Paul Bocuse, Auberge de Collonges – France

(This is Part 2 of the previous post entitled Troisgros Restaurant, Roanne, France. Please excuse me for a great deal of overlapping and redundancy, however, I did this rather than to combine the two posts into what might have been a confusing weave). We were on our way to St.Tropez from Paris I was behind the wheel along with my “really” crazy and now former and late, blond wife, and a friend for many years Hoki Miller, who was the American author, Henry Miller’s wife. Henry stayed on in Paris as he was visiting his long-time friend French actress, Jeanne Moreau.
We arrived in Roanne where the famous Michelin three-star restaurant Troisgros was located in close proximity to the train station. We pulled into the courtyard of the restaurant creating quite a stir as the two women, one blond and one black-haired Japanese alighted from the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II that displayed California license plates. In fact, all the kitchen staff swarmed into the parking to take a closer look, and all were eager to help with the baggage. The management insisted that the rooms were too modest but I insisted they were not and we prevailed.
We had an excellent dinner as usual, at this great temple of gastronomy. After we had finished we were all in need of a brisk walk to help digest the multi-course Degustation Menu. After we returned Jean Troisgros asked us to join him and his brother Pierre and their father Jean-Baptiste, while they tasted some very special local charcuterie from small local producers, accompanied by some very good Rhône wine. While finishing what was to be our second, although lighter repast of the evening, they suggested that on the following day we should pay a visit to their very good friend, Paul Bocuse and have lunch at his “Auberge de Collonges” on the Saône River near to the outskirts of Lyon. Jean picked up the telephone and talked to Bocuse and made a reservation with instructions to prepare the whole pike fish en croûte and other specialties of his.
With all the fine produce he had to draw from in and around the Lyonnaise area; the Beaujolais wines, the pike from the Dombes, his famous dish of the whole Pike in pastry with the scales in such exact detail, the poultry from Bresse, the Charolais beef. Paul Bocuse is one of the great chefs, with a world-wide reputation, but he also is magnanimous enough to give credit to his young chefs and to his purveyors.
Hoki told be on the way down that she thought it would be impossible for her to eat anything more and she wondered what she was going to do. I told her, “You have to do it somehow, drink some white wine before lunch to re-kindle your appetite—as this, I stressed to her, is one of a very few examples of the best cuisine France has to offer.

After an incredible lunch at Bocuse we headed to the home of British author, Lawrence Durrell in Nimes. The first words out of his mouth after opening the door were, “Please do not expect three-star cuisine here, just simple cooking from the area.” It was a resounding, “Oh, Good!” from all of us.

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