Monday, April 20, 2009

show time

Well, the show-down wasn't exactly a show-stopper and anyone with ring-side seats would have asked for their money back. The head builder was summoned and asked to rectify the midgets' staircase, which he readily agreed to do - so another two days have been spent cutting the stairwell wall in half and chipping away at the concrete slab with a kango hammer so that you can get down them without doing the limbo.

The subject of the final bill was also broached. Most of the work has been priced by volume and area, which when BB went to measure, found had been grossly over-stated - to the tune of €7,000. But the builder just gave a Gallic shrug and said that his tape measure "couldn't have been working properly."

Feeling €7,000 richer (and happy that the words "I'll see you in court" hadn't been bandied about), we went to a restaurant to celebrate. Good restuarants are thin on the ground round here. Our favourite, Hôtel Prina 5 km away, shut down two years ago after the death of the patron and is sorely missed. There was always that reassuring buzz in the dining-room (who likes restuarants where you can hear a pin drop?) attributable mainly to lots of truck drivers en route to Italy and for €11 you could eat a well-prepared four-course meal consisting of fresh seasonal ingredients.

This time we went to a restaurant we've never been to before, which is risky, because I always enter a new restaurant with high expectations and nearly always leave bitterly disappointed. (It used to be said that you couldn't eat badly in France but either standards have slipped or I have become more discerning.) But I had a good feeling as soon as we went in because it had that "Prina vibe" - busy, noisy and an €11 menu du jour. We started with salade composeé: mixed salad of lettuce, tomatoes, warm lardons and fried potatoes topped off with fried onions (an unusual combination, we agreed, but we both loved it). Then (on a potatoe and onion roll) I opted for morue à la Lyonnaise: salt cod cooked with potatoes and onions with a generous blob of aïoli on the side. Everything was faultless - just like being back at Prina.

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