Today's excursion was to Moulin de Mougins (which means Windmill of Mougins, Mougins being the name of the town), one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in France. At its helm for decades was the legendary chef, Roger Vergé, who maintained his 3-Michelin star rating the entire time. I believe he still owns it but has turned over his whisk to a French-trained Spaniard, Alain Llorca, who is muy caliente y muy guapo! :-) He is on the right in the picture below. The restaurant lost a star but Chef Alain said they are working on getting the 3rd one back. The restaurant, and the entire property for that matter, is beautiful…old stone buildings centuries old with an antique stone olive press in the entrance.
One of the dining rooms is in the garden with glass walls. They have celebrities sign the window in pen then etch their autographs into the glass. It looks very cool. The only name I recognized was Elizabeth Taylor. Legend has it that the great French artist and a good friend of Roger Vergé, César (like Cher, only one name), after repeated requests, finally signed his name on a panel under the condition that no one else was allowed to sign on his glass panel. Well along came Elizabeth Taylor and she signed on his panel and the nest time César came to the restaurant he had a fit! Chef Vergé simply shrugged and said "It was Elizabeth Taylor…what was I to do?" Her signature is at the bottom arrow.
There is a charming hotel with 10 rooms and a separate building for the bakery and the office. This is the location for the yearly fundraiser for amfAR (american foundation for Aids Research) that draws the like of Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John, Liza Minelli, Sharon Stone, Natalie Cole, et al… 500 stars and a separate tent for the 275 drivers and security people! 6 people from our group were picked randomly to help work in the kitchen for this event...I wasn't picked and I was sooooooooooo very disappointed. We didn't get to eat there but here is a glimpse of their amuse bouche for the lunch service that day. My apologies as I can't find where I wrote down just exactly what this is... All the pictures from this delicious visit are here.
We then headed up the road to Le Clos St. Basile. This has become an annual stop on the Cannes cooks trip and Chef Claude and Madame Annie treated us to a spectacular lunch. (351, avenue St Basile, 06250 Mougins, France, +33 04 92 92 93 03 ph, [email protected]) A former participant on the Cannes cooks trip, a chef named Trevor, joined us there for lunch. He ended up staying in France after his trip to Cannes. Hmmmmm…not a bad idea! ;-) He worked at both Le Clos St. Basile and Moulin de Mougins and coincidentally studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Cocktail Champagne Maison & Feuilletés Salés
- Champagne Cocktail & Savory Puff Pastry Twists
Mise en Bouche Rafraîchie à la Gelée de Crustacés
- Amuse Bouche: Cold Shellfish Soup
Saumon Mariné aux Herbes et Sel Marin
- Salmon marinated in Herbs and Sea Salt
Café et Mignardises
- Coffee and Dessert Bites
Vins: Côtes de Provence
- Wine: from the Coast of Provence
After lunch we returned to the beautiful gardens for coffee and mignardises (assorted small bite size desserts), usually served after the main dessert. Can never get tired of desserts in France! We were all ready for a nap but alas no… By the time we returned to Cannes, after once again going the wrong way a few time, we headed straight to the American Pavilion to unpack and set up both the Pavilion and the student union.
Oh my goodness, it was spectacular! The view that is. The set up was a nightmare. As I mentioned earlier, the tent is situated right on the beach! If you stand on the deck and look out at the Mediterranean, there is a stage being built on the water for the De-Lovely (Kevin Klein, Ashley Judd movie about Cole Parter's life) closing night party, a myriad of yachts arriving for the festivities and the glorious French Riviera, the Côte d'Azur that is truly azure.
We unpacked the Pavilion, and then walked up to the student union, where I will be working with Elizabeth the first 5 days. It was very fun to set up and work together as a group. Most of the cooks went to dinner at Marine Café with the lovely Olivier, all in all about 20 of us. Armand, one of the managers with our group, swears Nicole Kidman was sitting at a table in the far corner. No one else thought it was her but I did look like her! I'll just believe it was her. Back to my hotel room with piggie roommates. Piggies, piggies, piggies! Humble pie! HUGE slice! Hate that!