Sunday, July 24, 2016

French Countryside - Michel Trama

In the middle of nowhere in France, about an hour and ten minutes from Toulouse and thirty minutes from Agen - famous for making the best prunes in the world and for nothing else - lies the small hill town of Puymirol. Puymirol is also famous for just one thing: Michel Trama, a two-star restaurant in a lovely Relais and Chateaux hotel.

While it doesn't merit a trip from Paris, if you're in the neighborhood (which we were, since it's not too far from our friends' home in Périgord), Michel Trama is well worth a visit. We had a fine meal in a beautiful setting, helped by a warm clear night, a rarity in France this year.

After champagne and appetizers on the terrace, we entered the semi-enclosed dining room for the meal. Summer truffles are abundant at the moment, and we started with a salad of them with an impossibly thin shallot chip, followed by a cauliflower "risotto" with more summer truffles The latter, with crispy bits of tasty cauliflower, was one of the rare non-rice "risottos" that really worked.

Summer truffle salad with shallot chip
Cauliflower "risotto"
Following were the real starters. Here I decided to indulge myself, and ordered M. Trama's signature papillote de pomme de terre en habit vert à la truffe, a potato stuffed with a real (winter) truffle enrobed with a dense truffle sauce and garnished with slices of summer truffle. I know this is not pretty in the photo, or maybe in real life, but WOW, this is truffle mania!

Michel Trama's renowned potato with lots of truffles
Next up were very nice lamb chops,

Lamb chops with seasonal vegetables
followed by a lovely mixed dessert.

Mixed desserts, with paper-thin apples and sorbet
A very refined meal, well conceived and executed.

The dining courtyard at Michel Trama
M. Trama is an interesting man, who worked with Jacques-Yves Cousteau before deciding to spend his life cooking, opening a bistro in Paris. He is self-taught. He fulfilled his life's dream when he and his wife bought the 13th century building that houses his hotel/restaurant. Subsequently he has expanded and owns several buildings in the town. M Trama spends time at every table, making sure the diners are happy and giving the impression that he really cares. He studied in the US and therefore speaks good English and likes Americans, so our discussion went well beyond merely saying that we enjoyed our meal. 

Just what one wants to find in the French countryside.

Bobby Jay

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