Dine Well, Dine Savvy, in Southern France

April 1, 2009


Peppers at the Provencal Market by Michael Gwyther-Jones
Peppers at the Provencal Market by Michael Gwyther-Jones

Having eaten out every day for the past two weeks (and set to do so for another four), I categorically confirm the following top three tips for dining well, dining happy in southern France:


  1. Do not be bullied into ordering a bottle of water. Even in the most multi-starred Michelin restaurant, it is quite acceptable to ask for une carafe d’eau. A nonchalant ‘une carafe’ will do should you really want to say ‘I know what’s what in this Frenchie neck of the woods, so don’t mess with me!
  2. Go on, be a devil, rip a chunk off that bread and wipe your plate with it. It goes against the best of English table manners but it’s soooo satisfying, honest.
  3. If you’re unsure precisely how to eat something, don’t be afraid to ask for un petit conseil (a little advice). This is something I have done on several occasions with magnificent results (and not only on truffling matters at Chez Bruno). Take last night at the Hotel des Deux Rocs in Seillans: As starter I ordered saumon dans un macaron et salade japonaise. What came was two plates, one displaying a ‘flower’ of raw salmon with a sweet macaroon at its centre, the other an Asian-style patty of flaked raw and cooked salmon, mixed with hazelnuts and Asian spices, and topped with tart rocket and other green. I didn’t even pretend to know which plate to tackle first, to which I was told ‘don’t hesitate to eat them together, the sweetness of the first neutralises the acidity of the second’. And indeed, the orgy of contrasting tastes was fabulous.

One comment

  1. Great advice – except for the water! 😉

    I’m addicted to sparkling water – always have been, even before I spent time in Italy. Hate the still stuff – and wouldn’t order anything other than sparkling in the northern hemisphere. It’s just so good there, especially in Italy.

    We’ve been in Australia for… gosh, too many months now… working on a couple of books, and it’s been driving us nuts that they automatically put still water on our table all the time. For one, it takes god-awful in most places, unless it’s rainwater, and secondly, we want sparkling water. We are flabbergasted that aside from the best restaurants, most cafes and neighbourhood eateries, don’t stock the stuff. What is wrong with them?! I’m very much looking forward to returning to the northern part of the world soon, I can tell you!

    Sorry for the rant! But wonderful eating tips though! 🙂

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