La Tupina, Bordeaux

October 6, 2015

La Tupina is a traditional 45-year-old restaurant in an old part of Bordeaux. In the Basque language, tupina means cauldron. Martine and Michael joined Linda and me there for dinner on September 13, 2015.

As one enters, there is a hanging cauldron and a display of featured ingredients in front of the fires where some of them will be grilled.
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We were seated in the back room with its décor of traditional bric-à-brac and Armagnac bottles. Michael contemplates the menu while Linda is amused about something.
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We ordered glasses of Champagne. The list of wines by the bottle only includes wines from the Bordeaux region.
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We chose a 2006 Château Dassault from Saint-Émilion; it was very good.
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Along with the bread basket there was a little plate of hors d’œuvres: chunks of pork terrine, radishes and cherry tomatoes, butter.
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Martine started with
Tranches de Tomates du Potager, Oignons Nouveaux
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She was happy with this seasonal choice of dressed slices of garden grown, old varieties of tomatoes with a real sweet taste. “It brings back memories of our grandparents gardens.” 

Linda’s starter was
Œufs Cocotte au Foie Gras
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Linda was very happy with her first “poached” eggs with chunks of foie gras terrine, cooked in the small casserole.

Michael had
Jambon Poêlé aux Echalotes à la Cheminée.
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Regional ham had been cooked in the fireplace with shallots, giving it a nice smokey touch.

My starter was
Mignons de Canard en Carpaccio et à l’Echalote
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Very thin slices of raw duck breast were dressed with a mild shallot vinaigrette that balanced the slight sweetness of the base ingredients. The shallots added needed spark to what otherwise might have become boring. Nice.

All four of us ordered the same main course:
Le porc noir de Bigorre
La Côte rôtie au jus, Purée de pommes de terre

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This old breed, once almost extinct, the Noir de Bigorre pig, is now being raised free-range on acorns in the Midi-Pyrénées region. Its fatty meat has a lovely distinct flavor and takes on a nice char over the fire. The supplier for La Tupina is La Société du Porc Noir de Bigorre. We really enjoyed this grilled chop. The mashed potatoes went well and soaked up the juices.

Martine’s dessert was
Sorbet aux Fruits Rouges et Confiture de Vieux Garçon.
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She said that it was delicious because the sorbet tasted of “just picked” fresh fruit and the “confiture de vieux garçon” topping made it perfect.  She explained: “The name refers to a “confirmed” bachelor because it is so easy to make with ripe red fruit and berries (no need to be nice looking) and their equivalent weight of sugar macerated in alcohol (cheap eau de vie, gin, vodka…) in a stoneware pot or glass jar kept in a dark place. The fruit must always be covered with alcohol, you can add fruit as you take some out, but always add the equivalent weight of sugar. This topping would go on any sorbet or ice cream.”

Michael had
Glace Vanille
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Plain, but good.

For dessert Linda and I both had
Gros Canelé et sa Glace, Coulis Caramel au Beurre Salé
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Canalés are a pastry specialty of Bordeaux. They have a crisp, caramelized crust and a custardy interior. Two large, fresh canalés (one cut in half) were served with caramel ice cream and a salted caramel sauce. Very good.

We enjoyed our meal: the traditional cuisine, the ambiance and the company. The service was friendly and the pace fine. The noise level was sometimes boisterous with people having a good time. La Tupina was the perfect choice for our first night in Bordeaux in decades.

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