Autumn is well and truly underway. But fear not, Rivea’s new menu (put together by their executive chef Alexandre Nicolas) will definitely make you see the bright side of closing the doors on summer. Last week After Nyne went down to the stunning Bulgari hotel, where Rivea is situated, to try it out.
The chestnut menu takes inspiration from the annual ‘Fête de la Châtaigne’, which takes place in towns and villages throughout the Riviera. The festivals are an opportunity to celebrate – a key event in the calendar of autumn festivities. Throughout October, the towns and villages of the region dedicate entire weekends to enjoying the variety of this much-loved ingredient. All-day Provençal markets are bursting with delicacies such as marron glacés (candied chestnuts) and chestnut pies, while restaurants create special menus and entire villages attend great public feasts with music, street performers, dancing and revelry into the night.
Before we got to the dishes we started with an intriguing selection of dips, which required a colour-coded guide to decipher. The clear favourite out of these was the tagglasca olives and anchovy dip but the cucumber and peppermint was another highlight for its refreshing flavour. These are accompanied with crispy socca, a delicious street food from the south of France made out of chickpea flour.
There are two starters on the chestnut menu. The first is a perfectly smooth and creamy chestnut velouté with roasted butternut. This dish masters letting the deep and rich flavours of the chestnuts show through. The velouté is followed by artisanal paccheri (pasta with a large tube), chestnut and sautéed mushrooms. The paccheri is nicely al dente. Again an appreciation of the depth of chestnuts is demonstrated here by the appropriate pairing with mushrooms, bringing out the meaty flavour in both ingredients.
For the main you can choose between seared scallops, pumpkin, chestnut and hazelnut or corn-fed chicken breast, chestnut, shallots and girolles. I went for the chicken but the scallops on my guest’s plate looked so succulent I had a cheeky try of them too. These dishes were both delicious but for me the real stars of this menu were the starters.
The menu finishes with a pear and chestnut composition. The menu doesn’t give away much about this dish but it consists of a light pear ice cream with a pear puree, chestnuts and thin wafer like pear slices. The inclusion of chestnuts in the pudding showcases the complete versatility of this ingredient. We left with a box of candied chestnuts, a true Provençal delicacy.
Not for those who don’t like chestnuts or are vegetarian. After Nyne recommends for a romantic night out or a celebratory occasion.
The chestnut menu available till the 15th November is £45 per head and includes a glass of Lirac, La Reine des Bois, Domaine de la Mordoreé.