Celebrate season’s end with a Le Vallauris feast
Written by Henry Fenwick
It’s always a huge pleasure to find out what Chef Jean Paul Lair is doing at Le Vallauris, but I just had a special treat.
I’m a great lover of foie gras and will mourn when it isn’t available legally in California any more. When we lose foie gras what I will particularly mourn is Jean Paul’s way with the delicacy, which in his hands is particularly delicate. Fortunately he’s thinking ahead.
The evening I visited the restaurant he had been experimenting with fish’s liver to see if he would be able to make the substitution when it became necessary. He gave me a taste and it was fascinating, subtle and rich. The flavor was totally different, but the texture was just as lusciously smooth.
But that was just a particularly lucky bon bouche for me. My aim that evening was to taste the summer menu he and owner Paul Bruggemans had decided on to celebrate the end of the season. July 4 will be the restaurant’s last night until they reopen on Sept. 9.
The prix fixe, at $46, offered a wide choice of options. There was a trio of chilled soups; a soufflé of Swiss and Conte cheeses on Boston lettuce with a mustard and walnut dressing; fried shrimp Kataifi (wrapped in a shredded crust) with a ginger dressing; prosciutto with beluga lentils; and house Caesar salad wrapped in smoked salmon. I went for the cheese soufflé, on the understanding that I could taste my wife’s soup. I hesitated over the shrimp but the cheese soufflé on the Boston lettuce sounded too gently appetizing to pass over. I’m glad I made that choice. I loved the carrot curry soup but the mild lettuce leaves lightly coated with that nutty mustard dressing was a perfect base for the lovely, light cheese dish. A perfect summer opener. (….)
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