Thursday, June 10, 2010

Notes from Provence 1/6/10 – 10/6/10

I’m stealing the idea of writing notes about the food in the places I go from David Richter. I note from his “notes” that calling his writing notes somehow excuses him from writing full sentences let alone coherent paragraphs. If you dispense with these then things are naturally much easier.

La Oustaou

The best restaurant in Flayosc is great value and very faithful to the cuisine of Provence. The highlight was a tarte of wild mushrooms.

1 bottle le grand jas.


I think I may have gone for the last time to Chez Bruno. First visit I think in 1988 so I have been going there more or less every year for 22 years. Used to be fabulous now just milking past reputation. I had the caviar de truffe (blinie + whipped truffle flavoured cream + caviar de truffe + compote de tomates) which was way too rich in a slightly sickly kind of way, the potato which was absolutely fabulous as always and a duck in porto jus with loads of truffle which was very pub grub and not interesting at all. Predesert was vanilla cream (consistency of panna cotta) with a glazing of citrus peel and roasted caramelized nuts which was the highlight after the potato. Desert was a truly disappointing cherry tart (cores still in the cherry!) and pistachio ice cream. How can you mess up pistachio ice cream.

Very satisfying 2006 Chateau Roubine

Bastide de Moustiers:

Alan Ducasse’s place in Moustiers, an old very grand house in one of Provence’s most beautiful old towns, not quite up to the standard of AD’s other place but still a very satisfactory experience. I unfortunately forgot to get the name of the vine they recommended but it was Patricia something from Bagnol. Highlight of the food was a unbelievably tasty and intentionally salty asparagus soup with a dash of goats cheese and a bowl of braised summer vegetables with local olive oil. The latter was basically a mix of summer veggies lightly boiled in a very buttery light vegetable broth. Incredibly good to consume on a hot day.

La Hostellerie des Gorges De Pennafort

Philippe da Silva get’s two M stars for his restaurant and I think he deserves at least that many. This has got to be the only two star in the world where they throw in a few extra courses for the hell of it. We had the six course menu for €75 but got at least five extra courses – all very light so we did not suffer from post two star dinner drowsiness. All very stunning food and very difficult to select a favourite though highlights included Ravioli de foie gras et parmesan (did not order this it came as surprise), turbot in a very light butter based asparagus and ginger sauce, John Dory in a mixed seafood sauce with a slight curry feel to it and a Feuilleté de poires à la fourme d'Ambert. The last is paper thin pastry topped with very thin pear and melted blue cheese... definitely will be writing to the chef for the recipe for that. Also one of the best Cannele Bordelaise that I’ve ever had.

1/2 bottle of Chateau Maime 2008 (Ugni Blanc 50%, Rolle 25%, Sémillon 25%) excellent Provencal white;

1 bottle of Chateau d'Esclans La Deesse rouge (50/50 grenache and syrah) alright, very syrahish and not very sophisticated. Recommended by the sommelier which just goes to show that you should not believe those bastards.

Cafe de Paris, St Tropez

This is a very high end cafe (or as they themselves have it Restaurant-Club-Lounge-Art, don’t ask) in the harbour of St Tropez that I really was not expecting to get good food from but as they had wi-fi and Jules desperately needed such this is where we ate on our last night in Provence. They however came up tromps and surprised us with really good sashimi, a great salmon tartare with fromage fraise and honey (spiced with dill) and a surprisingly good gambas pasta. The thing about the pasta was that it was slightly underdone (al dente), the sauce was very dry and clung to the pasta, the gambas themselves where perfect and they had added a handful of dried seaweed of some sort on top. The seaweed took this from being a very well executed classic to being something special. The waiter did not know what kind of seaweed but I suspect Japanese kombu.

Le Safari, Nice

Another old favorite that I will give a miss to in the future. This used to be a notch above the other restaurants in the Cours Saleya in Nice but has unfortunately become a total tourist dive. We had a beignet de fleur de courcette that was ok but way to greasy, a cardboard pizza that I swear was reheated and a langustine pasta that was overcooked and tasteless... no need to go back.