Thursday, July 19, 2012

Where to eat in the Alpilles, L'Oustaloun



Undoubtedly, one of the greatest joys of summer in Provence is spending several hours sous le soileil leisurely dining at an outdoor café. A little bit of delicious, a touch of rosé and wonderful people-watching are guaranteed. And one of the most gorgeous spots to do so is on the place or town square of the small village of Maussane in the heart of the Alpilles. I think that I have finally have found my favorite restaurant there, one with an excellent rapport qualité-prix.  I had mentioned L'Oustaloun in A taste of summer some while back. So long ago that we were still in our last apartment and we had just had a garden party. Le sigh. But back to the happy bits...


...such as this so simple but so good it hurts chevre croustillant or tart goat cheese wrapped in a light phyllo and drizzled with...honey. Ooh. This was the starter for the menu du jour at only 17€...


...one followed by a plat of tender beef filets and cumin-spiced potatoes served with a divine garlic cream sauce for dipping. As I only have beef only a few times per year (after nearly twenty years of being allergic to all the crazy business that has been added to so much American beef), I want it to be perfect and yes, voila. This is comfort food folks, done well and so what more do you need for a relaxed afternoon? But I will be back for their more complex autumn/winter menu most certainly...


My Sister was absolutely delighted with her more reasonable and seasonable Planche Fraicheur--consider it a summer Best Of including gazpacho, jambon sec, more goat cheese plus a salad and crostini--at 18€ with a glass of wine included. She appreciated the quality of all of that was served as well as the dose of freshness on a hot summer day.


I never like to feel closed in on a terrace and in Arles our Place du Forum can be a bit of a circus with so much bustle and push. Not so at L'Oustaloun with a wide open view of the church with its random ringing bell, the swish of the plane trees and the sweet mist from the neighbouring fountain. Now, if you don't feel the Provençal charm in such an environment, I am not sure where you will...



The service was flawless, old-school style. Never intrusive yet friendly and on top of the game. Mr. Ben was brought a giant bowl of water and well, of course, he had many bits served under the table. As you can see, he was equally pleased by our visit.


This lunch was took place on the last day of my Sister's visit and what a fine experience it was. As I mentioned in the previous post, L'Oustaloun also has charming rooms at very reasonable prices. For anyone looking to truly immerse themselves in the experience of an authentic, albeit elegant Provençal village, look no further than this lovely address. 


L'Oustaloun
place de L'Église
13520 Maussane-Les-Alpilles
Tel.: +33 (0)4 90 54 45 57
www.loustaloun.com

Bon appétit! 


37 comments:

  1. It looks yummy, the food and the restaurant. xo Jenny

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  2. Yes!! As I was there, I can vouch for the magnificent view, ambience, service, and food! What a wonderful lunch; it seems like only a week ago...wait! That's because it WAS one week ago - to the day!!! Thanks for reminding me of one of the many beautiful times we had (as if I needed reminding), and I agree with you - this is a restaurant to check out and go back to!

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    1. Oh Sister! If only you could magically zip back over here so we could go again!

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    2. Dear Robin,

      Now, I gather you live in America and presumably are back here again (as I am)?

      Well, then, you'll know that somewhat disorienting feeling of thinking "Oh, I'll make that wonderful goat-cheese thing we had in ____".....and then going to, at best (and at least around these parts), Whole Foods, where you find some wildly overpriced and not particularly remarkable goat cheese....and you make your goat-cheese thing, but it just ISN'T what you're recalling so fondly from only a week ago and three thousand miles away? I've grown used to this over the years (a lot of which I've spent in France).

      Amusingly enough, I recently ran into Frances (she of "Under the Tuscan Sun" fame) and Ed Mayes in Durham's Whole foos... of all desperate resorts for those attempting to re-create a simple (but only if you happen to be THERE)European meal. We chatted a bit (they're neighbors, when they happen to be in America), and at one very funny point Frances (who was pushing their cart) made a "Oh...nyahhhhh" sound as she reached into the basket and waved a rather despondent bunch of "fresh" basil around, above her head. She just rolled her eyes resignedly and murmured "Five DOLLARS!?...ohhhh....." and trailed off into a resigned, "What can you do?" sigh.

      In any case, your and Heather's lunch looks and sounds wonderful. You'll just have to savor the memory until you trot back to Arles sometime soon....

      P.S. If you were at my house for lunch today, I'd tell you the very funny tale of Herve's first encountering, when he first moved to this country, American (read "Kraft") "Parmesan", "Swiss", and "Mozarella" cheese. I still haven't, after ten years, introduced him to Velveeta....but his mother discovered it during one of her visits and loves the stuff. We both agree that we KNOW it's not cheese, but it sure is good.....and it does make things stick together.

      Best Wishes, and thanks to you and Heather for sharing the experiences of your trip. Oddly enough, reading about your lunch makes me sort of homesick (we had to cancel our annual, long month-of-june French trip this year; we've been moving)....which is an odd way to think of it, given that I'm completely American.

      ---david terry
      www.davidterryart.com

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    3. Oh David, I haven't thought about Velveeta in years -- it used to be a staple when I was growing up. My mom used it when she was making something exotic, like "tacos." And I agree there is no substitute for buying cheese from a French fromagerie. When we were in Paris last summer, my younger son, who speaks not one word of French (but is becoming fluent in Arabic) walked in and told the guy behind the counter to give us the best. He not only gave us some great cheese but told Karsten he wanted him to call or email and let him know how it was. It was of course delicious.

      Somehow, though, I have a feeling both in price and in quality, Heather is doing even better in Arles than we did in Paris.

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    4. Velveeta tacos is one scary concept Judith. And yeppers, the cost of living and the quality that you get for the buck is one of the MAIN reasons why we exchanged our 55 m2 apartment up north for a 200m2 18th century home down here...for less rent!

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    5. And David, I won't reply for Robin (although I have passed this on to her) but at least there exists Whole Foods and Trader Joe's now!!

      I think I have told you of my parent's returning to Michigan after a trip to France in the 70s and asking for Perrier at the local Kroger and the guy responded "Perry who?".

      And besides, TJs has things like three layer dip of cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto which would be an abomination in France but, like Velveeta, is undeniably tasty in its own way...

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    6. Dear David,
      Thanks for your message! As I'm not really a cook, I don't try to come back and recreate the things I've had in France; I just dream away about them. But your post and mention of goat cheese thing prompted me to realize that I think the VERY favorite thing I ate in France was the bite (the BITE, mind you) I had of the little goat cheese pastry thing that was on Heather's salad in this post (2nd photo)!! Everything I ate in France was delicious (save for the prune), especially everything made served at Chez Heather & Remi!! And, yes, I'm back here in America (Ann Arbor, MI), missing my sister and Provence like crazy. Thanks, again, for your nice, funny thoughts!

      Robin

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    7. Holy cow, why didn't I just give you ALL of that goat cheese thingy?! Bad sister, bad!!

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    8. But it was only in hindsight that I realized how it topped the list! Good sister - GOOD!!!!! : )

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  3. I love the square in Mausanne, have stopped there a few times for drinks but never lunch. Must give it a try next time (hopefully next year!)
    By the way we were in Provence in June & visited the Valdition Estate you mentioned in an earlier post. Wonderful, spent far too much money. It was worth if for the drive there & surrounding ladscape.

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    1. I really liked this for a casual lunch. And oh yes, the Valdition Estate is too dangerous! I don't let myself go that often!!

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  4. I would love to be there, we could meet, have lunch, share stories..i'll have a rose and a Pastis before dinner.

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    1. Ah Francine, it will still be warm enough in September...actually it will be even lovelier! I would love to meet there if you are up for it and this time I won't cancel because of the cold, I promise... ;)

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  5. Your salad looks and sounds like something I served last night only with a vinaigrette. Like you I haven't been able to eat beef most of my life because of the stuff they injected in cows but after moving to the country where the cows are fed only natural things I too have been enjoy beef a few times a year. Dylan loves it when we grill as he knows, even if it's steak, he'll be getting his fair share as well. I love how your food was presented since you eat with your eyes also. Sounds like my sort of place that serves our four legged friends as well.

    XX
    Debra~

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    1. Debra, this would have been right up your alley--along with Dylan of course! And after doing a bit of research, I think it is the tenderizers that made me so ill. I was raised in the middle west and so had my fair share of meat and potatoes until at some point in the 80s I just couldn't tolerate it anymore. Yes, to have truly organic meat (and in France all of those additives and hormones are illegal) just makes all the difference. I am still not pro-beef for the toll that takes on our planet but if you are going to have it, it should at least be as healthy as possible!

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  6. I shall have to add L'Oustaloun to my list of places to try in the Alpilles. There are no shortage of great restaurants in that region. We happened to pass by Domaine Valdition and stopped in as I recall reading about it on a blog (yours) on our way to eat at Sous les Micocouliers in Eygalières. Stocked up on rosé wine, need to return though as we are out.

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    1. Did you enjoy Sous les Micocouliers? That has long been one of my favorites!

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    2. Absolutely loved Sous les Micocouliers. Wrote about it and posted pictures of our meal on my blog; we will definitely return.

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  7. I still have yet to head down to Provence and I'd really like to at some point. Your descriptions and photos really paint a charming picture. We're thinking of taking an autumn trip down there. If we do, I'll comb through your blog for recommendations!

    I hear the food is way better than it is in Paris. Is this true?

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    1. No, it is different. It is simpler and you will see less fusion (which I like) than in Paris. But there are so many small restaurants that are really reasonable and use super fresh products. So at times a tomato based salad here will taste a million times better than one in Paris, see what I mean?

      And do come down! It is only 2 and a half hours on the TGV and if you book in advance it is cheap! If you do, best before November so you can still have lunch outside. :)

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  8. This all looks so delectable - not only the food, but that impeccable sky and surroundings.

    (I'm dreadfully "homesick" for France... You've compounded the problem with this post!)

    I think I'll go make myself a sandwich. With French mustard. (And dream a little...)

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    1. Things have changed so much in the States, BLW. I know it is not the same, just as David wrote above but there is plenty of Frenchy goodness to be had at Trader Joe's if you have one near you. But I know, I know. When I get homesick for the States, I always turn to food to look for some semblance of home!

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  9. This maybe comfort food, but par excellence. I'll keep this in mind if and when I'm at your corner of the world. Haven't been back to France in over a decade. Food like this will bring me back. Beautiful pictures, and as someone else said at another blog, you should be paid by the Provence Office of Tourism for your excellent recommendations for where to go, do and dine in Provence. My regards to Mr. Ben. I'm such a dog person, stop by and not say hi to Ben! xx

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    1. I'll pass on your hello! And yes, I do love it here in the South. Paris is wonderful to visit but to live in Provence is amazing!

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  10. At least half the time I don't post because I'm just sort of gaaaaaah in awe of all your travels and environment and how lovely to have your brain tickled by all that history. And then other half of the time I don't post because I'm drooling and don't want to moisten the keyboard. Today is a dangerous combo of jaw dropping awwwwwe and overactive salivary glands. Yumm on all accounts.

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    1. That made me laugh Trace! But today I am ironing. So please remember that real life happens, even in Provence!

      Your beautiful girls are growing sooo fast...

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  11. Looks absolutely amazing...so wish I was there enjoying it as well...put it on my list...did Mr. Ben get a treat...

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    1. Of course, Cindy! He knows the deal. If he behaves, we will make it worth his while...

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  12. Dear Heather, I have just sent a blogging award your way. Love your blog and you.

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  13. Oh Heather, this post is killing me. How delicious to spend a warm summer afternoon devouring a perfectly prepared meal. Wish I could join you and Ben for a long leisurely lunch and lots of rosé! Happy Friday! XO

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  14. I can practically taste the food and feel the sun and the breeze.

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  15. Oh, yum. My mouth is watering...

    ~ Clare x

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  16. Dear Heather,
    I just find your blog on internet by a picture of l' Oustaloun ,and I would like to thank you about your kindly text of my Etablissement.
    I wish you a happy new year for 2013 and I hope to see you again during summer on my terrass .
    Cordialement
    Marielle & Thierry Fabregoul
    L' Oustaloun Maussane les Alpilles

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    1. Merci beaucoup!!! Et Bonne Continuation pour 2013...Vivement l'été!! :)
      Happy New Year,
      Heather

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  17. I find your blog on internet by looking a picture of l'Oustaloun,and I would like to thank you about your kindly text of my etablissement.
    I wish you an Happy new year for 2013 and I hope to see you again in summer on my terrasse.
    Best regards
    Marielle & Thierry Fabregoul
    l'OUSTALOUN Maussane les Alpilles

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