Since I was a kid, Ive wanted an authentic bouillabaisse. There was a comedy spy movie in the 1960s that starred James Coburn called Our Man Flint. In the film, there was a small sub-plot where super-spy Derek Flint goes to a number of different restaurants in Marseilles looking for a specific bouillabaisse in his search for a killer. I thought the word was funny but when I found out what it was, I wanted to try it even though I was just a kid. As we enjoyed our voyage de noces in Arles, France last week, we made the one hour drive to Marseilles, the home of bouillabaisse.
We found Restaurant Michael opposite la plage and our table had a magnificent view of the Mediterranean. The proprietor presented a selection of beautiful fresh fish that were then sent to the kitchen. Our choices were European hake, rascasse and monkfish, I think. Even though it was lunchtime, we ordered a bottle of a local white wine that proved to be an excellent accompaniment to the meal.
The fish-based broth itself was served steaming hot in a large tureen and the waiter ladled it into the individual bowls. It was a thick reddish-brown tomato-looking broth with an alluring scent of garlic, saffron and other herbs and spices. The cooked fish arrived from the kitchen and were expertly filleted by the waiter who put on quite a show as he divided the slices of fish onto two plates that also had slices of marinated potatoes on them. A large basket of fresh breads and toasts was on the table along with two sauces: a garlicky mayonnaise and a spicy, thick olive oil mayonnaise.
I was surprised that the fish was not in the broth. Instead, we were expected to cut a piece of fish, submerse it in the broth and eat it using a soup spoon with a dollop of one of the sauces along with a piece of bread. This is to keep the fish from becoming too soft and fragile. It was even more surprising that there werent any shellfish or other sea foods in the dish. The proprietor explained that including those meats is another dish entirely. Whatever. This dish was spectacular!
For dessert we had cappuccinos and a small creamed-filled pastry drowning in melted chocolate.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the Landlady(!) is now determined to try recreating it. However, it was a monstrously expensive lunch! Fortunately, we had been forewarned. It was a meal that Ill never forget.
P.S. Sorry this isnt tonights dinner but I wanted to share the tale! Were roasting a chicken and have wild rice and broccoli for the sides. Back to work tomorrow.
Profile InformationName: Paul McKibbins
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 04:16 PM
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