Cannes Culinary Showdown: Finding the Best Creme Brulee
This first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Cannes Daily on May 20.
Although the English and Spanish dispute its origin, the French have made a national treasure (some might argue cliché) out of the torched-caramel treat, which periodically cycles through periods of neglect, revival and faddishness -- Matcha green tea custard, anyone? Undaunted, THR cracked into two of Cannes’ classic vanilla incarnations to ﬁnd out which best upheld the tradition.
LE CAVEAU 30
This open-armed Art Deco dining room near the Old Port, at 45 rue Felix Faure, is a magnet for foreign tourists seeking Gallic greatest hits. Among them is its bummer creme brulee. The sugar sheet, while nicely crunchy, is burnt past the precipice of bitterness. Even more unacceptable, as it’s not a matter of an honest technical miss but a conscious aesthetic choice, is the, well, plain vanilla, entirely lacking complexity or dimension. Likely, and shamefully, extract was employed. A real non-non. Price: €7
Bustling and tightly packed, a put-together study in taupe-and-gray modernism, this tiny orchid-stuﬀed space at 5 rue la Fontaine sends out a rather large creme brulee -- one frankly big enough to split. Then again, you may not want to. There’s no extract here. Witness the telltale black multitude of speckles connoting the presence not of extract but the real thing, vanilla bean. The custard is silky and smooth, totally addictive. And the caramel, ever so diaphanously torched and shattering, acts as the consummate counterpoint. Price: €9