Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Burgundy and The French Riviera (7 of 12) - Antibes and Mougins

Lounge at the Hotel du Cap
Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc
Boulevard J.F. Kennedy
06600 ANTIBES France

Not strictly somewhere we went to eat but must include it.

We had spent the day in Antibes with a morning in the Picasso museum avoiding the rain and an afternoon wandering the streets of the town. Seems Picasso had spent a lot of time here in Antibes and the original owner of the museum had offered it to him to create. And he did, massively, with lots of output from the master in his time there. There is a happiness in his pieces here compared to his other more angry work. Good for him. Got to grab the happiness while we can, because age and pain and loneliness catch up soon enough. That is later life for most of us.

So relaxing... at the Hotel du Cap
Lunchtime brought sunshine and a nice stroll along the Cours Massena for sandwich and crepes. Tasty enough and filling and refreshingly alcohol free. Memorable for our neighbour's table parking a huge St Bernard dog next to us. A gentle afternoon stroll along the coast road found photos and toilets before a turn back through town and shops took us the carpark. Streets are a bit cobbled so not so good for the ankles and the knees. Antibes is a tidy, well kept town with enough shop interest to warrant a mosey along the shopping area. Much better in the sunshine.

We met at our original coffee rendezvous to head off further up the coast. The plan was for all to walk along the Sentier Littoral coast path and return to the cars for a drive back to St Paul and change for a drive to dinner. Somehow this got changed so that I would drive one of the cars to the Hotel du Cap and wait there for everyone. Which happened, notwithstanding some issues of not being able to reverse the car. The thing kept stalling in reverse because the brake would not release. Still don't know why. Got escorted to the Hotel du Cap by a French gentleman in his car. Driving into the hotel side, got directed to the restaurant part. Jockey parked and wandered into the very pretty lounge.

Postcard picture perfect - the money shot at Hotel du Cap
The Hotel du Cap was delightful and is a memory etched into my soul. It was perfect - grand, history, glory, and total Riviera of the fifties. Photos of old movie stars frolicking around the hotel and in the water were everywhere, underlining the point that the Hotel du Cap was and still in many respects is the playground of the Hollywood elite. This would be the place they would come to chill with movie friends to get away from the madness. It was very, very nice. Lenglui and I just sat there for about fifteen minutes drinking in the vibe and the history. Someone came and asked if we wanted anything. When he learnt we were not guests he said strictly speaking we couldn't order anything but he brought us tea anyway. Now that was service. Wonderful hour just chatting with tea and watching the sea and afternoon sky. 

We had a little explore around the huge grounds and took our photo opp photos on the gravel pathway to the hotel before heading to the restaurant bar to wait for the others. As they arrived we ordered champagne for them to quench their thirsts after the walk around the coast. Ten of us parked around two tables in the Hotel du Cap with two bottles of fizz as the sun was setting over the bay will stay with me forever. So will the bill for the booze, but sometimes better not to count cost. The memory is too precious. I stole a copy of the drinks menu - full of photos of the rich and famous who have passed through the doors of the hotel. You feel like you're breathing history in the place. Tangible. Must have so many stories. 

La Place de Mougins
La Place de Mougins
41, place du Commandant Lamy
06250 Mougins

Oi garcon, where's the wine? Ah?
As said, the original plan was to go back to St Paul to change for dinner, but time was now against us and given that the restaurant was on this side of the Riviera we opted to go straight there. Mougins is a pleasant town about 5km north of Cannes and houses lots of golf courses and what seems to be a specially constructed village of restaurants. Lorraine had booked La Place de Mougins. Took a bit of finding and GPS seemed to be taking us up a strange road. We asked a Frenchie who directed us the opposite way to what GPS was telling us. We opted to take Mr Frenchie's advice and good thing too - en route we saw one of our number taking photos so we doubled back and parked in the free public car park. A short uphill stroll to the village with vistas of countryside and valley and picture perfect buildings in the evening sun was lovely. La Place de Mougins restaurant was perched at the top of the square, looking like an old country house refurbished for modern tastes. We got ushered and sat and watered. There was a Euro75 prix fixe menu which we were having. Wines got ordered, photos taken. Lovely ambience here, with very good and creatively prepared and presented food. Standouts were the sashimi starter and the bread - warm, olive with rosemary and soft with light crisp crust - taste of heaven with a dip in the oil and outstanding with butter. I also seem to recall that the vegetables were stunning - the artichoke in particular was crisp and full of taste. Looking back at the menu and the photos, there are a lot of contrasts on the plates which worked very well - the sharp mango with the sweet langoustine, the sweet pea veloute with the mouth coating foie gras - which made for explosive little tongue bombs, all zappy and tingling. Very pleasant and unobtrusive service, with the dishes being explained by a helpful maitre d'. Well worth a return visit. 

King Prawn Carpaccio with Mango Sauce
Seem to recall a lot of marketing blurb on well produced cards and brochures. Chef Denis Fetisson is clearly not afraid to spend on producing quality literature and seems to have his name pretty much on all of it. A shade aggressive in the promotion? Perhaps. But he clearly keeps on able to deliver the food on the table and that remains the product on which La Place will naturally continue to be judged. Just wish my French was a bit better so I could better understand what Chef was talking about in his blurbs. There you go, eh?

Foie Gras with Green Pea Veloute
Michelin inspector says the cuisine is creative, where "Chic and pleasing are adjectives equally applicable to this charming restaurant and its cuisine, thanks to a passionate and creative chef. Month by month he gives pride of place to a succession of seasonal ingredients... celebrating the truffle, the asparagus and so on." Yet to get a star though. Given all the rave reviews on the Tripadvisor, shouldn't be long. Better go there before it does and La Place ups its prices. 

Poached Grey Merlu with Octopus and Lemon Cedrat
Getting used to the roads and the GPS by now, so it was an easy drive home along the main road and direct to the villa. Good signage on the roads in this part of France. 

Saddle of Aveyron Lamb with wonderfully crisp Artichoke

More wine for you Madame?
Mise en Bouche Autour du Produit a L'Honneur
(Appetizer of the season)

Carpaccio de Langoustines en Saveurs D'Agrumes
(King Prawns Carpaccio, Citrus Fruit Flavour, Mango Sauce)

Foie Gras Canard Poele au Sarawak, Veloute de Petit Pois, Cannelloni a L'Encre de Seiche
(Pan Fried Duck Foie Gras, Green Peas Veloute, Black Cannelloni)

Merlu de Ligne Cuit en Vapeur de Bourrache, Courgettes Trompettes Fumees, Petis Poulpes, Citron Cedrat
(Mediterranean Grey Merlu poached in "Court Bouillon", Zucchini and Octopus, Lemon "Cedrat")

Selle D'Agneau de L'Aveyron en Royale D'Olive Noire, Blettes au Gratin, Artichauts, Fevettes et Girolles
(Saddle of Lamb from Aveyron, Royal of Olive, Swiss Chard, Artichokes and Girol Mushrooms)

Pre Dessert

Souffle Chaud aux Fraises des Bois Biscuit Cuillere et Sorbet Fraise des Bois
(Wild Strawberries, Hot Souffle,Spoon Biscuit and Wild Strawberry Sorbet)

Pre Dessert

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