Fillet of Sole in Monte Carlo
Elsa restaurant gives columnist the Princess treatment
When I was a little girl, every year at Halloween I would adorn my brunette hair with a tiara my mother wore at her high school prom in the 50s. Later, when my son traded in his Skee Ball tickets to gift me a plastic, multi-colored jeweled tiara for my birthday, that tiara lust returned. Ten years later, I re-married and wore a tiara covered in rows of cubic zirconia.
Six years later, living in Paris and about to celebrate another birthday, I headed to Monaco for the weekend to celebrate with my friend and birthday twin Alexa. It was a lovely train ride along the French Mediterranean coastline to the tiny, independent city-state. It was here at the Hermitage Monte-Carlo, a Belle-Epoch jewel, where I was once again inspired to take on the role of a princess, sans tiara and title. The title, of course, belonged to royalty, but I was the one staying in one of Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s top 10 hotels in France.
As soon as we checked in, my invisible tiara was set in place as I pulled open the shutters to a panoramic view of the Mediterranean and a larger marina dotted with yachts.
Reluctantly, Alexa and I departed our palatial quarters to continue our princess fantasy with dinner at Elsa restaurant at Monte Carlo Beach Hotel. Chef Paolo Sari serves 100-percent organic food that has gained Elsa a Michelin star. Each tasting plate was a masterpiece adorned with edible flowers. To break the illusion seemed disrespectful, but we eventually disrupted the artistic plates to devour the culinary magic.
The next day, Chef Marcel Ravin created a Michelin-starred gastronomic experience during our birthday dinner at Blue Bay Restaurant. All princesses begin dinner with Champagne; we were no exception. The 5-course Escapade menu on the terrace began with bubbly and a plate of mango and passionfruit soaked in vodka and vanilla syrup. Italian Vermentino wines paired well with green papaya spaghetti, served carbonara-style. My palate escalated to elite status with the taste of white truffle slices from Alba, Parmesan cheese with Jubugo ham, sea bass served in a sweet pot and John Dory fish.
I didn’t need a tiara to feel like Monaco’s Princess Charlene, because everywhere I turned I was treated like royalty.
Fillet of Sole
- 1½ pounds sole, filleted
- ½ pound white fish
- 1 cup cream
- ¹⁄³ cup egg whites
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
Remove the skin from the sole.
Make a thin stuffing by mixing the white fish, cream, egg whites, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Spread the stuffing on the fillets. Roll the fillets in aluminum foil and cook for 20 minutes at 140 degrees F.
Sauce with Citrus Fruits
- 2 cups of sole heads
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 6 shallots
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks of celery
- 10 peppercorn seeds
- 6¹⁄³ cups veal stock
- 1²⁄³ cups juiced pomelos (or grapefruit)
- 1²⁄³ cups orange juice
- 1²⁄³ cups carrot juice
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
Brown the sole bones then add herbs.
Deglaze with reduced juices then add veal stock. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Strain with a cheesecloth and keep warm.
Garnish with baked sweet potatoes cooked in orange juice and butter, then puree.
Use 1 cup of boiled, salted cabbage and garlic cloves for dressing the plate.
In a quest to sate her thirst for the exotic, Charlene Peters has become a passionate world traveler and sensorial scholar. In 2014, she traded her north of Boston home and career at GateHouse Media to live a year in Paris, where she studied food, culture and communication and was the Paris correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide. From Paris, she re-located to Napa Valley and is thrilled to revive her syndicated Taste of Travel column to share new insights into taste.