Avignon is about 40 km southwest of Sablet, snuggled inside ancient walls along the Rhône River. The largest city in the Vaucluse, Avignon is famed for its Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) and Pont St. Bénezet (the bridge made famous in the ditty “Sur le Pont d’Avignon, on y danse, on y danse…”).
In France, the government regulates when stores can offer "soldes" or sales. There are generally two times a year and on that day, the winter sales period was nearing an end and things were pretty well picked over.
I did find one shirt for me and a very cute jumper and top for Avery, my 3 year old grand daughter at Petit Bateau, a French children's clothing store that my daughters love.
It was getting close to noon, and shops were closing for the two hour lunch break and wouldn't re-open until "14:00 heures", or 2:00 pm. I set off to try and find the restaurant featuring food of the Savoie, a department of the Rhône-Alpes region where Shirley and I had enjoyed a wonderful lunch back in November.
I headed for where I thought it was but was not able to find it. I couldn't remember the name. After wandering around for a while, I found myself on rue de la République, headed towards the Hotel de Ville and Place de l'Horloge.
Just before getting there, I spotted Restaurant Hiély Lucullus across the street. Now I had never been there before, but I remember that it was recommended as a good dining choice by "foodies" on Chowhound. I thought what the heck, I'll give it a try.
Restaurant Hiély Lucullus is on the second floor over a clothing store. You gain entrance by ringing a bell; when you are buzzed in, you enter and walk up a circular staircase to the second floor.
Although, I did not have a reservation (réservé), I was warmly greeted and escorted to a circular table by the window overlooking the rue de la République.
I ordered a 25 cl carafe of 2008 Mont Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a delicious blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre and Counoise-Muscardin-Vaccarèse to enjoy with my meal.
I chose the 40 Euros menu with a 20 Euros supplement for truffles; this being truffle season and the Vaucluse is known for its wonderful truffles. Truffles are generally available from November through February or March.
To get my stomach prepared for the meal to follow, the chef sent out an amuse-bouche of deconstructed tartiflette; a famous dish from the Savoie region consisting of potatoes, Reblochon cheese, cream and bacon.
The chef's interpretation of this dish was a trilogy that you crunch (beignet de Reblochon), drink (potato cream perfumed with bacon lardons), and in a cornet (onion ice cream). Very clever and tasty.
For my starter (entrée), I ordered the Marmite de Pêcheur, the fisherman's pot. It included a small piece of cabillaud (cod), moules (mussels), coque (cockles) and épautre (spelt) in a saffron cream sauce. Very good!
Just like in California, it seems that chefs tend to go with whatever meat, fish or fowl is the current "hot" menu item and you see it prepared in a different way on almost every menu.
This season in the Vaucluse, it seemed it was pigeon (in the US, we call it squab to avoid offending any one's sensibilities). I think I had it 4 times during my brief stay.
I ordered it for my plat, my main course. At Restaurant Hiély Lucullus, the chef served it roasted with baby vegetables and covered with shaved truffles. The aroma of the truffles filled the air as the server approached with the dish.
A very generous serving of shaved truffles. To tell the truth, for me, the truffles added a wonderful aroma but not much taste to the dish.
To finish, crepes filled with grand marnier egg whites and orange sorbet.
With the wine, supplement for the truffles and my meal, the cost was 76 Euros including tax and service. I would definitely return but would fore go the truffles as they didn't add anything in my opinion.