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  • During my excursions around Normandy and the La Manche region in particular, I was introduced to 'Chez Roger'. It was little more than a small, old house, at the end of a road which leads to nowhere, but overlooks a small inlet on the Cherbourg Peninsula, between Carentan and Isigny Sur Mer.

    Chez Roger was owned by a charming Frenchman called Joel. He started Chez Roger as a small cooking club for himself and his friends, but word spread, their circle of friends grew wider, and eventually, friends turned to acquaintances which led to patrons.

    There was probably half a dozen tables, 20 chairs at most, so it was intimate, friendly, comfortable, and Joel cultivated a wonderful welcoming ambiance. Despite the fresh white table linen, sparkling glasses, boxes of sea salt and an assortment of table utensils, the menu was always simple. Fish or meat. You could have either, or both, and you could have it with or without sauted potatoes. Desert was always Tarte Tatin.

    Simple however, did not mean dull. You never knew what the fish or meat would be. The fish could be salmon, trout, cod or bream, the meat, beef, lamb veal or venison. It was whatever was fresh that day and it was always cooked perfectly. The only certainty (other than potatoes) was the fish would be pan fried, and the meat was always cooked in front of the open wood fire in the dining room.

    And there was always Le Trou Normand, a small glass of the locally produced Calvados, a delicious, but lethally strong apple brandy. It was served before, during, after and at any other time Joel felt the urge to cleanse the palates of his patrons.

    The elegantly laid tables were at odds with the simple menu. A fine dining restaurant with home cooked food. But it was Joel who bought these extremes together to create the most perfect place to eat some of the best food in Normandy, with wonderful company, in a relaxed atmosphere.

    Bon appetit Joel.
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