It has been a summer of planes, trains, and automobiles, of overnight bags and mini-sized toiletries. I had planned to document all my voyages but, to my surprise, I was too busy actually, you know, enjoying my travels. Imagine that! Instead of an avalanche of photographs, I’ve got a flurry of snapshots. Instead of detailed blog posts, I’ve got a handful of half-baked ideas.
But on the Côte d’Azur and in London, I found several bonnes adresses, little gems so delightful, I feel compelled to share them. Here then, is a motley mix of restaurants (and one B&B) — my favorite summer discoveries.
Saint-Paul de Vence: Les Orangers
This charming bed and breakfast, located outside of St-Paul de Vence, is set into a grove of flowering orange trees bordered by a sea of violet agapanthus. It has a cool stretch of swimming pool, a pair of statuesque cats, breakfasts of croissants and homemade marmalade (made from the trees in the garden!), and patios strewn with rambling courgette plants (I loved monitoring the rapidly growing squash). My room was clean and cool, carpeted in sisal and edged by a terrasse where, every evening, my parents and I would gather for a glass of wine. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else on the Côte d’Azur.
I’ve written about this olive oil-focused restaurant before (here and here). But almost a month after a leisurely lunch here, I’m still feeling inspired by the food: the plates of sliced sweet tomatoes and vegetable-stuffed courgette blossoms, a lasagne layered with baby zucchini, tiny ravioli stuffed with slow-cooked beef daube, chunks of baguette dipped into a pool of golden olive oil… again, and again, and again.
London: Ba Shan
Ah, London. The River Thames, the Queen’s guards, the tradition, the majesty, the Chinese food…?! Every summer, I visit my parents in London where they spoil me with museum exhibits (this year, Shakespeare: Staging the World at the British Museum is excellent) and feasts of ethnic food. At Ba Shan, a Hunan restaurant near Oxford Circus, we tucked into chili-spiked stir-fried cabbage, vermicelli noodles studded with spicy pickles, and wedges of homestyle tofu slipped into a fiery, salty sauce that made our lips burn.
My parents’ lovely Iranian-British neighbors introduced us to this Persian restaurant in Maida Vale. I wrote about the lamb and chicken kebabs in my newsletter, but I ate other items worth mentioning: the satisfyingly chewy flat bread, served warm from the oven, dipped into thickened yogurt for a contrast of hot and cool, cubes of tangy feta that crumbled on the tongue, smoky pureed eggplant studded with walnuts, a warming stew of lamb sweetened with pomegranate, and piles of beautiful herbs — my favorite was the tarragon — that added a fresh perfume to each bite.
Chemin Les Fumerates
06570 St-Paul de Vence
tel: 04 93 32 80 95
8 rue du Collet
tel: 04 93 13 06 45
24 Romilly Street
London W1D 5AH
tel: 0207 287 3266
5 Warwick Place
London W9 2PX
tel: 0207 289 3393