Thursday, September 29, 2005

France: 2e Jour


Good Salad

Lunch was at the very eclectic and pink Rothschild Estate in Cap Ferrat, a very narrow promontory jutting out into the Mediterranean. I'm not really a salad person, but it's easy to see why salads are so popular overseas. Olives, pine nuts, ham, cherry tomatoes and goat's cheese worked very well together with the crisp lettuce to produce a one-dish meal that was satisfyingly filling and probably (hopefully) quite nutritious.


We had dinner at Le Chateau Saint Paul, a restaurant with an exquisite view, by virtue of the fact that Saint Paul is a town located in the mountains above Nice, and the Chateau is located high above Saint Paul.

Le Saint Paul 4

We were served an amuse-bouche of pumpkin creme with (I think) hazelnut foam, which was very nice. The problem I always face with pumpkin soup back here is that it never seems to retain its pumpkin taste very well, but no such problem with the creme. Even though it was creamy and topped with a different tasting foam, it was a pleasure to drink all the same.

Le Saint Paul 3

Next came the starter of tomato gazpacho and aubergine puree with tomato coulis and arugula. I didn't really like the gazpacho, there seemed to be something very sour in it, rather like lemon juice. The aubergine puree was excellent though, even for someone who's never touched an aubergine before. It was really quite sweet and mellow.

Le Saint Paul 5

Because I had ordered from the set menu, I was served two main courses. The first was a grilled dorade with asparagus in and orange zest sauce. I'm not really a fan of seafood, and in my opinion the fish wasn't improved by the citrus sauce. Somehow the acidity just didn't go well with the dorade.

Le Saint Paul 6

The second main course was a filet of beef with pine nuts and baked potatoes, stuffed with assorted diced vegetables. Again, I found the beef a bit dry and I didn't particularly care for the pine nuts that went atop the meat.

Le Saint Paul 7

When dessert arrived, I was beginning to think the French were either really fond of strawberries or they had a really good harvest. Strawberries done three ways! Ice cream, filled with cream and served with white chocolate mousse, and strawberry shortcake with a mountain of whipped cream. The dessert was pretty good, even if I don't like strawberries, except dinner had been so heavy that I couldn't really finish the shortcake and cream.

So far both dinners had been at restaurants rated with one Michelin star each, and with Michelin stars being such a big deal in the country, I was kind of expecting the food to be pitched at a much higher level. Not that it was bad, of course none of the food was bad, just that having been to very good, albeit unranked by Michelin, restaurants in Singapore, I was surprised that the star system wasn't all it was hyped up to be.

But it was only two days into the trip, with many more meals to go.

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