Bouillabaisse. For our last meal in France, we drove to the village of Les Goudes on the outskirts of Marseille to have this glorious bouillabaisse. You must order at least a day ahead, because it is prepared especially for you, based on what is caught the morning of your dinner.
But let me back up…
I’d read up on Marseille before our trip, but without the local savvy of Brigitte and her family, we wouldn’t have known about — much less experienced — L’Escale and its bouillabaisse. So, I’m happy that I can let my readers know about it in the same way that we were so lucky to have our hospitable friends in Provence introduce us to it. They also helped find an automatic rental minivan that seated 7 (a rare gem that eluded my search) and arranged other pre-trip logistics. I wish that my French language could be as skilled as their English, but I can say “merci beaucoup!” and know that I’m speaking for the rest of my family, and Chad, as well.
So… back to the restaurant… Or rather, this luxurious view from our outdoor table…
I started off with a delicately floral Violet Kir Royale. And I love the glass. It’s somehow ripe.
Bouillabaisse is usually served in two stages. First, the broth is brought out and poured over bread that you rub with garlic and spread with toppings, such as rouille.
It was so good that we had two servings of this. You would expect that such a soup that takes all day to prepare will taste of the ocean, but that expectation didn’t prepare me for the flavor. It tasted more of the depths of the ocean — a rich, yet elemental flavor that, obviously, goes beyond “earthy.”
And then, the fish themselves (with potatoes) were served, as pictured first above. Full of the freshest fish imaginable from the Mediterranean, it speaks for itself.
Mi-Cuit de Chocolat. I liked the intensity of chocolate in the middle of the plate, and the opportunities to contrast it w/ either frozen or whipped vanilla cream at your leisure.
We also had perfect Profiteroles, with this piping on the side of the plate… which vindicated all the piping homework that we had in culinary school…
For more about bouillabaisse — including a California approach to it — see this LA Times article.