Friday, March 06, 2009
Tonight hubby and I dined at our favorite restaurant to celebrate our third anniversary: La Provence in the Lacombe/Big Branch area of St. Tammany Parish.
To all of your big city folks in NOLA: make plans to take a day trip on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy a laid back, delicious Sunday Brunch during the beautiful weather we've been having before it gets too hot. (we've already made reservations for April 5th) You will not be disappointed
click on the pictures for full-size versions
Springtime in St. Tammany Parish is as close to Eden as you can get. To complement the climate, imagine yourself sitting in this patio, choosing from this menu:
Please ignore the date of "March 1" because this is the current menu used each Sunday, not just March 1st.
La Provence has a new Chef de Cuisine, a very talented young man named Erick Loos IV. A Slidell native, as is his boss, Mr. Besh, Erick is an extremely brilliant chef. Allow me to validate my opinions with pictures and words.
Just as important as the presentation and quality of the food is service. The waitstaff is attentive without being exaggeratedly annoying ala any of Emeril's establishments. Our waitress was Kelly and she was extremely sweet and professional.
Upon seating, restaurant guests are treated to a great little starter of chicken liver mousse and warm crostini. Nice......
While we were dining on our crostini and mousse, Kelly surprised us with the offering of a pissaladiere, which is a warm tarte of onions, anchovies, olives, fresh arugula. Not sure if this is an invention of Chef Erick, but this is a beautiful dish which is also offered in the Sunday Brunch Menu
I could eat this all day.......while I was eating it, I imagined the delectably light crust with chocolate and powdered sugar or shrimp and cheese or muffaletta ingredients. An ambrosial dish.
As we enjoyed our pissaladiere, we were greeted by LaProvence Restaurant manager Dale Harvey. Another Slidell native, Dale is a great manager (front of the house man) for LaProvence. He has the personality to put everyone at ease and truely cares about his customers. We discussed our Katrina experiences (anyone who lived down here before-during-after the storm does that) and the menu along with our hope of procuring a pic with the owner to share with our kids at Chef John Folse's School of Culinary Arts: daughter and future son-in-law (more like a "nah-nah, look what I did, actually". ) We found out that Chef Besh just might show up on this evening.
I want to stop here to share the fact that hubby and I are typical Southeast Louisiana natives in the fact that we plan our lives around food. As the saying goes, in Louisiana we live to eat, whereas in the rest of the country they eat to live. We plan our lives around our meals. This trip to LaProvence had us excited for a few months after the reservations were cast. So the anticipation that we could actually meet John Besh in person was exciting to us because of his reputation as a good cook as well as the fact that he's a "Slidell boy". The Food Network stuff comes in second for us because the star factor is really not important to anyone who loves well done cuisine. I don't like using the word of "foodie" to describe ourselves because it's such a pretentious word.
Back to our trek to Big Branch's best restaurant (probably their only one besides a quick stop), after chatting with Dale, we had to decide upon our appetizer.
I apologize for the quality of the photos to come. We were not sure of the grade of the photographs until we got home. We WILL assure you that presentation was of the utmost importance to the LaProvence staff which they met exceedingly well
I chose the Shrimp Tajine because of the flavor (I'd had it before) and presentation. This appetizer includes a "merguez" made of shrimp which is
Hubby got the Charbroiled Oysters.
I got to taste an oyster and it was sooooooooooooooo good!!!
Delicious is not a good enough word to describe what we experienced.
Entrees were next
Decisions...decisions.....I chose the tenderloin of beef (medium rare) because I craved red meat; my honey got the scallops with risotto.
Served with bone marrow, porcini mushtrooms and "pommes dauphinois", I can't tell you what the best thing on this plate was. The bone marrow was mouth watering, the beef perfectly cooked; but those potatoes blew me away! (I guess that goes back to my Irish roots, my obsession with potatoes) :)
Billy now loves Risotto. I explained to him how this is a dish of love - because you have to tend to it like a child - until it is complete. Those scallops were buttery, sweet and cooked to perfection. The asparagus came from either the garden outside the restaurant or their farm in Folsom. I'm getting this dish on our next foray to LaProvence!
By this time we were giddy with the taste of food so well thought out.
I neglected to mention the great wine that we shared with our food.
Wonderful wine from that great year of 2005 (thanks, Katrina).
It really was a nice, dry red wine which complemented both of our dishes: meat and fish.
Dessert was awesome!!
Unfortuneately our dessert pix came out too blurry because we didn't take into consideration the lighting, but I will tell you that the Torte aux Chocolate and the Strawberry Sorbet were orgasmic. Ask anyone who was there.
Thinking that the best of our evening had passed, Mr. Dale came back to our table and said that we were summoned to the kitchen. WOW
As we entered the kitchen we were applauded by the kitchen staff. What a fantastic end to a beautiful meal. Our thanks to all who participated to make this one of the most memorable meals and we applaud YOU!.
my apologies to Chef Erick for the quality of the photographs....your food ROCKS, Erick!!!
Here are links to previous posts about LaProvence and Chef Besh
This one describes our first visit to LaProvence as well as containing a video about their
Here are my thoughts about Chef John doing a cooking demo IN JULY at the Camellia City Farmer's Market
I discuss the release of the new line of Besh products at Rouses here