Buzz: Jean-Marc Delacourt
In the rocky hills above Nice, where Queen Victoria once took tea, there's a culinary revolution taking place. Jean-Marc Delacourt and his wife Annie just rode into town; sleepy scenic Falicon will never be the same again. Her Maj would not be amused; or perhaps she would. Anyway the old girl would certainly enjoy the food; more of that later. It's Delacourt's audacious concept that needs discussing. Think old musty "Le Bellevue" restaurant, the sort your folks liked because it was "part of the wonderful French tradition, dear". You were bored stiff, and apart from the stunning views probably sat ("don't put your elbows on the table dear, it's so rude!") thinking; wishing, why doesn't somebody open a "reality restaurant" with a TV in the room and hip designer-dressed dudes serving world wines and opening our eyes to unknown herbs and spices. Hey, now it's happened! And Delacourt's no maverick upstart - he recently threw in the tea-towel at the achingly posh Chateau de la Chevre d'Or, Eze, where he had 2-Michelin stars because; "I wanted to be chez moi, in a live restaurant".
And, no kidding, Delacourt's put the TV in the salle! OK, it's not showing Matrix Reloaded, but it does transmit the kibbutzing in the cuisine - so you can see if they lick the spoons and don't wash them; if they wash the lettuce; pat the dog; pick their noses; all in glorious technicolour. No it doesn't detract from the food, it's a good idea. The service is not fast because Parcours is packed (good gastronomic news travels fast in these parts) and there's only so much three chefs can do, especially when everything's cooked to order, there's no room for a freezer, the kitchen's too small. What you can do, while waiting, is discuss the eclectic wines with Jean Francois Lemoine the assistant sommelier. The main man, Franck Thomas, set the whole thing up, but he's always off searching for stunning new stuff and winning Meilleur Sommelier competitions so he's not there all the time. Lemoine's no slouch, knows his world wines, prestige wines, even changes mineral waters each month, because "there's certain types suitable for certain months". Coffee, champagne, everything changes continually, "selected to match the chefs creations", he explains.
"Passion rules here", insists Delacourt, who changes his menus (30€ or 45€) daily according to what he finds in Cours Saleya, the Nice market, and from little producers in the back country where he finds organic tasty beef, chickens and cheeses. "It's a question of sharing my art, I want as many people as possible to taste my cooking, that's why my menus are priced so low", says the man who has won more Meilleur Ouvrier Awards than you've had hot dinners. "There are no frontiers where my kitchen is concerned, my dishes are inspired by time I've spent in America (The Biltmore, Miami), The Conrad, Punta del Este, The Touessrok, Ile Meurice, St. Moritz, Switzerland and Japan (The Meridien Grand Pacific, Kyoto) and bien sûr, France!"
Parcours is open for lunch and dinner, leave enough time to wander through the cobblestone village, where time stands still - only Delacourt is moving. Contrasts, contrasts, Parcours will be copied, just like the vulgar Vuitton/Hermes/Pradas peddled on the beaches of the Côte d'Azur, but there's only one Jean-Marc Delacourt, the Picardy born perfectionist.
1 place Marcel Eusebi,
06950, Falicon, Nice.
Tel: 04 93 84 94 57
Meanwhile if you're in Paris and love tennis, the Roland Garros, 2bis av. Gordon Bennet, 16th. Tel: 01 47 43 49 56. has a grassy terrace, excellent food and winning service. French Open Tennis through 9th June.
Truffle UK, an enterprising British company based in Dorset in the South of England, is selling oak trees impregnated with truffle spores. It'll cost you about 425€ and take between five and ten years for the trees to produce the famous "black diamonds" for which you'll pay between 680-850€ per kilo chez Hediard. It's up to you to decide because "results are not guaranteed" according to Adrian Cole, director of Truffle UK.
Bon Appetit - see you next week.