I don’t think there are many people in the USA who eat tripe. Maybe it’s becoming more common; common in restaurants that cater to those good old “foodie circles” or common among people in the know. But at least in my circles people don’t eat tripe. The whole idea of tripe was both absolutely disgusting and economical to me. Disgusting because I – the great Holly – would never eat tripe, but we should use all parts of the animal. So you – the anonymous other “you” – can be economical and eat it.
Tripe in France is common, but no common. It depends on where you are, who you’re with. In Toulon, I rarely saw tripe except for some of the more famous, classical French recipes at restaurants. In Angers tripe is everywhere. Including restaurants, supermarkets and butchers, there are a fair share of Tripe-Butchers that specialize only in offal. And now that I’d seen them, now that I’d been desensitized to whole animal heads, organs, and feet tripe was suddenly intriguing. Maybe I could move into the class of anonymous You and give it a try.
But only in a restaurant.
And don’t worry, I’ll never ever ever try horse.
Welcome to Carré 2 Vigne. Situated on a tiny side street off the Place d’Opera in Toulon, it offers a small, chic atmosphere and Italian influenced cuisine. The décor is bright and warm with well placed tables.
For an amuse bouche we had a take on an old classic; lentil puree with a small piece of smoked Morteau sausage. Slightly heavy, but appetizing and perfect for winter.
As an appetizer we both chose the pumpkin soup with an emulsion of ham and a little fried dumpling of goat cheese and ham on the side. Two things stood out in this soup. First was the texture. It was velvety smooth, so pleasing and it slides down your throat and warms your belly. The second was the taste. The ham was not at all overpowering, and instead was there just enough to lend flavor to the delicate flavor of the pumpkin. A perfect balance.
And then came my main course. My tripe. While there were other items on the menu that appealed to me, such as the husband’s risotto with goat cheese and Figatelli – a type of Corsican sausage, when I saw that they had pig’s feet with a side of Boudin noir or blood sausage on the menu, I decided to bite the big one and give it a try.
I’ll be honest. In my mind I’d pictured a massive plate overflowing with an entire foot and one huge blood sausage, so when the plate was presented, there was both confusion and relief. It was well proportioned, already sliced, and quite delicate looking despite the heavy foods – did I mention the foie gras sauce and mashed potatoes? Appetizing, appealing. But the taste…
Wonderful. The pig’s feet were so incredibly tender and full of deep flavor. I’m not a huge pork fan, but this dish has totally turned me. I loved it. The blood sausage was served with caramelized apples, and were soft, and warm and not at all like the icky, oddly textured boudin I’d tried in the past. This was a dish I’d definitely order again. I’d heard that tripe often had a heavier, more meaty flavor than the cuts we’re used to eating, which made them more interesting and to some, more overwhelming. It’s true. While I didn’t find the taste overpowering, I definitely found it more interesting, more appetizing than your typical pork cutlet. Now I see the appeal of the occasional tripe.
I couldn’t resist the moelleux au chocolat for dessert – a chocolate lava cake – with a bit of caramel, some walnuts and hazelnuts for added texture, and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. By now, I was stuffed, but who can say no it a warm, melted chocolate cake? What I especially like about this cake was that it was a dark, bitter chocolate, not too sweet – the caramel and the ice cream did the rest.
We left Carré 2 Vigne satisfied and definitely full. For 26 Euros each menu, it has good portion sizes, well-prepared and inspired cuisine, friendly service and a relaxed but modern atmosphere perfect for a long, unhurried lunch.Carré 2 Vinge 14 rue de Pomet 83000 TOULON
Tel : 04 94 92 98 21 Closed Sunday and Monday