In one of my foodie magazines, they used to interview various celebrities about "the best meal I ever ate".  I was never sure which one I would describe, if they ever came to interview me...until now that is.  However, if our travel agent hadn't made that mistake that caused us to have a layover in Marseille, and if I hadn't stumbled across that Peter Mayle mystery novel at the bookstore just a few weeks ago, and if I did't have the kind of hubby who's always up for an adventure, I might be wondering still!

There is one scene in the book where the investigator arranges a meeting with a local reporter. The reporter suggests that they meet at "this place I know" on Rue du Village.  He said it looked like any ordinary butcher's shop from the street, but if you walk through the door at the back, you will get the surprise of your life.  Of course, we had no way of knowing if such a place really existed, or if Mayle had made it all up, but what did we have to lose? 

Well my friends, it does exist, and because we were willing to take that chance, I have now had a meal that...well...not only did it make me moan, John swears that when I took my first bite of beef cheeks with fois gras, my eyes actually rolled back in my head, and I had to grab onto the table edge to keep from vibrating!  This was it!  This was the meal I traveled all the way to France for, and the one that will go down in history as the best meal of my life.  Just in the nick of time, non?  We head home tomorrow morning!

My starter was an artfully arranged platter of bresaola, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and shaved parmesan, lightly drizzled with the finest olive oil -- which I forgot to photograph before digging in and messing it all up.  It looked almost just like the carpaccio platter that I love so much at Vespaio, in Austin, but bresaola is not raw meat.  It's air-dried, salted beef that has been aged two or three months, until it becomes hard and turns dark red, almost purple. I guess it's the beef version of prosciutto.

In case you are wondering just what beef cheeks are, they are the meat from the cow's face, which can be a bit muscular and tough, and is therefore a cheaper cut, right?  But the French are brilliant this way!  They discovered that if you braise it for a few hours, it turns into the sweetest, most tender morsel imaginable -- a morsel to rival the most expensive cut of tenderloin! (which is exactly what it looked and tasted like) In this photo it is hidden under a thin slice of buttery-rich fois gras.

Oh dear.  I think I just moaned again!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5