In celebration of their new cookbook, Fig & Olive: The Cuisine of the French Riviera, Francine and Laurent Halasz, mother and her devoted son, greeted dinner guests with glasses of Veuve Clicquot and warmth at the Fig & Olive restaurant in the Meatpacking this week. Laurent especially emphasized the work of his mother in creating the special recipes contained in the book, an Assouline publication, and for their restaurants. With smiles to all, Francine, gorgeous in red, worked the room, not saying much as she does not speak English, but you could see that the room was packed with grateful diners, already high on champagne, and spirited by the chestnut and butternut squash soup with Grenache Syrah pairing.
Alexandre Assouline, the charming 23 year old son of the Assouline founders, was not yet satisfied. Clearly, with his own mind as to how things should be done, he commanded the waiter to bring bread, and then olive oil, and then salt. While this was a slight departure from the planned menu, the bread was not an unwelcome addition, as we, at his table floated into some serious dishes: sea scallops papillote, accompanied by Vermentino, roasted veal filet mignon with braised endive, with Sangiovese, and poached pear in spiced orange juice with a light whipped mascarpone.
The street outside was a rude awakening, mitigated only by the realization that the recipes, so well planned, photographed and put together for the fine book, were actually simple, with accessible ingredients, even though they originate in Mougins. In other words, preparing the French Riviera chez moi will be second best to eating in France. Well, I can try.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.