“Drinking wine is pure pleasure, but appreciating it is an art. And art makes you come alive”. Wine lover and tireless globetrotter Eleonora Galimberti visited Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel de Paris to sample their menu. As intoxicated by this enchanting place as the flavours and tannins of the food & wine pairings themselves, the Italian blogger talks to us about her experience. Are you ready to be dazzled by the magic of Alain Ducasse?
For you, Monaco means…
Eleonora Galimberti: “Paradise”!
What were your first impressions when you stepped into the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo?
E.G.: I loved the classical style, and how the interior looked grand and yet modern and sophisticated at the same time. The huge floral arrangements of hydrangeas give the space the sort of feminine elegance that you would expect to find in an haute couture atelier. When you step into the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, you immediately feel like a princess.
What is your favourite memory of the food served during your lunch at Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo?
E.G.: I have so many. The botanical bread with Provençal vegetables looked like a work of art, but it’s difficult to pick out a single piece. I loved the “Cookpot of Millet with Minestrone” for how rich, clear and intense its flavours were, the texture of the “Roasted Langoustines with Spelt”, and the delicate aromas of the “Peach Opaline with Lemon Thyme Ice Cream and Granita”. Each dish was a work of art, and I could see a conscious effort had been made to treat every single ingredient with total respect.
Tell us about the suggested wine and food pairings...
E.G.: I loved head sommelier Noël Bajor’s suggestions of regional Provence wines, which were an opportunity for me to learn more about these local varieties. Even the combination of a young red wine with the langoustines, which surprised me, turned out to be a highly balanced and pleasant pairing. Absolutely perfect.
And the wine which made the biggest impression on you during the lunch?
E.G.: Villars-sur-Var, Clos Saint Joseph 2016. It was the first time that I had tasted such a full-bodied and charming red wine from Provence. This is also a small family-run vineyard where grapes are grown according to the principles of biodynamic viticulture - an approach which definitely pays off if you look at the quality of the wines produced in the area. The grape varieties used (95% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre) reminded me of full-bodied fine wines from the Rhône. Spice, garrigue, and ripe red and black fruit flavours, with subtle smoky notes. Mellow but distinct tannins. A wonderful note to end on.
Photo © Eleonora Galimberti
Can you tell us a bit about the Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse cellar at the Hôtel de Paris?
E.G.: I was impressed - I thought it was absolutely spectacular, a real sight to behold. The selection of top-class wines was incredible - almost mind-blowing. Everything on my wish list was in there, even the most prestigious and sought-after millésimes. There were even some of the finest wines there from my homeland, Italy! The cellar at Le Louis XV Alain Ducasse is undoubtedly what dreams are made of - not just for me, but probably all the other sommeliers in the world, too.
And what about the little details which took it all to the next level?
E.G.: The sophistication of the table settings, and the discretion, politeness and attentiveness of everyone who greeted and served us. Our maître d’ listened to what intrigued us about the menu, and what we liked and disliked, and was then able to use this to make excellent suggestions: the dishes we were served were exactly what we wanted. Last but not least, the timing of the excellent food being brought out of the kitchen was superb - as brilliantly orchestrated as a classical ballet. The cherry on the cake was the sweet treat gifted at the end of our lunch: pastry chef Sandro Micheli’s delicious panettone. An extremely sophisticated touch.
Photo © Eleonora Galimberti