We were out of the rental car office in less than 10 minutes on the road to Sablet. Made it there in good time, tired from the trip and 9 hour change in time zones. More often than not, we don't have the energy to cook when we get to Sablet or eat a fancy meal so we opt for something simple, which usually means a visit to Maison Bleue in Villedieu.
Villedieu is located about 7 1/2 miles northwest of Sablet in the direction you would take if you were driving to Nyons. Villedieu is a small village (population 518) set on a hill surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and pine trees, overlooking the Aygues River, close to the Drôme Provençale.
Villedieu is a medieval village that was once a commandery of the Knights of Templar, where they had a chateau with one tower. Founded during a time when there were frequent invasions, you can see picturesque reminders of the village defense as you stroll around the village.
|La Maison Bleue in Villedieu|
Maison Bleue is owned by Chef Daniel Roger. From a small kitchen equipped with a large wood-fired pizza oven he built himself, Chef Roger turns out pizzas with a variety of toppings on dough perfectly blistered by the wood-fired oven, a variety of salads, large enough to share, pastas, and other specials. During the summer, he also offers a selection of grilled meats.
We have become friends with Chef Daniel as we go frequently to Maison Bleue during the months the restaurant is open. March, April, May, June, September and October, Maison Bleue is open Thursday through Sunday. July and August, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday.
|Chef Daniel Roger works the wood-fired pizza oven|
Maison Bleue's wine list consists of wines produced by vignerons (winemakers) of Villedieu. Our server Natacha, who hails from Russia, and has been serving at Maison Bleue the last couple of seasons, suggested we order a wine from Domaine Denis Tardieu. The wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault and is organically produced by the winery which is in Villedieu.
|Domaine Denis Tardieu Côtes du Rhône|
The pizza's and salads are large enough to share so we usually do some sharing during our meal. This night we started with a "La Campagnard Salad" with a mound of greens dressed with a tasty balsamic vinaigrette, toasted wheat bread spread with chèvre cheese, toasted pine nuts, honey and herbs de Provence. This is my favorite salad.
Shirley's favorite salad is "La Montagnard Salad" with greens, a whole roasted Camembert cheese topped with tomatoes and pine nuts. Toasted bread accompanies the salad; wonderful for spreading on the warm, oozing cheese.
|La Campagnard Salad|
We almost always order a pizza to share. Our favorite pizza is a delicious thin-crusted pizza that Chef Daniel calls "L'Indigo." It is covered with tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella, chèvre, Roquefort, Emmental and a dried mixture of herbs of Provence.
Tonight, we decided to order pasta, since we had not tried any of Chef Daniel's pasta before. At the suggestion of Natacha, I ordered the fettuccine pasta with a mushroom cream sauce.
|Fettuccine pasta with mushroom sauce|
Shirley chose what Chef Daniel calls a "Gratinée" pasta. For her dish, the chef stuffs tortellini with spinach and ricotta cheese and then covers them with a béchamel sauce, adds a layer of grated cheese and finishes the dish in the wood-fired oven.
|Tortellini pasta stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese|
To finish, we shared a Café liégeois, a refreshing and tasty dessert made from coffee ice cream, lightly sweetened coffee, and chantilly cream.
By the time we finished our meal and chatted with chef Daniel and his wife and got our check, Shirley was dying to get back to her bed so she could sleep. We walked out into the night and peered for a few minutes at the gate through Villedieu's defensive wall before we headed for our car.
If you are in Sablet or the surrounding area between March and October, and looking for a tasty but simple meal, we highly recommend Maison Bleue in Villedieu. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially during warm weather when Place Liberation becomes a grand terrace shared by a café and 2 restaurants. Tables and chairs are arranged around a fountain with the area for the café and each restaurant defined by the color of chairs.
Sitting under the plane trees with family and friends on the square during a spring, summer or early fall evening is a magical experience and makes the food and wine taste oh so good.
|Gate through Defensive Wall around Villedieu|
La Maison Bleue
Tel: 04 90 28 97 02