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Bistrot 40k, in Hotel Crillon Le Brave
May 5, 2015
We were a bit surprised when General Manager, Sebastien Pilat, first told us that Bistrot 40k, in Hotel Crillon Le Brave was named so because all the produce served in the restaurant came from within 40km of Crillon Le Brave. All we could think was, ‘Why do this?’ The answer came with a smile – it’s a challenge.
Granted, this is a challenge that could not been accepted in a much better region; Crillon Le Brave is surrounded by agricultural finery: asparagus from Mormoiron, pork from the Ventoux, spelt from Sault, trout from the Sorgue river… The list goes on. There are some limiting factors of course. For example, there is no beef on the menu as there isn’t the right climate for beef farming in the area; one would have to go 70km for that. There is also no cod or turbot because the sea is 98km away. However, what there is is an excess of truffles, as 70-80% of French winter truffles come from the region. We were not complaining.
We began our meal with a series of amuse-bouches, the most interesting of which was jelly scallops with whipped cream – intriguing yet not entirely appetising. Our starter of White Asparagus with Eggs and Hollandaise Sauce was much more successful. The egg yolk was wonderfully rich and thick. The freshness of the asparagus was unparalleled, having been in the ground that very morning. We could of eaten this all night.
However, instead we moved on to perfectly tender and flavoursome Pork Chops that were carved at the table and came with Green Vegetables, Carrots and Spelt. We found ourselves in full agreement with Sebastien’s candid announcement that “You come to France to eat meat, or you change.” The Grenache that was chosen to pair with this dish was full of vanilla and toffee, turning the meat even more moreish.
Our dessert however was the real star of the evening: a simple affair of a creamy custardy tart festooned with strawberries from Carpentras’ Strawberry Festival, and finished wit ha thin square of dark chocolate. The fruit was the juiciest we had every tasted and the dish was both elegant and cheeky, set aside a fresh rhubarb drink which played with both the sweet and savoury notes of the strawberries.
Daring to bring the concept of truly local cuisine to life was certainly a brave decision but it most certainly was worth it when it comes to Bistrot 40k.
Vicky Ilankovan – Lifestyle Editor