I’ve eaten there before. It’s one of the many restaurants which ring the harbour at Nice. You can survey the luxury yachts registered in the Caribbean while you eat your seafood. I asked why this one was called Lune – did it mean moon, I asked.? No, they said, it’s another word for harbour. This was the starter course, mussels in a cream and garlic sauce. They were quite a change from the white wine and onions of moules marinieres. Very good, and big juicy mussels, too. Very Nice.
Archive for September, 2009
Not only do we all drink Provence rosé wines with our seafood, we even buy it at the supermarket to drink with home cooking. This one was “Les Vignobles Choisis,” an appellation controllé rosé with the confusing statement that it was put in the bottle “for Chateau Elie Sumeire.” Not by them, but for them. That sounds bad, but in fact it was so pleasant a wine that we made it a regular buy, It was inexpensive, but had good body and with none of the offensive sharpness or sourness that cheap French rosés can be prone to. It was 12.5 percent, about the norm for this type of wine. Whoever buys tn for the supermarkets has spotted this one and done our work for us. It’s a really nice wine.
The fifth drink for the evening was, remarkably, a rosé Champagne called Alain Thienot Brut. It was also non-vintage, with a company founded in 1979. Its roughly eight years in the bottle gave it very light bubbles and a peachy colour. The nose had light strawberries, blackberry and dark cherry. The body had cucumber, potato and sherbert, and I thought it might have been slightly oxidised, but that would be a mistake of this bottle only. The finish had pencils, but mostly that cloying, wet-cardboard taste that is a little unpleasant. It was a mix of 80% Pinot Noir and nearly 20% Chardonnay, although they had a little Pinot Meunier to give it that slightly sharper and bitter edge. I rated it at five and a half out of ten because it was so expensive: £39.99.
This Champange was my favourite – almost before I tasted it, I admit, ashamedly. It was Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Brut, of course, from 2002. It’s 60% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay and 3% Pinot Meunier. It was quite pale, with very light bubbles; foamy, in fact. The nose was relatively light, and yeasty, with cocoa and orange. The body was like liquid chocolate, very smooth and with a firm acid. The finish also was smooth, sweet and an easy continuation of the body. It was, quite simply, stunning. I rated it nine out of ten. It is, however, £50 per bottle, which makes it rather out of my price-range.
Three of us ate at L’Oustaou on Boulevard Gambetta, and I discovered to my dismay that I’ve been spelling its name wrongly. The lettering script is not the easiest to read, but I have it right now.
One of us chose the spaghetti with bacon, mushrooms and cream. I chose the fish (I cannot recall its unfamiliar French name, but it was a delicate white fish which came with little flat cylinders of rice and vegetables (mostly squash).
The highlight was undoubtedly the pizza cannibale (top photo). I doubt it actually had any human meat, maybe confusing cannibal and carnivorous. What it did have was a savoury tomato base, mushrooms, onions, minced beef, and cheese. It was actually very tasty (I tried a piece). Good name, though.
We now arrived at our first true Champagne of the evening – and it was pretty good. More than twice the price of the previous bottle, at £27, this was cheap, and was called Canard Duchene Brut, non-vintage. Apparently, Champagne tends to stay in the bottle for four years during its fermentation process, and often much longer. This one was four years. It was made up of three vintages, one of which is classified ‘Premier Cru’. The bubbles were really tiny and light, and the nose was a little strange: it was peaty, earthy, with vague caramel. Someone at the tasting described it as ‘burnt hair’. To me, that would be unpleasant, but I liked the nose, as I did the body, which was tangy, with flavours of sherbert and pineapple. The finish was a slightly burnt toffee with later cucumber. I gave it eight out of ten.
Our second real Champagne was called ‘De Sousa & Fils Grand Cru’ and was a Blanc de Blanc, which means it was made entirely of Chardonnay. The nose was citrussy with apples and pastry, the body full of liquorice, biscuit and smooth butter, although I couldn’t taste any of the oaking that had been done. The finish was pencils, with toffee, although later a cloying flavour which wasn’t all that great. I gave it six and a half out of ten before I found out that it was £48 per bottle, at which point I dropped the score to five. Simply not worth the money.
They didn’t tell us the prices until we’d tasted them, in case it affected our enjoyment, although apparently this effect works in both directions: if you think it’s a cheap wine, you’ll generally try to find fault with it, but equally, if you think it’s an expensive wine, you will have great expectations and find that it doesn’t live up to them. Perhaps there’s an equal balance in that case, and knowing the price doesn’t make much difference, but I much prefer tasting blind, then I can determine whether or not I’ve become a ‘wine snob’!
Before our dinner at the Big Blue, we all popped into Resto Wine Notes just around the corner. I was chiefly showing it to my friends, but we decided that, since we were there, we might as well have an aperitif. There was no live music yet, so we surveyed the wine list in the calm of the early evening. Of the various wines being promoted, out of many, we chose Lady L, a pleasantly dry vin de Pays rosé. I never did work out who Lady L was, or why she has a heart on her wine label, but it was very pleasant, slightly minerally and with good depth. I would certainly drink it again. It was not expensive, and goes to confirm the outlook of the proprietor that good wine doesn’t have to cost the earth.
We stopped for lunch at La Cane au Sucre after our segway riding. My companions were in the mood for more pasta au pistou, with garlic, basil, olive oiol, pine nuts and cream. One had spaghetti for the pasta, while the other tried the penne. The consensus as we all tasted was that the penne was better, with more texture to it, and separate tastes of the pasta and its sauce.
I had seafood penne, with mussels a-plenty and a red seafood sauce rich in chunks of octopus and squid. It was very good, and I preferred it to the au pistou. The remaining sauce was excellent on the fresh baguette slices which came with the meal. The wine was Provence rosé yet again, and was very enjoyable yet again…
We ate dinner at one of the restaurants in the area used for the daily market until the gun fires from the castle at 12 noon and the stalls are replaced by restaurant tables. The Big Blue always puts on a good show of seafood on ice in a display case at the side.
My companions chose to have the assorted fresh seafood (minimum for 2 persons). It came on a huge fish-shaped platter – compare its size with that of the dinner plate below. It had prawns, langoustines, scallops, clams, mussels, and pretty well everything else you could think of. It had even more than usual, because I ordered the mixed fried seafood and surreptitiously planted the big sardine and half the whitebait onto the big tray…
Eight drinks were served in total at the Cambridge Wine Merchants Champagne tasting, which will make four posts. Alongside the wines, we also had a selection of cheeses and breads and some slightly spicy meat slices.
When we arrived, we were presented with a Kir Royale cocktail, made this time from a zero-percent Maison Fondée cassis and an Angas Brut, non-vintage, which is Australian. It was too sweet for me, the ratio being wrong at about 1 to 2. This ‘champagne’ is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the tasting host suggested that on its own it tastes rather appley.
The second also wasn’t technically a champagne, but was called Jansz Brut, from Tazmania in Australia. It’s a 60:40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with very persistent bubbles for a non-official-region sparkler. The nose was sweet and faintly bitter, the body had chocolate and shortbread and the finish was stunning and lengthy, with citrus, cocoa, pencils and a late potency that left the flavour of apples behind. It’s £12 per bottle, which is pretty good. I marked it eight out of ten.
After the salmon, duck and fritto mixture at Les Coraires at Villefranche, we looked at the dessert menu. I was too full, so I carried on with the Provence rosé, but my lunch companions were made of sterner stuff. One went for the apple crumble, a slice of which was elegantly presented surrounded by streaks of butterscotch sauce. I ate the mint sprig.
The other chose the crème brulée, which came in a strange dish shaped rather like a comma. It made a satisfying thwack as the spoon hit the sugar coating. I ate the sprig of mint. Both desserts were rated as great successes, so that was quite a classy lunch we had.