Today, Tuesday 25th, I did a touristy thing and visited the Palais du Bonbons et de Nougat in Montélimar. It’s bright, brash and gaudy – and none the worse for that. I took lots of piccies, far too many to reproduce here, so they’ll have to wait until I get home and can sort out some galleries here.
The experience begins with a history of sugar (basis of all sweets, of course) and true to the adage of “you learn something new every day” I discovered where in the world sugar cane was first exploited. I’d never have guessed in a million years – and I bet neither would you.
There’s also a candid (ouch!) explanation for the rise of the sugar beet:
There was a touch of the grotesque, too. Here’s a picture of a scorpion encased in sugar. Apparently, insects (yes, I know, scorpions aren’t insects) and such served in this way are a delicacy in some parts of the world.
And so it went on. As I said, space does not permit a full blow-by-blow account. I’ll end with a shot of part of the nougat-making process. Nougat sold in the shop is actually made on the premises.
After returning to the car clutching the inevitable bag of goodies, I was faced with disaster. Lori the SatNav Lady had gone on strike! When I switched on I got the message “No maps!” from the system. Try as I might, the ‘phone would not recognise the card with the maps on it. I was therefore forced to rely on the paper version to navigate to the Total Aire (service station) de l’Isle d’Abeau Nord, which is east of Lyon, and finally catch up with M. Thomas Touzin. This time I was successful and we spent a happy 20 minutes or so discussing this and that. I wanted to thank him personally for getting Sara the Xsara’s petrol cap back to me.
Then it was foot down for the trip to Beaune and a night in another ibis Budget. The place was being refurbished and my room was absolutely pristine. The contrast with Premiere Classe could not have been more pronounced.
Looking around for somewhere to eat I happened, quite by “chance”, upon the local La Pataterie.
Once again, apologies for the picture quality. The place was busy (always a good sign) but I was welcomed warmly by the charming lady manageress speaking excellent English, found a place and presented with the menu. As you might expect from the name, the staple item is the humble potato done in a bewildering variety of ways. I can’t remember the name of the dish I had (and the bill’s in the car) but it had ham and two poached eggs as well as a large salad. The potato was huge and I couldn’t finish it – had to leave room for the Moelleux aux Pommes which was an individual apple cake served warm with cream and ice cream all floated on a layer of custard. Pretty good!
It’s self-evident but worth repeating – it’s people that are important. And so it proved at La Pataterie. The genial hosts made for an unforgettable evening, serving with professionalism, éclat, élan and great good humour. They really were on my wavelength!
I very much regret I was only staying in Beaune for that one evening. I’d certainly recommend La Pataterie. The locals ought to appreciate this treasure.
The rest of the evening was spent on wrestling (unsuccessfully) with the satnav problem, which is why there was no post yesterday and why I’m a day behind.