lactose intolerant… pas en France

I have to confess something to you. I have always loved cheese. So much so that I actually gave it up for lent. Imagine, 40 days, 40 nights abstaining from the one thing that makes “everything taste just a little bit better”. I did that… and so have lived with the consequences of that decision for several years. You see, on that 41st day I decided to make myself a grilled cheese sandwich… I took a bite, sweet heaven; followed by many other bites until the entire sandwich was consumed. I was so proud of myself for lasting the entire duration of lent that it took me a moment to understand what was happening. My stomach started to cramp, I couldn’t stand up straight… but I knew that cheese and my stomach were no longer friends: we had become “frenemies”. Sigh.

Skip ahead to the present: 2010 and a trip to France. Who comes to France and doesn’t indulge in some cheese? or cream? café au lait? Not I. I decided that if it looked tempting enough to try, then my stomach would just have to suck it up… because I was going to eat it.

Skip to day five of my trip. The quaint village of Lalinde, close to Bergerac. It was a sunny day and we decided to park the car, grab un sandwich and a bottle of water, sit by the river basking in the mid-day heat. After grabbing our meal at the local (and divine) pâtisserie, we then passed the cutest little café (actually it is also a boutique; if you like the decor you can buy it as you dine).

The menu taunted us… salad, fresh pasta in a cream sauce and a simple dessert all for 12.50 euro: we looked in the window and there two diners were already indulging in their lunch. It looked too good to resist. The sandwiches went into our bags, dinner would already be waiting for us at the end of our daily jaunt. We were going to sit down and truly enjoy our lunch.

You can tell from the pictures that this was a feast, not only for the eyes but also for the stomach. A bright beetroot salad to start – capers, fresh croutons, little nuggets of beets all tossed in some fresh olive oil. A light beginning to our meal. Then the main dish… the star to be exact. Fresh pasta; lightly coated in a cream sauce to accent fresh tomatoes and mushrooms. The warmth of the pasta melting the large chunks of mozzarella cheese. It tasted even better than it looked, I promise. And not heavy at all! The main was then followed by orange slices marinated in a simple syrup with some anise seed to add some flavour; we were offered some thick, heavy cream to dollop on top (I declined that offer, since at that point my stomach had already begun rejecting my lunch).

bright beetroot salad

fresh pasta

dessert

No matter, it was well worth the pain it caused (sorry Julie for dragging you into that one), and it did remind me of the wonderfulness of cream, cheese, all things dairy. I followed up my lunch with a salad drenched in goat cheese – seriously, I pretty much grabbed the log of cheese and added it to my salad.

I knew I was right… cheese really does make everything taste that much better!

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