Côte d’Azur 2

Early morning start today: I have an 8 am meeting with my first customer. The valet collects my car from the garage, then I drive up the Grande Corniche on the way towards Monaco. This particular customer is in a splendid location: from his plate glass meeting room windows, the view stretches from the seaside to the glinting snowy peaks of the Alpes Maritimes. Aren’t meetings better with this kind of scenery rather than with a view of a car park?

In contrast, I spend the rest of the day in the large industrial area north of Nice. Decidedly more down-to-earth, but also very convenient, as I can see four customers one after the other. Exit one customer, drive a couple of hundred metres along the road, enter another customer.

More visits in the afternoon, then back to the hotel. After checking in back home and a shower, it’s time for dinner! My chosen spot for the evening is l’Effeuillant at 26 Boulevard Victor Hugo, tel 04 93 82 48 63, in the modern city centre, specialised in Provencal cuisine. As I enter, I feel somewhat out of place: it is maybe more suitable for a romantic evening out rather than a single business traveller, but the waiter soon puts me at ease. I decide on the menu fixe. Firstly an amuse-gueule is served: a small toast with smoked salmon, plenty of olive oil, a few sprigs of fennel.

With the entrée, it is obvious that the chef has an artistic bent. I order a Terrine de fois gras de canard au Muscat de Frontignan, pain brioché. Instead of the usual limp lettuce leaf to garnish the slab of fois gras, I have an exquisitely decorated flower made of sprigs of chive with a tiny quartered tomato and a few drops of balsamic vinegar to serve as branches. The foie gras is sprinkled with a few grains of sel gros. It is so beautiful that I am reluctant to eat!! As we say in Italian, “anche l’occhio vuole la sua parte”!

The foie gras is excellent as well as beautiful, and is soon followed by the second course: Carré d’agneau tout simplement rôti, avec son jus d’ail, a succulent roast rack of lamb, with a very garlicky sauce and roast potatoes. I love lamb, but it’s hard to get in our part of Italy out of season, so I am glad to enjoy it.

The waiter arrives with a rumbling cart: the cheese course! I am presented with a wide selection, and choose the St. Maur, St. Marcellin, Livarot and a tiny piece of chèvre whose name I forget.

Dessert is a soufflé glacé à l’orange which is a rather posh name for a cylinder of orange ice-cream, but here again the chef has excelled in the decoration: with tiny pieces of exotic fruit, candied orange peel and a sprinkling of icing sugar, he has created another work of art!

A half bottle of Côtes de Provence red went down very well.

Now I ask you, can you show me where I can eat a comparable meal in England for EUR 31, let’s call it twenty quid?

From the restaurant it’s not far to the Negresco and the sea front Promenade des Anglais, and I walk briskly in the cool night back to the hotel.

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