Chez Simone, Collioure, France

The latest restaurant report from our Senior France Correspondents, Barbara Somson and Ross Eisenbrey, is on their dinner at Chez Simone, a restaurant set on the harbor in Collioure.  The view is of the sea, sailboats, and the local Notre Dame, with its church tower that used to be a lighthouse.  Collioure is a lovely town near Port Vendres, a few miles from the Spanish border.  It’s a medieval town with a royal castle that has been featured in many paintings, and an old, old fort.  Its a charming place.  The author, Patrick O’Brien, lived there, and used to hang out with Picasso.

Ross provided a picture of the view from their table.

Le Simone view

Isn’t that nicer than wherever you are right now?  Barbara writes that —

Chez Simone was recommended to us by a wine merchant there.  We dined à la carte that night, splitting an anchovy and tomato entree, but we gobbled them up before thinking to shoot a picture.  

For his main course, Ross had what they call “Tataki du Thon” — Thon being tuna.  

simone tuna

“Tataki” is basically seared sashimi, and it was served with an avocado wasabi and garnished with sesame seeds and seaweed.  Ross: ‘It melted in my mouth, absolutely delicious!’ He loved the avocado wasabi, too, which had only a hint of a bite. I had grilled coquilles St. Jacques

chez simone barbara

(scallops) which were perfectly cooked and succulent.  The sauce on my scallops was a citrus concoction, very light, very bright, and addictively flavorful. (Ross used his bread to sop up what I couldn’t get without picking up my plate and licking it, which I came close to doing.)  Both of us were served grilled courgettes (squash) on a bed of pureed carrots appealingly spiced with . . . perhaps coriander?*

Doesn’t that look good?

For those periods between enjoying wonderful meals by the water, Collioure invites you to wander through medieval streets

Collioure-street

lined with colorful buildings.

Colourful-buildings-Collioure

Sigh.

If you go there — and why wouldn’t you? — definitely visit Chez Simone.

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*Ed. note:  To be clear, I use the term “coriander” for the seeds and “cilantro” for the leaves, and I presume Barbara does so here as well.  Coriander seeds do not have the aldehydes that, for some genetically predisposed people, make cilantro leaves taste like soap.  Coriander seeds usually are sold crushed, and lose flavor rapidly once crushed.  It’s best to heat some whole seeds in a dry pan briefly, and then crush them right before adding the coriander to a dish.  I’ve used the seeds a few times in South Asian dishes, and I think they show up in pickle jars a lot.

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