L’Hostellerie Jérôme, La Turbie, 10

April 17, 2018

After Bruno Cirino opened L’Hostellerie Jérôme in 1999, we were one of his first clients. We used to go frequently and were happy when he soon received his first Michelin star and then the second in 2002. The second star was removed in 2014 to the outrage of many, including us. Fortunately, it was restored this year. Linda and I went for dinner at L’Hostellerie Jérôme on March 21, 2018.

We were warmly greeted by Marion Cirino and seated by the window onto the little terrace out back, where we have sat in warmer weather. We ordered glasses of Champagne and looked at the menu. We decided to have the big menu this time. We chose a bottle of 2011 Antoine Jobard Meursault Genevrières from the enormous wine list. It was very good and right with the cuisine.

The bread basket was put on the table and the amuse-gueules started coming.


There was a purée de fèves (spring fava beans) in the bottom of the little white cup and purée d’ail (garlic) in the little white dish to spread on the grissini and focaccia cubes, as well as the bread. Very nice. The tartelettes de tomate were also good. We were then served a velouté de petits pois.

The flavor of the fresh spring peas in this soup was superb.

A final amuse-gueule was tiny squid with fava beans and young spinach leaves.

Nice.

The first menu course was
Raviolis, écrevisses, truffe noire, asperges violettes.

The raviolis were filled with buffalo milk ricotta and dressed with hollandaise. The crayfish had a delicate, lovely flavor which went well with the seasonal asparagus. 

Langoustines à la vapeur, citron, citronelle, jasmine.

The steamed langoustines were lightly perked up by the lemon grass broth.

Gamberoni rôtis, coriandre, févettes, clémentines.

 The progression to stronger shellfish flavors continued with big local shrimp perked up by tangerine.
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We were then served a surprise du chef extra course
Saint Pierre rôti en Champagne, petits pois.

Two chunks of John Dory had been baked in Champagne, which formed the sauce. Alongside were excellent spring peas.

Loup dans une infusion de pousse de fenouil sauvage et artichauts.

A thick slice of sautéed local sea bass was served with pieces of young wild fennel and artichoke heart on a sauce made from them.
.

Le petit rouget de roche arrosé d’un bouillon d’ail et basilique


Two filets of striped red mullet were served on top of a chard leaf. They were dressed with a garlic and basil sauce. Alongside was a crisp piece of mullet skin.
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Ris de veau piqué de pistaches et truffe noire croustillé.

A piece of sweetbread had been studded with pistachios and truffle bits. It was lightly breaded and sautéed so that it had a crisp crust providing contrast with the soft interior. Underneath was a truffled glaze. Alongside was truffled potato purée. Very good.

As the Meursault had expired, I was served a glass of red Marsannay.

Pigeonneau rôti servi désossé,
réduction d’olives noires au vin de Bandol.

There were crispy-skinned pink breast slices from a roast pigeon. In front were very crackly pigeon pieces. In back was a rectangle of duck foie gras. Olives and small mushrooms were scattered around. Underneath was a sauce with a reduction of red Bandol wine and black olives. Excellent.
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Arlette aux fraises des bois, glace à la dragée rose.

Wild strawberries were stacked between crisp, thin, caramelized, puff pastry wafers (arlettes.) The ice cream evoked the pink, sugar-coated almonds typical of spring celebrations in France.  

Le pur chocolat taïnori,
avec les dernières mandarines tièdes à liqueur.

The big piece of chocolate on a thin wafer was made from Valrhona’s premium concentrated Dominican chocolate. It was rich and slightly bitter, contrasting nicely with the tangerines in various formats. The round was more like a milk chocolate.

The mignardises included:
mini-financiers

raspberry tartelettes

chocolates and caramels

cherries in eau-de-vie (I love these.)

Our meal was consistently excellent. The ingredients were top notch. Chef Cirino shops in nearby Liguria three times a week. (It is evident on our occasional shopping trips there that the seafood and vegetables are better than just across the border in France.) He knows just how to enhance each one without overdoing it. He knows how to construct a menu that progresses logically. The pace is a bit slow, but he is cooking many of the dishes himself. Marion runs a welcoming, quiet dining room. Bravo.

http://www.hostelleriejerome.com/index.html

To see all of our blogposts on L’Hostellerie Jerome click here.

 

3 Responses to “L’Hostellerie Jérôme, La Turbie, 10”

  1. Sam Spektor Says:

    Sounds like a very good meal, with well thought out dishes, where the ingredients of each dish make a lot of sense… except for
    “The raviolis were filled with buffalo milk ricotta and dressed with hollandaise. The crayfish had a delicate, lovely flavor which went well with the seasonal asparagus.”

    Why is it that French chefs don’t seem to have the knowledge of what to do with pasta? Those who know how to make stuffed pasta well (and over a long period of time, we’ve found few who do), too often treat it as a side dish. In this particular case, a perfectly good stuffed pasta is dressed with hollandaise (which is bad enough), and then served with crayfish and asparagus. To this Italian palate, it seems like both overkill and a jumble of ingredients that do not meld together.

    Serve the pasta, but not with a sauce of hollandaise, and for another course, crayfish and asparagus.

    • Michael Says:

      Well, Sam, Hollandaise is a good, traditional match with asparagus and goes, in moderation, with the crayfish. The ravioli were a nice way of presenting it. So it did not seem at all like an overkilled jumble. Despite buying most of his ingredients in Liguria, Bruno Cirino is a French chef. They have not followed Italian rules in La Turbie since 1860.

  2. Sam Spektor Says:

    Michael,

    Yes, the French have not followed Italian rules in La Turbie since 1860, but, they still want to try to make Italian dishes.

    Hollandaise is a good traditional match with asparagus. But you don’t “dress” ravioli filled with buffalo milk ricotta with hollandaise, unless you’re French.

    In general, French restaurant chefs are much better than their Italian colleagues in terms of cooking skill. However, they seem not to know how to properly make and cook either pasta (stuffed or not stuffed) or risotto. At least that has been our experience having eaten a great deal in France for over forty years. As an Italian restaurateur friend of ours has said, “the French don’t have the Italian soul to be able to make good pasta, cook it and sauce it properly.” He said the same thing about risotto. The other thing the French are poor at is coffee. Not nearly as bad as in The States, but mediocre at best. Other than those three things, again, in general, they have it all over Italian chefs in term of cooking ability. Not necessarily in terms of dishes which, if Italian chefs keep things simple and use pristine ingredients, are as wonderful, in a different way, as dishes in France. And, as you said, even in your small area, the seafood and produce are better across the border in Italy.

    And that is what we know will be the case during the next two months when we are in The Langhe, at some of the restaurants that you and Linda went to on your last trip there.

    Best,

    Sam


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