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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Lunch at Le Vin La Table

A review of Le Vin La Table in Hale, Cheshire

It was another Special Day in the CWB household - and, as I like to do things a bit differently, I told Mrs CWB I would take her out for lunch to Le Vin La Table.

But first a bit of history: around 10 years ago, Eugene Lismonde sold his business and, not feeling quite ready to retire, decided to plant a vineyard and restore an old tower in his wife's home village in Belfort de Quercy near Cahors.

Grapes were grown, picked and made into wine and the family was brought in to help with selling it.

The wine - all organic, almost natural - is made to a very high standard with an absolute focus on quality, but the UK proved a tough market to crack.

After doing the rounds with the Three Wine Men tour and building a smart website, daughter Muriel, who now lives in Cheshire, decided to open a Wine Shop and Cookery School in Hale with chef Jason Palin.

Le Vin La Table is divided into two sections - at the front is Muriel's wine area, whilst a compact professional kitchen at the back is Jason's - Muriel defies national stereotypes and is (by her own admission) actually not very good at cooking, a fact she says came as quite a disappointment to her English husband.

Le Vin La Table opened around a year ago and I had been meaning to visit for some time - when a trip to my ancestral home coincided with a car service and the need to be up for a long weekend, an exchange of emails led to Muriel inviting the whole CWB family over to have lunch cooked by the children whilst we adults watched - and since the kids were rather excited at the idea, it seemed to good an offer to refuse.

Muriel had suggested a menu of popcorn chicken and souffles - partly because they are easy for children, but also it turned out because she loves chocolate souffle herself.

Pinny-ed up and divided into girls vs boys, Mrs CWB and #1 child were set to making a cheese souffle for starters whilst I watched over #2 child (also a budding chocoholic) making the dessert; we melted butter and added flour to make a roux, cracked and separated eggs, whisked the whites into fluffy peaks and folded them in, before preparing ramekins and adding the gooey mixture.

The cheese souffles - golden on top and richly eggy with strong Gruyere cheese and a touch of mustard powder - were perfectly cooked and made a wonderful starter.

Our main of popcorn chicken turned out to be chicken breast nuggets with a spicy flour-and-egg coating deep fried until golden, then served with popped corn, caramel and plum sauce.

However, the main event was the greedy chocolate souffles which were not quite indulgent enough on their own, needing a generous pouring of double cream to finish them off - plus a bit more again halfway down.

Fun and informal, it was a wonderful way to have a family meal together without having to worry if the kids would sit quietly and behave nicely in the hushed surrounds of an upmarket restaurant.

We cooked and ate at Le Vin La Table as guests of Muriel and Jason.

Tour de Belfort's range of wines (red, white, rose and fizz) are available in Cambridge exclusively at the Gonville Hotel.

Other related articles
Le Tour de Belfort - the history
Tour de Belfort at CFWS

Le Vin La Table - website, Facebook, twitter
Jason Palin - twitter

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