And then...we stumbled across Le Nord.

Nestled in the heart of downtown Lyon where the buildings all have more history than the entire U.S., this charming little restaurant is exactly what you'd expect French dining to be like. They seated us on a glass-covered terrace where we could see people bustling down the narrow street and where we were bathed in a golden light reflecting off the surrounding amber-colored buildings. As if the setting weren't perfect enough, the best part was yet to come!

I'm not used to ordering appetizers (called entrées in French), so I didn't even look at that part of the menu. But when I saw the waiter bring out two beautiful bowls of French onion soup for President and Sister Roney, I nearly fell off my chair with wide-eyed envy. It was beautiful! And something that I always forget to account for in France is that they don't bring out anyone's main dish until the appetizers are completely finished...I almost ate my arm in the meantime, because I was so hungry from watching them enjoy the soup. At least they let me try some of the cheese-covered amazingness!

Even though my appetite was at a fever pitch by the time my main dish arrived, it was so beautiful that I of course had to pose with it! The little tree sticking out of the top is actually a sprig of rosemary, but the rest was more than just lovely--tender, roasted pork slices nestled on a bed of caramelized vegetables. It was quite possibly the tastiest thing I've ever had in my entire life! I don't know anything about the sauce, but it could have been ambrosia for how wonderful it was! The pork was remarkably tender and the vegetables were an exquisitely flavorful accompaniment. As we drove home later, I felt like I was still floating somewhere in the ninth level of foodie paradise. Turns out Paul Bocuse really IS all that...

Let it be known that if anyone ever comes to visit me here, we will most definitely be eating at Le Nord. Unfortunately, my little bit of pork heaven is on the seasonal menu...so I guess you'd better come and visit me soon! :)