Drawing inspiration from the bustling markets of Nice
‘Variety is the spice of life’, don’t laugh, it’s true! Creatives gravitate towards change because it’s exciting, stimulating and frankly, a fun way to express yourself. The menus and dishes at my restaurants are constantly changing and evolving based on our shifting inspirations and intentions, not to mention seasonality and offering. I’ve always loved a hands-on approach to sourcing ingredients and trips to the markets of Nice are the best way to draw inspiration from nature’s bounty and the incredible local vendors. This inspiration is always reflected in Restaurant’s JAN menu, and recently in our adapted dessert, the sago and berries potpourri dish.
It’s a dessert that has been on the menu before but I’m a big believer in evolving something that works instead of starting from scratch every single time. I find it extremely satisfying to look at a dish and to know that it has evolved significantly over time to reflect both my and the restaurant’s journey. In one of its latest variations I was inspired by the idea of dried flowers, colour and potpourri. Luckily for me, JAN Group Creative Director and all things floral expert Alwijn Burger, aka Blom Boy, was in Nice at the time to assist me. We visited the local artisans and vendors of the city and were struck by the incredible natural offering on display.
I’ve always approached a ‘why not’ ethos in the kitchen which is why it was exciting to select things like purple artichokes to be incorporated in the dish, along with other colourful options like blackberries, cherries and lavender, all from local suppliers. Market browsing is such a sensory and unique experience, it’s completely different from the sterile experience of supermarket shopping where each and every piece of produce is polished and primed to perfection, a complete falsehood compared to the produce you find in nature. In fact, I often find that the ‘imperfect’ fruit carries the sweetest flavour.
The resulting dessert dish we created is not only aesthetically beautiful, but really delicious and a nod to the season. We’ve been serving it in the warmer months ahead of the coming winter cold snaps so we chose not to go with anything too heavy. We pickled the artichokes for a fresh feel and used vanilla and apple cider vinaigrette to make it taste lighter. Bringing in savoury elements like an artichoke really elevates the dish too.
It’s a joy to be able to look at the meals we produce at the restaurant and to know that each and every piece of produce has been lovingly hand selected and curated for the end product, and I truly believe it translates into the flavour and spirit of the dish. Bon appetit!
Ingredient excellence with Stella Artois
Using the finest hand selected European hops, in every sip of a Stella Artois there’s a legacy of craftsmanship that produces the perfect beer to savour. Every year, the team visits the hop farms and evaluate their aroma, painstakingly selecting only the best to ensure each glass of Stella is brewed with the utmost quality so you can taste more in the Life Artois.