January 04, 2015

The Last of France, first of 2015 at Les Copains

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Not only did I start the year with oysters, galette and fois gras, I also had a taster of another cultural delicacy frogs legs, and they are delicious!

We went for a festive lunch at a local restaurant in the town of Ambert. Having battled the snow on the roads and my decidedly inappropriate footware for the -11 temperatures we found ourselves sitting down with a nice aperitif at Les Copains in the centre of town, just opposite the famous Marie Ronde the circular town hall.

This beautiful town hall, each week turns into a treasure trove with delicious artisan food stalls under the arches for the market. One of the most popular being the Fourme d'Ambert stall selling a local blue cheese similar to stilton.  Queues for this local cheese are always round the block.

Our restaurant for the afternoon is fairly inconspicious from the outside.

But once in and seated you are treated fantastically. You can peruse the menu with a little aperitif. A local favourite is a sparkling wine with a little chestnut syurp, sweet and unusual.

An amuse bouche is brought round while you wait for your starter. This week it was mushroom soup with some warm homemade cheese pancetta bread, gooey cheese oozing out from the middle, surrounded by little hunks of crispy pancetta. Simple but perfect.

Then the starter came out. Everyone was particularly jealous with my Aunt's, which was a layered dish with an oyster, salad and local charcuterie.

Ravioli with girolles and a little puff alongside for my Uncle and Mum.

Dad and I went for frogs legs, keeping with something traditionally French!

I only managed to capture my main which was a lamb tagine with juicy soaked apricots, perfectly warming for a wintry day.

Served along side the mains, creamy potato dauphinoise. This again is a dish taken very seriously in the Auvergne, it is as tempting and delicious as it is calorific!

Next came the cheese course, all served on a plate made escpecialy to advertise the local cheeses. Fantastic branding and of course the best cheese.

Finally pudding arrived. I went for the layered Crepe Gateau, and I managed, somehow, to find room for every last scrap!

The others went for chocolate fondant...

Panacotta... and more Crepe Gateau. 

Finally, out came the petite fours - melt in mouth shortbread and cocoa dusted truffles.

A really perfect meal with a few local specialities thrown in.

With very full tummies we meandered our way around the quiet town and ventured home for an afternoon in front of the fire.

A perfect end to a holiday and a fabulously foodie start to 2015!

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