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L'Aubergade

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Sohm looks at the color and how fine the mousse is — the fine streams of bubbles — a sign of great quality.

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For chef Michel Trama, dining out is like theater. That may explain why Paris designer Jacques Garcia, in redoing Trama's hotel and restaurant in Puymirol, between Toulouse and Bordeaux, gave the 13th-century dining room red and gold velvet curtains hung from stone arches, thronelike seating, and surreal sconces—white plaster arms jutting out of the walls, electric candle in each hand—copied from Cocteau's film Beauty and the Beast. Just as dramatic: the new cloister in the courtyard of the luxurious, very contemporary hotel. A reference to the village's history as a pilgrimage-route stop, the cloister is an enchanting place to dine amid antique columns, olive trees, and a fountain. Trama teaches the secrets of his gorgeous food—columns of whipped potatoes with Osetra caviar; a fresh foie gras "hamburger" with cèpes; a paper-thin green-apple cristalline—in cooking classes November through January. Dinner, $180. Rooms, $150-$240. Classes, $305 per day per person with room and meals. At 52 Rue Royale, Puymirol; 33-5-53-95-31-46; fax 33-5-53-95-33-80; www.aubergade.com.

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