Sherman's Food Adventures: Spelt


Spelt has been on my wish list for quite some time.  After I was tipped off by a friend, I had my eyes on this hidden little gem in the commune of Tourrettes-sur-Loup to the north of Nice.  The place doesn't have a Michelin star, but really, it should have one.  They only serve a tasting menu and considering how expensive things are, especially in France, it is reasonably-priced at 85 Euros.  I actually got in at 75 Euros, but the price has gone up since (like everywhere else).

So to start, we were presented with selection of small bites including Parmesan Gourgeres, Lemon Butter Radish, Marinated Tuna and Cheese & Sardine Sable.  The savoury choux pastry was on point with an airiness and plenty of pungent parmesan.  Whimsically plated, the radish were fresh and crunch while coated in a tangy lemon butter.  Presented on a tapioca crisp, the marinated tuna was accompanied by avocado and pickled onion.  It was a clean bite with balancing flavours.  Lastly, the sardine sable featured little cookie crisps sandwiching a briny sardine mousse.  Good textural contrast and focused flavour.

Next, we were served the Confit Tomato in tomato water.  On the side we were served a texturally wonderful tomato brioche. That tomato water was intense with the natural and concentrated flavour of tomato.  It was sweet in a tomato way (if that makes sense). To complete the dish, we found goat cheese, balsamic, EVOO, basil and granité of tomato. This resulted in layers of flavour that included more tomato, but also tanginess and aromatics.
Right after, we were served a palate cleanser on a wooden spoon.

Not looking very interesting, we had the Potato covered with haddock cream, peanut crunch and lemon zest butter.  This seemingly simple offering was actually quite delcious.  First of all, the tender potato was the main part of the dish, but the root vegetable was flavoured with a fish cream that was subtle and slightly sweet.  Nice role-reversal here.  To add some texture to the dish, it was smartly topped with an aromatic peanut crunch.

One of their signature dishes is the Spelt Lobster Risotto made with, well spelt!  The restaurant is named after this grain which is similar to wheat.  With the husk on, the spelt maintained a firm chewy texture.  It had a nutty almost fruity flavour that took a seat to the dominant creamy lobster essence.  This was such an aromatic dish that was full of umaminess.  The complex marriage between the spelt and lobster bisque meant this was both a textural and taste experience.

Moving along, we had the Fish Tartare with miso seaweed sauce, lemon, herbs and avocado.  In reference to the meal progression, this was a nice departure from the richness of the risotto.  The sauce was an umami bomb with the fermented richness of the miso and the taste of the sea from the seaweed.  Naturally, the addition of lemon added the necessary acidity that helped keep things bright.  The fish itself was fresh, buttery soft and was not overwhelmed by any of the ingredients.

Keeping with the theme of fish, we had the Turbot with eggplant puree, balsamic, capers and fried garlic in a sauce of tomatoes and pickled shallots.  The piece of turbot couldn't have been prepared any more expertly.  It was soft and flaky bordering on buttery.  There was a light crispy sear that also yielded enough seasoning.  However, the combination of tomatoes and creamy eggplant made for a cross between bright and tangy with smooth and mild.  Nicely balanced dish.

So in between the turbot and the Smoked Lamb Rack, we had some fritters and zucchini bites.  I couldn't tell you much about them because I didn't take notes on it!  But I can tell you that the lamb was excellent.  It was smoked with lemon & thyme where I could definitely taste the earthiness.  The lamb itself was medium and succulent.  It was served with a zucchini puree, seared zucchini and almond cream.

Onto the first of two desserts, we were asked to walk over to a "lemon tree" where we could choose our own Kalamansi Dessert shaped like a lemon.  Looking rather inconspicuous, the thing was a tangy and sweet flavour bomb.  I've had something similar before and this one was even better.  Beyond the white chocolate shell, the creamy filling was best to be eaten in a few bites as it was impactful.

Our last 2 items consisted of a Chocolate Tart as well as some Mini-Madeleines.  With the tart, we found several layers of chocolate in terms of texture and flavour.  The chocolate tart shell was firm with a background bitterness.  Inside, the chocolate was not too sweet while the chocolate sauce was silky and also semi-sweet.   As you can see, the food at Spelt is next-level and worthy of much more than they are charging.  Combine it with stellar service and a charming location in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, it is a must visit if you are ever in Côte d'Azur.

The Good:
- Outstanding food that is made with precision
- Thoughtful dishes
- Well-priced

The Bad:
- Unless you have a car, not the easiest place to visit if you are not from the area
- When you get there, parking is limited


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