Cannes Food Face Off: Which Salade Niçoise Is Better?

 

This first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Cannes Daily on May 17.

Although Americans are more familiar with variations involving cooked veggies, the Niçoise, named for its key component, a type of olive grown mainly around Nice, is supposed to be about pure produce freshness. THR pitted a traditional presentation against a nouvelle interpretation.

Pastis

In this convivial, classic brasserie just off the Croisette at 28 rue du Commandant Andre, a relatively straightforward Salade Niçoise materializes in a deep-set glass bowl, well dressed and balanced. It features a melange of greatest-hits raw accoutrements: tomatoes (wedged), radishes (blossomed), scallions (diced) and so on, all situated around what seems like an entire can of very high-quality tuna. Surprisingly, olives are absent, but delicate sardine strips allude to that telltale saltiness. Crucially, this refreshing dish emanates the confidence of local authenticity: It isn’t anxiously hewing to some nebulous ideal of Julia Child originalism, as so many American renditions do.

CANNES PHOTOS: The Complete 2014 Official Selection

Le Parke 45

Yes, it’s awfully expensive for a salad. But, as a server explained to THR, it’s really more of a seafood dish with Niçoise elements. (And delivered in this Michelin-starred modernist room with an ocean view at 45 La Croisette after several amuse-bouches.) Large seared squid is ribboned in an elegant pile, then offset by zucchini slivers, quietly wispy olive-studded toast shards, basil oil, jellied peppers with Sakura cherry blossom vinegar and a molecular gastronomical mustard ice, that's conjured from the British brand Colman's Savora. Cool meets warm, crisp meets soft: this is exquisite, successfully inventive stuff -- and well worth the price.

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