We are headed to Paris in a train which left Cannes station at about 7.30 am in the morning. Thanks to the Euro Cup that was the only train in which the tickets weren't exorbitant. None of the cafes or bakeries had opened when we left so we picked up a packed ham sandwich at the convenience store. And a freshly baked croissant at the snack bar. As K's colleague, Harshik said, the croissants here are very soft unlike the ones in Mumbai which could often break your teeth.
The train ride will take 5.5 hours. In the seat next to us is a young French mother handling two young children including one little girl who looks like a doll and is the only squalling child in the train. C est la vie.
K is sleeping through it all. She had a big night last night at the Cannes Advertising Festival after all.
I thought I will give writing a shot. The young lady has taken her little baby out to the vestibule on her pram and there is a bit of peace here. Her son, who is probably three or four years old, is fairly quiet and well behaved and sitting alone inside. I wish the train was a bit cooler. The toilets cleaner.
I want to tell you about what we ate in Cannes. I was there for 3 nights. Too short to write a 'Best of Cannes' sort of piece. Plus we didn't try out a new place very time we ate. We are creatures of comfort. Once we like a place we often go back to it. Even while travelling. That's what happened in this trip too.
In my earlier post about Nice, I had mentioned about wanting to go with the flow when it came to choosing places to eat in on this trip rather than go hunting for places to eat in with a list
Well, what happened in Cannes was a sort of compromise between the two.
This is K's third or fourth trip to Cannes thanks to the Cannes Advertising Festival which she comes to attend. This time she had been here for a week or so before I landed. She knew the lay of the land and had her favourite places. We went back to some of these places together along with her work partner Harshad.
At then end I was happy with each of my meals at Cannes barring one which was sort of average.
So let me tell you about the places we went to in Cannes.
This is where I had my first meal in Cannes after I reached here and had a little adventure in the tiny lift of the apartment. Let's just say that I was happy to be out under the blue sky!
Lenotre is an elegant, and a slightly expensive cafe. On my first visit we sat on the cafe chairs by the pavement. I had a quiche Lorraine ( Ham and cheese quiche) which they heat up and served with salad. The flavours of the quiche were intense, the texture of the pastry so alluring. Slightly crisp and yet thick and buttery. K declared that these were the best quiches that she had outside of Switzerland. They were truly indulgent and special.
They serve freshly squeezed orange juice here that K can't get enough of in Europe.
I later had a prawn and grapefruit salad too which was nothing to write home about and is avoidable.
K got to know about Lenotre as they had catered for an Ogilvy party at Cannes. The agency she works for.
Then we had the dark chocolate macarons. We are both macaron buffs. Have tried them across the world. In Mumbai we love the Le 15 Patisserie macarons. In Cannes, K likes the one from Jean Luc Pele.
Till she had the Lenotre ones. They are now our family favourite macarons. The chocolate ones. We don't try other flavours.
The meringue casing has a mild crunch and is airy unlike the Jean Luc Pele one which chewy. The quality of the chocolate inside phenomenal. The sort which you take a bite of and let it lie on your tongue and feel your tastebuds tingle. Literally.
We came back for lunch the day after. Lenotre shuts by 7 pm. We sat upstairs as it was too sunny and hot to sit on the pavement. Upstairs is designed like a very elegant European tea room. We were informed that prices are higher here. The service on both occasions was very courteous and warm. They struggled a bit with English but still went out of their way to make us feel at home.
We had the quiche which was again stellar. You get it in two sizes and we took the smaller one. Harshad was very happy with his hot chocolate and orange cake.
We ordered the budget busting foie gras with truffles. I wanted to see what truffles did to this already decadent dish. The truffles added a nutty texture but the foie didn't have the aroma of truffles which is what I was looking for. We couldn't finish it all and packed a bit to get back. They serve as regular foie gras too which is a smaller portion and is cheaper. It was the most expensive dish that afternoon by far.
Then K and I ordered a chocolate macaron each. Then another round of them.
As I took a picture of the macarons, my wife lovingly looked at me and menacingly said 'if your macaron is not over by the time mine is, I will have a bite of yours'.
Yes, the Lenotre dark chocolate macaron is the new Karmakar family favourite.
Which didn't stop K from stopping at Jean Luc Pele on the way back and picking another macaron!
K told me about a place where she had an amazing clam linguine the day before I arrived. So we went there for our second dinner after I landed. It's located in a busy lane full of restaurants and is called Bobo Bistro. During the festival the lane was full of life till well after midnight and there were even jugglers and drummers and street performers.
Bobo was the only place with a queue to get in. The food later that we ate there made us realise why. The service was polite and competent.
I had the linguine pasta with clams which was packed with flavour of the seafood broth and parsley and didn't have any visible cheese and reminded me of the seafood pasta we had eaten Florence. The clams were fresh, not over cooked or rubbery and their taste came across, politely but firmly, through the well seasoned pasta.
This was pasta, and food, at it's most artistic glory.
We had the grilled prawns which were juicy and subtly flavoured. I ordered seafood as my cabbie from the airport, Michel, had recommended eating seafood in Cannes as it is apparently abundant here. The quality of the seafood that we had at Bobo was indeed epiphanic.
Harshad, a vegetarian, had the artichoke risotto. Well flavoured but the rice was rather soft. Not al dente. More like the sort you would expect in a risotto in Mumbai.
For desserts, which were brought on a tray, we chose caramel panacotta (could have done with less caramel) and a lovely strawberry tiramisu.
The meal, and the sight of a steak tartare that I saw at the pass, were enough to make me want to come back the next night. We were in a happy mood as K and H and team had won a Cannes Gold Lion that night to add to their earlier Glass Lion.
The food at Bobo Bistro lived up to the occasion. We had a pizza which had a brilliantly supple and thin crust. It was a 'white pizza' and the Gorgonzola, promised in the menu, came through strongly and combined hedonistically with the toasted walnuts. One of the best pizzas that I've had in my life. They get the pie whole and then you cut it with your knife and fork.
The steak tartare didn't disappoint and K and I kept digging at it. The meat was of a superior quality and the shards of cheddar added an intense flavour to it without upsetting the meaty balance of the dish.
(Look at their post Cannes Lions smiles)
On the last night we headed to La Quirky from Bobo for ice creams for dessert. My treat for the winning duo. K had taken me there for ice creams on my first night here. The shop is on the sea front. Open till beyond midnight. During the festival, you have the swish advertising set coming in here for ice creams. The French call ice creams Glacé.
I had a strawberry yogurt ice cream on day 1 and a chocolate and Oreo cream mix on day 2. The ice creams are thick, creamy, intense. Harshad's rum and raisin was potent and he is a teetotaller! The cones are pretty good here. The service friendly again. They don't accept cards though. 3 small ice creams cost us 9.5 euros.
Jean Luc Pele Boulangerie
K loves the macarons here and has brought them back for me in the past. They have a boulangerie, or bakery cum cafe,adjacent to the macaron shop.
The evening we returned from Nice we stopped there for cappuccinos and picked macarons to have from the shop next door to have with the coffee.
The cappuccinos in France are really frothy and taste pretty good barring the one we just had at the Cannes station.
We returned to Jean Luc Pele for breakfast the next day. K keeps talking of the pain au chocolat in Cannes. It's her favourite breakfast here. I wanted to try it out and we thought Jean Paul would be a good idea. There was a queue in the morning which the staff handled competently. We soon got tables outside.
The pain au chocolat did indeed taste like a buttery croissant stuffed with very good quality chocolate as K said it would. I couldn't taste much of as K pounced on it but it struck me as the sort of thing I can enjoy in small measures.
The coffees were good as was the fresh orange juice.
Harshad Enjoyed his vegetarian baguette (mozzarella, tomato and aubergine).
I was blown away from the ham bagel that I ordered. We requested them to heat and serve it. The quality of the bagel was exquisite. Not chewy though. And the ham was out of the world. Thinly sliced, bursting with taste.
It later got too hot to sit outside though.
I had one breakfast here and K said that she and Harshad often stopped here for breakfast earlier. The service was very warm and there was a cute little dog called Warner too.
It's called Warner as the cafe has a Hollywood theme and posters all around. We sat inside to avoid the heat but there were others sitting outside.
The cappuccinos were frothy and K enjoyed her decaf. I ordered an American breakfast. I wanted hot food as I had landed the previous day and an European breakfast of croissant and espresso wouldn't pass muster.
My American Breakfast deal included coffee, juice, toast and freshly fried eggs. I chose a ham and cheese omelette and was wowed by the beauty of its flavours. The cheese and ham were both prominent and the egg tasted richer too than in India. Brilliant stuff and worth repeating.
I dent have any photographs here as I did a Periscope and a Facebook Live video while having breakfast and forget to take pictures.
Le Bistrot Croissette
We had one dinner at this restaurant. The service was warm.
K had foie gras with toast and liked it.
I had a foie gras with mushrooms and tagliatelle which was a wrong choice. The foie gras was wasted in it just as a Kakori kebab would be, figuratively, in a butter chicken. I found the pasta underwhelming. Harshad said the same about his tomato pasta.
This was no Bobo Bistro for sure. Unlike in Bobo I had to add some
salt to the pasta here
We were in a central part of new Cannes during our stay and ate in the lanes around us without exploring the city much.
All I can say is that I am really happy with what I ate and the little woman was happy with her Cannes win.
That's the perfect mix.
Meanwhile our train chugs on. K is still sleeping. As are the elderly French couple sitting opposite us us. The little girl is sleeping in the pram in the vestibule. Her mother and her little brother are having ham sandwiches inside. So am I. Their's are packed from home. Mine from a shop at thestation but not bad. I will transfer this write up to the Blogger app, keep my fingers crossed and hope to upload it when in Paris. The train has no wifi.