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WINTER 2011I sea&iI61couturecuisineLE LOUIS XV-ALAIN DUCASSELe Louis XV punctuates its name with the ultimate: threeMichelin stars. This seems somewhat symbolic of an ellipses;prophetic, perhaps - watch this space, there's more to come.Already one of the world's finest dining experiences, it's hard toimagine what that 'more' could possibly be.Le Louis XV is the culinary phenomenon of Alain Ducasseand it has occupied an enviable spot at the heart of the Hôtelde Paris Monte-Carlo, on Monaco's Place du Casino, since1987. An elegant room enhanced with light and gold, it isreminiscentof Versailles' Grand Siècle, where the clocksalways indicate the time of 12-noon as a reminder that here,time is of no consequence.In masterminding one of the most famous restaurants in theworld, Ducasse's intention has been to create a "subtle balancebetween tradition, evolution and modernity". In doing so heearned the restaurant two stars in 1988 and another in 1990.Ducasse describes his restaurant thus: "If it were a colour. itwould be blue just like the Mediterranean Sea. If it were to bedefined by just one taste, it would that of extra virgin olive oil- subtle and aromatic. If it were to be described in just oneword, it would be 'essential'," he concludes.Current chef de cuisine is Franck Cerutti, who, having longworked with Ducasse, adds this sentiment. "The region whereI live, the tastes and colours of my childhood, tales of exilein Italy and long journeys to the Far East. all these thingsinfluence my cooking at the Louis XV. I am not looking toperform culinary exploits but to offer my guests the chance toenjoy some essential pleasures." These include the freshest produce from the vegetablegarden, the sea, the farm and the pasture. Dishes you mightexpect to sink a fork into include Mediterranean sea bass spikedwith black olives, minestrone dressing and green and purplebasil. Or perhaps you'll try the breast of squab from the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region and grilled duck foie gras, polentawith a tasty juice and offal. After the agonising choice of whichdishes to choose, you then have the Herculean task of selectingfrom one of 600,000 bottles from the cellar. It is hard to imagine what could still be up the well-pressedsleeve of one of the world's finest living chefs, but Alain Ducassehas made his name on culinary innovation, so those threeMichelin stars may well signify more is yet to come.MICHELINSTARS: ***SEATS: 50RESERVATIONS: it is advisable to book seven to ten days inadvance in summer; three to five days ahead in winterCONTACT: www.hoteldeparismontecarlo.com?

62Isea&iIWINTER 2011LA CHÈVRE D'ORIf you have a head for heights, there are few views to comparewith that of standing on the cliff top of the medieval village ofEze. Casting your gaze in one direction, the coastline weaves allthe way to Monaco; turn your focus 180 degrees and you scopeblue sea and sandy shorelines all the way to Nice. Yet for mostwho come to this enchanting lofty village, this dazzlingpanoramic Mediterranean seascape is the secondary attraction;those with an eye for seriously impressive sights sit indoors andstare due south. The dishes you can gaze down on atop a table at La Chèvred'Or are, as the French might growl, magnifique!Forget blueskies, golden sun and white beaches, here you can feast youreyes on the electric zest of a ginger orange sorbet, theplumppink flesh of a Bresse pigeon breast, the shimmeringpearlyperfection of Gillardeau oysters, and the golden-tan glow of aglass of Chateau d'Yquem 1944 from the restaurant's 15,000bottle cellar. Take the experience a step further and a masterpieceof flavours and textures crackle, smack and miraculously meltupon the tongue.The kitchen has been in business since 1953, gaining its firstMichelin star in 1972 with Elie Mazot and its second in 2000 withJean Marc Delacourt. Since July this year, the reins have passedto Fabrice Vulin, a French chef who, among other notableachievements, earned two Michelin stars in just 14 months ashead chef of Parc des Eaux-Vives in Geneva, Switzerland. Havingreturned to France to work with the local ingredients he so loves,rumour has it he has his eye on more Michelin stars for La Chèvre d'Or.The new menu features treats the likes of rock red mulletprepared with caramelised aubergine, quince, porcinimushrooms and black pudding from the Basque country; andRossini style fillet of beef with foie gras and mature parmesanmacaroni gratin. If you haven't yet paid a visit, now is the timeto schedule a dinner for your 2011 Côte d'Azur charter.MICHELINSTARS: **SEATS: 45, or 65 for a banquetRESERVATIONS: between July and September, book at least twoweeks in advance, or ideally a month for parties of five-plusCONTACT: www.chevredor.comThis page, below right:culinary inspiration at La Chèvre D'OrBelow: view of theMediterranean from La Chèvre D'OrOpposite page: therestaurant at ChâteauSaint-Martin & Spa, and views of the estate