5/12/2005

Whilst on the subject of Soups and Restaurants

There's a new little restaurant just opened in my "big town" of Niort, (pop. 50,000) This beats the little town where I live, Coulonges sur l'Autize (meaning, Coulonges on the Autize River--what I'd call a creek but no one asked me!).

I've been trying out new little restaurants and bistros around the area in France, looking for nouveautés in the world of culinary adventure. (I'll have to expand on this subject a bit later). Recpies and ideas that I pick up and then (steal, no I embellish) before sharing with you.

I'm heading out now to try out today (and tomorrow with my girlfriend Natalie, French) this new restaurant called, Graine de Moutarde, literally, Mustard Grain. A Soup Bar! Very daring in France and something that Natalie and I had wanted to start up in this little po-dunk town of Coulonges. (pronounced, coo-lawn-jsze).

Yes, Natalie wanted to start what's called a 'Tartinerie' which has no direct translation in English (sorry).

Let's start with the base of the word TARTINERIE ---- A "tartine" is a slice of bread with garnish(es). This could be simply butter bread (basic breakfast tartine); or with jam or honey (garinshed breakfast tartine); with Nutella (after school, kids snack tartine) or at the appéritif with tapenade (olive paste) or any kind of spread.

Any word in French ending in 'rie' means 'where one makes of sells or creates the aforementioned noun' . So Fromagerie is a place that makes/sells fromage (cheese); boulangerie (a place that makes/sells bread); poissonerie (fishmonger)....

New wave contemporary tartines have evolved into, well, simply put, open faced sandwiches: you've got :
-the Italian (with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil and oregano);
-the Nordique (from the Scandanatian countries) of sour cream, smoked salmon, lemon and fresh dill;
-the compagnard (from deep in the French countryside) with duckmeat or ham, fried potatoes, sour cream, sautéed onions-- that's the light version...

That's just to name a few.

Well, we girls, watching our girly figures wanted do the tartines but with more panache and new twists. Add some great soups because nowadays in France you can't find homemade soup on restaurant menus (except for the famous bouillabaisse, fish soup); and some great modern salads. Meaning of course, we'd like a much raw veggies and greens as possible. And no, not a salad based on lots of carbs!

Basically, I wanted to add a twist of great American culinary innovations in the sandwich, soup and salad world, something that the French (the gods of culinary presense) and fill the niche for those looking for lighter, healthier and creatitve meals.

Well, we're still dreaming about it and feel that we need to explore some more if there really is a niche for this type of restaurant in our area. The investment is kind of important and it will take time to build up.

In this small town, there's a new gourmet coffees and food products shop going in and it has been said (yeah well, it's a small town and all small towns thrive on gossip, hearsay and all those other winds of words....) that this new shop was going to start doing tartines and salads for the ladies. We'll have to see what that's all about.

The new shop is to open in the next few weeks. She's got sitting area of course for the coffees and teas that you can sip right in the shop. We're not sure if she'll really do the lunchtime salads or not. We'll have to wait and see.

In any case, I'll be keeping vigilant watch on what's she's doing this new gourmet shop (a first in Coulonges) and sampling new fare that I'll share along with you. I'm thinking of trying this zucchini soup with goat cheese (yes, I'm on a goat cheese kick!).

To be Continued...

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Thought all you french folks ate were French fries, French Bread, French toast, French dressing and French fried frogs legs.

5:05:00 PM  

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