Travel Through Plates

When a plate of food is put before me, I photograph it immediately. This blog, decodes my favorite dishes. It's a happy blog, as I predominantly show you pictures of the winners, the ones I love,

My Greatest Plates!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beach Extraordinaire! La Reserve Mala Beach Cap D'Ail

Cap D'ail neighbours Monaco to it's west, In 1560, 700 soldiers staged here to attack and conquer Monaco; they failed! The beach was settled in 1933 in memory of the ballet dancer Mala who was the friend of the last Russian Tzar, today its known as the Plage Mala, historically attracting a Russian clientele and such notables as Colette, Lord Beaverbrook; after 1945 Greta Garbo and Winston Churchill were frequent visitors too. Today they got me for lunch!

Arriving by boat, the Reserve has a zodiac tender to bring boaters to shore. In my experience, Beach restaurants tend to be basic affairs that charge stupid prices for bad food, accordingly my expectations were low.

I certainly was not prepared for what came next, plate after plate of brilliance, superb service married to wonderful atmosphere. The beach layout is tables with white awnings, comfortable seating makes this a remarkable place for lunch. Did I mention the great bar, cool music and sea breeze!!!


My group shared appetizers, we started with a pizza but it was devoured before I could snap picture one!

A Caprese, with a twist; basil sorbet, meltingly unctuous buffalo mozzi, Italian tomatoes and wild roquette arrived and gave us the first hint that this was no ordinary beach shack.

An orchid topped crunchy salad followed with a honeyed dressing.

These spring rolls were perfection! The mint and lettuce cradling the wonderful hot crunchy, far east filling.

Grilled Gambas with asparagus, crunchy carrots and beetroot vinaigrette were a magnificent perfumed success.

Grilled, line caught seabass!

Here in this closeup you can see the fresh parsley and garlic licking the Vongole (Clams) with an olive oil emulsion. Super, simple and good!

This was the best of the best, Linguine, with mussels, cherry tomatoes, clams, garlic and a plump grilled gambas crowning the glory. Off the scale good!

Instead of the usual Domain de Ott our waitress suggests we opt for a cheaper selection a magnum of Clos Beylesse Rose, it was the cool, refreshing and tremendous, the florality married impeccably with the fare we had ordered. As lunch wound down to dessert the piles of shells and discarded carapace were everywhere, the table sound was chorus of shells being sucked and cracked longingly as hands replaced cutlery. Here is the damage!

More than just fruit, this is art, 9 fruits in all heralded dessert, ripe and sweet, this wonderful lunch drew to a close. Great value, superb setting, attentive service and a brilliant kitchen, add the sun and you have perfection!

Below samples from the menu, the address and web site.


La Grande Salade de la Réserve - 16 €
Carpaccio de Boeuf Mariné aux Copeaux de Parmesan - 16 €Variation de melons et Poivron Grillé au " Patanegra Iberico " - €
Salade de Crevettes au Piment d'Espelette - 14 €
Tomates et Mozzarellas à l'Emulsion de Basilic - 14 €
Salade de Langouste aux Légumes Confits - 26 €


Marguerite - 12 €
Scachiatta - 16 €
Végétarienne - 16 €


Spaghettis aglio olio Peperoncino - 12 €
Fettucine Frais au Pistou - 14 €

Le Panier du Mareyeur

Sur le Grill selon la Pêche... -


Tournedos de Saumon en Brochette de Citronnelle - 16 €
Langouste Rotie au Sabayon Champagne - 49 €
Tagliatta de Thon " Wasabine " - 18 €
Gambas Sauvages Saulées au Basilic Frais - 26 €


Carrée d'Agneau au Miel d'Oranges et Poivre Sarawak - 32 €
Filet de Boeuf à la Crème de Roquette - 24 €
Brochettes de Poulet grillées à la Fleur de Cactus - 16 €
Selection de Fromages, Salade d'Herbes Fraîches - 8 €


Mille Feuille de fruits Rouges " Puit du Dragon " - 12 €
Banane Rôtie au Lait de Coco - 8 €
Moelleux au Chocolat Mi-cuit, Crème glacée au Gingembre - 9 €
Crème Brûlée Renversée au Safran - 8 €

You can reach the restaurant by sea or road with ease
La Réserve de la Mala
Plage de la Mala
06320 Cap d'Ail
Tél : +33 (0)4 93 78 21 56
Fax : +33 (0)4 93 78 29 42

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mythic! - Le Petite Maison In Nice


There are  restaurants on the Cote D'Azur, past and present that gain mythic reputations! Oasis at La Napoule, Felix in it's hey day on the Croissette in Cannes (No Longer, now a tourist trap), gone too are the three star glory days of the Moulin de Mougins and though we have eclipsed the apogee of Tetou in Golfe Juan it is still really good! Gladly Nicole Rubi's Petite Maison is firmly ensconced in this constellation of gourmet greatness.  I get happy from the moment I know that I'm going to be eating there. Happily, Nicole loves me and I love her, I know there are others who find her brusque and obstreperous but I'm not one of them! I'm mad for her! Perhaps it is because she's my " Pissaladiere dealer"!!

Petite Maison
This is the good stuff meltingly sweet confit of onions on a flaky pastry tart with little diamonds of Niçoise of olives, hit with salt a sliver of hidden anchovy or two and a little olive oil. This is the region on a plate. 
The best idea here is to come with friends, friends who like to share and order many starters rather than the main courses which are less beguiling. This joint is packed, tables caddy corner one another, serious eating is going down!
Battered courgette blossoms are the trumpet that warns spring that summer is next. The beignets are served with a tomato dip! Incredibly good!

Yes dear reader them there are some gooooood eating tomatoes! Raw purple spiked artichokes are given olive oil and lemon juice dressing! Superb simplicity!
Grain mustard, toasted crusty bread, confit tomatoes, coarse salt and piping oven hot veal marrow bones are served family style, make sure you get at least one for each diner! 

Tuna carpaccio with mango dice is drizzled with the OO and covered in Riquette, which is French for Roquette (English) or Arugula (USA) PS - in some parts of France they use the sobriquet - Roquette too as it is already French!!

The petit farci are stuffed veggies such as courgettes, eggplant and tomatoes brimming with meat and veg.

The star of the show this night were the warm jumbo shrimp cut on the bias and served with julienned basil and OO and Lemon emulsion. The shrimps were slight warm, soft not springy with a never been frozen quality, scrumptious to oh00oooo and ahhh extremes!

Calamari were exemplary and moreish, what is there not to like about crisp, hot fried goodness?

Continuing the trend breaded rosemary chevre boules melt in your mouth good!

Spicy tomato and basil chili spaghetti rounds out this evening. We got a freebie refreshing mandarine sorbet to cleanse the palate! 
This is a wonderful place to eat with friends, not good for stiffy biz meals at all. Remember you'll want to pass plates and eat family style. The room is darkly lit but beautifully accented by the candles that dress light on to the baskets of lemons and vines of tomatoes that act as edible table features.

Nicole sold a franchise to the ZUMA owners in London and have opened up a stellar UK outpost behind Claridges in Brooks Mews but whilst it is faithful to it's mothership the food is more fussy and the menu much longer. ie: More is less!

Le Petite Maison in Nice is an institution, it merits it's laurels and does not sit on them at all!!!

The current Nice menu is below!

Olives de Nice en tapenade, radis et cébettes
Cœurs de laitues à la Caesar’s
Marinade de poissons et crustacés
Thon finement taillé, citron, cébette, piment rouge et mangue
Coquilles Saint-Jacques marinées, pépites de truffres
Les petits farcis Niçois
Salade haricots verts extra fin à l'huile d'olive et vieux balsamique avec foie gras

Salade d’Artichauts violets
Tomates pays, mozzarella di buffala, basilic et huile d'olive
Fins beignets de fleurs de courges
Salade de Nice
Salade aux parfums d’orient
Le chèvre frais rôti à la crème de romarin
Foie gras de canard, caramel de balsamique
Saumon fumé Maison, Pain aux céréales et chantilly
Avocat au saumon fumé en salade
Spaghetti à la tomate fraîche et aux piments

Truffes : Melanosporum
Oeufs de poule au plat, mouillettes aux truffes
Salade mélangée, herbes et truffes
Brouillade de truffes
Maccaroni aux truffes
Risotto aux truffes

Langouste puce Royale de la Méditérranée rôtie
Homard bleu grillé
Salade de homard bleu, fruits et légumes

Coquilles Saint-Jacques nacrées, rissolées à l’ail
Les grosses crevettes à l'ail et au four
Les crevettes tièdes à l'huile d'olive et basilic
Les crevettes grillées et flambées
Crevettes et crabe en tempura, sauce spéciale
Calamaretti fritti
Grenouilles dorées au beurre, ail et persil

Rougets de roche du pays en friture
Loup de pêche locale cuisiné "comme on aime"
Loup cuit dans la croûte de sel
Sole de petit bateau cuite au beurre
Thon comme un tournedos au poivre
Linguini onctueux au homard

La Côte de Bœuf avec moëlle
Le filet de Boeuf au poivre, grillé béarnaise et Rossini
Le châteaubriand
Poulet Fermier élévé au grain, farçi au foie gras
Côte de Veau de lait Fermier cuisinée en cocotte
11 Rue Saint François de Paule - 06300 Nice | Tel. 04 93 92 59 59 | Fax. 04 93 92 28 51

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tang Freres the Fresh Source of Asia in Paris

Tang Freres (Tang Brothers) is the source of most imported asian produce in Paris. They are the largest asian supermarket west of China! Originally from Laos and with the Main store in the 13th quarter at 48, avenue d'Ivry 75013 Paris
Tel: 33-1-45-70-80-00
Huge parking under the premises as well!!

If its Thai, from Vietnam or China, they have it fresh! Alladin's cave that champions and inspires the cook in you..

What a learning curve, you have to keep pinching yourself to remind yourself that you are still in Paris.

Here a rows of green herbs. Many I simply don't know how to use, but testing and trying them is part of the fun. On this trip I learn't about Hairy Basil, a cross between thai basil and lemon grass. Below some this incredible bounty!
Banana Flowers
Can somebody let me know about this Rao Ram (Phak Pheo) Vietnamese Cilantro
I'd love to figure out how to use that!
I want to show you some of the fresh fruit on offer too.

 This is Jack Fruit
Saboutier tastes like a collision of date and Kiwi

A vietnamese "Sugar Apple"
Here Cinnamon Apples, I wonder how one would use these? Any ideas?
Every packaged sauce, and condiments you can imagine is featured on aisle after aisle of brands that are unfamiliar and proffer a steep learning curve. You really are on your own, though I have had to ask other shoppers for advice, albeit sometimes they look at me bemused and laugh me off with a "don't be so silly" look!

On this occasion I used the Tang Freres goodies for a superb salad. Hope you enjoy this recipe! It's a keeper

Vietnamese Chili Chicken Herby Mint Salad

Poach 2 kilos of chicken breast in enough water to cover with three thai chilis, a red onion cut in four, 5 sticks of lemon grass bruised with the back of a knife, the stalks of two bunches of coriander, four pieces of roughly chopped Galangal (Thai Ginger)  and a big bunch of thai basil.  BOIL UNTIL just cooked through then remove chicken from the stock, to cool on a rack. Reserve the stock for thai Yom Gai soup if you want or freeze.

The salad
1 Head of CHINESE CABBAGE julienned
  4  carrots sliced on a mandolin to make ribbons
  250 grams of bean sprouts
 2  Bunches of Spring onions (Cebettes)
 1 Bunch of Coriander
 1 Bunch of mint sizzle cut

 1 bunch thai basil
 1 1 trevise/radiccio julienned

3 THAI red chilli, seeded and minced
2 fat garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 tbsp sugar (Prefer PALM SUGAR)
1/3 cup  rice vinegar
Juice of 10 limes about to produce a cup of juice and the juice of one large lemon
1/3 cup  Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)
1/3  vegetable oil sunflower is good
1 Red Onion, finely sliced
black pepper
  3 bunches of mint leaves only   
  2 bunches of thai basil leaves only
  2 bunches of coriander destalked

Put the herbs for the dressing in a food processor with a few spoon of the oil and pulse slowly to control the effect. You must avoid it pulping or liquidizing, herbs must remain as finely chopped herbs

In a bowl, combine the chilli, garlic, sugar, vinegar, lime/lemon juice, fish sauce, oil and onion, black pepper. Taste to see if the balance of sugar, spice, vinegar, citrus is right!, you can always add a bit more of any ingredient.

Add the herbs to the bowl and mix all together.

slice thinly or shred the chicken and transfer to the dressing and mix it making sure to soak all the chicken in the dressing. Put in fridge for an hour

Arrange the cabbage, sprouts,  carrots and treviso on a plate interlacing herbs and spring onion within the cabbage. Leave a hole in the middle of the plate and fill that with the chicken.

cover with any remaining herbs!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Casa Olympe, A brilliant bistro!

I have a list of restaurants that sit patiently waiting for me,  for whatever reason, I don't get round to eating at the address and the list grows bigger by the week! Usually for me it is because either the restaurant is in a part of town I don't often get too (I know it's a lame and lazy excuse) or because another establishment close by always claims my buck first. The Casa Olympe stars finally aligned when the Dutchman called me from London and said, I need to be in the 9th quarter next monday at 1500 to meet a bank! Open Monday, 9th arr.... the rest as they say is history.

Missing out all these years on Casa Olympe has been a huge stupidity of mine, it's way beyond bistro status and way beyond being just a neighbourhood haunt too. If you come from the school that good things often come in small packages then you've sat down in the right place!

This pocket sized restaurant is my kinda place!!

The most tempting dish on the entire menu was a starter! A small dutch oven (Cocotte) of exquisite earthy vegetables such as pumpkin, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, potatoes, swiss chard and smokey bacon! A fair snip of chive, coarse pepper grindings, a tablespoon of good farmy creme fraiche and a little piment d'espilette brought the garden to to my table! Thankfully the bread is so crusty good that you can use it to mop up the final sugars left in the now empty pot.
Here I lay out the fixings from the pot for you to scrute and click on for a closeup!

Proving yet again that simple and delicious is way better than complicated and not!!
The double-barreled Scott (who came with the Dutchman) was not coming to Paris for a plate of roots no sir, he preferred to order tubers and fine french ones they were too. Served with a warm egg "mollet" that dripped its gold liquor to great effect when prodded.

I waited to have some asparagus of my own on my veal chop, in fact they looked so splendid on my friends plate that I asked Madame Versini, the Lady of Olympe whether I could change the garnish planned from wild mushrooms to asparagus. No problem!

There is a rustic quality to the dishes served here that I can relate too, nothing overpowers the main ingredient on the plate, everything seemed to enhance the star turn, not unlike a harmony of tight backing singers behind a great songstress.

Steak (Special of the day) with fondant potatoes (I'm guessing duck or goose fat) bitter leaves meet the dijon and bob's your uncle... we were pushed for time so we all shared one dessert!

Pains Perdue avec sauce Caramel Buerre Salé, translation lost bread with caramel made with salted butter...

To focus your attention here are some other items from the Menu!

If you don't come often to Paris all I can say is read it and weep!!!!

Warm Pig’s Ear salade with Herbs
Chestnut flour Pancake with a poached egg and melted butter
Snails in a lightly Garlicked green Herb bouillon
Pumpkin Soup with Rock Mussels
Crispy Black pudding with a mixture of wild Lettuces
Roast thyme-flavored shoulder of lamb
Pan-fried farm-raised Guinea Hen from Challans with two kinds of cabbage
Crusty sweetbreads with Pantelleria capers
Mackerel in a papillote with Herring“caviar“ and olive oil mashed patatoes
Veal chop with bay leaf, pan-fried mushrooms
Scallops with Celery, Olive oil and Balsam-flavored cream
Bacon-Studded  Tuna fish with onions
Spiced grilled Pig’s Head with green lentil beans

48 rue Saint Georges, 75009 Paris Tel :
They have a good bilingual web site too with updated dishes and pictures