La Maison - a taste of France in Dublin

It was a pleasant Friday evening at the start of a long weekend as we set off to Castlemarket Street in Dublin to dine at La Maison. Knowing that we appreciated French food and wine some friends had recommended the place to us and had talked expansively about their own choices. So with table easily booked online and with some advance checking of the menus we were full of expectation.
The street was packed with scores of people - after-office party goers; young; young-at-heart and visitors like ourselves. We moved through a covered terrace and were shown to a ground floor table near the door. Our warm welcome was soon supplemented by a tray of breads and a pâté of pureed gherkins, onions and shallots - délicieux ! To get further into the mood we settled back with a pastis and took in the surroundings: the most obvious thing about the décor was the crispness of it all - sparkling glassware, white paint and linen, posters and black and white photographs.
Friendly and professional staff took our orders and it wasn't long before we got tucked in to a trio of scallops:

and a side by side dish of escargots and cuisses de grenouille:

This was an impressive start and augered well for the mains to follow. But not quite yet for our waiter arrived with a little something to freshen the mouth between courses. Don't you just love it when that happens?
Then on to the mains: Turbot with a herby pea purée and foam for my other half:

and a substantial, classical cassoulet for me:

both of which were delightfully presented, tasted delicious and were washed down to perfection by a lovely wine, Lombeline - a vin de pays du Gard.

I didn't need it, as the meal was already substantial, but still ordered a side dish of ratatouille. It's not everyday that you are in a restaurant of this quality and it is a dish I don't often get so........ maybe I was a little more gourmand than gourmet!
Remember those friends who had recommended the place? I had quite forgotten their key piece of advice about leaving room for dessert. We hadn't! They had shared a crêpe suzette on their visit and said that we should go for it! Not this time though, that's a pleasure that will await our next visit.
Instead we opted for a couple of digestifs - deux cafés cognac s'il vous plaît - and relaxed over them for a while longer before joining the thinned but still substantial crowd of party goers.
Thanks to Breton chef Olivier QUENET and his team for a most memorable visit and this taste of France right in the heart of Dublin.
We'll be back.

Les Grandes Galettes de la Mère Poulard

The box of galettes is now empty. It took a while for these are not biscuits to be rushed but savoured. The tin contained 10 sachets with three biscuits in each and a good part of the enjoyment was sharing collective memories of that distinctive taste. Recollections also came to mind of several visits to the renowned UNESCO World Heritage site of Le Mont Saint-Michel where La Mère Poulard's restaurant has been delighting pilgrims and visitors since 1888. The restaurant's reputation was founded on its deep omelette speciality cooked over a fire on long-handled beaten copper pans.

Opening a sachet to remove a biscuit, now made in a factory, you nonetheless sense the care that has gone into its preparation. Provenance is immediately apparent for there centrally positioned in light yellow relief is a stylised Mont Saint-Michel. The surround is a deeper gold, giving way to a thin rim of brown biscuit.
A scent of sugary, yolky, vanilla caramel rises and the galette breaks with a comforting snap as tiny crumbs fall to be collected later with a moistened finger...
In the mouth it is crunchy, sandy almost, and deliciously melts away with those flavours of vanilla and caramel. It is an evocative memory of a French pâtisserie.

Moreish and satisfying you don't even have to go to France to get them. The whole experience is repeatable thanks to Marks and Spencers where they are on sale.