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Vegetable Soup and Club Sandwich

Vegetable Soup and Club Sandwich

Getting sick in another country brings another perspective to your travels. I got a terrible stomach bug, took a nap on the beach and then got really dehydrated. I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything and finally just ended up ordering soup and a club sandwich from room service hoping to eat something. The hotel sent me up soup in a 3 qt cast iron dutch oven. I really couldn’t touch the food… too rich.

Risotto and Parma Chips

Risotto and Parma Chips

The first thing I tried to eat when I was feeling better was risotto with black truffle oil and parma ham chips. There was really nothing like chicken soup and crackers on the menu. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to eat until it came to the table. I was eating with my colleague Marvin, who had been staying up all night working and eating sandwiches, so this was the first real meal for both of us. The two of us sat there exclaiming with every bite. The food was so good.

Duck with Fois Gras

Duck with Fois Gras

It also came with duck, which I couldn’t really stomach.

Ratatouille, Potato Gratin, Spinach Puree

SIdes? Ratatouille, Potato Gratin, Spinach Puree

The sides were perfect!

salad nicoiseThe south of France is home to Provencal cooking, which is inspired by Mediterranean flavors. Cannes, however, is known more for yachts and celebrities than it is for its food. One of the local dishes that I got to eat a lot in Cannes was Salad Nicoise. I have never actually been a fan of Salad Nicoise, but in France it was delicious.

Nicoise means from the city of Nice, which is just 20 minutes down the road.

The definition of Salad Nicoise from a history of Salads & Salad Dressings page

Nicoise is a descriptive term for dishes served with particular foods used by the chefs of the City of Nice, France. This garnish usually includes garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, black olive, capers, and lemon juice.

Salad Nicoise is the most famous of all these dishes, consisting of potatoes, olives, green beans, and vinaigrette dressing. Even its “proper” assembly is disputed. Some people say the salad is served on a bed of lettuce and others say that tomatoes are the base. And some don’t arrange the elements of the salad at all, but just toss it all together.

Giant Sandwich

Michelle & the giant sandwich

I just don’t understand why sandwiches in the US have to be so mediocre. Sure, hoagies in Philly are delicious. And there are the occasional standouts like the steak sandwich from Mooncake foods in NY, but no one in the US can make a sandwich the way the French can. While I work on the wall here in Cannes, I have been eating a lot of sandwiches. The giant sandwich above is basically a Salad Nicoise in a sandwich. I think it was called Pan Bagnat and I got it from a kiosk outside for a few euro. Most days I get my lunch from a shop called Paul. Paul is a sandwich chain through all of Europe that even has locations in Florida. Florida! I need these sandwiches shops in NY and LA stat.

Pavot Jambon cru

Pavot Jambon cru from Paul

The sandwiches from Paul are just beautiful fresh bread (I like the ones with poppy seeds), a few thin slices of high quality meat, butter, lettuce and tomato. My favorite is the Pavot Jambon cru.

I remember the first time I had a sandwich from Paul was in the Edinburgh airport getting on a flight to NY. I grabbed a sandwich that was just some baguette and prosciutto and got on my flight. I took the first bite and actually turned to the stranger next to me on the flight and said, “this is amazing!” So tell me, what an we do to bring Paul to Los Angeles? And I don’t want some watered down version of Paul. We need to make sure it is only staffed by French people to get the atmosphere just right. In the meantime, I am filling overtime on sandwiches.

sole menuireI was excited for all the good eats I would have in Cannes, but so far I have been pretty disappointed. Besides the fact that I can barely afford to eat here on my work per diem, I have eaten most of my meals on the floor in front of the giant touch wall I am setting up in the Palais. Granted, the sandwiches from the cart out front are not too shabby, but I want to eat in this town for reals.

After a relatively bad day where we all missed our chance to get sandwiches for dinner, I found myself walking back to the hotel at 10 PM with no dinner plans. I decided this was my moment to really live it up. I found a fancy looking restaurant and ordered Sole Meunière, which I have been wanting to try since reading Julia Child’s description of arriving in France and tasting her first French meal.

It arrived whole: a large, flat Dover sole that was perfectly browned in a sputtering butter sauce with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top. The waiter carefully placed the platter in front of us, stepped back, and said: “Bon appètit!

I closed my eyes and inhaled the rising perfume. Then I lifted a forkful of fish to my mouth, took a bite, and chewed slowly. The flesh of the sole was delicate, with a light but distinct taste of the ocean that blended marvelously with the browned butter. I chewed slowly and swallowed. It was a morsel of perfection.

I can’t say I ate it slowly, but it sure was delicious. Simple and delicate and lemony with just a touch of fried skin. Perfection! This was a real French restaurant. I wanted just a glass of wine with the fish so I randomly ordered something. “Oh no,” the waitress said. “Wrong wine,” and she brought me the perfect rosé. I finished with a crumble aux pomme. I didn’t know apple crumbles were French, but when a French person says crumble it sure sounds French.

cannes michelle

I am near the beach. Not at the beach.

I took a break out on the terrace and tried to get me in a picture with the pretty beach that is 100 yards from where I am working all day. Looks nice, no? Those are the red carpet steps from the film festival right behind me. After Saturday, I should be able to visit the beach after all.

seafood assorment

Seafood Assortment - Before & After

The review I found for this restaurant in Cannes, where I am working for the next 2 weeks, said it had “Clams, praires, palourdes.” The Google translation for that was “clams, clams, clams.” I figured I had to try a restaurant with 3 different words for clams. Looking around, everyone was eating the seafood assortment so I ordered it as well. The assortment had no description, but what arrived was a platter of large snails, raw oysters, raw clams, langostinos, prawns and small snails. I was tentative at first, but the meal was delicious. I especially liked the large snails. I got up to my elbows in the seafood while capoeiristas performed out front. I resisted the urge to jump in the roda with them and enjoyed a fine French meal.