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Les Bacchanales, my favourite restaurants in the Cote d’Azur.
Christophe Dufau is a renowned Michelin Chef in the region, famous for his unconventional mix of flavors made entirely with local produce.
His restaurant ‘Les Bacchanales’ is situated next to the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, which was designed by Matisse.
It is the ideal place to have lunch after a visit to the Chapel.
After feeding your eyes and soul with the mystical beauty of Matisse’s masterpiece, you will be ready to satisfy your palate with Christophe’s creations.
As he states on one of the walls of his restaurant:
Cooking is not an art…it is an artifice!
In fact ‘Les Bacchanales’ can be defined as a Cooking Mansion, where food preparation and new recipe development is perpetual.
The menu changes weekly, based on seasonal products and their availability.
Everything is done from scratch, even bread, crackers and grissini.
Water is filtered and served still or sparkling, free of charge.
The garden at the back of the house is full of herbs with bizarre names, which Christophe has planted and uses in his kitchen.
His cuisine has been influenced by his international cooking experience, where he learned to use unusual spices, and combine diverse ingredients.
So after a tour in the garden we came back with:
- purple fennel,
- celery perpetuelle,
- bergamotto mint,
- a nice squash and
- 3 quinces.
What is that ‘coal’ like spice?
It is carbonized garlic that Christophe uses as one of his “secret” ingredients.
He leaves the garlic over the Barbecue until it carbonizes, then grates it over the food as a seasoning.
When I met him at ‘Les Etoiles de Mougins’, he was seasoning steamed aubergines and figs with it.
It is time to eat, and I am welcomed to the outdoor patio.
Here you discover the artistic touch of Christophe’s wife, Esty.
The tables and chairs are made of wood from wine-barrels, that gives the patio a warm and bright ambiance.
Esty’s artistic flare adds a special feature to the restaurant, and I am served an Amuse Bouche consisting of:
Biscuit with pistachio cream, bottarga and celery, over the claws of a copper crab.
I found out that the crab is part of a collection of copper sea animals made especially for the Nespresso Banquet, at the Cannes film festival this year.
Christophe was in charge of the food.
I can see George Clooney happy to eat the Bottarga Biscuit, instead of drinking one more espresso!
You can find more on Esty and her creations at:
The Biscuit was delicious, the nuttiness of the pistachio, the sharpness of the celery and the fishy saltiness of the bottarga really complement each other.
For those who have never tried it, the Bottarga is an Italian delicacy made from the roe pouch of grey mullet.
The Amuse Bouche has not yet finished to delight my palate:
Parsley pesto with homemade grissini, one with Taggia olives and the other with rosemary
Basil and mozzarella meringue
How he made the meringue, I didn’t dare to ask.
It melted in my mouth, delicious!
As a starter I had:
Oyster and Mediterranean sea bass, green apple, agastache.
The sea flavour from the oyster and the seabass was sharpen by the sweet acid of the green apple, and enhanced by the anise of the agastache.
Covered by a fresh foam of tomatoes, celery and carrots.
As a main course I had:
Mediterranean fish with pepper, date and olive
The Mediterranean fish was swordfish, a fish I grew up eating during my summer vacations in the southern Italy.
I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of swordfish and dates which reminded me of Sicily, where savouries are often combined with the sweetness of the southern fruits.
The quinoa was unexpectedly crunchy and together with the fresh walnuts added texture to the dish.
Finally for dessert I had:
Autumn fruits, black chocolate and ricotta
It was a smooth sweet Ricotta mousse, and a beautifully decorated black chocolate twig, bursting with dried and fresh figs, crunchy biscuits, almonds and blackberries
The artistic cooperation between Christophe, Esty and their young and energetic team was a great experience for the eyes, and the palate.
I wish I remembered the names of the staff members as I would like to mention and thank them all, one by one.
The service was impeccable.
It is such a fundamental element of dining out!
So at the end, I couldn’t resist asking Esty: “What do you eat at home on a daily basis?”
Esty replied: “Like this, but different every day.”
After all, you wouldn’t expect an artist to paint the same picture every day.
So don’t expect to find the same menu, as each week…….
a new Artifice is inspired at ‘Les Bacchanales’ !
To make a reservation at ‘Les Bacchanales’ go to their website:
247 avenue de Provence, 06140 Vence
+33 (0)4 93 24 19 19
…..and he also came for lunch: