After an enjoyable day in Marseille it was time to hit the road for two days of relaxation and a total commitment to far niente but not before stopping at a few wineries:Clos Ste. Magdeleine,and Domaine Tempier (details in an upcoming newsletter.)
My pal Robert S. was in charge of driving (I never learned how to drive a stick and car rental companies in Europe penalize you for that failure) and our arrival at the spectacular Le Club de Cavalière in Le Lavandou was coincidental with the setting of the sun over the azure Mediterranean.
Even at the end of the season the hotel was virtually sold out but we were escorted to a sumptuous 2-room suite with a long balcony facing and almost touching the sea. Marble bathrooms, big flat screen TVs, toiletries by Occitane, a baronial bed overflowing with pillows and pasha-sized thirsty towels and bathrobes.
It was cocktail time and a very good pianist was creating an atmosphere appropriate to the time and occasion. Our waiter approached with a min-feast of grignotines to accompany our drinks-thin, light potato chips, pistachios, nuts, big green olives, mini-pizza squares, rounds of smoked salmon and crème fraiche on wafers. Being on the Riviera pastis was called for.
Now it was time to savor the creations of Chef Marc Dach beginning with an amuse bouche of Crème de Moules au cidre et curry de Madras Orange et Poivron. The orange gave a sweet/tart note that was very refreshing.
Our sommelier suggested a local Chateau Sainte-Margurite Cuvée Symphonie rosé to accompany my carpaccio of Daurade and Robert’s gambas tails, chicken wings glazed with honey and soy sauce, purée of eggplant and Chinese salad.
It was a bad night to be a fish as we both chose the pan-fried loup de mer washed down with a white Saumur des Roches Neuves “L’insolite”
A massive cheese car rolled into position and we selected uncharacteristically modestly.
For dessert I opted for a warm mix of fraises and fraises des bois with sabayon and a scoop of caillé de vache with chestnut honey and pine nuts served with a glass of Domaine des Bernardin Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. R.S. indulged a chocolate fetish accompanied by Charles Dupuy’s Maury Mas Amiel Vintage.
So far, exactly what you would expect from a 5-star resort, but the warm, personal welcome by Edouard and Marielle was extraordinary and made us feel like regulars. Madame had been table-hopping in our direction and after a brief chat in French, English and Spanish our bond was instantaneous. So when I queried the very good piano player he responded by playing Sabor à Mi as I sang for madame to her delight and applause of the other diners.
The next day was as planned, total relaxation-a bountiful breakfast, waves lapping at my feet and a few laps in the pool where a beautiful Parisian model was being shot for the hotel’s 2013 brochure.
After a coupe on the terrace we were perfectly content to skip dinner but no dice-we were intercepted by Mme. Ruchti who insisted that we sit down for garlic and butter-bathed langoustines washed down by more Ruinart Brut.
And in answer to what do renowned chefs do on their days off we were introduced to Guy Martin of the Grand Vefour.