“Somewhere not too far away and not too obvious like Paris or Rome” – that’s the premise for the new Rick Stein travel series on BBC2. It’s a great idea and his first stop was Bordeaux, “France’s sleeping beauty”, as he put it.
Obviously, as a chef, his focus was on food. During the show, he took us to the Place du Parlement and its surrounding streets, where there are dozens of great restaurants. I’ve eaten in a fair few of them over the years.
At La Tupina, he tucked into a côte de bœuf that had been cooked over a wood fire and came with duck-fat chips. At Le Petit Commerce, he enjoyed the fresh sea bass cooked à la plancha. At Garopapilles, he savoured clams in their shell with an emulsion of smoked ham, crab with a purée of Jerusalem artichoke, and herring roe with a hard goat’s cheese.
He also showed us round Bordeaux’s biggest market, the Marché des Capucins, where he tucked into a bowl of freshly cooked cêpes.
I’m sure tourism chiefs around Europe are queuing up to make him welcome as he films what is essentially an hour-long promo for a city. In episode two, he visited Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
I wonder if Rick Stein will make it to Istria, the northern most part of Croatia, during the series. That’s where I spent the long weekend. We stayed in Novigrad, near Rovinj. It’s a pretty town right by the coast – and, as in Bordeaux, seafood is in plentiful supply there.
“I wonder if Rick Stein will make it to Istria, in Croatia, during the series. That’s where I spent the long weekend”
Damon and I were there to celebrate our friend Johnny’s 50th birthday. Johnny lives in Brighton but took eastern European studies at university and comes here every year at some point. When deciding where to spend his big birthday, there was only one choice for him.
So, while it’s Novigrad that lures Johnny back year after year, Bordeaux has a similar appeal for me. À bientôt, Bordeaux – I know it won’t be long till I’m there again.