by Deirdre Bourdet
What, who, or where is a must-see on a trip to Bordeaux? According to a former colleague of mine, a cozy little restaurant called La Tupina. A quick perusal of their website revealed that this 30 year old + establishment prides itself on simple, classic bordelais specialties, prepared with the finest local ingredients and a hefty dose of nostalgic passion. When I read that French president Nicolas Sarkozy had also lunched there on his recent visit to the city, I figured there really was something to this place, and cut out early from Vinexpo’s lunacy to see for myself.
Incredibly, on a day when 50,000 wine industry members had overtaken the city, I walked in without a reservation at the height of the lunch hour and scored a prime table on their terrace. Even more incredibly, I also scored a very amiable and helpful waiter… yes, they do exist in France.
Having confided that he loves to eat and could happily chow through the entire menu given enough time, this young gourmand kindly guided me to some of his favorite items on the menu: cèpes en persillade (a seasonal specialty consisting only of sautéed porcini mushrooms, salt, pepper, parsley, and a bit of garlic) followed by sturgeon filet in red wine sauce. While I adore fish, the cèpes were hands down the best mushrooms I have ever eaten in my life, and they completely made the meal. Far from beautiful and hardly excitingly prepared, they were, quite simply, miraculous. Their creamy, tender, and unbelievably succulent texture reminded me vaguely of sweetbreads, but tasted purely of earth and mushroom essence. Melt in your mouth mushrooms, die in my arms mushrooms, those sautéed cèpes have stolen my heart.
La Tupina, 6, rue Porte de la Monnaie, Bordeaux, France. (+33) 5 56 91 56 37 www.latupina.com