Buzz Buzz: Provençal Attitude

Buzz Buzz: Provençal Attitude

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Sailing past Juan les Pins in 1887, Guy de
Maupassant observed that “one day it will be the coast’s prettiest
resort.” How could the miserable old scribbler have possibly worked
that out at the time, when Juan consisted of a few pine trees and a
sandy beach; Guy was probably on the absinthe big time. Whatever; fast
forward to 1926, when Coco Chanel declared a sun tan a must have and
then to 1930 when Léo Roman (I don’t know who he is either) invented
water-skiing in the bay of Juan (I don’t know how he did that either).
Of course there’s the Scott and Zelda connection, what with their
renting a villa on the beach, and Florence Gould’s legendary literary
lunches that made summer in the South of France official.

Driving
past La Maison des Pecheurs, Juan, a few years ago Francis Ferrante, of
the Family Ferrante, having just acquired the fabulous Hotel Juana,
Juan les Pins, recalls: “I had a shiver when I remembered the old place
where I used to dine and dance, and probably where I had my first
kiss.”  Ferrante, not happy with the abandoned luncheonette of his
youth, bought it on the spot, lock, stock and old fishing boat. And
what did the Ferrantes do next? Lavished at least 3.5 million euros
transforming it into a chic beach resort. “Tres courageux, the place
has been left rotting for too long,” sniffs Pierre Rayon, who built
Port Gallice, the adjacent harbour.

Well,
you should see it now, state-of-the-art with pretty Provençal
attitude.  Six thousand square meters of pure pleasure, sandy
beach and designer retro cabines to change/ shelter from the sun: 
what more could you want? And there’s even somewhere to park the yacht
for the likes of Ivana, Claudia and Flavio.  Racing driver Jean
Alessi was there this week. “I’m waiting for the supermodels; so far
we’ve only had sports personalities, but that will change with the
upcoming Jazz Festival, I hope,” laughs Patrice Courrier, the Executive
Chef.

Poached from the Hotel
Carlton Intercontinental, Cannes, Courrier is a Member of The Academy
Culinaire de France and won a Michelin star for creative cooking at the
Casino Royal, Evian. He’s used to stars, is Pat–his name translates as
Postman Pat, and boy can he deliver. “At The Carlton, during the Cannes
Film Festival we used to serve 2,500 covers a day, while organizing
Galas for 1,500 glittering celebrities.” So La Maison des Pecheurs will
be a piece of cake, a holiday? “Not really, this is a big project with
three restaurants and space for parties, product launches, cocktails,
bar mitzvahs, weddings for up to 3,500.”  Quite. Sorry, Pat.

During
the day it’s a totally Caribbean experience–drive the Ferrari into the
car-park where a Brad Pitt look-a-like takes it off your hands, relax
on the beach, water-ski, dive, work up an appetite for lunch in the
shade of the paillote “La Plage des Pecheurs” or they’ll shlep it over
if you can’t bare to leave the amazingly thick striped mattresses under
huge umbrellas. “It’s a fun menu at lunch time: salads, fresh pasta,
pizzas cooked in a pizza oven, grilled fish and meat, home made
patisserrie and ice-creams,” says Pat.

At
dusk, with the seagulls crying, the setting is magnificent. You’re
overlooking Port Gallice and the Esterel Mountains. Laurent Icke and
Rene Vega, two very experienced maîtres d’hotel (ex- Hotel Juana) will
take you by the hand and explain the menu. Laurent Brard, the
sommelier, will suggest the wines:  “We’ve chosen those we feel
are perfect for hot summer nights and that marry best with the dishes,”
he says.

Starters include a
minute de rougets (from local fishermen) drizzled with olive oil,
peppery roquette (22€) or a sexy lobster “undressed” with artichokes
(38€– or escabeche of grilled baby tuna with a millefeuille of
province vegetables with red peppers and balsamic vinegar (18€). 
Pat says it’s a tour du monde menu, but to me it’s a showcase for the
Mediterranean. There’s risotto “Arborio” with sea food and parmesan
(22€) and of course the signature dish of the old Pecheurs, La
Bouillabaisse des Pecheurs (don’t ask), Soup des Pecheurs, Soupière de
la Petite Peche, Les poissons de la Marmite (70€) with garlic rouille
and croutons, piments d’Espelette. Delicious. There are always grilled
gambas (30€), crayfish (18€ for 100gr), and sea-bass (9€ for 100
g)-and  for carnivores, lamb, veal and beef (from 25€). Desserts
are sophisticated, as you would expect–Corne d’abondance en cascade de
fruits rouges et sa crème parfumée coulis de fruits des bois, well
worth 13€. All washes down nicely with a Château Simone white or a
Château Rasque red. Dance all this off in the baroque n’roll
restaurant- bar-lounge with VIP section and DJ’s.

Plage Les Pecheurs,
Restaurant de la Plage,
Restaurant Les Pecheurs and Le Cap for boogie nights.
10 boulevard Maréchal Juan,
06160. Juan-Les-Pins.
T: 04 92 93 13 30
www.lespecheurs-juan.com

And also, same owners:
Hotel Juana,
Avenue Gallice,
T: 04 93 61 08 70.

Paris

You
definitely won’t find Jacques Toubon at Café Muffin (he was the
party-poop who declared Franglais illegal). These muffins are supposed
to be low-fat and, with delicious ingredients such as figs, prunes,
honey, sunflower seeds, nuts, dates and sesame seed, should keep you
going all day. The creators, Michel and Georges Chouéri, worked in
Canada and have come back to France to “combine the best Canadian and
French flavours for a new generation of muffin mavens.” Sounds good to
me.

Look for them on www.infinities.fr or go visit at:
Cafemi
99 rue de Rivoli, 1st.
T: o1 42 60 10 63.
Métro: Palais-Royal

Did
you know you can rent a mobile phone in Paris? Delivered to you 24/7.
Then you can order a picnic from BE boulangerie (01 46 22 20 20) or beg
for a table at La Régalade (01 40 25 02 68).
www.george-v-telecom.com

Onward……

 

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Born in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Margaret Kemp is a lifestyle journalist, based between London, Paris and the world. Intensive cookery courses at The Cordon Bleu, London, a wedding gift from a very astute ex-husband, gave her the base that would take her travelling (leaving the astute one behind) in search of rare food and wine experiences, such as the vineyards of Thailand, 'gator hunting in South Florida, learning to make eye-watering spicy food in Kerala;pasta making in a tiny Tuscany trattoria. She has contributed to The Guardian, The Financial Times Weekend and FT. How To Spend It.com, The Spectator, Condé Nast Traveller, Food & Travel, and Luxos Magazine. She also advises as consultant to luxury hotels and restaurants. Over the years, Kemp has amassed a faithful following on BonjourParis. If she were a dish she'd be Alain Passard's Millefeuille “Caprice d'Enfant”, as a painting: Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’herbe !

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