Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cannes, France

"When I have to go to Cannes, that is boring to me."
- Monica Bellucci

We went to Cannes. It was pretty boring. Maybe it would be better if Monica Bellucci were there. Or if we had a film in competition. But we were a couple of weeks early.

For us, it was cold and cloudy. In order to enjoy the pleasures of the sea, we had to turn our gaze inland. A nice lunch would help brighten our day.

Walking near the old port, the sight of a man shucking oysters caught my attention. V is a big oyster fan, and I knew that it would take her mind of the lack of sunshine. The man was doing a quick and professional job. At first, I thought it was a shop selling fresh seafood.

But it turned out that he worked for a restaurant that is something of a Cannes institution: Astoux & Brun. The place has been in business since 1953. We walked in. It was a bit busy, but we lucked out and got one of the few tables left. The weekday afternoon we were there, I’d say the clientele was mostly French, mostly women, and mostly elderly.

I started with marinated salmon. It was €11.00. It was a medium-sized plate completely covered with fish. On top of the salmon, there was olive oil, dill, cilantro, diced red and yellow peppers and zucchini. There were two lemon on the side for squeezing. It was excellent, with a wonderful mix of flavors. Very good fresh bread is served on the side.

V ordered a dozen large Fine de Claire oysters for €18.00. They offer an extra large size, but these were more than enough. They couldn't be fresher, with a wonderful taste of the sea. V enjoys them only with a squeeze of lemon. She loves watching them shrink as the citric acid hits them.
While we were raving about them, a Frenchwoman of a certain age told us in English that she believed Astoux & Brun to be the best place in Cannes for seafood. Her mother of a less certain age agreed.

A mixed salad was €4.00. A glass of white wine was €3.50. A liter of water was €4.60.

Then, I decided to open the purse strings a bit more and order the lunch special. Noix de St. Jacques (scallops) with green vegetables and a Hollandaise for €27.00. It was very nice. The scallops were sweet and perfectly seared.

The spinach, asparagus, haricots verts, and broccoli were freshly wilted. The sauce was fairly basic. I would rate it pretty highly, but I wouldn't get it again. I speak for myself, but at that price, it was too rich for my blood.

The weather remained cold and cloudy for most of our week on the Côte d’Azur. We knew it was early in the season, but we had hoped for a sunny day on a beach somewhere. Since that didn't happen, we saw many sights and had to find other ways to entertain ourselves.

One of them was a return visit to Astoux & Brun for oysters.

Astoux & Brun
27 rue Félix Faure
06400 Cannes
Tel: (+33) 04 93 39 21 87 or 04 93 39 98 94

"So, where's the Cannes Film Festival being held this year?"
- Attributed to Christina Aguilera

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