Where to eat in Vannes

(level C1)

BC wth Champers.jpg

Le Tournesol

The village of Meucon is only 6 kilometres north of Vannes, and it has one of the best restaurants in the area.
Le Tournesol is situated in an old stone farm building which has been beautifully renovated and decorated. There are two elegant dining rooms, a very nice garden and plenty of free parking.

Le Tournesol, Meucon

Richard and I first discovered this lovely restaurant six years ago when we were looking for a special place where we could celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary with some friends. Since then we have often celebrated birthdays and anniversaries there. We went there again a few weeks ago to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary. It is a little bit pricey but it is the perfect place for a special meal or a celebration. The service is discreet and efficient and the food, fine French cuisine, is simply delicious.

We chose one of the fixed price menus. I had foie gras to start, followed by tournedos de boeuf with a grand marnier ice-cream and warm mandarins to finish.

This three course meal was made special by all sorts of unexpected little extras from the kitchen which the chef invited us to try.

As soon as we arrived we ordered the house cocktail, made with sparkling wine, which came with a plate of little pastries.

Next, a tiny pot of chestnut soup arrived. It was a lovely golden colour, very smooth and very tasty. Then came the foie gras with two small brioche rolls.

Next, our perfectly cooked steak was served with a small tower of potatoes and a delicious sauce. Then we were served with a freshly cooked, warm roll and some cheese and salad in a nutty oil dressing. This was followed by our dessert, which is an absolute favourite of mine, and I confess I order it every time I go to Le Tournesol.

Just when we thought that we couldn’t eat another thing, the chef sent out another of his little tasting pots, this time a fabulous light and fluffy raspberry mousse.

We ordered coffee, and it came with a small jug of hot milk and a plate of tiny cakes and biscuits.

Because we were driving we had only a half bottle of red wine, a dry Pomerol.

There is only one thing about Le Tournesol which I would criticise, and that is the music. Although it isn’t loud, it is very tinny and annoying and sounds like a radio playing in the kitchen. I’m sure the majority of people don’t even notice it, but I think it would be much nicer if there was some jazz or classical music playing on a better sound system.

However, all in all, going to Le Tournesol is a wonderful dining experience and I would certainly recommend it without hesitation.
Expect to pay about 90€ for two for a truly excellent meal.

http://pagesperso-orange.fr/le-tournesol/

LE TOURNESOL, 20 route de Vannes, Meucon tel: 02 97 44 50 50

Tongue Twister

Thank you to Dr J.G who gave me this marvellous tongue twister yesterday:

"Three witches watch three Swatch watches. Which witch watches which Swatch watch?"

Can you say it really fast?

Just in case you're wondering, here's the French translation: "Trois sorcières regardent trois montres Swatch. Quelle sorcière regarde quelle montre Swatch?"

Vocabulary: A tongue twister (n) - une phrase difficile à prononcer.
tongue - la langue; twisted - tordu(e) (adj)

If you know any other English tongue twisters, send them to me at the usual address.

How to write... A book review

1. Have a clear plan for each paragraph and do not repeat yourself.

2. Try to use a rich vocabulary. Level B1 & B2: keep the grammatical structure simple.
Level C1: More complicated structures such as “fronting” should be attempted.

3. Use the following plan as a model.

Plan for the review of “French Kiss”

Title & Author

Paragraph 1: Overall short summary of the story, without giving away the ending.

Paragraph 2: Genre – autobiography

Paragraph 3: Writing style

Paragraph 4: Personal opinion

Date of publication, Language, Publisher, Where to buy the book.

Now read the review. There is also an interview with the author which follows the review.

What books are you reading at the moment?

I look forward to receiving your reviews! Send them to me at english.connection@orange.fr

Going Nuts! 2

Nutty Recipe 2

If you made the banana & walnut cake successfully, perhaps you would like to try this next recipe:

Nut Tart (Gâteau au noix)

It’s slightly more difficult than the cake, but well worth it. I often make this as a dessert when people come to dinner. You can make it in advance, even the day before, and everyone loves it. However, it does contain alcohol, so this dessert is strictly for grown-ups!

gâteau au noix

For the pastry:
250g flour
100g butter
25g caster sugar
2 egg yolks
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
300ml cream (crème liquide douce – NOT crème fraiche.)
2 egg whites – beaten until stiff
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
Packet of powdered almonds (125g)
100g caster sugar

For the topping:
100g Icing sugar
50ml Cognac or Armagnac
12 perfect walnut halves

slice of nut tart

Mix all the pastry ingredients together into a firm ball. Butter & flour a pie dish, then roll out the pastry & place it in the dish. Put it into the oven at 180° for 10 minutes. It should NOT go brown at all.
Meanwhile, mix the cream, vanilla essence, sugar, salt & powdered almonds together. Then carefully fold in the stiff egg whites.
Take the pie out of the oven & fill it with this mixture. Put it back into the oven & cook for another 30 -35 minutes until it is a golden colour.
When the pie has cooled a little, mix the icing sugar with the Armagnac & pour it all over the top of the tart. Decorate with the walnut halves.

Then sit back and wait for the complements!

baskets of walnuts

Going Nuts!

There is a walnut tree in our garden which is probably about 40 years old. This year, it has produced a bumper crop*.

A bumper crop of walnuts

So what can we do with so many walnuts?

NUTTY RECIPE NUMBER 1

Easy Banana & Walnut Cake

75g semi-salted butter
110g caster sugar
1 large, beaten egg
Grated rind of 1 lemon
225g flour + raising agent
4 ripe bananas
75g chopped walnuts

Method:
Pre- heat your oven to 180°. Put buttered, greaseproof paper into a deep cake tin.
Put butter, sugar, beaten egg, flour & raising agent in a large bowl.
Slice & mash* bananas with a fork in a smaller bowl.
Mix the sugar, butter & flour using an electric whisk. (Don’t worry if it looks dry at this stage.)
Add the lemon rind, the mashed bananas & the walnuts. Mix together with a fork.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin.
Bake in the centre of the oven at 180° for 45 minutes, until golden.

This cake is delicious warm or cold, with a cup of coffee or a cup of English tea!

Banana and walnut cake

*a bumper crop = more fruit or vegetables than usual.
* to mash = to crush fruit or vegetables, eg:mashed potatoes
*"going nuts" = (idiomatic expression) to become mad or crazy