Palais de Barbizon: Mauritian family cuisine
There is a place where a warm welcome is guaranteed, where the cooking pots are always full and where appearances do not mean much. At the Palais de Barbizon in Chamarel, old-time Creole cooking provides comforting familiarity.
Opposite the St Anne Church in Chamarel, this table d'hôte has achieved much success from simple word of mouth. The Palais de Barbizon represents more of an adventure than a source of revenue, but for proprietors Marie Ange and Rico L’Intelligent, providing an honest offer is equally important.
Marie Ange runs the kitchen. The menu is based on fresh, local products, all picked from her own vegetable garden or those of her neighbours – something very important to her as she insists on knowing the source of her produce. Vegetables are the stars of her daily cuisine, featuring heavily in dishes like banana peel and salted fish curry, creamed cassava, octopus and chayote fricasee, or cassoulet prepared in the Mauritian way. Seasonally, these may be accompanied by curries made of chicken from the yard, freshwater langoustine in a red sauce, venison or fish.
Over 15 years, Mrs L’Intelligent’s kitchen has built a strong reputation, earning her numerous reviews in leisure magazines and tourist guides. According to Marie, the Palais de Barbizon’s success relies on two major ingredients in all her recipes: love and patience. ‘I cook for our guests as I would for my loved ones,’ she says. ‘I am only happy if they leave here satisfied.’
Warmth and welcome are a daily treat in this establishment, and Marie Ange’s eagerness even goes as far as sharing her recipes with customers. The arrival of the hostess’s dishes triggers the instant retrieval of cameras and a friendly exchange between tables while Rico sets new guests at their table. ‘Welcome. Please feel at home!’ he says. ‘Our house is nothing special but our hearts give out three stars.’ A motto that comes truly from the heart… just like the cuisine.
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This article originally appeared in our in flight magazine Islander.