Hostellerie les Gorges de Pennafort 3

November 5, 2008

We had been hearing about this inn in the hills of the Var about an hour WNW of Nice for some time and were finally able to go there the night of October 29, 2008. Leaving the autoroute at Le Muy we drove north through rolling vineyards golden in mid-autumn. We walked in the old town of Bargemon and then checked into the Hostellerie les Gorges de Pennafort. The inn is situated opposite a dramatic rock face of the canyon which is illuminated at night. We were the only overnight guests that Wednesday night, but there were about twenty diners. They told us that they are always full on weekends. Our room in a separate building was spacious, but not elaborate. 


There is a large dining room above the entry lobby and the bar. Its decor is quite flashy for a country inn.

Our apéritif was the house specialty, champagne with cream of figs: nice. An hors d’oeuvres plate arrived. There were several menus. We ordered the Menu Dégustation at 135€. We ordered a bottle of 2000 “Les Granits” Chapoutier Saint Joseph white wine, which was surprisingly good. We also ordered a half-bottle of 2004 Château Maïme red wine. 


The amuse bouche was a Crème de potiron.
This little cup of frothy cream of pumpkin soup was excellent.

 

The first menu course was
Salade de homard aux tomates confites

This lobster salad was a bit cold, coming out of the refrigerator, as first courses on tasting menus frequently do, but it was good and not overly vinegared.

 

Second came the first of two surprises du chef:
Filet de daurade à la vapeur, vinaigrette d’ananas et coriandre.

The daurade was fresh and lightly steamed. The topping of pineapple, tomato and corandre was light and appropriate. Things were going well.

 

Third
Ravioli de foie gras et parmesan
The foie gras was loosely layered between pasta sheets. The foamy cream sauce had been infused with truffles. The parmesan shards on top added the saltiness needed by the foie gras. Excellent.

 

Fourth
Foie gras poêlé aux figues

The second foie gras course was seared and served hot on a fig infused veal glaze and a confit fig on top. Excellent.

 

Fifth
Langoustines aux cèpes et girolles, crème de roquette

I have never thought that seafood and mushrooms are a natural combination, but these wild mushrooms are in season. The arugula cream sauce brought them together perfectly.

 

Sixth came the second surprise du chef:
Etuvée d’homard, sauce au curry
The curry in the foamy cream sauce tasted like it was a homemade freshly ground mix. It had just the right amount of spice to accent the lobster.

 

Seventh
Saint-Pierre au céleri boule

The nice celery sauce covered up a tasteless piece of Saint Pierre. This was the only product in the meal which did not seem to be top quality.

 

Eighth
Bar rôti aux basilic

The bass had a very good crispy skin. I don’t know why the sauce was brown; it was light and tasted nicely of basil.  

 

Ninth  
Granité champagne rosé

This pink champagne ice as a palate freshener is hopelessly old-fashioned, but we enjoyed it. As you can tell, the meal’s cuisine is based on traditional concepts. In general, there is one good ingredient enhanced by a complementary, identifiable sauce. Sometimes there is a third ingredient as a garnish, but that is it. The cuisine has to be good as it is not hiding behind unnecessary complexities.

 

Tenth
Ris de veau braisé au porto
The large piece of veal sweetbread had a nice crisp outside, but the port sauce was a bit heavy for both it and the mixed vegetables. This was the only course with a choice; the other two were Carré d’agneau rôti, au jus truffé or Pigeonneau rôti aux petits pois et morilles.

The cheese tray looked excellent, but we were filling up and so declined it.

 

Eleventh was the three predesserts
Gelée de rose; Marron et chocolat blanc; fraises

The rose petal jelly was subtle; the chestnut and white chocolate and the strawberry concoction were richer.

Twelfth was
Ananas et pamplemousse rafraîchis au basilic

Grapefruit and pineapple slices were topped with basil ice cream. 

 

Thirteenth
Bâtonnet de chocolat noir amer et son pain de Gênes, parfait glacé aux fruits de la passion

Dark bitter chocolate icing on a little almond cake was topped with an iced passion fruit mousse. 

 

Fourteenth
Soufflé glacé au Grand Marnier

The chocolate biscuits were fresh, soft and warm and went beautifully with the Grand Marnier of the iced soufflée.

 

Fifteenth
Mignardises

By this time we had eaten well, but too much to enjoy the varied mignardises. Since there were so many desserts, the chef would have done better to reduce the sugar in some of them. I found that they became cloying.

The meal was superb. The cuisine was direct without any excess. The service from our excellent young waiter was friendly and efficient.

 The following morning we had breakfast in the same dining room. Then we left for a Salon des Antiquaires in Fayence.

To see Gary and Varian’s two blog posts on their lunches at the Hostellerie les Gorges de Pennafort click here and here.

The inn’s website is:
http://www.hostellerie-pennafort.com

One Response to “Hostellerie les Gorges de Pennafort 3”

  1. George Rusznak Says:

    What a lovely place and superb cuisine.

    Being old, old fashioned, and the “stuck in the past” kind, I confess to a strong preference for sauces, of which there seem to have been many. The (uniquely French?)silverware for their consumption was always a welcome sight. In fact, their absence in the (seemingly)Japanese inspired new food creations is one of the many reasosn for me to mourn the “good old” dining days. It is nice to know that one can still find them somewhere.
    George


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