La Villa des Lys – Cannes

May 14, 2007

On May 12, 2007, we were taken to La Villa des Lys by David and Frédérique. This was not an ordinary invitation. David has a good friend who knows the chef, 38-year-old Bruno Oger, well and so the four of us were able to dine in a little room with a glass wall right off the kitchen. lys5.jpg

This privilege is by invitation only; one cannot simply call up and reserve the room. We had a constant close-up view of the stove tops where the food is cooked, of the prep areas where the sauces are heated and frothed and of the assembly area where the various ingredients are artfully put on the plates.

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There were usually six to ten cooks working together with no apparent direction, but obviously familiar with what had to be done. 

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La Villa des Lys, which has two stars in the Michelin Guide, is part of the Majestic Hotel complex directly across La Croisette from the Cannes Festival Hall. Bruno Oger is responsible for six different kitchens in the complex, but he is at La Villa des Lys, checking the presentation and lending a hand as the dishes are assembled. (The restaurant is not open for lunch or on Sunday or Monday evenings.) He did find time to decide on our surprise menu, choose the wine, and come by to chat with us several times.

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Next week he will cook for 700, many of them global celebrities, at the Cannes Film Festival’s 60th Anniversary Dinner. (The evening we were there was the 100th Anniversary of Katherine Hepburn’s birth.)

We started with an apéritif of Laurent-Perrier Champagne rosé. lys1.jpg

A tray of amuses-gueule was brought which included barba-jouan, small pastries filled with a chard purée, leek financières, small fresh grissini and potato chips.

The chef suggested the local Cannes wine: the white wine of the monks of the Abbaye de Lérins, Cuvée St Pierre 2003. This island monastery, a short boat ride from Cannes, has a sixteen-century history; it once was the temporal power over much of the area, but is now confined to the smaller of the two offshore islands. The 25 Cistercian monks have been expanding and improving its vineyards and winemaking to help support their vocation. As our meal was all seafood, we continued with this good wine throughout the meal.  

I will not bore my readers with repeating how good each course was. They were all excellent. The ingredients were of top quality. The preparations were imaginative without getting away from proven relationships between flavors.

 

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A rich and flavourful little bowl of crab and langoustine in their own gelée was the first course.

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We then had a medallion of lobster with lobster gelée, asparagus and a spoonful of French caviar, from the Aquitaine; there was a small bowl of little clams and cucumber alongside. 

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One of the chef’s signature dishes came next: a cappuccino of frogs legs with sweet garlic prepared three ways. There was a mousse of garlic, pieces of frogs’ legs, morels and a deep fried frog’s leg in a terrific combination.

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Next was a risotto of very small squid with a flavourful confit of beef-heart tomato.

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A beautifully presented “Trou Normand,” or palate freshener, followed: olive oil ice cream on top of orange slices and an ice of orange wine, all served on top of an illuminated ice cylinder.

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A piece of loup, or Mediterranean sea bass, came next, with a little bowl of small clams in foam.

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 Little fresh goat cheeses were then offered giving us another opportunity to try the varied breads which had been in a basket on the table during the meal. 

The pre-dessert was a little glass of chocolate strudel.

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The dessert was a thin, crunchy chocolate bar with a coffee-caramel ice cream. 

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The offering of mignardises was big, varied and absolutely delicious. Finally, we were given a fresh little wrapped muffin to take home for breakfast, a touch I had only seen in New York before. The next day it gave us a reminder of a lovely evening. 

4 Responses to “La Villa des Lys – Cannes”

  1. jerry vance Says:

    Wow now that is the way to dine!

  2. Elaine Ridder Says:

    curious as to what time you started this amazing dinner and what time it ended………..

  3. Michael Says:

    It started at 8:00 and ended at 10:30; the service was excellent and the kitchen could see when we were ready. The chef told us that with these small portions he allows fifteen minutes per course.

  4. john howell Says:

    Pure fantasy!..what a delight to read about… amazing to have experienced these wonders.


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