One of the pleasures of traveling, for me at least, is to eat foods I normally wouldn’t eat at home. Since we had an apartment for this recent trip to Montpellier, this included some meals we prepared on our own, as well as some French fast food we brought back to our apartment to enjoy. What follows are a few of the highlights and lowlights, or at least the stuff we bothered to take photos of.
Kathryn and I have a bit of a tradition of having wood-fired pizza our first night in Montpellier. I can honestly call it a tradition because we’ve been to Montpellier together three times, and we’ve done it all three times. In fact, it’s been the same pizzeria all three times, Pizzeria Don Camillo, near Place Jean-Jaurès in Montpellier. I love the atmosphere of this place. It feels like we’re in a wine cellar, and since our mobile phones don’t seem to work in this restaurant, it seems even more like a cave. A pitcher of inexpensive house rosé completes the meal for those of us without a finicky wine palette.
After our Sunday Mass, we tried one of the “trendy” burger places in Montpellier, Burger’ N’co. While the meal photographed well, overall we were disappointed with the burgers. , as French speakers might say. On the plus side, the fries were excellent. In fact, if I ever were to go back, it would probably be for an order of fries and a beer. The garnishments on the burger were also good, especially the bacon. The meat was just average, but my expectations for beef in France are lower than they are at home. The biggest disappointment was the bun. How does a French burger restaurant not have decent bread? It almost seemed stale. Since you get at least a little bit of bun in each bite, it kind of wrecked the meal. Une grosse déception
On the other hand, this burger sandwich, ordered from the fast-food snack shop on the ground floor of the building we stayed in, was an absolute delight, fed two of us, and cost half of what one “trendy” burger cost. And what’s that bread it’s on? A baguette, the lowest common denominator French loaf of bread, yet it was fresh and tasty. The fries were almost certainly from a bag, but they were cooked right, which of course is half the battle. We ordered three sandwiches from this place during our fifteen day stay in Montpellier. This sandwich was called L’américain, which tells you a little something about what they think of Americans. Then again, we ordered it, so they’re probably not entirely wrong. (Photo by KG7NRB.)
After our second Sunday Mass in Montpellier, while walking through the nearby market halls to pick up a loaf of bread, we smelled the roasted chickens from one of the vendors and decided to buy one. I’m used to Costco prices for roasted chickens, not the prices for farm-raised chickens from a special region of France, so after grossly underestimating how much a chicken weighs in kilos, I ended up paying over $19 US for the chicken. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken was delicious, but once we had picked it almost down to the bones, I decided I wasn’t wasting those bones. Back to the market for some celery, carrots, onions, and potatoes, plus a little curly pasta from the grocery store, and I spent an evening making a chicken stew. It turned out great, if I do say so myself, and it stretched the $19 chicken into two more meals for each of us.
During our side pilgrimage to Lourdes, we drove through the heart of cassoulet country. One of the particularities of rest areas in France is they tend to highlight local products. After noticing the enormous cans of cassoulet featured at one rest area, I decided to look for a smaller can of cassoulet when I got back to Montpellier. The local grocery store offered several different varieties in single-serving cans, so I picked out a “gourmet” store brand and cooked it according to the instructions. The verb threw me off a bit, so I put it in the most oven-proof bowl I could find in the apartment, set the oven to cook with both the bottom and top elements, and a half-hour later I had the results in the photo. Honestly, I enjoyed it, and if thought CBP wouldn’t have thrown a fit, I would have brought a can back with me. Kathryn, who didn’t much enjoy the gratiner real cassoulet we ate in Carcassonne a few years back, passed.
And finally, we get to the leftovers. We spent the first half of our stay in Montpellier stocking up on things we thought we’d need, and then we spent the last few days realizing we could have stayed another week without going grocery shopping again. These are the same noodles I used in the chicken stew above. Kathryn prepared the rest of the bag of pasta with the rest of the pesto sauce we’d opened the previous week. It made a perfect Friday lunch for us. It was accompanied by a 1664, naturally, because there was no way I was leaving our beer for the next tenant.