La Palme d’Or – Cannes

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So we are in Cannes, the city of the Cannes Film Festival (umm of course), streets lined with palm trees, the pristine sea and the beautiful beach populated with the jetset crowd.

I wanted to go to a restaurant in Cannes and I had a look around before finally settling on lunch at the La Palme d’Or which overlooks the Bay of Cannes with the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean sea glistening back at you. The restaurant has amazing views and a chef that is focused on good produce and a sensory culinary excellence.

So we arrive early and take a walk through the main building and there is a private lift for the restaurant where we venture up. As we walk towards the restaurant we have an amazing view of the pool below us through the walk way.

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We are then seated at our tables on the balcony and we gaze at the beautiful beach with the tree-lined streets while the beautiful breeze just floats throughout the afternoon to make this one amazing experience.

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Introduction, Appetizers and Bread

Now a bit of an introduction, the restaurant has two Michelin stars since 1991. The chef, Christian Sinicropi, at the restaurant is big on local produce and uses inventive techniques to create a sensory culinary experience. In fact he pens each diner a beautiful letter apologising for his absence today and outlining the restaurant’s style.

My favourite part of the note is that he notes the gourmet experience is not about I but of we, “the farmers, gardeners, fisherman, chefs, waiters, artists and ceramists all working together.” He is no true, everyone pulls together to deliver this experience… a well placed piece of art, or the beautiful silverware or the fisherman who actually caught the quality fish… its all a jigsaw with so many variables that can make the difference.

He also notes that his wife actually makes the ceramics which the beautiful dishes are laid on.

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The Crisps
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The crisps have the light sweet taste to them and crumbles (and actually more like disintegrate) on your tongue with a buttery softness which is very unique. I really love them and I feel energized about the lunch ahead.

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Tomato Focaccia 

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The bread is paired with a lovely rich olive oil, which makes it quite a start. The rich tangy juicy tomato shines through the soft foamy textured foccacia. We just sit back dipping our bread in the oil and taking a quick glance at the palm trees before placing it on our tongues to let the full flavour of the olive oil drip through.

The Circus: Baked Ravioli, Sardine Ball (red), Rabbit Ball (yellow), Herb MarshmallowIMG_20140801_124157

The baked ravioli is crunchy and flaky on the outside with the smooth creamy inside filling which ticks the boxes on texture and taste.The sardine ball is oily, salty and has the beautiful flavours of the sardine intact.

The rabbit ball is rich, gamey and has the stringy texture of the meat which forms a little sensation on the tongue.This is finished with the marshmallow which has a sweet taste with herby overtones and a lovely gelatine like texture. It really is a circus of flavours!

Wine 

For the wine, the choice is debated with my dining companion. I am after a light red to carry me through the evening, dull my senses a little, but have the ability to admire the beautiful palm trees and people watch. My dining companion is of the view it should be white wine to pair with the seafood. We compromise and a light red is chosen.

Agnes Paquet Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012 (Burgundy, France)
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This Pinot Noir is quite beautiful. It is easy to drink. On first glass it showcases spicy and fruity scents, to make a firm impression. But its light-bodied nature, smooth tannins and a medium finish make this wine perfect for the setting (and keeps my dining companion happy). On first taste it has clear taste of ripe cherries (along with other red fruits) with little hints of vanilla and tobacco. I love it… I actually don’t care about the view anymore… gazing at my glass becomes the new “thing to do”.

The Menu (Themes)

Then the food arrives and I will describe the way the menu works to avoid confusion. You get to choose two Themes (the Main and the Dessert). You then get three dishes which reflect the Main Theme and two which reflect the Dessert Theme.

I choose the Shellfish for the Main Theme, so my first three course are Shellfish cooked three different ways and I chose the Cherries for my dessert and I will get two courses of “Cherry” type desserts. My dish is the first on each course and the reviews are in more detail, given I actually tasted those dishes.

My dining companion chose the Sea Bream as the Main theme and Dark Chocolate as the Dessert Theme.

Here is how it unfolds….

First Course 

So we move on to the First Course…

Velvet of Shells in Hulls served in its ceramic sea urchin shell IMG_20140801_130028

The dish is velvety, creamy, and a light pink with the wonderful saline juices of shellfish and the beautiful flavour of the oils and seasoning shining through for a simple but interesting start to lunch. There is not much I can do to describe or articulate its very distinct flavour.

Sea Bream with cubic in the sticks of broccolli  seasoned with crist marine spiced with curcuma 

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I looks lovely and my dining companion confirms this. The sea bream was perfected to the right level doneness which even impressed my dining companion.

Second Course

We now move onto the second course!

Inspiration of Mussel “opens just” on simply tender potato
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The potato is preserved with yellow light spices including cumin and is a firm but soft when tasted. The beautiful distinct saline juicy taste of the mussels and crunchiness of beans provide a beautiful taste and textured contrast experience to the dish, while the firm bite of horseradish on top acts to balance the flavour of the mussel and adds a little bite to the dish.

Tartine of bream covered with lemon meringue 

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I didn’t get any feedback from my dining companion, however the dish looks very creative with the contrasting texture of the tartine and meringue, plus the neutral sea bream meat would have been an interesting taste interaction with the sour/sweet meringue.

Third Course

Sensation of a crisp memory of southern flavours iodized by the oyster, the squid and the Palo.IMG_20140801_132932

The oyster is rich, creamy and juicy with a beautiful soft slimy texture and is the centrepiece of this dish. The squid is firm and succulent and full of flavour, while broth, has a light tang to it and redness in flavour, probably from the Palo, shines through. The green pepper and some other finely chopped vegetables adds a little hint crunchiness to round out the dish.

Roasted and caressed by a practical stuffing and glazed with the juice of veal and seasoned with strips of leek, seasoned with a dressing.
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This dish is an interesting style of surf and turf. I didn’t get any meaningful feedback, but the interaction of the veal and fish would have been very interesting.

Fourth Course

So we both have a little pre-dessert. The berries in shot glass with cream foam have a rich fruity flavour, while the marshmallow is its simple soft gelatine like sugar hit.

The chocolate cake with chocolate cream ganache is the perfect mix of crumbs and chocolate cream, and the berry chocolate (far right) has a rich chocolate crackle base and meringue berry covering a fruity berry cream – is a mixture of creamy and fruity tastes.

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Cherry Creme Brulee on a marmalade of cherries and a beer ice cream 

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Now this dish takes me back to my childhood. Beautiful summers in Perth (its a city in the west coast of Australia), with the sweet juicy taste of cherries in my mouth under the summer sun. The cherry creme brulee has a the grainy caramelised sugar which encases the creme base which is flavoured with cherry (of course). Its a typically creme brulee, rich, creamy and full of that sugar hit.

The creme brulee is placed on a bed of cherry marmalade which has chunks of fresh cherries in a thick sauce which adds to the flavour hit from the creme brulee. Then to top it off there is a beer ice cream on the bottom, which a light cherry flavour to it, but the ice cream provides a little spice of residue from the beer to add an extra dimension to the dish.

Dark Chocolate in foam cooks directly on the plate sublimated by the caramel ice cream “Palme d’or”
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I am suffering serious food envy! This looks so cool. Beautiful rich caramel and the dark chocolate baked foam. I so need to try it… but I don’t get to. So I need to head back here again to try it.

Fifth Course

Hot Souffle with cherry in caramelised muscovado sugar in the centre and a sorbet of cherry pistachio nut. 

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The light sugar dusting which sits on crust of the soufflé is pierced through by the waiter to pour the rich pistachio and cherry sorbet. The soufflé is puffy, fluffy and very light with the interwoven cherries providing rich fruity bursts of sweetness throughout the tasting experience. There are full cherries in here and the pistachio provides a smooth nutty flavour to offset the sheer sweetness of the cherries. Its a well balanced and beautiful dessert.

Creamy – Alliance with the coffee in a fine shell of chocolate, espuma in the notes of coffee “strong espresso” and marsala, espresso granita.
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Although this is not my dessert, I get to try some. The velvety dark chocolate ball is beautiful with rich cocoa flavour and the coffee poured over provides a bitter espresso overlay to the dish. The ice from the granita and marsala inside the ball provide a light spice and texture combination. It is quite the dessert.

The End 

Coffee

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We finish with an espresso.

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There are some beautiful toffees, which I try to restrict my consumption of.

And there’s a little bit of crema from the espresso in my cup, so I carve out a little shape… just for you! That’s for every reader of Life of a Travel Czar.

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The afternoon draws to a close and we both agree the lunch was fantastic, the view was amazing, the food creative and the produce was amazing. I will be back here next time I am in Cannes. We take one last glance of the palm trees which line the Bay of Cannes as we make our way out.

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