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©LyubavinA

A new interpretation of aioli

from a starred chef in the Var!

The aioli that we enjoy every summer to go with seafood and crunchy raw veggies…The aioli which is part and parcel of the South of France and especially Provence, that’s the aioli we eat in a number of forms! And it has always been an inspiration for local starred chefs who have made it a reinterpreted must of Provencal cuisine.

How aioli developed

The emulsion of garlic and olive oil that we just adore, particularly in the South, is originally from the Mediterranean area. Widespread over the north coast of the Mediterranean, aioli has been well-approved for a long time from Andalucia to Sicily and of course in Provence. Traditional aioli is prepared in a mortar where garlic is crushed with olive oil (preferably!). An absolute must on a pretty sunny Provencal table, this revigorating sauce is found alongside lovely vegetables, tender snails, white fish cooked to perfection, potatoes and even freshly-caught seafood. The famous author Frédéric Mistral devoted a paper in Provencal language to it called L’Aiòli. Maybe he loved it too! Aioli is also a source of inspiration for the Chef of the starred restaurant of l’Hôtel & Spa du Castellet, a not-to-be-missed venue in the region and on whose table it is served in a gourmet, modern version. Here we unveil the Chef’s recipe with its blend of sophistication and fine gentle Provencal life, and it will have your mouth watering!

Chef Christophe Bacquié’s special aioli recipe

Cook the octopus

Ingredients (for 6):

  • 1 octopus (760 grammes)
  • Fine pink Himalaya salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • Espelette pepper
  • 30 g olive oil

Preparation:

Put the octopus in the freezer for a week and take it out the day before beginning the recipe and leave it to defrost. Freezing the octopus will make it more supple. On the day, separate the head from the tentacles. Clean the tentacles thoroughly. Leave to drain, season with fine salt, freshly ground white pepper and Espelette pepper.

Put the tentacles in a cooking pouch with olive oil, seal and cook for 3 hours at 80°C in the steam oven. If you are not set up for vacuum cooking, you can cook the octopus in fish stock, but no hotter than 80°C. Be very careful not to exceed the temperature.

Cut the octopus into 1 to 1.5-cm sections and leave to cool. Season with olive oil, grapefruit and lime zest, pepper, fleur de sel salt and Espelette pepper.

 

Glaze the tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 4 colourful cherry tomatoes
  • Fleur de sel salt

Prparation:

Peel the tomatoes at the top and make a small cut to form a cap and season with fleur de sel salt. Glaze in the oven for 2 hours at 60°C.

 

Grill the potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 12 small new potatoes
  • 1 spoonful olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 branch of thyme

Preparation:

Peel the potatoes and cut them in half. Glaze them 15 to 20 minutes in a casserole with the olive oil,  the crushed unpeeled garlic and the branch of thyme. Grill them in a broiler.

 

Prepare the vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1 green round summer courgette
  • 1 green “zapalito” courgette
  • 1 yellow courgette
  • 1 Pleine de Naples courgette
  • 2 yellow carrots with tops and two carrots with tops
  • 16 green beans
  • 4 yellow cauliflower tops
  • 4 Romanesco tops
  • 1 l fish stock
  • 4 round radishes
  • Coarse salt

Preparation:

Peel all the vegetables. Cut the courgettes into regular chunks, and cut the carrots in half. Leave to one side. Cook the beans rapidly in the fish stock. Remove the beans with a skimmer and cool them on a baking sheet previously cooled in the freezer. Cook all the vegetables separately in the same fish stock with olive oil. Cool the vegetables immediately in the same way. Avoid cooling the vegetables in iced water as it alters their flavour.

Cut the radishes in quarters, leaving the tops on. Arrange all the vegetables together and warm them. Season with the olive oil and basil, the zests of grapefruit and lime, Timut pepper, fleur de sel salt and Espelette pepper.

Make the aioli

Ingredients:

  • 20 g mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 g salt
  • 80 g grape seed oil
  • 30 g fruity olive oil
  • 30 g slightly salted softened butter
  • 12 g sherry vinegar
  • 15 g water
  • 12 g garlic puree, blanched three times
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cartridge of gas

Preparation:

Mix the mustard, egg yolks and salt. Whisk as if you were making mayonnaise, with the two oils followed by the melted butter. Thin with the vinegar and water and then add the garlic puree and grate the clove of garlic over the top.

Season with the freshly ground white pepper, strain through a cloth strainer and place in a cream whipper with a gas cartridge. Place the cream whipper in a bain-marie at 55°C.

Lastly, arrange the vegetables and the pieces of octopus nicely on top. Add anchovies, samphire and grapefruit segments. Place a quenelle of aioli, finish with the basil oil, dwarf basil and Espelette pepper.

The Restaurant Christophe Bacquié of the luxurious Hôtel & Spa du Castellet

« Meilleur Ouvrier de France » and three times starred, Christophe Bacquié is a pro when it comes to seducing the most discerning palates who take advantage of his restaurant in the Hôtel & Spa du Castellet. This Relais & Châteaux, a very upmarket destination overlooking the Mediterranean sea near the vineyards of Bandol, is a delight to gourmets. Here, the Chef enhances products from the Provencal terroir by creating sea-land blends of flavours to offer his guests a unique experience. In this venue which is absolutely perfect for sampling delights, dishes based on fish and shellfish with the flavours and scents of the Mediterranean have made the Chef’s reputation. If you like a sincere cuisine which focuses on the essentials, this cuisine showcases healthy, natural products. At Restaurant Christophe Bacquié, the menu is dictated by the seasons and is enjoyed in a sumptuous restaurant with a refined decor or in a smaller room with a view of the grounds. Olive trees, vines, and gazebos all add to this bucolic culinary journey. And when it comes to the cheese course, make your way to the wine and cheese cellar to make your choice. A paradise for epicureans in Provence!

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