Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Takes Three at La Riboto de Taven

Tuesday, March 30, Soir

Can you imagine entertaining for a maximum of 18 quests nearly every night of the week? Planning meals, prepping, cooking, serving, entertaining, cleaning and washing dishes by hand, and all with a smile--every night. Plus, there's only three people doing all of this work. This happens at the elegant La Riboto de Taven in Les Baux en Provence. Magically, Chef Jean-Pierre Novi and owners, Christine and Philippe Theme (photo) create culinary magic.

I'm not a critic, just a promoter and enjoyer. On this four week adventure, the dining has been extraoradinary and memorable from Tunisia, Sicily to Tuscany, except for the focaccia pomodora pizza that I attempted to eat from the autogrill on the Austradra while driving to Roma on Monday. Last night, however, achieved supreme grandeur.

Castelas olive oil producers, Catherine and Jean-Benoît Hugues managed to convince the owners to open the restaurant just for the three of us (another couple showed up). Jean-Bientȏt predicted this will be an experience! And how right he was.

Get this—Chef Jean-Pierre keeps a record of the courses he prepares for his quests to never repeat one. And Philippe was born in a kitchen following generations of chefdom...He said, "The kitchen was warmer for pregnant women." I will take is word on that one.

What did they prepare just for us? We began with succulent and heavenly foie gras. Next was the innovative dish of the trip, Royal de languistines (Shrimp-like) and flan on three different types of pasta (linguine) woven together by hand, smothered with a Castelas ginger olive oil emulsion. The main course was guinea hen and FRESH spring veggies (snow peas and fava beans). This was followed by the cheese course. Jean-Benoît suggested adding some olive oil to the cheese plate. The Hugues TV dinner is cheese, olive oil and bread. What's dinner without dessert? Fresh strawberries marinated in Castels olive oil (surprise surprise) and a small, warm soufflé.

And you're asking about the wine. There were two wonderful red wines from the the local area. We began with the 2005 Equinoxe Domaine de Lauziérs from Les Baux Provence, AOC (Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault blend). One was not enough so we had Madame Dominque Hauvette's 100% Cinsault, which you never see as mono-varietal wine. All were a perfect accompaniment to a nirvana culinary experience.

Now, if that wasn't enough. As we left the restaurant, we were met by a full moon hovering over the cliffs of Les Baux. To recap the day, a rainbow, a full moon, a magical dinning experience shared with wonderful friends. I'm living large.

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