When silence settles on a secondary road shaded by a forest of oaks, when the car windows open by themselves, it means that the destination is soon reached. In the middle of a village square with Romanesque architecture made of soft ocher bricks, the word “Auberge” (with the first “e” upside down) stands on the facade of what could have been a town hall.
A pyramid of pétanque balls is balanced in front of the bowling alley. Next to it, an old wooden table football collects cork balls eaten away by bad weather. The tables on the terrace were emptied by the squalls of rain. Alone, behind the establishment’s tiny counter, a haughty young woman is typing on a computer.
Tonight, like every night, the menu is unique, but she still asks if it will suit everyone. Allergies, diets, disgust with certain foods, everything is respected in this address in the heart of Auvergne opened by the Briton Peter Taylor, lover of natural wines and good local food.
A taste of Saturday night popcorn
Each season, he invites a foreign chef in residence. This year, Milan Gataric, former head of Lux, in Rotterdam, is performing solo in the Pays de Haute-Loire. While waiting for dinner, an aperitif in your room (the terrace is now blown by the winds) is ideal. The aromas coming from the kitchen evoke a cartoon in which the main character would jump out the window to go and steal a piece of lamb.
Once we are at the table, our eyes are assaulted by a solar blast. It’s a carpaccio of raw and warmed yellow zucchini in smoked butter. An egg yolk dried in salt and sugar, then grated on the vegetable deepens the shades before emphasizing the unexpected. This dish tastes like Saturday night popcorn. The astonishment is so total that it eclipses the beet wedges with smoked ricotta and dried mint that are gobbled up across the table in one go.
Then the mussels with the escabeche. Point. No, come on, you have to develop: the finely cut shallot that tingles while the shell flesh already tenderizes the palate; carrot pickles with cumin and especially chickpeas, a comfortable little rug on which the taste buds rest. The dinner could have ended there since the singularity is the first of the foods. But the lamb had confit too long to be ignored. With a few potatoes and roasted beet leaves, it has the elegance of the ordinary well balanced.
Just like the buckwheat cake with apricot jam, reassuring before a night shaken by the noise of the house. Singing Pans, unless it’s the laughing and rocking diners, life runs through the walls and floors of this inn. Then silence falls, the oak leaves rustle: tomorrow, the road will resume its rights before the next stage.
The address Auberge de Chassignolles, Le Bourg, 43440 Chassignolles. Phone. : 04-71-76-32-36.
The bill Evening menu: 29.50 euros. Count around 120 euros for one night, breakfast included.
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