November 11, 2007

Eating to my Heart's Content- Gascon style

As I mentioned in an earlier post , my good friend Elaine Tin Nyo is holding down the Gascon/Burmese connection in NYC today, with a little help from her friends at AiG. So to keep them company on this side of the pond, I did a little dim sum research myself... in Agen in southwest France.

On a Sunday morning in France not much is open except for food resources, of course, and the maison de presse. So I got off the ranch early and took a little drive into downtown Agen (a mere 15 minutes away) to buy a few magazines and scout for any suitable 'dim some' sort of thing. Quelle surprise!

The 'restauration rapide' (fast food to you!) place under the medieval arches was closed although I notice they have folded Indian food under the all inclusive "Vietnamese" banner. but I was in luck as three Vietnamese/Chinese joints were not only up and running but good! I will never make fun of the too close to the train station one-restaurant Chinatown again.

I started at the meager stall in the Agen covered marche' (where poulet roti and charcuterie were running out the door); I scored the best accras de morue- not greasy and slightly piquante, the one last remaining steam bun, and a few vegetarian samosas.

Then on to park by the Cathedral St. Caprais, where I noticed that the once Breton Creperie was now La Chinoiserie. So I stopped in and order a few things to go (10% off to go!)- a steamed dumpling assortment, another steamed bun (yummy favorite of mine) and some hot Pho for a cool Gascon day. But my real destination was China Town.

Yup, just up from the Eiffel-designed train station (Paris-Agen 4- 1/4 hours by TGV), this corner shop with the only Neon in town except for the green cross pharmacy signs is our china town. It has never beckoned me in with its buffet volonte sign but now I am hooked. Although I ordered to go (after all that was Elaine's eat-in idea!) it was clearly the better deal in the French menu way for just 10 euros and 50 centimes; all you wanted from the piping hot buffet of the delicate eggplant and cauliflower beignets, crispy samosas, crab rolls, duck served many ways (it is after all still Gascony.) and tempting sweets' bar with some coconut dumpling things that I love! Not the wonderful selection of exotica found in on ealine's blog, but a welcome change for a Cassoulet overdose.

(Full disclosure- I don't know any of the real names and I just pointed to the French names and guessed and got lucky!)

And then the best for last... a beautiful plate of French dim sum desserts from the Blvd. Carnot Patisserie next door.

A truly French way to wrap up a Sunday Dim Sum on the Julia Hoyt.

Thanks Elaine! One of the few times when I can say... wish I was there.

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