Rick’s Secret France adventure begins in the very north of the country, straight off the ferry in Dieppe. Across the six-part series he will meander his way down through the highways and bi-ways of Secret France to bring you his traditional blend of authentic recipes and tips galore for your foodie travels. Rick’s first thoughts on French soil take his mind to moules mariniére, herring open sandwiches, grilled sole and whelks with mayonnaise – all fresh seafood, simply cooked.
The first restaurant stop of the trip is Dieppe’s very appropriately named, Le Turbot Restaurant – located on Quai de la Cale. Turbot, probably Rick’s favourite fish, is of course a popular choice on the menu, so Rick tries salt baked turbot with ceps. This is followed by a pastime that Rick enjoys back home in Cornwall, cold water swimming – the channel is on the nippy side in comparison to the Camel Estuary though. After this, he stopped by Cafe de Tribunaux, a relaxed little place made famous by a certain Oscar Wilde – Dieppe being a place that held happy memories of his honeymoon. Back onto the subject of food and Rick heads to Les Voiles D’Or where he meets Michelin stared chef, Tristan Arhan. On the menu is a dish very much to Rick’s liking, simply cooked John Dory with asparagus, mashed potato and a light shellfish sauce – delish!
In his French hideaway kitchen, Rick cooks up his recipe of mussels with poulette sauce – a perfect weeknight supper or weekend lunch to recreate this autumn. The mussels are paired with a sauce of chicken stock, bacon lardons, crème fraiche, a little wine and some parsley. You can also try this dish on the menu at St Petroc’s Bistro. Next up, Rick is on the move towards Le Crotoy where he finds a fab fresh fish stall selling pollock, moules and weaver fish. This is followed by a spot of foraging with Reneé Michon – they went on a hunt for sea asters, also known as pigs’ ears, sea purslane and marsh samphire. This was a seriously muddy experience, but the worthwhile treasure hunt formulated a simple recipe of new potato and sea aster salad.
After some musings with Francois Bergez about whether French food is in decline, Rick returns to the kitchen to share the recipe for seafood gratin with caramelised apples – a dish he discovered at Le Newhaven restaurant in Dieppe. Much like mussels with poulette sauce, this is sure to be a comforting family favourite throughout autumn and winter. Big chunks of white fish in a smooth white sauce, topped with cheesy panko breadcrumbs with some sticky caramelised apple on the side to contrast.
Rick continues south towards Champagne, stopping en route at the Beaumont-Hamel WW1 Memorial, where he chats to historian Sylvestre Bresson about the Battle of the Somme, noting that there were 600 people in his school photo – but 100 times that died on the first day of the battle. This was followed by a trip to Essoyes, hometown of Aline Charigot, the wife of the famous painter Auguste Renoir – a must visit for any art lovers out there.
For his final recipe demonstration, Rick cooks the typically French rabbit stew with Dijon mustard, stating “It’s one of those dishes that fills me with happy and eager anticipation when I see it on the menu at a restaurant.” Proper, rustic French cookery at its best. The episode draws to a close with some artisan charcuterie at Maury Patrick – home of award-winning andouillette, a coarse-grained sausage made with pork or veal intestines, pepper, wine, onions, and seasonings. Rick tries it cooked in a dish with Dijon mustard, crème fraiche and ratafia – not to everyones liking, but Rick is rather fond of andouillette.
Don’t miss next week’s episode when Rick’s Secret France journey continues to Alsace, Jura and Burgundy.
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