French Family Meal Traditions Lunch

I attended an Epcot Food & Wine Festival dining event referred to as, “French Family Meal Traditions.”  This lunch was held at Monsieur Paul on Fridays and Sundays during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival.  Each week the lunch featured a (mostly) different menu and was hosted by a different chef(s), or so I thought.  Dining with me at this Sunday, Oct. 30th lunch were my friends, Paula & Hunter, Niki & Mike, and Sally.  Here is a photo of our group of six…

 

But this was actually taken at the end of our meal.  So let’s rewind and start at the beginning…

 

If you have ever had dinner at Monsieur Paul (the French restaurant located above Les Chefs de France at Epcot) you will recognize their signature napkin presentation.

Our place settings also included three wine glasses and a glass of water…

 

…as well as the menu for our lunch.

 

After a brief welcome and introduction we were served our first course, the Aperitif…

 

A platter of delicious cheese sticks was brought to our table.  I probably could have eaten the whole platter of these and called it a day, but I refrained from doing so and shared them with my friends.  ;)

 

The cheese sticks were paired with a Lillet Tonic Cocktail…

Lillet Blanc, Tonic, and a fresh strawberry

Before the next course was served we were each given a mini baguette…

I think I may haven’t eaten more than one of these.  ;)

Next was the Hors d’Oeuvre course…

Vichyssoise Soup topped with puff pastry, served with a white wine from the French wine region of Saumur (I believe it was a Chenin Blanc)

And a close-up view of the delicious golden brown pastry…

 

They instructed us to make a hole in the pastry which topped our soup and then a server placed a big dollop of black truffle cream into the hole…

 

This was heavenly!  Definitely my favorite course of this meal!!! Our first course was very good and the second was even better.  So I was super excited for our main course…

 

After our first two courses I was expecting to be wowed by the contents of the Le Creuset cocotte which was placed in front of me.  But then I lifted the lid to reveal this…

Traditional Cassoulet with Duck Leg Confit and Bean Stew

Looking at this, I do believe this is the most unappetizing entree I have ever been served at a signature restaurant!   And to further prove my point…

 

I could not even bring myself to take a bite of that nasty looking duck leg, but I did manage a few bites of the stew.  The sausage pieces (tasted like kielbasa) and the broth were fine.  The white beans were just that…white beans.  To say I was disappointed with this dish would be a huge understatement.  The cost of this meal was close to $100 and we were served a main course that was basically “pork ‘n beans” with a duck leg thrown on top.  I’m not sure about the others, but I know that Paula and Hunter were equally disappointed with this entree.  The one bright spot of this course was the Bordeaux that was paired with it.  I generally prefer white wines, but this red was definitely drinkable for me.

Anyway, I was anxious to move on to the cheese course, but I can’t say I was super excited about this…

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I love blue cheeses, but I would have liked to have had at least one other cheese on this cheese plate.  With so many delicious French cheeses to choose from, I thought it odd for them to serve only one type…blue cheese (a “love it or hate it” type of cheese).  Case in point, while I love blue cheese, the rest of my family of 5 despises it.  So in other words, 4 out of 5 in my family would not have eaten this cheese.  Though the odds of liking this course may be a bit higher with the general population than with my family,  I still believe that a proper cheese course should include more than one kind of cheese.  Ok, enough said about the cheese.  ;)

Moving on now to the dessert course, which had a beautiful presentation…

Chocolate and Mint Cake with homemade Mint and Chocolate Ice Cream

Hunter called this a “minty HoHo” and said the dots of mint gel were good if you forgot to brush your teeth that morning. :laughing:   Paula disagreed though and said she liked this dessert.  As for me, I’m somewhere in the middle on this one.  I thought it tasted fine but really could only eat a few bites of the cake before I’d had enough.  I did though like the ice cream, which I believe is the same mint-chocolate chip ice cream that I’ve had at L’Artisan des Glaces.

The dessert course was paired with this sparkling rose…

While this wine was pretty good on its own, it did not pair well at all with the minty chocolate dessert.

 

So that concludes our French lunch on Oct. 30th.  In summation, it started out with a bang…the first two courses were delicious.  And then came the bomb…

And I don’t mean “the bomb” in a good way.  ;)

However, our tale of French pot “luck” lunches does not end there, as Paula and Hunter had two more of these scheduled (and prepaid) during the remainder of their 3 week trip.  Would they have better “luck” with their pot on the second (or third) time around? Let’s find out, shall we?

Paula & Hunter’s French Lunch Round 2 took place on Friday, Nov. 4th…

The same two chefs were hosting and two of the five courses (Aperitif and Cheese) were the same except for the wine paired with the cheese…

 

But this time the Hors d’Oeuvre course was this salmon dish…

Salmon “Bellevue”, dill mayonnaise, and smoked black cod

Because of his seafood allergy, Hunter’s salmon was replaced by this Charcuterie plate…

Hunter really enjoyed this and Paula said that it was much better than the salmon dish that she had.

And then came the main course, which was again served in a cocotte (pot)…

Traditional Veal Blanquette with whole grain mustard and rice

Paula liked the veal stew, Hunter did not.

Skipping the cheese course, which was the same, and moving on to their dessert course…

Strawberry and Lemon Napoleon with homemade strawberry sorbet

Hunter commented, “I liked this dessert because I love the crispy layers and I am a sucker for all napoleons.”  This was his favorite of the three desserts.

Then their 3rd French Lunch, which took place on Friday, Nov. 11th…

Same chefs, yet again, so I guess my understanding that the chefs changed from week to week was incorrect.

First the menu for Paula & Hunter’s French Lunch #3…

Again the same cheese sticks and cheese course were on the menu, so let’s just look at the courses which which were different.

Here was Paula’s Hors d’Oeuvre course…

 

Smoked Salmon Roll, Shrimp, and Green Peas Coulis

Which was substituted for Hunter with this salad…

 

And then the contents of pot number 3…

Parmentier with Beef Oxtails and Mashed Potatoes

Hunter referred to this as Shepherd’s Pie and said it was the best of the three entrees.

And that just leaves the dessert course…

Classic Opera Cake with homemade coffee ice cream

Like the other two desserts, this too was good.

In conclusion, it seems that I was lucky to be in attendance at the lunch with the best Hors d’Oeuvre course.  The soup we had was excellent!  But my luck ran out with the main course, as it was the worst of three.  However, though the other two entrees were better, I don’t think any of them were up to the standards which I would expect for a $100 meal.

So unless the format of the French lunch changes this year (the French Regional lunch that I attended in 2014 was excellent), I plan to skip this event and use my $100 to try something else.

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