Another Sunday lunch with Nancy

posted 11 April 2005

Today was our last Sunday in Villefranche—next Sunday, we'll be on the way to Poland for 10 days, and the Sunday after we get back, we'll be packed up and on the way to Brittany—so we took the opportunity to cap our series of Sunday lunches with Nancy Reed with a trip to La Bastide Saint-Antoine in Grasse, rated G-M 18/20.

We drove up to Nancy's place in the Cimiez section of Nice (just around the corner from both the ruins of the old Roman arena and the Matisse museum), then we all set off along the scenic route to Grass in Nancy's car. Despite a rather inaccurate map from the internet and wildly contradictory directions from local people, one of whom even contradicted his own instructions a couple of times, we made it to the restaurant in time for our 1 p.m. reservations.

We all started with the amuse-bouche, which consisted of four tiny servings: cold cream of mushroom soup garnished with two green purées, cold melon jam, a fillo package of curried purée of beans, warm cream of cauliflower and endive soup. Then David and Nancy both ordered the "Menu Dimanche en Fête" (Festive Sunday Lunch menu) with matched wines. I chose the "Menu Senteurs" (Fragrance Menu).

Sunday menu                   

Scallops in a salad of truffled leeks on "ravioli" of vegetables in three colors (thin disks of beet and two other solid vegetables sandwiching an herb mixture)

Fricassée of lobster with a melting mixture of asparagus and tiny mousseron mushrooms

Filet of beef in "bacon juice," truffled mashed potatoes, and new green peas (with cauliflower not mentioned on the menu)

Crispy dessert of Tonka beans, with a sweet of chocolate and spices

The list at the lower left gives the wines served with the various courses.

Senteurs menu                   

Sympony of asparatus (green and white, with balsamic vinegar) in salad (arugula) with langoustine tails in springtime colors on a purée of Jerusalem artichokes (truly an outstanding dish)

Filet of sea bass on a bed of new green peaks with a melting sauce of truffled baby onions

Fresh spring morel mushrooms in a truffled egg-yolk sauce with chervil roots (yum!)

Roast milk-fed baby lamb on a bed of braised new vegetables (zucchini, artichoke, carrot, parsnip, mushroom) with fresh herbs

"The selection of our master cheese-maker," a huge selection of French cheeses, from which I chose St. Maur (a cylindrical ash-coated goat cheese), Pouligny St. Pierre (a pyramidal, white-bloomed goat cheese), Roquefort (a blue-veined sheep's-milk cheese, for David, since his menu didn't include cheese), and a waxy yellow semi-hard cow's-milk cheese I forget the name of; all served with a fruit-nut bread.

Warm sweet scrambled egg with raspberry, passion-fruit, and chocolate sauces (to make the courses come out closer to even, the chef added this dish to David's and Nancy's menu as well and served the mignardises with it—coffee ganache chocolates topped with gold foil, squares of red fruit paste, and chocolate-covered almond brittle, and very tender tuile cookies)

A ring of crisp meringue with coconut shreds in it, filled with rhubarb jam and topped with quartered strawberries arranged in a starburst pattern, in turn topped with lemon-verbena ice cream (yum again!)

Finding our way out of Grasse was much easier than finding an address in it. On the drive back to the coast, we stopped off again in Biot to visit Nancy's daughter Valerie, son-in-law David, and grand-daughter Lucie. Lucie's now 8 months old and teething, a state she demonstrates by chewing vigorously on anything she can fit in her mouth—toys, stuffed animals, her own fingers, whatever—while never ceasing to smile and babble; she's an extremely cheerful baby.

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