Three star dining and visit to Le Var region, France.May 21, 2018
My last day in the amazing Department of the Var in Southern FranceMay 22, 2018
As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to divide my blogs about my visit to the French Department of the Var into more than one post. This post will concern my visit to the fantastic Hotel du Castellet and the associated Michelin 3 Star Restaurant under the direction of the head chef Christophe Bracquie’. I read about this wonderful establishment in the supplement to Nice-Matin newspaper which is the daily paper of the Cote de Azure and decided that since it was less than a 3 hour drive from Menton, my French home base, to Le Castellet, that I would explore this much talked about resort and restaurant. M. Bacquie’ and his wife Alexandra took over the Relais and Chateau property with about 100 hectares of land, a huge park, a golf course and views of the brilliant blue Mediterranean Sea and over the years steadily improved the undertaking until it finally reached the pinnacle of the Michelin Three Star award in 2018. Alexandra is in charge of the hotel and Christophe is responsible for the kitchen. The hotel and restaurant are housed in a lovely Provencal style building which according to Nice-Matin “stretches voluptuously out like a transalpine Castle” with swimming pools, marble bastides, patinas and pastel tones. My room, Number 21, on the first floor (we would call it the second floor in the USA) was decorated in a modern style with some of the elegance of older French hotels with a very comfortable, large bed, a walk in shower as well as a separate bathtub with typical french hand held shower head also. An excellent supply of plush towels and toiletries was an very nice complement to the bathroom. My room opened into a terrace which overlooked the grounds including the golf course in the distance, the pine forest and the lovely Var Mountains and the Sea. The restaurant is very modern, sleek and also with muted pastel shades of light tan and creamy white and clean, simple but elegant tables, chairs and decor and waves of blue glass accenting the table decor. M. Bracquie’s cuisine is contemporary Mediterranean, with a strong emphasis of products of the local farms and markets and the bounty of the sea. My friend Patrick Rossi, co-owner of AJM Touring and I decided on the Chef’s tasting menu in order to sample the freshest and most inventive examples of M. Bracquie’s cuisine. Ably assisted by his second in command Fabien Ferre in the kitchen, Loic Colliau the pastry chef and Chief Sommelier Romain Ambrosi the food we were able to enjoy in that memorable lunch certainly lived up to our expectation for a Michelin Three Star Restaurant. Modern aoli including vegetables from the local market and tender octopus, green asparagus with John Dory fish in a light, flavorful chicken broth with morel mushrooms, langostine and butternut squash, pigeon in a celery and Grand Cru Arbica sauce with potato souffles, a whole separate room full of an amazing array of cheeses to choose from and of course wonderful desserts and petit fours. After we concluded our main meal we moved to an adjoining bar area for coffee and I decided to indulge my passion for the bas Armagnac which I had not done in several years but I was enticed into trying a flight of three different years, 1989, 1985 and 1983 from La Fontaine de Goiney! They were all smooth and smoky, as Armagnac should be, with the powerful flavor of the fermented and distilled wine spirits that make this truly remarkable after dinner drink-my favorite! I will leave it to your fantasy to view the accompanying photos to give you some appreciation of a fantastic display of culinary composition and execution. Three stars, well deserved my Christophe and Alexandra Bracquie’ and their team and a truly memorable visit to this oasis in France’s Var Department!