Have you guys heard of mimi thorisson? Of course you have. French woman extraordinaire who lives with her charismatic husband, photographer oddur thorisson, and their utterly charming brood of beautiful children and crazy dogs in an old french mansion in the south of france. Ugh.
As it happened, the lovely mimi launched her first pop up restaurant at her mini-chateau-house at 1 rue de loudenne on the weekend. So we took the opportunity to do it like parisians do and got the hell outta town for a few days, down south and to the west, to what some people say is the last french wilderness: the rugged(ish) and unpolished médoc area.
It was quite a drive. We got hopelessly lost (seriously, how did people get around before gps? does anyone remember? anyone??). We saw endless vineyards, and the freezing, forbidding gironde estuary. There are mini chateaux fucking everywhere. We stopped numerous times to collect rosehips and blackberries and fig leaves and plums. It rained. A lot.
So by the time we walked through the door at 1 rue de loudenne we were cold and famished and looking forward to doing some serious dog patting.
Mimi had put together a beautifully simple french farm table menu, oddur was sommelier, and the kids ran around playing mini-hosts. The vibe was low and casual but super warm and friendly. We had kale tarts, we had duck parmentier, we had veal. We were treated to the most buttery foie gras with tiny purple figs and a board of ridiculous saucissons with fresh radishes from the garden. Each aspect of every dish – the charcuterie, the vegetables, the wine – has been painstakingly sourced from around the region. They know it’s good because they’ve tried every single piece before letting it through the door.
And you know what? It was, in all honesty, just the most charming night. We don’t know what we’d been expecting – maybe a room full of loud, wanky people? a restaurant work-in-progress? to find out that, for all the beautiful photos and blogging, the thorissons were really all talk and no substance? Well, if we were expecting bad things, we were disappointed on all fronts. The key to 1 rue de loudenne is not just the french country lifestyle and the beautiful setting, as nice as they both are. It’s that cozy twinkly feeling of sitting in a warm space, surrounded by food and laughter and chat and drinking and a crew of awesome staff (hey april! hey gunnhildur!). People were free to wander in and out of the two huge kitchens, check out the produce, touch all the wines and pat the dogs under the tables. It really was just like having a close and casual dinner with old and new friends. Heaven, seriously. You just gotta go if you can and that’s pretty much all there is to it.
Oh, and mimi and oddur? yep – just as warm and genuine and charming as they appear on the blog. Mimi even rang around to find us some accommodation, like she maybe had nothing else to do in the afternoon before the opening of her first restaurant. Terrible bloggers that we are, we were so busy enjoying the food and wine and people that we forgot to take photos of the lovely crew. And the food. So dumb. Lesson learned.
So just a quick one this week as we’re currently continuing our drive around the south of france foraging fruits and herbs and flowers from the side of the road and trying not to fall in any nettle patches. Watch this space for a few new recipes with super local ingredients soon.