By Jean and Peter Richards
It’s not easy anymore to find restaurants that prepare the dishes that made France a gastronomic mecca. When we do, it’s a treat. When we do en route to see an artistic masterpiece, it makes a great day.
Family-run. Traditional. Fresh ingredients. Impeccable. Une bonne addresse. It didn’t take more reviews for us to aim for a table at Le Crêmet d’Anjou on a trip to Angers. We weren’t disappointed. Where others seek to create art on a plate, Marie-Noelle and Jean-Françoise Favreau seek to fill it with delicious things to eat from the cannon of haute and provincial cuisine – pintade farci, sandre de la Loire, boeuf bourguignon, joué de boeuf, coquilles Saint Jacques and canard in many manifestations.
A soft murmur sometimes wafts through a dining room when people are eating well. This small, pleasantly undistinguished room had that hum.
“English ou Français,” the waitress asked presenting both cartes. Europeans always seem to know when you’re not local and often assume that we are British, will be difficult to please, probably won’t understand what we are ordering and are unlikely to appreciate it.
We took the French menu and only seconds to decide on those rarely seen delights – pieds de porc au foie gras, foie gras de canard, rognons de veau au beurre mousseux and cassoulet de ris de veau aux petits légumes. The waitress, polite as she was, could barely conceal her surprise and raised her hand to the area of the thymus gland. “Ris de veau?” Qui, madame, ris de veau.
We could barely conceal our delight as each dish arrived perfectly prepared, simply presented and sumptuous to taste. Our only regret is that we could not accommodate the bistro’s eponymous dessert – Le Crêmet – a huge cone of whipped cream, egg whites and sugar resting on a fruit coulis, an obvious favorite with locals. The bill was easily to stomach – 49.20. As we began to leave, Madame Favreau rushed to bid us “adieu” and “merci.”
“La prochaine fois,” we promised.
Our pleasure in the day having been established, we walked around the corner and across the street to the enormous 13th century variegated stone Chateau which houses the Apocalypse Tapestry. It had been on our list of “must sees” for years, but in 2009 fire swept through causing massive damage to the Royal Apartments adjacent to the area specially designed for The Apocalypse.
It wasn’t the first time the 14th century tapestry ordered by Louis I of Anjou and made from the cartoons of Henniquin de Bruges had been endangered. The 67 of 84 original panels and a few fragments based on an illuminated manuscript of the Book of Revelations had survived not only this fire, but also being abandoned, cut up, trod on and, it is said, even used to protect fruit trees from frost until they were found in the 19th century, recognized and restored. They are magnificent in their imagery and detail of work.
Tour groups of German, Spanish and French hastened through, but we had the luxury of time to savor each panel from the angel with the book to the pale horse and death, the eagle of woe, the worship of the dragon, the beast of seven heads, the prostitute and her mirror, the fall of Babylon and the New Jerusalem.
Work on the Royal Apartments is nearly complete. They may re-open this summer when\the formal gardens will surely be at their most beautiful.
* * *
Le Crêmet d’Anjou is open Monday to Friday for lunch and dinner at 21 rue Delaâge, 49100 Angers http://www.cremet-anjou.fr/
Copyright © 2012 Jean and Peter Richards