Chef Alexis Quaretti shares his top choices for fresh seafood, paella, pizza, and more!
Ask a French chef for favorite dishes and French dishes will most certainly top the list. I always admit that I am partial to places nearer to my home as you will see in my recommendations. And like every traveler, the places I’ve explored and the dining experiences I’ve enjoyed are reflected in my list – Napoli, the Greek Isles, and of course, one of my favorite islands, Réunion Island, where I began my journey as a culinary professional.
PERPIGNAN & CATALONIA
We will start closest to home. One of my favorite dishes to prepare when I am home in Perpignan, especially during the warm summer months is a Collioure-style plate of cured anchovies with roasted bell peppers. It is the perfect summertime appetizer and you can find similar dishes on the menu in the Catalan region and where I live as well, north of the Spanish border.
FRENCH ATLANTIC COAST
Fresh seafood and fish with white wine
When we are calling on Biarritz, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Saint-Malo and other ports along the French Atlantic coast, I urge you to opt for the catch of the day or a seafood-focused dish paired with a local white wine. It may sound simple, but you won’t be disappointed.
Le Crabe Marteau
The name translates as “Hammer Crab,” revealing the premise of the restaurant, where guests can crack open their shellfish themselves. It offers a laid-back, unpretentious ambiance that I love and a limited menu of very fresh, high-quality shellfish that changes according to the tides and seasons.
Authentic paella and sangria
There’s nothing better than paella in Valencia, with freshly caught seafood atop saffron-infused rice. The chilled fruit flavors of the sangria will make you want to linger with your paella and friends al fresco. My favorite restaurant for paella in Valencia is Restaurante Levante.
Best pizza with a glass of red wine
It’s the natural choice when visiting this iconic Italian destination, and I cannot resist these pies from the traditional brick, wood-burning ovens. The smell alone draws me in and they never disappoint. I confess I always return to the same one because it is so good: L’antica Pizzeria da Michele.
Homemade taramasalata and grilled octopus
When we are cruising the Greek Isles, I never miss the chance to enjoy taramasalata, which is a delicious Greek cod roe spread commonly served on meze platters, and the grilled octopus. In Greece, they have a simple way of preparing the octopus and the flavor really stands on its own as it should. I like to pair these with Greek white wine such as assyrtiko or a beer such as Mythos.
The variety of samosas, curry and rougail dishes
The national dish of rougail is typically prepared with sausage, onions, chili and chopped tomato, and it’s delicious paired with a local beer or rum. This was where I graduated hotel school and from these days on, I have a fondness and admiration for the subtle and sophisticated uses of aromatic spices in their Creole cuisine.
Original Blog Posted on Aug 17, 2022, by Director of Culinary Programs & Development Alexis Quaretti in Cuisine
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