Yes, we've been lunching in lovely La Rochelle again, but we had a good excuse. My nephew has been staying with us for the last week and the boys have been working in the garden, playing tennis, swimming and go-karting. There hasn't been much time for culture so on the way to the airport we thought we would stop in at La Rochelle for lunch. I don't need much persuasion when it comes to food. At this time of year La Rochelle is full of holidaymakers from France and elsewhere and, unlike where we live, people tend to dress up a bit for a day out by the sea. It's always nice to ditch the shorts and t-shirt and put a dress on. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we did see an unusual sight. As we came into the town we came face to face with eight soldiers with machine guns patrolling the town. As we live in a very quiet part of France we rarely see a policeman, so seeing guns always makes me feel uneasy. We are currently living in a 'state of emergency' so in some ways it is comforting to have a more obvious security presence. However, it also reminds us that any tourist area, and in fact anywhere, is a potential terrorist target. We soon forgot about the guns as the streets are full of musicians, painters and artisan crafts and, of course, then there are the restaurants. All around the port there are bustling restaurants spilling outside. Nearly every restaurant specialises in les fruits de mer and it's easy to be seduced by descriptions of oysters, crabs and mussels to name a few. We ended up in 'Le Sud' restaurant. Like many French businesses there is no website to sample the menu, but it has many different dishes. After an oyster platter to share Ian had the roast monkfish with Thyme. I had the blanquette de la mer, monkfish, cod, salmon, prawns, langoustine, scallops, squid and mussels with sliced new potatoes and mushrooms. I'd had this dish before with carrots in it and at the time it inspired me to create my own version of blanquette de la mer using whatever frozen fish you have. You may be wondering what my nephew had? It wasn't fish but duck in a honey sauce! He comes from a long line of family with a shellfish allergy. He just doesn't know what he is missing so we made him promise to get a test when he got back. To make it up to him we insisted he had a coffee and dessert together, otherwise known as a café gourmand. A shot of espresso surrounded by a panna cotta, canelle (a sort of doughnut in syrup), a pistachio macaroon and a chocolate and coconut cake. It was the first dessert I had eaten in a couple of months and probably the last one for a while too! What's your favourite mini dessert?