While in Cannes, we decided to eat like the locals versus eat like Nicolas Sarkozy and returning to Nice to dine at La Petite Maison, widely known to be the favorite restaurant of the French president. The very helpful and congenial concierge staff at the Carlton, recommended Gaston Gastounette and La Cave to experience seafood and Provencal style cuisine.
Our first day in Cannes turned into a 10:00 p.m. arrival due to a 5-hour delay at Charles de Gaulle sirport and the two hours it took us to get our baggage in Nice – both directly related to the ongoing strike in France. That left two evenings to enjoy the local cuisine! My concierge connection Jean Michelle, arranged dinner reservations for Friday night at Gaston Gastounette; considered the city’s premiere seafood establishment, Gaston Gastounette is consistently named by Cannes regulars as the best place to get your fruits de la mer. The restaurant also has a magnificent view over the old port. According to one Cannes Festival guide, if you’re attending the festival, make sure you book in advance as this restaurant is popular.
Here I’m recreating the fabulous fresh-caught sea bream dish that I savored that evening. Sea bream is a mild white fish, very popular in Europe and distinguished by its flat body shape. With no sea bream in the markets here, I purchased Pacific white sea bass, a sustainable fish that is available in thick, flavorful steaks and not to be confused with Chilean sea bass which is on the Seafood Watch Avoid list because the species is so depleted.
- 1 medium eggplant halved lengthwise, then quartered, chopped small
- 2 small zucchini halved lengthwise, then halved again, chopped small
- 1 yellow bel pepper cored and seeded, sliced into strips, chopped small
- 3 tablespoons sun dried tomato packed in oil, drained and chopped
- 1 cup chopped fresh roasted tomatoes*
- 1 shallot finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided use
- 2 - 6-8 ounce steaks
- 1/3 cup picholine olives pit removed and finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the eggplant in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle with two tablespoons olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
In a large skillet heat the remaining 2 oil over med-high heat. Add chopped zucchini and pepper and sauté for five minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the shallots, garlic and eggplant and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes, roasted tomato, salt and herbs and cook for another 30 minutes until liquid is cooked down. The vegetable mixture should be moist but not like a sauce.
Prepare the fish: Rinse the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Spread the chopped olives on top of each steak, pressing to adhere. Gently place the steaks in the skillet, olive side up. Cook for about 4 minutes, gently turn over and cook for about 3 more minutes. The fish should be opaque nearly all the way through and flake under gentle pressure.
Mound the Provencal vegetables on plates, place the fish on top, garnish with drizzles of olive oil and a sprinkle of chives or green onions. Shown served with polenta.
Dinner for two will leave you with plenty of vegetables for an omelet, wrap, or served with rice for another delicious meal.
Take a minute to enjoy these beautiful photos of Cannes.