Sunday, November 20, 2011

Côté Sud Restaurant, a very good choice in Uchaux

This past summer was without a doubt one of our best times in Sablet, the small village we call home in Provence. We visited new villages, went to some festivals, something we had not done in Provence, dined at several restaurants we had not tried before, but the best thing we did was celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary.

Before I tell you what we did on our anniversary, or at least most of it, let me tell you a little about the amazing woman who has put up with me all these years. Shirley was born in Musoma on the shores of Lake Victoria in Northern Tanzania very near the border of Kenya to missionary parents.

She lived in Kenya for the first six years of her life and has fond memories of the wild animals in the parks before the family moved to Washington State. Later the family went to Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka. If you don't know, Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, in the vicinity of India and the Maldives.

Ceylon was home for three years before they moved to Karachi in what was then West Pakistan. For her 8th, 9th, and 10th grades, Shirley attended Vincent Hill School in Mussoorie in northern India about 290 km - 180 miles north of the capital city of New Delhi. Mussoorie sits in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains at 1876 meters - 6,155 feet elevation.

The school was closed at the end of 10th grade so she went to Singapore to attend Far Eastern Academy for 11th and 12th grades. Singapore is a city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, 137 km - 85 miles north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to the north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the Singapore Strait to the south.

We met during freshmen registration at Andrews University in southwestern Michigan where I grew up. Shortly after, I asked her out for the following Saturday night. Believe it or not, I couldn't remember her last name by the time Saturday rolled around and was too embarrassed to go to the girls dormitory and ask for her so I stood her up on our first date. Not good!

Actually, when I asked her out during registration, I invited Shirley to go with me to two different events, obviously I was quite attracted to this cute girl. Well our paths crossed on campus early the next week and after she greeted me with "should I bother to get ready for our next date," she sweetly forgave me and we went out on our date.

Shirley has been a fabulous mother for our two daughters and now GG (greatest grandma) to our four grandchildren. She did accounting work for many years before going back to nursing school at age 50 where she graduated and now works as a registered nurse in a local hospital.

Shirley has a sense of humor and adventure, quickly got behind moves to Colorado, Maryland and California, encouraged me to start new business ventures and take the plunge to buy our house in Sablet. I know my life would have been very different without Shirley.

The morning of our anniversary, we headed out early to Cassis, it was a beautiful day and we figured it would be fun to go there, eat lunch and go out on a boat to see the calangues, the steep-walled inlets found along the nearby Mediterranean coast (I will share more about our visit to Cassis and the calanques in a later post).

That night we made reservations for dinner at Côté Sud Restaurant in Uchaux, a village located about 1/2 hour from Sablet. Uchaux is comprised of several hamlets scattered among the forests and vineyards with La Galle the busiest with it's school, restaurant and a few stores.

We have dined at Le Temps de Vivre in Uchaux several times but had never dined at Côté Sud Restaurant despite the fact that it is designated by the Guide Michelin as a "Meilleures Adresses à Petit Prix," literally translated as a best place for small price. As you know, I am a list guy and generally choose restaurants that have good ratings from Yelp, Zagat, Michelin and regional magazines and newspapers.

Côté Sud Restaurant is owned by the chef Jean-Michel Besnard, originally from Brittany and his wife Florence and is located at the entrance to Uchaux in an old stone farm house. The restaurant opened in March 2000.

There are two dining rooms and a terrace for dining on nice days.

Shirley and me on our 38th anniversary.

As it was the middle of July and a gorgeous evening, we chose to sit outside on the terrace. The tables were set with nice glass stemware, something we don't find all that often in the south of France.

Shortly after being seated, we were brought an amuse bouche plate which included olives from Nyon, tuna and fresh white cheese, carrots, cauliflower, sesame bread sticks and bread.

We chose a bottle of 2007 Domaine Piaugier Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet. A really tasty wine made from a blend of Grenache (80%) and Syrah (20%) grown on soils of clay with limestone and sand typical of wines from Sablet. The wine was bottled without filtration.

The Côté Sud menu is thoughtfully written in French and English, the translation is better than most. We chose the four-course Menu Garrigue for 38 Euros. Our first course was a mirror of tomato coulis topped with tomato confit and yellow squash stuffed with sheep's cheese and diced cucumbers.

I chose grilled beef set on potatoes, accompanied by chanterelle mushrooms and puffed pastry stuffed with braised beef cheeks.

Shirley chose fillet of St. Pierre, also known as John Dory served with rice and tomato confit with a creamy tarragon sauce.

We thoroughly enjoyed our main courses and moved on to the cheese course which was warm goat cheese on toasts with mixed greens dressed in a tangy vinaigrette.

For desserts, we chose apricots with red fruit sorbet and

a chocolate bomb with white chocolate cream and szechuan pepper ice cream.

To finish our wonderful meal, Florence brought us a plate of mignardises, tiny bite-sized desserts to nibble on. Côté Sud makes everything in house including breads and ice creams.

If you live or are visiting the northern Vaucluse region of Provence, don't hesitate to go dine at Côté Sud restaurant. The food and service were excellent and the terrace is really nice for dining.

Bon appétit mes amis et à bientôt.


  1. Wow! I bet Shirley has loads of adventures to tell!
    Congratulations on 38 years together :-)

  2. Ha! I think my list will just be the restos I read about on your blog :)

  3. Congrats on the 38 years. That food looks fantastic and the photo of the beef is mouth watering. Diane

  4. When I do manage to get away to "that" part of the South of France, I will definitely refer your restaurant listings! Felicitations on the 38 years and getting it right the first time!

  5. Amazing presentation on those plates.
    Though we have chosen the Charente Maritime as our first destination, Provence is a very close second choice for us.

  6. Sara - Thank you! Yes, she does have a lot of stores and truth be told, she thinks her life is a little boring with us going to France multiple times a year instead on safaris to Africa.

    Meredith - Well, I love to eat and share about them so keep tuned to the blog for more places to try.

    Diane - Thank you so much.

    labergerebasque - Thanks! I am a very lucky guy and I am thankful she has stood by me for these 38 years.

    The Celiac Husband - Thanks for checking out my blog and for your comment. A trip to the Charente Maritime is on our list for the future.

  7. Ohh, this is such a lovely & touching post Michel. You wife sounds wonderful and thanks for sharing your anniversary day with us. Many congratulations, no small feat to be married all those years! And I would have chosen to start off in Cassis as well, so beautiful - look forward to your post on the Calanques!

  8. What an amazing life Shirley has led. We have one thing in common, though - we both met our husbands in our first year of college! Congratulations on 38 years, here's to many more!

  9. Tuula - Thanks so much. I am a very lucky guy, she has been very patient with me.

    Camille - Thank you. She has certainly seen the world. Meeting during your first year of college is a nice connection.

  10. Congrats you two! What a wonderful post. Wow, with all that adventure growing up it's no wonder she has done all those moves and ventures with you! What a trooper. You two look so happy in your photo.

  11. Ashley - Thank you so much. She is definitely open to adventures. As I say, my life would have been quite different without Shirley.