Mauro Colagreco is having a love affair with Menton, and by extension, the French Riviera, where the commune is located. Menton also happens to be home to the Argentinian chef’s restaurant, Mirazur, which has earned two Michelin stars and the No 3 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 list.
In his book, Mirazur (2018), Colagreco writes, “On the Cote d’Azur, Mirazur is a settlement in Menton, at the foot of the Maritime Alps: the last French village in the east and the first to the west of ‘Italian pasta’. A privileged location, it is both a departure point and arrival point, a vortex where its magic unfolds and is concentrated. A centre that beats with the same pulse as the countryside […]
“On the Cote d’Azur, light has a presence that fascinates. Fluid, voluptuous, the way in which it fertilises vision … its power lends a dimension to real life that suggests the pictorial and, by extension, transcends it. In this luminous glow, the sensuous experience within these surroundings intensifies, time changes tempo and begins a rhythm marked by the changing light. An absolute evaluation of the moment. Reflections, shadows, exaltation, transfigurations, colour, movement: registers of a privileged sky and sea illuminated by that light unfold before your eyes as it transits over the coast, witnessed at any viewpoint from the town, the mountain or any corner of the landscape […]
“At Mirazur, the experience of this atmosphere is vivid and palpable. Jutting out towards the Mediterranean, framed by the majestic walls of the mountains, surrounded by a centenary garden, each of the three levels across its magnificent glass building reproduces and multiplies the experience of that incomparable quality of light. In the dining room, the sensuous journey that begins with a magnificent view of the sea continues when each detail of the structure is discovered, each object on the table, every plate presented to the diner with its universe of shapes and colours. A set of intensity and contrasts in perfect harmony with the environs.”
Colagreco also writes about the people and ingredients of the area: Laure, who cultivates and harvests the vegetables grown in the restaurant garden; Anne Marie and her family, who raise goats and make goat cheese; Albert, “friend of mushrooms”; and Gilles, who grows “the best cherries”.
The dishes are beautifully photographed, as is the landscape. And as with most books by Michelin-starred chefs, many of the recipes will not be easy for the average home cook. Kohlrabi snail, for instance, has you dehydrating kohlrabi for eight hours and sous-viding the snails. They are then extracted from the shells, their feet and intestines are removed and discarded, and the snail meat is blended. Some of the more accessible recipes include fig granita; squab with spelt risotto, black sesame sauce and strawberry coulis; cherries (full instructions: “wash and dry the cherries and place them on crushed ice”); tomato martini with saffron oil; new potatoes with anchovies and capers; turbot with celeriac purée and smoked sauce; and beetroot with beetroot foam, smoked eel and Jerez vinegar.