Eating out on the Charente

Hi fellow Survivors. If you live near the Charente river, could you help with an article for France Magazine? I'm writing about a boat trip between Angouleme and Saintes. Because we took our supplies for meals on board, I didn't get to sample any restaurants along the way. If anyone can wholeheartedly recommend restaurants - and/or hotels - in Jarnac, Cognac and/or Saintes, please let me know. I can publish their details in the Francofile box, so it will be good for their business. Thanks very much for any suggestions.

"I say this because .....AND I wait for attack from all fronts ....there

is a minority of people who really know and understand

to choose it, prepare it and enjoy it"

I'm not looking for an argument here barbara but how can you justify this statement? What makes "a minority" correct & aren't they being a "trifle" presumptuous? Doesn't necessarily make it correct if a few people set themselves up as food gurus & then proceed to tell the rest of us what is the best stuff to eat.


I once spent 10 days in Austria in an umpteen star hotel. The food was wonderful but the best meal of the trip was a burger, beans & chips on the ferry home. Sometimes the body just craves grease!

Just one really good course is great.

But where to find it.

By the way Grapp d or is good tasty no nonsense food.

Hard to resist the pheasant soup and then follow with something

to match those garlic potatos...

Forget dessert....YOU will need to anyway.

Horses for courses. dependant on which burger you choose of course ;-)

True Barbara. I know what I like but having been with people who toy with their food that must be cold and congealed by the time they have finished their pretentious speech about it, I actually wonder how many people do know anything. I have been to some top restaurants, for instance Gavroche when it was at its peak under Albert Roux with three stars in the early 1980s. I could not honestly tell the difference between classes of restaurant as a diner except that I know when it is good, not how good or what makes something particularly good. However, one of our friends back then was capable of ruining a meal by delivering a critique of everything. He once sent back a fish knife that had a speck on it and berated the place for its service for half an hour or so.

The problem for me is that having known people who, unlike me, have loads of money and will very generously entertain, I have also come to see what a lot of pseuds some of them are. Some tiny and unpretentious places I have been to could cook the socks off many 'famous' places but their chefs are never going to make TV so the stress of having to pretend to know is not thrust on people. The best French food, for my taste, I have ever had was at a traditional French restaurant in Hanoi. My friend and I, fortunately he gave me two contracts to work for him when he was based there, went there several times. The chef had taken over from his father and grandfather before him but had never been to France, simply cooked what was most popular when France still occupied Indochina. The best Italian food was in Addis Ababa with the place in Dakar close behind. Etc... There is no need to go to 'stylish' places in London, Paris or wherever and been seen to use them. I think it is often food snobbery by people who just need to say something but actually have no idea.

That pretty well agrees with what you are saying Barbara but through the eyes (and over the tongue) of somebody who has never worked in that world.

Well the world of fine dining is small.

I say this because .....AND I wait for attack from all fronts ....there

is a minority of people who really know and understand

to choose it, prepare it and enjoy it.

I am not able to choose just the best for j and I but we come very

close. I will happily find fresh lychee and pay a handsome price for them

and I will always go out of my way to find special ingredients.

Being involved with foodie things for so long is difficult.

I find it hard when people sit down to very basic food which has

not been cooked very nicely and then they say how great it was.

I find it hard to accept.

I find it hard to accept that French pastry work is so often

over sweet and poor quality choc is used and when the cured

meats are over salted. I am not interested to drink orange juice

unless it is freshly squeezed.

I have, indeed come across some journalists who write about food

and have not a clue.

But, unlike me they are cute on the computer and they do not make

grammatical mistakes....or spelling errors.

Veronique I am still in touch with Egon Ronays inspector who gave us

a star....

Deborah fings aint what they used to be....they were 16 hour days dedicated

to keeping everything running like an ever lasting wedding reception: providing

fun and fab food at whatever cost. You were only ever as good as your last meal....

and as the journalists sat down at the table to take note of every aspect of the

dining experience you never knew how their written words would effect you.

When we were at Chinon we had a neighbour who was a journalist and he used

the restaurant for family dining and celebrations....

When we sold he decided to write am article declaring that we were in a financial

difficulty and had to sell.

Totally untrue and unkind.

We had struggled for years as location was hardly the best and our

décor rather different...Shabby sheek before most people shabby sheeked

and lived in a minimalist world. I had been very ill and became strong again...

built everything up again....retained our 3 AA rosettes...and with determination

J AND I had a very busy little restaurant.

Our second chef and the 3rd chef [trained by j] had been with us for about 8, it was time to call it a day.....and we sold.

Time to think of moving to France.

I have so many stories Deborah.

I employed young Marco Pierre-White as my second chef...

Running a restaurant is heart attack material.

I was a fellow eater at a number of inspections, it was a lot of fun. ER was a vv good friend of my father's so we ate with him & his wife a lot. In fact his son who now makes chocolates gave me my first pair of gerbils about a million years ago...

that was my feeling really Barbara - fings aint what they used to be ... I'd love to know more about your experiences as they sound fascinating and chime with a few of my own.

Veronique I will vouch for Egon Ronay inspections....I still remember the

inspection which lead to a star....what a character. The inspector that is...he

lived in Notting Hill gate and grew frais de bois in his window box.

Gault Millau....yes they inspect and as it turned out I was being

inspected by my old boss novelist and cook who loved to eat well and

knew about what she was eating. Michelin.....yes always inspected and if you were

being considered for a star....3 TIMES in a secret....of course.

Good Food Guide....yes they inspect too and an old pal is now

editor when, at the start of our friendship we were both chefs.

In those days it was important to reach perfection as a chef.

And to written about after the journalist had sampled the dishes....

and they always paid the bill.

So that would have been Craig Brown, Nigella Lawson, the wine writer for the times,

the writers from the Caterer and Hotel keeper and, of course the queen of foodie

writing Fay Maschler. Oh gosh yes neighbour Michael Winner

Quality has been diluted.

Things aint what they used to be.

Too much babble.

Egon Ronay always did, or one of his inspectors did. Same for Gault & Millau, same for Michelin.

Blimey, what a hullabaloo! Naively I thought that rather than going to the Offices de Tourisme for recommendations of probably well-established hotels and restaurants, I'd ask people with genuine experience of deserving establishments that might need a bit of publicity. As for lazy journalism, well perhaps I'm taking a short cut, but what am I expected to do? Fill up the Berlingo, drive 3 or 4 hours and take pot-luck at some local eaterie? Admittedly I got a nice holiday out of the assignment, but with the cost and time spent getting there and back, spent on the river, spent researching and writing the copy and sorting out and giving captions to the photos, my fee works out at about 30 quid a day. And I totally fail to see how I was touting for business, I was simply asking for help. Maybe I should tout for business. I might end up earning more than the seven or so grand my journalism brings in every year. Thanks for your recommendations, those of you who read this rightly as a simple request for your sincere ideas.

Fair enough! Every one should have the right to "babble" now & then ;-) I think it's probably enshrined in the French constitution so don't feel too bad about it.

Off now to dig some spuds then on to neighbours with said spuds for a few Pastis probably. Slow cooked spicey ribs tonight. Who needs restaurants?

If others can babble, so can I! So there ;-)

Blimey Brian, you're a bit lost! What exactly are you trying to say here? I got the first sentence then it got too complicated for me. How's about having another go so us mere mortals can understand you. NO! on second thoughts don't bother. I'm sure the Scholar in you won't let you use one word when two will do ;-)

Absolutely right, Deborah, openly touting one's goods and services looking for customers goes against SFN regs. There's a classifieds page available for that, otherwise someone can post a link on their own profile page. But I can't see anywhere in Mark's post that he's looking to sell anything to anybody. He's simply asking if anyone has a favourite eatery in their local area. People recommend good places they've come across all the time.

Reza £160 for a 6 hour curry lesson where your meal is what you've cooked (or messed up, as the case might be). I'd take him with a pinch of salt !

I got a bit lost here! Slagging off journos is fine when you can see what they have written and then absolutely know that it is tosh. Without reading anything any judgement is as much tosh and anything they are suspected of might be. Therefore I catch a whiff of prejudgement. However, I note that even that is off track because Mark is asking for help writing about the places along the way when he was writing about a boat trip. He is therefore asking for contributions from people who who have eaten in the places he did not visit irrespective of whether the author is journo or not.

I thought it must be something like St Monica's or perhaps even St Jude's day. No, they are late August and late October respectively and I have not (yet) heard of a French national grumbling day despite the vast number of days celebrated here for no really good reason.

So, people who went off along the wrong stream, may I suggest you avoid trying it in a barbed wire canoe without a paddle in future.

well, I understood that 'advertising' or 'touting' one's goods or services was not the idea of the SFN site and have seen the odd warning from you re this - I presume the writer is getting paid for his article ...