How much do you wish you were in the South of France right now? Just imagine strolling along those pristine white beaches, the Mediterranean twinkling away under the ferocious sunshine; perhaps you’re on your way for a glass of pale rosé at Le Club 55, or maybe you’re bound for La Croisette — sunglasses affixed to your face, and linen shirt blissfully free from creases.
Instead, you’re in London: a London that manages to be grey, cloudy, muggy and oppressive all at the same time. That’s just as good as the French Riviera, right? Ok, it’s not. But happily, there are some dishes that will transport your Fulham flatshare right to the heart of the South of France. It sounds like a miracle, we know — but just wait till you read about those ingredients. You’ll be whisked away to the Mediterranean before you know it.
If you’re partial to fish, opt for a variation on Red Mullet from Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc
This exquisite dish comes to us courtesy of Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc; which, presumably, needs no introduction (but if a quick refresher on the hotel’s finer points would be helpful, we can certainly assist…). It’s reputed to be the most famous hotel in the world; F. Scott Fitzgerald, for instance, famously based the establishment in Tender is the Night on the harmonious pastel tones of the hotel’s villa.
"Glamour, elegance, refinement and decadence..."
If a hotel could single-handedly evoke the spirit of the South of France, it would be this one. Glamour, elegance, refinement and more than a hint of decadence; it’s got it all. But if you won’t make it to the hotel itself this summer, we’ve got the next best thing: whip up a Red Mullet, Eden-Roc style. Courtesy of Head Chef Sébastien Broda, it’s cooked in fine bread crust, tomato, ginger and basil confit; and comes with a local vegetable fritter with aioli: as Broda himself says, “local products full of sunlight from the Mediterranean”. Bon appetite.
Continue along the Red Mullet theme: this time with a few additions from Terre Blanche
All right, we’ve just given you a Red Mullet dish. But trust us when we say you’ll want to buy extra; because this dish, courtesy of Christophe Schmitt — Executive Chef at Provence-based Le Gaudina: that’s right, the same Le Gaudina that takes up residence at five-star hotel Terre Blanche — is a dish you won’t want to miss out on.
To give it its full title, it’s ‘Red Mullet, John Dory and squid’ — with a fish soup reduction, crunchy fennel sea urchin and an iodised sabayon sauce. In case we haven’t made it obvious enough yet, Red Mullet is guaranteed to whisk you away to Provence with just one bite. Schmitt describes it as “an iconic fish from the South of France,” and finds this particular dish “extremely colourful: inspired by the Provence sunshine!”. So if in doubt: Red Mullet it up.
Switch up the fish dishes with a swift move to Amberjack, courtesy of Hôtel Byblos
You know Hôtel Byblos, don’t you? Well, we assume you do, at any rate; the luxury Saint-Tropez hotel has firmly cemented its status as one of the most renowned five-star hotels around. It’s a far remove from your ‘typical’ five-star hotel, but that’s what we love about it; its rock n’ roll history and tales of celebrity decadence, indulgence and excess are second to none (we’re talking Bridget Bardot and Mick Jagger, to name a few); and its jaw-dropping luxury knows no bounds.
But back to the food. The hotel’s new restaurant, Arcadia, launched earlier this year: and Executive Chef Nicola Canuti has a dish to transport you straight to that sunny, poolside Saint-Tropez hub of fine dining and glamour. Its full title is ‘Greater Amberjack Ceviche with Chlorophyll Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce’ — and Amberjack is, as Canuti says, “a very popular dish of the Mediterranean.” He describes the dish as “very fresh, using local produce”; in fact, he explains that the chlorophyll sauce is “actually made using the herbs from our very own vegetable garden”. Who can say fairer (or fresher) than that?
For a shellfish alternative, you couldn’t do better than prawns from LPM Mayfair
Are you seeing a recurring theme here? Well, that’s for good reason; there’s nothing more divine to eat while in the South of France than fish, fish and more fish. There’s something ineffably seasonal and celebratory about really good fish — there’s no doubt a fish-based dish performs best during summer; and where better to spend summer than the South of France?
"Basil and olive oil represent the South of France..."
This prawn dish comes to us courtesy of LPM Restaurant & Bar, in Mayfair, which — as we’re sure you know already — serves delectable French Mediterranean food to a suave, elegant crowd. This dish hails from the expert hands of Chef Patron Raphael Duntoye, and it’s a blissfully simple one: warm prawns in olive oil. Duntoy reflects on the “simplicity and lightness of the dish,” and describes it as “a combination of great products” — particularly those that evoke the South of France. “Basil and olive oil represent the region of the South of France,” he explains, “and are simply presented together on a plate.” Sometimes, simple really is best.
Keep the fish preparation going with a unique take on seabream from Brasserie Zédel
We’ve got London-based French restaurant Brasserie Zédel to thank for this one; specifically, Head Chef Charles Hilton. To give the dish its full name, it’s ‘Seared Fillet of Seabream with sautéed peppers and black olive tapenade’; or if we’re going to do due diligence to its French origins, it’s the ‘Filet de Daurade, Poivrons Sautés et Tapenade’. As Hilton says, it “combines ingredients that are true to the South of France; particularly the black olive tapenade, which is incredibly popular in the region.
“It’s an ideal summer dish, evoking the tastes of Provence with a beautiful fillet of seabream and the mix of salty tapenade with sweet peppers and lots of extra virgin olive oil,” Hilton continues. “For the peppers, we roast them first, then skin and de-seed. They’re sliced thinly and finished with shallots, a touch of garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
“The seabream is descaled and pin boned first, then cooked on a high heat — skin side first to be nice and crispy — then turned to cook the flesh. Finally, the tapenade is made with Kalamata extra virgin olive oil, pitted black olives, capers, anchovy fillets and a touch of garlic: all blended to create the paste texture.”
For the ultimate showstopper, Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat's Le Framboisier never fails
We don’t generally like to go overboard on our superlatives, but we’ll make an exception in this instance; Le Framboisier is a masterpiece, and it hails from Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat (that’s right: the gloriously glamorous Côte d’Azur hotel, frequented over the years by the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill) — specifically, from Pastry Chef Florent Magaillan.
Magaillan describes the dish as “a mellow and fruity dessert containing fresh raspberries, a Hazelnut dacquoise biscuit, a raspberry insert, homemade custard and a light vanilla mousse.” (Is your mouth watering yet?). “It’s emblematic of French pastry, with the perfectly aligned scarlet raspberries symbolising the fruit of the Provençal region and the summer season, where the dish is handcrafted at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat. The nutty notes and sweet vanilla aroma bring a perfect balance and ‘gourmandise’”: the same gourmandise that Margaillan is revered for.
To indulge your sweet tooth, opt for the Fraisier from Ladurée
The French really know how to do cake, don’t they? Actually, while we’re talking about things that the French do well, they can do pretty much anything in the culinary world; but in this instance, we’re focusing on cake. Specifically, the Fraisier. Classically French, it’s exceptionally popular during the summer months, largely due to the freshness and seasonality of its ingredients.
This delectable cake comes to us from the expert team at Ladurée UK; and if anyone knows how to appeal to the sweet tooth, it’s Ladurée. Made with a hazelnut base, topped with creamy vanilla and strawberry mousse, it’s decorated with strawberries and chocolate flowers. It’s perfect for the summer season, with its lightness and frothiness evoking bursts of sunshine and warmer climes — to say nothing of its seasonal ingredients — and it’s classically, traditionally, ineffably French.
Looking to expand your culinary tastes? These are the cookbooks to have on your shelf this summer…
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