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During July, there were several British news items I did not have time to cover.

Without further ado, here they are …

St Swithin’s Day

July 15 was St Swithin’s Day, traditionally thought to successfully predict the weather for the next 40 days.

It was cool and cloudy.

So it is two weeks later.

The Mirror tried to debunk centuries of tradition that day by saying temps would reach 29° C that weekend. They never did, at least in the UK. We had a maximum of 24°.

Since then, it’s been cool, cloudy and rainy — with a few hours of sunshine here and there.

The Mirror was wrong. As my late grandmother-in-law always said: ‘The old ways are the best’.

This isn’t the first year I’ve tracked the weather following St Swithin’s Day.

Trust what happens on July 15 in the UK. That’s the weather for the next six weeks.

Admittedly, we might get the odd, sunny, warm day, such as today — but, that might be a rarity during the month ahead.

Friday, July 17

This was the day when temps reached a maximum of 24°.

More importantly, Princess Beatrice was married at Windsor. Her father, Prince Andrew, stayed out of the photos.

The wedding was small, in keeping with coronavirus guidelines:

Another wonderful event took place that day at Windsor. Captain Tom Moore, 100, received a socially-distanced knighthood from the Queen:

Captain Sir Tom Moore raised tens of millions of £££ for the NHS during the height of the pandemic by walking around his garden 100 times on a zimmer frame (walker). I am sure that was not easy for him, yet he persevered.

Afterward, the Second World War veteran said:

It’s been an absolutely outstanding day and you could never have believed I was never going to get such an honour as I have today. I really believed never ever would I be so privileged I could be so close to the Queen and speak to her, and that really was something absolutely outstanding.

Fantastic! May God continue to bless him abundantly.

Boris’s first anniversary as PM

Thursday, July 23 marked Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s first anniversary.

This delightful video shows clips of him promoting the 2010 Olympics when he was Mayor of London:

Although it’s been a miserable year, he has achieved the impossible, as Guido Fawkes reminds us:

  • Defeated Corbyn
  • Delivered Brexit
  • Won an 80 seat Conservative Party majority

Boris listed many more achievements over the past year. He could not even list them all in two minutes:

But there was no time to rest, as Boris was busy planning for the best and the worst in the months ahead:

Conservatives are still happy with his performance:

Writing for UnHerd, Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent, analysed Boris’s appeal among his supporters (emphases mine):

To find a similar degree of constant and tribal support for the Conservative brand, you have to go all the way back to the spring of 1987 when Margaret Thatcher began a similar period of total dominance in the polls that lasted for around two years. Though even that is a little misleading — Thatcher might have had a lot going on, but she never had to grapple with a global pandemic and the shutdown of the entire economy …

why have Johnson’s voters stayed so loyal?

The first thing to remember is how Boris Johnson achieved power. He pushed through what David Cameron had little interest in and Theresa May never really understood — the “realignment” of British politics. By organising around Brexit, which was itself an expression of a deeper fault line, Johnson was able to consolidate the Leave vote.

By doing so, he was able to anchor his party far more securely in a cross-class coalition of traditional “true blue” Tories and instinctively socially conservative blue-collar workers. By doing so, Johnson injected a greater degree of tribalism into his electorate and, by extension, a greater degree of “cultural polarisation” into the country. In a country where six in every ten constituencies broke for Brexit, this strategy makes sense. You might not like it but, electorally, strategically, it makes complete sense.

It also brings us to a point that many of his critics have failed to grasp. What unites Boris Johnson’s voters is not so much their economic experience, as their values. They prioritise the nation and the national community. They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over disruption and discontinuity. This is why they cherish Britain’s history, heritage and collective memory and are more sensitive to attempts to deconstruct them. And while they acknowledge that this history is complex, they believe that, on the whole, it was positive and that Britain has been a force for good in the world. In short, they believe in their country. They are proud of it. And they are proud of their fellow citizens …

Johnson is offering a positive and forward-looking creed that is more interested in national renewal and salvation than decline and repudiation. He is proud of the country and its people. And until his opponents figure this out and change track, then I suspect that many of those voters will continue to stand behind him while keeping their distance from his critics.

Boris’s war on fat

Boris has been on a diet since recovering from coronavirus. So far, he has lost a stone (14 pounds):

Now he wants all of us to lose weight — five pounds each — and save the NHS an estimated £100m. Hmm.

Guido Fawkes reported (emphases in the original):

Boris promises his health push will “not in an excessively bossy or nannying way, I hope” persuade Britons to lose a few pounds. Which is a curious line given the now-almost imminent, nonsensical ban on pre-watershed ‘junk food’ ads…

Agreed.

Last summer, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan banned what he termed ‘junk food’ adverts across the capital. Last June, when Wimbledon was in full swing, Guido reported:

London’s blanket ban on ‘junk food’ advertising is not only ineffective, inconsistent and impractical, it’s going to cost a fortune too! Estimated at a whopping £35 million, it will deprive dilapidated public services of desperately needed investment. Who’s decided that chicken burgers are not junk food but olive oil is? And no mince pies allowed at Xmas? No strawberries and cream for Wimbledon?

The simple truth is ad bans don’t work – there’s no proof they reduce childhood obesity. However, there is clear evidence that wide-ranging, collaborative and positive approaches are an effective solution. In Amsterdam, childhood obesity rates fell by 12% between 2012-15, through investment in positive lifestyle and education campaigns.

Telling people what they can do is much more effective than hectoring them about what they can’t. Evidence-based solutions are more effective than political ones.

One year later, Boris thinks this is a great idea for television:

British artist David Hockney, who opposed the UK’s smoking ban in 2007, was less than impressed:

I said to my far better half on Monday that they will probably target all the good foods, e.g. butter and meat.

The next day, I drank my morning coffee while waking up to this:

I love hummus! It’s good for you, too.

Guido posted an extensive list of what falls under the category of junk food, based on UK government guidelines.

In addition to hummus and raisins we find butter (as I predicted), more than half of all meats (mm-hmm, also as predicted), margarine, pesto, tomato soup, nearly all cheese, most yoghurts and, strangely, the driest, blandest thing on the planet: cream crackers, which have no cream in them, by the way. Hell is a cream cracker.

Something’s gone very wrong with this Conservative government. Most of us thought Boris was a libertarian.

Whatever the case, there must be a better way than another ban:

Maybe Boris is still frightened from his serious illness. I suspect it took him a long time to recuperate, judging from his appearance in the weeks that followed.

Cat contracts coronavirus

On Monday, July 27, Reuters reported:

The British environment ministry said “all available evidence” suggested the cat had contracted the coronavirus from its owners, who had both tested positive for COVID-19.

Both the cat and the humans made a full recovery and there was no transmission to any other animals or people in the household, the ministry said without identifying the individuals involved.

“This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm,” said Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England.

“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round,” Doyle added.

The government said the infection was confirmed in lab tests on Wednesday, adding there was no evidence that cats could transmit the virus to humans.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said cats are the most susceptible animal species to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and are able to transmit it to other cats.

Delays in getting stranded Britons home explained

When the pandemic broke, the Foreign Office pulled out all the stops to get stranded Britons back to the UK.

Arranging flights for some tourists overseas took longer than for others because hundreds were in remote places of the world.

Now it emerges there were other factors involved:

NHS relaxes self-isolation for patients entering hospital for treatment

Not so long ago, the NHS wanted all patients attending hospital for treatment or operations to self-isolate for 14 days beforehand.

Thankfully, as of Tuesday, July 28, that is no longer the case. The Daily Mail reported:

Updated guidance says strict social distancing and hand washing is enough to cut the risk of patients taking the virus into hospitals in England.

NHS patients will only need to self-isolate for a few days after taking a test in the run-up to them entering hospital, health bosses now say.  

Surgeons hope the relaxation of rules will help them to tackle the huge waiting lists that have built up during the Covid-19 crisis.

But they called for all patients to be given tests for the coronavirus before and after their operation to keep a lid on any potential outbreak.  

The change in advice was made because the virus is circulating at much lower levels than it was during the peak of the crisis in March and April.

Lewis Hamilton opines on a COVID-19 vaccine

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton had to walk back a video and post he made on social media regarding a COVID-19 vaccine:

On Monday, July 27, The Guardian reported:

Hamilton has since deleted the video and published a statement saying he hadn’t seen the comment attached to the clip, but wanted to show there is “uncertainty around side effects” of vaccines.

“I’ve noticed some comments on my earlier post about the coronavirus vaccine, and want to clarify my thoughts on it, as I understand why they might have been misinterpreted,” he said.

“Firstly I hadn’t actually seen the comment attached so that is totally my fault and I have a lot of respect for the charity work Bill Gates does.

“I also want to be clear that I am not against a vaccine and no doubt it will be important in the fight against coronavirus, and I’m hopeful for its development to save lives.

“However after watching the video, I felt it showed that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the side effects most importantly and how it is going to be funded. I may not always get my posting right. I’m only human but I’m learning as we go.”

I agree with the highlighted bit 100%.

Holidays abroad

Whether it’s a good idea or not right now, Britons want to enjoy a summer holiday in Europe.

Some made their reservations early in the year, before the pandemic arrived. Understandably, they want to get what they paid for.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and his family managed to arrive in Spain hours before the UK declared a quarantine for British travellers returning from that country. Shapps flew back to the UK on Wednesday, July 29:

He is returning early to get through a 10-day quarantine and, in the meantime, from home, to ‘handle this situation’. The Foreign Office has advised against all non-essential travel to Spain.

Presumably, Europeans are travelling all across the continent.

The result is that coronavirus cases are rising again:

On July 28, RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules (The Big Mouths) interviewed Dr Robert Sebbag, a specialist in infections who works at La Pitié Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. He said that, although the COVID-19 ward is seeing a small uptick in hospitalisations, no one is on a ventilator and most cases are ‘mild’ compared to what they were only a few months ago. If I understood correctly, the hospital has 24 patients in that particular ward. He said that the uptick in non-hospitalised cases points to those that can be treated safely whilst self-isolating at home.

Dr Sebbag wasn’t too concerned and said that it was the normal progression of the cycle of a virus. The question remains, he said, whether or how COVID-19 will mutate.

For now, we will have to find ways of learning to live with the virus. Dr Sebbag does not see that herd immunity will become widespread. He estimates that only 6% to 10% of the French are immune.

Lockdown in the north west of England

As of Thursday, June 30, a lockdown is now in place in parts of the north west of England.

Matt Hancock should have announced it via a formal press conference. Instead, he did so via a pooled television interview, leaving it to Boris to do a coronavirus briefing from Downing Street on Friday to further explain the new measures.

Because of this new lockdown and rises in cases elsewhere, the proposed measures for reopening more facilities and close-contact beauty services are on hold for the foreseeable future.

Masks must now be worn in nearly all enclosed public spaces, not only in shops, but also in museums and houses of worship.

Boris also encouraged Britons to enjoy a staycation in the UK rather than abroad.

Brexit

Meanwhile, in Brexit news, the international trade secretary, Liz Truss, announced that she would like to get haggis with meat into the US as part of a trade deal:

Earlier this year, exports of Macsween’s vegetarian haggis — branded as Scottish Veggie Crumble — were allowed into the US just in time for Burns Night on January 25. That was the first time in 49 years that any type of Scottish haggis was allowed in America.

And that concludes my roundup of the second half of July 2020.

Roll on August, come what may.

Venison: I can take it or leave it.

It’s a very nutritious yet lean meat and, yes, it can taste gamy.

We had some venison for braising in the freezer, so I thawed it and decided to make something other than the usual watery casserole (ugh!).

It ended up being very tender and tasting like flavoursome beef.

This is a taste of the Mediterranean from the forest.

Churchmouse’s venison casserole

This recipe serves four people.

You will need two dinner plates for preparation and a large casserole pot with a lid for cooking.

This recipe involves operations with knives and scissors as well as hot fat, which might not be suitable for all cooks or vulnerable members of the household.

This is best served over rice.

Ingredients

Enough venison for braising for four people (approx. 1 lb or 450 g)

300ml (approx. 1 1/4 cups) pure orange juice

1 large sprig of fresh rosemary (dried equivalent will do)

2 large sprigs of fresh oregano (dried equivalent will do)

4 tbsp beef dripping (or duck fat)

3 tbsp butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 medium sized bell peppers, finely chopped — one must be a red bell pepper, for a smoky flavour

3 large cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped

60ml (1/4 cup) port or red wine

60ml (1/4 cup) white vermouth (e.g. Noilly Prat, Cinzano, Martini)

1 tbsp raspberry or balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp tomato paste (mixed with the vinegar)

Salt

Pepper

Cayenne pepper

150g (5oz) flour, seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

Method

The meat must be marinaded 24 hours in advance.

Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F) before cooking.

1/  Remove visible sinews (silvery ‘skin’) and nerves (long white bits) with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Otherwise, the meat will be tough.

2/  Place the meat and the herbs in a Pyrex dish, season with salt, pepper and cayenne, then cover with orange juice. Put a lid on the dish and refrigerate for 24 hours.

3/  The next day, remove the meat from the Pyrex dish, pat dry and cut away any further sinews and nerves. Cut the meat into evenly sized cubes.

4/  Reserve the orange juice for the sauce (see below).

5/  Put 2 tbsp beef dripping (or duck fat) and 1 tbsp butter in the casserole pot and warm over medium heat until hot. Add salt, pepper and cayenne.

6/  Add the finely chopped onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent and tender. Placing a lid on the pot will help the onion cook quicker.

7/  Add the chopped bell peppers and the chopped garlic. Return the lid to the pan and cook for three minutes.

8/  While the vegetables are cooking, put 110g (4oz) of flour onto a large plate or into a plastic bag for food, add 2 tsp of salt, a dash of pepper and enough cayenne pepper to taste. Place the cubed venison into it and toss (plate) or shake (bag) until well blended. Put to one side afterwards.

9/  Remove the sautéed vegetables from the pot onto a large dinner plate. Add 2 tbsp beef dripping (or duck fat) and 1 tbsp of butter. Allow to warm up over medium heat.

10/ When the fat is sizzling, place the floured venison cubes evenly in the pan. This might take three separate goes, as the meat must be evenly spaced. Not all of the meat will fit into the pot at one time. I did mine in three turns.

11/ When the meat is browned on one side — after three minutes — turn over to brown on the other.

12/ Remove the meat and place onto a dinner plate. Repeat steps 10 and 11 and this step for the rest of the meat until it is all browned and on the dinner plate.

13/ To make the sauce, place 1 tbsp of butter and 40g (1oz) of flour into the casserole pot. Stir until browned and well incorporated. Season again with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

14/ Add the raspberry or balsamic vinegar, mixed with the tomato paste. Stir again.

15/ Add the port (or red wine) and stir well until smooth.

16/ Add the white vermouth and stir well until smooth.

17/ Add the orange juice from the marinade gradually — three additions work well — stirring thoroughly after each one. This is the sauce for your venison casserole. Add the meat and the vegetables. Stir until everything is mixed together. Add another sprig of rosemary and oregano, if you like.

18/ Place a lid on the casserole pot and put into the preheated oven for 1 hour.

19/ Turn the oven off and leave for another hour.

20/ If you need to reheat before serving, do so at 100°C (200ºF) for 20 minutes. Check beforehand to see if you need to add a bit of water to cut the thickness of the casserole. If so, stir well before reheating.

21/ Remove the herbs from the pot. Serve the casserole over buttered, seasoned rice.

22/ You can reheat any leftovers the following day on a very low heat on top of the stove for 15 or 20 minutes.

The venison will be fork-tender and taste like beef. The vegetables will have melted into the sauce.

This is the dish for people who are not that keen on venison — or vegetables. It’s a win-win all around, even during the summer months.

Because of coronavirus lockdowns, the world’s hospitality industry is being destroyed, including restaurants.

On May 3, 2020, the New York Post published two stories of interest on how Manhattan’s top chefs are stepping outside of the box to cook for others.

‘Out-of-work chefs are leaving NYC to cook for billionaires’ tells us that they have sought alternative employment during the continuing lockdown (emphases mine):

Out-of-work chefs from Jean-Georges, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se and Gramercy Tavern are being poached by talent agents and even real estate brokers to work for wealthy families since the coronavirus shutdowns have eviscerated the restaurant industry, sources said. The supply of quality chefs is so abundant that some wealthy people say they’re getting cold called about the latest candidate.

“I received a call out of the blue asking if we wanted to hire a top chef who had worked for Jean-George’s,” one billionaire real estate developer told Side Dish.

For unemployed chefs, it’s often the only way for them to make money doing what they love at a time when sit-down dining is prohibited by the state lockdown.

One of them is Ian Tenzer, 29, formerly a sous-chef at three-star Michelin restaurant Eleven Madison Park, named the world’s best restaurant in 2017, more about which below. He told the newspaper:

I was laid off six weeks ago. It just wasn’t possible to stay, no matter how much the chef wanted to keep us. I can’t stand not working. I miss being in the kitchen.

Working as a private chef has always been a part of the industry I had thought about working in and, at this point in my career, it’s a good choice economically and professionally.

Even so, he misses the camaraderie that being part of a brigade brings:

When you work in a restaurant, you are part of a team. There are peers you look up to and others you teach. The team becomes your family and you learn to love everyone. That’s the hardest part about leaving [the restaurant job].

On the other hand, salaries are often significantly better, as the article explains:

Indeed, chefs who choose to work in private homes stand to get a 20 percent to 30 percent pay raise, as well as other perks including better hours, sources said. Sous chefs at top restaurants can earn between $120,000 and $200,000 a year working full-time for a family, compared to closer to $100,000 working at a restaurant.

Personal chefs also commonly earn discretionary bonuses, especially if they are being asked to shelter in place with their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, says David Youdovin, chief executive of Hire Society, which helps individuals recruit private staff.

“The vast majority of restaurant chefs are grossly underpaid, and seldom receive benefits,” and now clients are being “very generous and accommodating,” Youdovin said.

Of course, some families are nicer than others:

One drawback is that you never know what kind of family you’ll get, chefs said. Some families are “lovely, adventurous and curious,” but others can be quite the opposite. They can be rude and “even physically and verbally abusive. I have heard horror stories,” said one chef who asked to remain unnamed.

At least two upmarket estate agents, also out of work during lockdown, have been placing chefs with families:

Brokers Dolly and Jenny Lenz, who deal in high-end real estate, say they have sourced two top chefs for two different families who have rented Hamptons estates to wait out the crisis. People quarantining in rental homes are often looking to hire chefs, nannies and housekeepers to shelter in place with them during this time, Dolly Lenz said.

As going to someone’s house for a traditional interview is verboten at the moment, food is dropped off and interviews are done online via video conference:

… chefs are preparing tastings in their own homes and then dropping them off at their prospective employer’s front door.

This social-distancing measure, along with virtual interviews by Zoom or FaceTime, are making it tough for both the chefs and families to determine if they are making a good match, Youdovin said.

Goodness knows when restaurants will regain normality. Even where they are open in Europe, social distancing remains in place in many countries. That means having a full complement of tables is impossible and could be for months to come.

With that in mind, Ian Tenzer’s former employer, Eleven Madison Park, has a new outreach policy: ‘Eleven Madison Park chef will keep feeding needy New Yorkers’.

It revolves around ‘family meals’, a term restaurants use for the lunches and/or dinners they provide to their staff.

Head chef Daniel Humm began feeding the city’s hungry before the coronavirus outbreak and is now feeding many more:

Humm, whose three-starred Michelin restaurant was named the world’s best in 2017, is amping up his role at a non-profit, Rethink Food NYC, to become its top chef and inaugural partner as it expands nationally.

Before COVID-19, Rethink turned restaurant waste into meals, feeding 15,000 people a week. The non-profit now serves 25,000 meals a day.

Post COVID-19, restaurant staff at Eleven Madison will make extra “family meals” for Rethink to feed needy New Yorkers.

If every restaurant does this, we could end hunger,” said Matt Jozwiak, Rethink Food NYC’s executive director and founder, who formerly worked at Humm’s Michelin-rated restaurant.

Currently, Humm has turned Eleven Madison Park into a food commissary to help make meals for Rethink to distribute during the crisis.

Yes, if every restaurant did that, they really could end hunger.

I get tired of watching restaurant reality shows and documentaries with all their waste. Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef: I’m looking at you. The other night, I watched a 2018 French documentary on TF1 about upmarket caterers. A top pastry chef told his staff to throw out a vat of hazelnut caramel syrup because it had one burnt hazelnut in it. Madness. Fine for him, but it could have been given to a homeless mission in Paris, which could have used it for a week in their desserts.

Some restaurateurs say that insurance companies restrict giving away food before serving for reasons of health safety. Perhaps insurers should let up on that policy in a reasonable way: documented mutual consent between a donor restaurant and a recipient organisation.

At any rate, it’s encouraging to see some good is coming out of the coronavirus crisis.

Land O Lakes has changed its logo.

The Native American maiden is no longer.

The Left campaigned for her removal over the years. They finally got their way:

Maybe the new head of the company felt the same way?

It appears that way. A woman CEO and president gets rid of packaging featuring a female Native American. Hmm.

On Thursday, April 15, the Minnesota Reformer reported on the logo for America’s top brand of butter, which is approaching its centenary (emphases mine):

We need packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of our company culture — and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes’ dairy products,” President and CEO Beth Ford said in a statement in February …

The release made no mention of why the company decided to remove the character from their packaging. The entire Land O’Lakes website seems to have been scrubbed of any mention of the iconic mascot.

A spokeswoman for Land O’Lakes did not respond to a request for comment submitted Monday.

For Native Americans who have long criticized the use of Indian mascots, the change is a welcome one.

“It’s a great move,” said Adrienne Keene, a professor at Brown University, author of the popular Native Appropriations blog and citizen of the Cherokee Nation. “It makes me really happy to think that there’s now going to be an entire generation of folks that are growing up without having to see that every time they walk in the grocery store.”

But Keene thinks the company missed an important opportunity in not explaining why they removed the image of the Indian maiden from their brand.

It could have been a very strong and positive message to have publicly said, ‘We realized after a hundred years that our image was harmful and so we decided to remove it,’” Keene said. “In our current cultural moment, that’s something people would really respond to.”

This is how Mia, the Indian maiden, came to be:

The Indian maiden first appeared on Land O’Lakes packaging in 1928, seven years after the Minnesota Cooperative Creameries Association — as it was first called — was founded by 320 farmers in St. Paul.

Arthur C. Hanson, an illustrator for the ad firm Brown and Bigelow, came up with the original design evoking rural Minnesota with a blue lake, green pine trees and a Native woman center stage in a buckskin dress and feather headdress.

It imbued the Land O’Lakes brand with a sense of naturalness, nostalgia and American authenticity, a tactic used by thousands of companies to sell everything from butter to cigarettes to motorcycles, as a recent exhibition at the Smithsonian shows. Keene noted in one blog post that she could create an entire breakfast menu plus snacks using ingredients with Native mascots.

The packaging was redesigned in the 1950s by Patrick DesJarlait, a highly-successful Ojibwe artist from Red Lake. He said he was interested in “fostering a sense of Indian pride” across the Midwest

Robert DesJarlait, the artist’s son, says he’s glad Land O’Lakes removed the Indian maiden his father helped create but also continues to be proud of his father’s legacy, which includes creating the Hamm’s Beer bear and being one of the first Native modernist painters.

“It was a source of pride for people to have a Native artist doing that kind of work,” said DesJarlait, who’s also an artist. “He was breaking a lot of barriers . . .Back in the 50s, nobody even thought about stereotypical imagery. Today it’s a stereotype, but it’s also a source of cultural pride. It’s a paradox in that way.”

DesJarlait and Keene said people have come to better understand the impact of these representations.

“The conversation has shifted so much. We have scientific, psychological research that shows the harms of these types of representations,” she said.

The American Psychological Association in 2005 called for all American Indian mascots to be retired, citing a large body of social science research showing how racial stereotypes and inaccurate representations harm Native young people’s self-esteem and social identity.

And, yes, there were boys who folded the carton so that her knees became something else.

Well, I thought that Mia was pretty. Keene says that the image portrayed her as being:

pure, sexually available and something to be conquered like nature.

I disagree totally. But, then, my mind doesn’t run in that direction.

Farewell then, Mia.

It was nice knowing you, even though the butter is overly priced for what it is.

Store own brands are a lot cheaper and of much higher quality.

Swieconka basket annhetzelgunkelcomHoly Saturday is normally the time when some Christians around the world, especially those from Eastern Europe, take baskets of Easter food for their priest to bless.

These foods, particularly the basket of Polish items in the illustration, have a religious symbolism. You can find out more in this post:

Holy Saturday and food traditions

Four years ago, Britain’s top home cook and culinary television presenter Mary Berry had a short series on food eaten around the world at Easter. It was a fascinating series, summarised below:

Easter food explored — part 1 (Mary Berry, BBC — 2016)

Easter food explored — part 2 (Mary Berry, BBC — 2016)

This next post has more about Easter food traditions, in France, Spain, Portugal, Austria and, until a few decades ago, Algeria:

Holy Saturday: preparing for an Easter feast (2017)

Of course, this year, Easter will be different. Because of coronavirus lockdowns, most of us are not allowed to visit with family members or friends outside of our own household.

I could not get lamb this year because of the lack of supermarket deliveries. We will have duck instead. Lamb will be delivered later in April. Oh, well.

Daytime Lectionary readings

jesus-laid-in-a-tomb-f5462516571Spiritually, most of Holy Saturday is mournful. Jesus was in the tomb, having been attended to by friends — but not the Apostles.

Here are the daytime readings:

Readings for Holy Saturday — daytime

This is the Gospel reading, which was read on Palm Sunday (Year A) in the Liturgy of the Passion. The burial of Jesus took place on Friday evening and the sealing of the tomb took place on Saturday (emphases mine):

Matthew 27:57-66

27:57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus.

27:58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him.

27:59 So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth

27:60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.

27:61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

27:62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate

27:63 and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’

27:64 Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, ‘He has been raised from the dead,’ and the last deception would be worse than the first.”

27:65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.”

27:66 So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.

Easter Vigil readings

On Saturday evening, the mood changes. Lent comes to an end and many Catholics and High Church Anglicans attend a lengthy but beautiful Easter vigil service, about which you can read more in this post. For centuries, this was the day when catechumens — those studying to be Christians — were baptised:

What happens on Holy Saturday?

Although the body of Jesus was still in the tomb on Saturday, His spirit had gone to Sheol, or the place of the dead to free the souls of children and righteous adults.  Jesus descended into this ‘Hell’, although the limbo He went to is not like the Hell or Purgatory that we know today.  His presence illuminated all these righteous souls from the beginning of time — Adam, Eve, Noah, Moses — and Sheol became a paradise until Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven.  Upon His Ascension, Jesus opened the doors to Heaven for them, where they live with Him now and forever.

The Vigil service anticipates the Resurrection, and the Gospel reading is about what happened on Sunday morning.

This service has more readings than usual. Three readings from the Old Testament must be read; the passage from Exodus 14 is mandatory:

Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21

14:10 As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the LORD.

14:11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt?

14:12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

14:13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again.

14:14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

14:15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward.

14:16 But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground.

14:17 Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.

14:18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.”

14:19 The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them.

14:20 It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.

14:22 The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

14:23 The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers.

14:24 At the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic.

14:25 He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.”

14:26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.”

14:27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD tossed the Egyptians into the sea.

14:28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.

14:29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.

14:31 Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the LORD and believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

15:20 Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing.

15:21 And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Psalm

This is one of the Psalms, recalling the Exodus and God’s omnipotence. Verse 8 prophesies Christ as the water of life; Paul refers to it in 1 Corinthians 10:4:

Psalm 114

114:1 When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,

114:2 Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.

114:3 The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.

114:4 The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.

114:5 Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?

114:6 O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?

114:7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the God of Jacob,

114:8 who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.

Epistle

Paul writes of the Resurrection beautifully. Our Lord conquered death and, thanks to Him, so will all believers.

Romans 6:3-11

6:3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

6:4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.

6:7 For whoever has died is freed from sin.

6:8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

6:9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

6:10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

6:11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel

The Gospel reading describes an angel of the Lord rolling back the stone over the tomb where Jesus lay. The angel’s appearance was as bright as lightning. Note that the two Marys are the ones who check on the tomb — not the Apostles.

Matthew 28:1-10

28:1 After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.

28:2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.

28:3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.

28:4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.

28:5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.

28:6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

28:7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.”

28:8 So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

28:9 Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.

28:10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

It is impossible to imagine what the two women experienced at that moment in their extreme awe and boundless joy.

I hope we feel the same, knowing that Jesus came to bring us to life eternal.

September 18 is National Cheeseburger Day in the United States.

Democrat presidential candidate Kamala Harris would like to see this great American food innovation banned:

Absolutely!

Before we celebrate, however, Kamala Harris is embarrassed to say she enjoys a cheeseburger. However, she is NOT embarrassed to say she smoked dope!

Compare and contrast:

Okay, that’s enough Kamala Harris for one day.

Let’s return now to the glorious cheeseburger.

When I was in school, the nuns teaching science class told us that, once we leave home, we might not always have the time or money for a nutritious meal. How right they were. They advised us to choose pizza first, if possible. It has a better combination of the four food groups, because there are vegetables. In second place was the cheeseburger, for the meat and dairy combination.

What sensible person can resist this?

Don’t forget the straw:

Sadly, Theresa May’s government banned the plastic straw. They will no longer be on sale come March 2020. That’s from Conservative Party MPs! But I digress.

Let us further celebrate the cheeseburger:

Mark your diary for September 18 …

… and enjoy!

La Table du Chef might be the last Cannes restaurant that I’m writing about, but it is hardly the least, although the kitchen might be the smallest commercial one in the city.

This little gem of a place is located off the rue d’Antibes at 5 rue Jean Daumas, a quiet side street with an antiquarian booksellers, a gentlemen’s outfitters and a pharmacy.

My Far Better Half (FBH) and I first visited this fine restaurant in 2017, in an effort to escape the buskers on rue Félix Faure. Our plan worked brilliantly!

We visited La Table du Chef twice in 2017 — and twice more this year.

2017 — first visit

My notes from our first visit say that their menu surprise — chef’s choice — was €45 for four courses (without wine). The menu changes every two to three days depending on what is on offer at the city’s large market, Marché Forville.

I also noted that there is no refrigeration in the restaurant.

Our dinner was so good that I wrote ‘WOULD RETURN’.

Starter

We began our repast with a creamy carrot velouté (soup) with undertones of fennel. It came with one grilled jumbo prawn — gambas — and chopped chive.

I am still thinking about it to this day, it was that good.

Second course

The second course was a thick rectangle of calamar — squid — with a crab and sea bream (dorade) foam. It was accompanied by julienned red and orange bell pepper slices and julienned chorizo underneath the squid.

We are still wondering how the chef managed to cut such a thick portion of calamar.

Main course

We had duck breast — magret de canard — resting on a bed of truffle risotto topped with a light honey-duck sauce reduction. It was heavenly.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Cassis Bodin 2014 from the Abruzzi family (€38).

Dessert

We had one of the best apple ‘crumbles’ I’ve ever eaten. The apple was diced and seasoned with cinnamon. The apple was placed between three sesame tuiles — as light as a feather — and topped with pistachio whipped cream.

It was an amazing finish to a spectacular meal, and I’m not the world’s biggest dessert fan.

2017 — second visit

We went a few days’ later, taking into account that the menu surprise would have something different, which it did.

My diary notes read, ‘MET OMAR, THE CHEF — worked in London for two years’. He, FBH and I enjoyed a cigarette break together. We were one of the last tables to leave, and he was on his break. In those five minutes, we put the world to rights.

Starter

We had another incredible soup, just as good — possibly better — than the carrot velouté from a few days earlier.

Omar made a creamy courgette soup with chive and olive oil drizzled on top.

It was beautifully presented with delicate stripes of balsamic and chive sauce drizzled down the centre, where he had placed a small round of goat’s cheese topped with tiny bits of gherkins — cornichons — and, possibly, garlic.

It was one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten.

Second course

Omar prepared a fusion dish of sweet and sour salmon with aubergine, accompanied by ratatouille, pesto and olive oil.

What a revelation. This man knows his flavour combinations.

Main course

We enjoyed chicken from a small farm in the Ardèche region. It came with black rice risotto and summer truffle.

Wine

We had a bottle of Chateau Roubine, Cuvée Lion et Dragon 2016, a white AOC Côtes de Provence Cru Classé.

Dessert

As we had never before sampled the sweet, creamy brioche treat named by Brigitte Bardot, we very much looked forward to trying the Tarte Tropézienne with raspberry coulis.

We assume the restaurant purchased it from the Tarte Tropézienne shop near the market. Alexandre Micka, the inventor of the Tarte Tropézienne, has several of these shops around France, which are well worth a visit if you fancy a break from shopping or want a satisfying dessert to take home.

Unfortunately, by the time we got our Tropézienne, it had dried out around the edges. That said, we were grateful for the opportunity to try it.

2019 — first visit

We could hardly wait to return to La Table du Chef and, as we had done in 2017, made reservations for each of our visits.

The price per person for the four-course Menu Surprise is still €45.

Bruno Gensdarme, the young owner, welcomed us and said he remembered me: ‘You were the one who wrote everything down!’

Indeed I did — and with great pleasure.

We sat indoors as it was breezy and cool outside. The décor is one of relaxed elegance.

One table had a foursome of two older, upper middle class French couples. The men had their pullover sweaters draped around their shoulders. All four wore designer spectacles.

Another table of note was the well-dressed French family: Mum, Dad and their two daughters. The elder daughter was probably 16 and seemed embarrassed to be seen with her parents. However, her expression softened once she began eating, and halfway through dinner, her face lit up as the main course arrived. She was a happy camper.

Starter

Omar made another delightful courgette velouté, this time served with a plump, grilled scallop in the centre.

It was perfect.

Second course

The second course was cod fillet served with a lobster accompaniment, garnished with a carrot flavoured Romesco sauce.

On the side was the silkiest cauliflower purée I’ve ever eaten. I would gladly have had a bowl of that. Talk about food memories!

Main course

We had roast loin of veal which came with a luscious fig sauce and a beautiful potato purée.

The meat was tender and perfectly cooked. The potato purée was not the usual runny French one, but creamy with just the right amount of texture.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Côtes du Rhone Crozes-Hermitage, Les Launes 2017 (€39), from the Delas estate in Tournon-sur-Rhone.

Dessert

Someone had the bright idea of serving verrines for dessert!

I am hardly the world’s No. 1 verrine fan, but this was extraordinarily good! It was made of apricot, rosemary-flavoured whipped cream, with a lashing of caramel sauce, accompanied by a wafer-thin tuile. I would love to have taken a box of tuiles back to our hotel, they were that exceptional.

2019 — second visit

We ate outdoors once again, as we did in 2017.

The Cannes Lions advertising conference participants were arriving, and we had a table of four American women sitting near us. One of them was a pure vegetarian — no fish — but not a vegan.

This is not the place to go if you have a laundry list of dietary requirements.

Bruno Gensdarme was surprised when she announced her vegetarianism.

‘You don’t eat meat — or fish? But, but … That’s not good!’ Good man! He was nice about it, too, and did bring her something veggie.

What follows is what the woman missed out on.

Starter

Omar whipped up another one of his amazing soups. This was a thick, unctuous cream of mushroom soup with a seared portion of lobe of foie gras in the middle.

I will remember it for a very long time to come.

Second course

We enjoyed fillet of sea bream — daurade royale — over risotto served with three sauce reductions: red wine, balsamic and chives. It sounds mad on paper, but it really works on the plate — and the taste buds.

White fish and a red wine reduction go surprisingly well, by the way — as does veal or beef gravy.

Main course

We enjoyed saddle of lamb with fig sauce and Omar’s potato purée.

Wine

We had a bottle of Cotes de Provence Cru Classé red, Rimaresq 2016 (€39). Read more about Rimaresq halfway down the page here.

Dessert

Omar came up with another outstanding verrine.

This one was made up of raspberry and mango with a pistachio tuile. Again, I would have given nearly anything for a box of tuiles to take back to the hotel!

Additional notes

If you go, please take a moment to read the articles about Bruno and Omar that are in the restaurant window.

Bruno worked for the legendary chef Guy Savoy early in his career. Gordon Ramsay, incidentally, is another Savoy protégé.

La Table du Chef’s Facebook page gives you an idea of the décor and general atmosphere.

TripAdvisor gives the restaurant 4.5 out of 5.

Needless to say, we’ll be booking reservations when we next visit Cannes!

During our 2015 visit to Cannes, we went to Le Bistrot Gourmand and absolutely loved it.

It is located at 10 Rue Docteur Pierre Gazagnaire, in an unassuming side street just steps away from Cannes’s main market, Marché Forville.

Owned and run by Guillaume Arragon since 2007, the restaurant is known for its discriminating use of seasonal ingredients from the market.

We were fortunate enough to make two return visits since then.

2017

We were relieved that the grumpy older waiter who served us in 2015 had been replaced by a delightful young woman who made her job look effortless, even when the restaurant was buzzing with diners.

Chef Arragon also brought some of our dishes to the table and had a brief, yet friendly, chat with us.

Two days after our visit, there was a fire at the night club next door. In 2015, it was called Les Pénitents, because it was right across the street from the Chapelle de la Miséricorde. The next owner renamed the club Hell. That was where the fire took place. Oh, the irony. It took hours to put out, Nice-Matin reported at the time. Apparently, an electrical fault caused the blaze. God will not be mocked.

Starters

My far better half (FBH) ordered a satisfying plate of mushroom ravioli in a truffle cream sauce.

I opted for their stuffed courgette flowers, which were coated in a light tempura batter and deep fried. They were hot and crisp to the end. I thought their spicy dipping sauce was better than L’Assiette Provençale’s tomato-based sauce. Even so, I didn’t need much of this dipping sauce, either, and left most of it behind.

Mains

Once again, we both ordered the steak tartare with matchstick fries. This was every bit as perfect as it was in 2015.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Côtes de Provence Rosé from Château Maïme.

Dessert

Had the delightful lemon tart from 2015 been on the menu, we would have made room for it.

As it was, we were more than satisfied with what we’d had and didn’t really want anything else.

2019

We had been anticipating our return visit to Le Bistrot Gourmand for weeks.

That’s how good the food here is.

Once again, the young woman and Chef Arragon served us, depending on the course. Chef also took our wine order.

Our bill came to €120.

Incidentally, I checked out the nightclub next door. Hell had closed its doors for good, never having recovered from the 2017 fire. No one has taken it over, either, which is interesting.

Starters

Both of us ordered the deep fried courgette flowers, which excelled themselves. The ricotta and basil stuffing was creamy and not overpowering. I did not eat much of the dipping sauce, although I can understand that customers would want a bit of piquancy.

Mains

Why mess with a winning formula? We both had the steak tartare with matchstick fries and side salad.

We think this is the best steak tartare in Cannes.

Wine

We ordered a wine unknown to us, a red Sancerre: Terre de Maimbray (€44), produced by Pascal and Nicolas Reverdy. Maimbray is the name of the hamlet where their estate is. Their wine was a revelation and we would order it again.

Dessert

It looks as if the lemon tart is gone forever.

We opted for two small cheese assortments, which were very good and went well with the red Sancerre.

Additional notes

You can see Le Bistrot Gourmand’s menu, with photos, here.

TripAdvisor gives the restaurant 4.5 out of 5.

This is an excerpted review from a New Zealander, which gives a bit of insight into Guillaume Arragon. This man and his wife also ordered the red Sancerre:

The owner is staunchly proud of fine, fresh food. He was telling us that he liked the site because it allowed him to have a kitchen bigger than the dining area, allowing him to prepare properly from fresh. I tried the cerviche followed by the tartare. My wife had the linguine. All dishes were superb. Generous portions, tasty and clearly made with a lot of love. The wine list was interesting and reasonably priced, enabling us to have an interesting red from Sancerre to accompany our delicious meal. If you want to try something different from the usual tourist stuff and you seek marvellous, fresh French fare, try this place. Really lovely.

I couldn’t agree more.

The unisex loo is sparkling clean and nicely appointed.

Conclusion

Le Bistrot Gourmand is on our list for a fourth visit.

This is an outstanding establishment which consistently offers innovative and appetising dishes at reasonable prices. When in Cannes, we would rather eat here in preference to a five-star ‘palace’ (luxury hotel) restaurant any day of the week.

L’Assiette Provençale — The Provençal Plate — is a great little restaurant to visit in Cannes.

It is located along the Old Port at 9 quai Saint Pierre.

We first ate there in 2017, and again this year.

2017

We ordered their €30 prix fixe menu.

I noted in my food diary: ‘** WOULD RETURN **’.

Starters

One of our first food experiences in Cannes 20 years ago was enjoying stuffed courgette flowers dipped in tempura and deep fried.

Not many restaurants offer this memorable treat. The restaurant where we first had them, La Poêle d’Or (The Golden Skillet), closed a couple of years later. A luxury boutique replaced it.

Therefore, we relished the opportunity to enjoy them once again. We were not disappointed. They came with a light tomato sauce that, to me, was superfluous to requirements. Stuffed with a mild, soft cheese, they needed no accompaniment.

Mains

My far better half (FBH) ordered grilled Mediterranean sea bass — loup — on a bed of mini-canellonis: a perfect balance of textures.

I had sauteed octopus — poulpe — and artichoke slices. The plate had a generous quantity of both.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Cassis Bodin 2014. The domaine is run by the Abrizzi family in Cassis in the Var.

Dessert

We had a peek at the tarte au citron, but it looked like American lemon meringue pie, rather than the classic French version.

We declined in favour of a refreshing glass of limoncello.

2019

We could hardly wait to return.

We ordered from the €31 prix fixe menu. With wine, the bill came to €107.

Starters

I ordered the stuffed courgette flowers, which they term beignets, although they are far from being doughy beignets. They were light, hot and crispy up to the end. I did not bother with the tomato dipping sauce.

FBH was in a less summery mode that night and chose the royale des cèpes, a creamy, comforting mushroom concoction with cèpes as the star.

Mains

FBH ordered the roast guinea fowl breast, which came with a superb sauce and potatoes.

I had grilled loup, which was done perfectly.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Cassis from Domaine de la Ferme Blanche (€45).

Desserts

FBH liked the cheese assortment.

I loved the coconut crème brulée, which was a great discovery, and one that I would order again. It had just enough coconut for texture and flavour. It was delightfully creamy.

Additional notes

TripAdvisor members give L’Assiette Provençale 4.5 out of 5. Justifiably so.

These are the current prix fixe menus, which, at €26 and €31, offer terrific value for money.

Service is excellent.

The unisex loo is very clean, too.

Conclusion

We’re looking forward to another visit to L’Assiette Provençale on our next trip.

We eat at Le Pistou whenever we visit Cannes.

It is located at 53 Rue Félix Faure, right in the centre of town along with all the classic seafood restaurants.

Pistou is the Provençal version of pesto. Pistou lacks the pine nuts but makes up for it with more grated hard cheese.

We first had Le Pistou’s tasting menu, the menu dégustation — or, menu dég (their term) — in 2015.

What follows are our dinners there in 2017 and 2019.

2017 — first visit

We chose the €38 prix fixe menu.

Starters

My far better half (FBH) chose the foie gras mi-cuit (i.e. pâté, not lobe). It was a generous, thick slice. The foie gras was made in house.

I chose the jumbo shrimp — gambas — in tempura. They were sublime — crunchy to the last bite.

Mains

We both had the Mediterranean sea bass — filet de loup.

This is always beautifully plated. It comes with pea velouté (pea purée sauce), fine French green beans and two small boiled potatoes. The potatoes are turned; each side is peeled lengthwise for a total of seven sides. Peeled into a slim barrel shape, they look very elegant on the plate.

The loup was moist and flavoursome. This is always a winning dish.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Cassis: Clos d’Albizzi 2014. The estate, now run by F. Dumont, has been producing wine since 1523. Cassis has three grape varieties: marsanne, clairette and ugny blanc. The grapes are grown in the native Cassiden terroir, which adds a refreshing mineral taste. It was the perfect complement to our dinner.

Desserts

We both had their crème brulée with cinnamon.

It had just the right amount of cinnamon: enough for flavour but not overpowering.

2017 — second visit

We returned later during our stay for the seven-course menu dég, which we loved in 2015.

This has to be booked in advance. We made reservations a couple of days beforehand.

First course

We began with a delightful tian — i.e. a raised disc — of layered crab, sliced scallop and smoked salmon on a base of avocado. It was heavenly.

Second course

This was an amazing tarte tatin of diced apple and sautéed lobe of foie gras in puff pastry. Words cannot describe how unctuous this was.

Third course

We had lobster ravioli, probably three small ones — a perfect portion size.

The filling and the accompanying lobster sauce were perfect. However, the pasta could have been rolled out more thinly.

Fourth course

This was a palate cleanser: an apple and rum sorbet with plenty of rum. Delightful!

Fifth course

We had a generous fillet of beef with wild mushroom sauce. It came with creamy potatoes dauphinoise.

End of the road

Unfortunately, we could only eat half of the beef fillet.

We were so full by that time, that we were unable to proceed to the cheese course and dessert.

It took some explaining to the caring staff that the food was great, but our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.

The bill, wine included, came to €174, which included the full price the menu dég: fair enough.

Wine

With our first two courses, we had Cassis: Clos d’Albizzi 2014 (as above).

With the next three courses we enjoyed a Bandol Rosé: Domaine des Baguiers 2013, which won a Medaille d’Or (Gold Medal) in Paris in 2016. The estate, located in Var, has been run by the Jourdan family for several generations.

2019

We put our menu dég defeat of 2017 down to our age. Obviously, our appetites are decreasing as the years advance.

However, we could not miss having a three-course dinner at Le Pistou.

Our bill came to €102.

As I noted in an earlier post last month, Rue Felix Faure has been pedestrianised. We found this somewhat disconcerting, as we were used to the recycling bins in the esplanade across the street. All of that has been removed. The traffic is gone. The levelled, new look esplanade took some getting used to.

Starters

Both of us enjoyed the gambas in tempura (see ‘2017 — first visit’ above).

Mains

One cannot have a more reliable course than the filet de loup (again, see ‘2017 — first visit’).

Wine

We enjoyed another bottle of Cassis, Clos d’Albizzi.

Dessert

FBH opted for the chocolate and vanilla millefeuille.

I could hardly wait to have the cinnamon crème brulée again. I was not disappointed!

Additional notes

Le Pistou’s website has their current menu. Their dishes are always reasonably priced, particularly with the prix fixe menu, and great value for money.

TripAdvisor has customer reviews. I particularly liked this one from 2018, excerpted:

Le Pistou’s menu is a bit more creative and so it stands out from the others on the street. Because the menu was so different, we ate there twice during our recent stay in Cannes and were not disappointed. We each had the €23.50 Menu du Marche. I had the Duet of asparagus and parma ham with pesto, mixed salad, roast quail and foie gras, I’m not sure that it held together as a coherent dish but the components were delicious. My wife had the avocado and crab salad and she loved it.

As a main course the monkfish and turbot duo was spectacular. As advertised, the sauce was a curry sauce but light enough that it didn’t overpower the delicate fish. The filet de loup in a pea sauce was didn’t impress me quite as much but was very good nonetheless. My wife loved the gambas and said that the daurade was excellent. Most of the fish dishes were served with a small portion of ratatouille.

Call me insane (my wife does) but for me des[s]ert is the least interesting part of a meal. Pistou’s roast pineapple and mango spring roll with two sorbets in a sauce flavoured with mandarine impériale was very creative and delicious.

Le Pistou has been good for years. With the current menu it moves out ahead of the others on the street. Well worth a visit.

If you’re ever in Cannes, don’t miss Le Pistou.

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