No deal… but what a meal!

Yes, it’s a fact, not every business trip meal precedes a deal.  Be particularly careful when you invite a potential customer and his first words at the table are “I don’t know about you but I would like to start with a whiskey, please could you get the list of malts”… and then, all his team follows the boss and get nice glasses of Lagavulin 16 years [1] in this case, I love this one, my dear friend Leopold offered me a bottle some time ago, the taste is great.

My colleague “C” had been contacted by one of his customers located in Saint Claude, close to Oyonnax in the south of France.  A big volume project was in sight.  The final customer had made an appointment to visit the facility where the production should take place and to discuss some details.  The visit was crucial to win the bid.  “C” and I were also invited to present the materials we thought could suit the application.  The visit went well and around 13:00 the host proposed to go for lunch.  We all got our cars and headed to a restaurant, “Le Villard” which belongs to a nice “Hostellerie” called “Au Retour de la Chasse”, you can translate it by ”Back from the hunt”.

The funny thing is that we were literally coming back from the hunt, the tier one crew, “C” and I had done a big effort to impress the OEM team and now hopefully lunch would help also to reaffirm our position in a more relaxed ambience.  As said before the customer started with whiskey.  We were sitting at a nice table at the end of the main room near two big windows that let us enjoy the view over  the green hills.  The waiter distributed the menus and as “Amuse Gueule “  a pre starter literally called “mouth fun” we got a shrimp “velouté”, a sort of cream, and caviar canapés.

We decide to have first and second course.  The waitress wrote down all our wishes and took  the order to the chef.   As you can see on the menu, the choice was wide and deciding what to take was a difficult task, everything sounded magic.  Finally I ordered “Langue de veau” smoked beef tongue and for the second “riz de veau” sweetbreads.  To drink with the first course our host proposed a nice white wine from Bourgogne, a Pouilly-Fuissé Louis Latour.[2]






The tongue tasted just fantaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaastic and the sauce was perfectly prepared.

When we finished the first course our host was ready to order the second wine.  This time a red one, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine 2008.[3]  What a spicy poem for the mouth absolutely worth the whole trip.

When I thought things could not get better the highlight of the day arrived, the “riz de veau” Served in very delicate Terracota pot; every element of this fantastic meal was present in a well balanced flavour system that I can still remember.  Just looking at the picture makes me me hungry again,  considering that I’m writing this post on the plane and only had a cheese sandwich and orange juice, freshly pressed from the carton.

For those who know French Eating Protocol you can guess cheese was the next step.  In this region white cheese, “Fromage blanc” is particularly good, normally it’s served with cream but I decided to take it alone, well with another glass of wine of course.

Dessert was a “Tarte au Citron”, a Lemon pie, the intensity of the Lemon woke me up from the relaxed feeling created by the mild taste of the white cheese.

This gastronomic dream came to an end, but a nice one, a double espresso took us all back to reality.

We did not get the business.  Some weeks after the meeting the OEM decided to sign with a different subcontractor and our customer was really disappointed.  Well who knows, the OEM now is aware of the capabilities of our customer and might contact him for another project in the future, then we will be able to be again “au retour de la chasse”.



Here some links that might be also useful,

 [1] Lagavulin 16 years.

[2] Pouilly-Fuissé Louis Latour.

[3] Chateauneuf-du-Pape La Bernardine 2008.


Mario Alvarez

About Mario Alvarez

On regular business trips since 1998, I was lucky and unlucky to eat at the best and not the best places in The Nafta Region and Europe while on the road.
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