24 April 2011

Lille - A Weekend in Cake

Lille had so many good things to offer but the food was certainly one of the highlights. Be warned, if you are hungry you may want to grab something before viewing this post - the pictures could be a form of torture!

Friday evening we ate at La Cloche, a brasserie/bar opposite the Opera House. It was a nice enough place but I wouldn't go back - I think that there are lots of better places to eat in Lille, as we discovered the next couple of nights.

Following a long morning touring the countryside around Lille (but more of that in a later post) we headed into the city centre and followed our noses and greedy eyes to Vieux Lille's (Old Lille) rue Esquermoise and the most famous patisserie in Lille - Meert. Meert has a patisserie, with the most amazing cakes in the window, a chocolaterie with homemade marshmallows (guimauve), chocolates and sweets, an 18th century tearoom and a restaurant built around a sunny courtyard. We decided that we would go with the healthy option - cake for lunch!


At 5 euros for a slice of cake it's not cheap....but it is heavenly. The cakes are presented as mini works of art worthy of the Louvre or the Musee D'Orsay.


Our choices: I had vanilla millefeuille - a delicious confection of slightly chewy pastry filled with Madagascan vanilla confectioner's custard......


then there was the chocolate covered and filled meringue confection that almost killed Ali (that's it with the little M on the top below) and the choux pastry filled with chocolate, topped with a thin slice of white chocolate and a macaroon (to the right of the photo below) that Karen enjoyed.


After:

More views in Meert's window (not for the faint-hearted or the sweet-toothed - be warned!)





But Meert is not the only amazing patisserie in the city, on almost every corner in Vieux Lille (the maze of old cobbled streets that you could spend hours wandering around, discovering great shops, pretty little courtyards and a host of restaurants and bars) there is a patisserie or a boulangerie just screaming at you to come in and taste the goodies. Aux Mervilleux de Fred on Rue de la Monnaie is another must - famous for it's meringues covered in whipped cream and rolled in flaked chocolate


Or indulge your desire for macaroons at Patrick Hermand on Rue Masurel - a window filled with colourful bites of delight.

Dinner on Saturday evening was in the delightful La Pate Brisee on Rue Monnaie, famous for its flans. Filled with locals and tourists alike, friendly but brisk service and tasty food. Set price menus are available for all (not just a concession to tourism). For less than 13 euros we enjoyed a main, a dessert and a drink. I chose the Salade du Maison - a plate of lettuce, sliced mushrooms, ham and 3 small triangles of different flans - covered with salad dressing that sat in large jars, with ladles, in the middle of every table. My friends both had tarts - huge slices of tart, with salad. Delicious and highly recommended.


Sunday morning we went to the Wazemmes Market - it would appear that everyone in Lille was here, the streets being empty, apart from the square and streets around the market - which were thronging with people from all walks of life, the food piled high on market stalls, the senses assaulted by the colours, the smell (roasting chicken) and the sounds of Lille en masse. The outdoor market is open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings but there is also a covered market which is open everyday.



Look at the mountain of strawberries!




A more upmarket market can be found in Place de la Concert on a Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon we headed to the town of Roubaix, just north of Lille to visit La Piscine, a museum and gallery housed in an art deco swimming pool - but more of that amazing little gem later.....back to the cake.....we ate cake for lunch again in the Meert run cafe in the gallery. This time I had the chocolate tart....it was chocolate heaven.....looked beautiful and tasted great - smooth, rich chocolate on a crunchy biscuit base....


We took the tram back to Lille and headed to Les Comapgnons de la Grappa, a small restaurant with outdoor tables in a sheltered little courtyard (off Rue Lepelletier) that we had spotted on our wanders....another treat! Typical food from the region on offer.....I had croquettes aux crevettes grisees, (shrimp croquettes made with North Sea brown shrimps) which were delicious, Karen the duck salad and Ali the carbonade flamande - a traditional sweet and sour beef and onion casserole cooked in beer and brown sugar.

All of this food....and what did we drink with it......Belgian beer....Kasteel Rouge and Leffe Ruby to be precise - beer made with cherry or other red fruits - delicious! Particularly served at a table sitting outside a bar overlooking a beautiful square after a day of sight-seeing.





10 comments:

jane said...

they are works of art! can you believe i passed on a trip to lille. yes, i´m now kicking myself...
have a great week!
xxx

Manoute said...

Lille is a fantastic city and it sounds even better through your eyes. It makes me want to go again!

ibb said...

Next time you travell...let me know...love your weekend plans...and that weekend of cake and beer...hahahaha....

Fei An said...

Oh, how amazing the city life can be!
I will do a cake and wine weekend trip as well soon in China, myself or with an girlfriend!:)

Bethany Hissong said...

This is not for the faint of heart... I am now craving cake and chocolate like a mad woman!!! Your photos are wonderful... it makes me want to draw-- they are works of art!

Thimbleanna said...

Wow -- that's amazing -- you lucky girl. Those pastries are making me drool all over my keyboard. I had to consult a currency converter -- 5 euros is indeed a high price for a piece of cake. Well worth it though, by the looks of it!

mariannealice said...

Cake eye candy! If I could just wish up one of those delectable raspberry studded cakes to go with my cup of tea.....or maybe two!

lykkefanten said...

yum, my mouth is watering quite uncontrollably right now... perhaps I should see if I could find me some desert...
Looks like Lille is a wonderful place to visit

sonoko said...

These confections look very yummy!
Your trips always fascinate me very much.
Thank you for informing me of your frinend's visiting Japan. This is happy news for me.
Please tell her she will acccept a hearty welcome from Japanese people.

La Nouille said...

Your photos and posts about Lille bring so many memories to my mind (and tongue!)