You have probably never heard of the town of Cassis, France just a bit east of Marseilles along the Mediterranean coast of France and the calanques that make the coastline of great interest. Calanques are deep inlets made by the natural processes of sea erosion and collapse of the stone in limestone, which come directly down to the sea, a little bit like the fjords of Norway. They give a dramatic roughness to the coastline and can only be truly appreciated by boat and thus we took a 1.5 hour tour of 8 different calanques this morning. Before our tour we explored the open market in Cassis where I bought two French Army medals, one from 1870 and on from 1914-1918 and where we appreciated the great variety of products offered in virtually every market in every town and city in France. Fruits, vegetables, baked goods, meat, fish, cheese, clothing, shoes, antiques and just about everything imaginable was for sale at the market in Cassis this morning.
Our lunch was in the delightful Michelin 2 Star restaurant La Villa Madie, perched high above the sea with a gorgeous view out to the open blue water and the small beach inlet below. When I dine at a Michelin 2 Star restaurant, I expect a very high level of food, ambiance and service. Let us begin with the excellent and very inventive cuisine. My daughter had a most creative and delicious vegetable entree’ (the French refer to the introductory course as the entree, unlike in the USA where we generally refer to the main dish as the entree) of today’s market vegetables confined in a tartlet. My entree was a combination of langoustine and caviar in a Bergamot broth with lemon thyme. For our main dishes my daughter chose a bone in Turbot in velvet tomatoes and for me, a Royal Mediterranean Lobster enlivened with a citrus broth. Both were delightful to look at and even more delightful to eat. Our Clos St. Magdeleine Bel-Arme Cassis white was a lovely example of the crisp, local blend of Marsanne, Clairette, Ugi Blanc and Bourboulenc grape varietals. I love it but it is virtually unobtainable in the USA. I have to come to Cassis to enjoy it and the Provencal life style. The cheese and dessert were likewise fantastic but alas, the service left something to be desired. Not nearly as attentive as I have come to expect in a Michelin 2 Star restaurant although certainly pleasant and knowledgeable. All in all, a lovely afternoon in the delightful, harbor town of Cassis.