The world's second smallest country, Monaco is associated with glitz, glamour, and of course, Grace Kelly, the 1950s beauty who rose from Hollywood film star to French princess. New York City-based food writer Kathy YL Chan recently took a trip to the densely populated yet sweepingly beautiful region and discovered a fairy tale of her own...
Grand Marnier soufflé at Le Grill in the Hôtel de Paris.
Hôtel de Paris houses not one, but two Alain Ducasse restaurants. Le Louis XV is the signature gem, and Le Grill occupies the top floor of the hotel. The ceiling at Le Grill opens straight up into the sky, so dishes like chilled blue lobster and Normandie sole can be enjoyed in the open air. For dessert, I couldn't resist the puffy soufflé with a generous pour of Grand Marnier. It was so dramatic!
The luxuriously appointed bread trolley at Louis XV by Alain Ducasse.
Le Louis XV by Alain Ducasse is one of the world’s top restaurants. Diners can order à la carte, choose from two tasting menus, or simply give the chef carte blanche. I went with the latter and began dinner with the bread trolley of my dreams. With a kitchen that bakes over 300 miniature loaves a day, options ranged from a smoky bacon fougasse to a niçoise loaf made with wheat bran and olive oil. Three more trolleys—cheese, tisane, dessert—rolled by over the course of my unforgettable meal.
Freshly picked fraises des bois.
Fraises des bois, or “strawberries of the woods,” are a true summertime speciality. Available on rare occasion in the U.S., these ruby red gems are at their sweetest in the South of France and Monaco. They're tiny, pungent, and should be devoured the day that they're picked. I found these at Marché de la Condamine, a daily farmers' market on Placé d'Armes.
A selection of dishes at Joël Robuchon.
At Joël Robuchon inside Hôtel Metropole Monte-Carlo, order a selection of small dishes off of the Discovery Menu. My dining companion and I loved the succulent morels and sweetbreads piled atop a buttery tart, as well as the paper-thin ravioli stuffed with langoustines and finished with cabbage fondant. Not to be missed: The Monte Carlo, a signature dish of meaty king crab, seasonal baby vegetables, and warm, just-pulled mozzarella.
Tisane trolleys are ushered in at the end of a meal in Monaco.
Meet the tisane trolley, it’s how one finishes a great meal in Monaco. Each fine and fabulous restaurant rolls out a tisane trolley, along with selection of petit fours. Name your craving or ailment (“too full” is a common one) and the waiter will customize a tisane. One night it was a rosemary and thyme blend; on another it was lemon-verbena with mint and just a hint of sage.