Tomatoes and Burrata on the French Riviera
by Lisa Michaux, Tastemaker in Residence
Snow has fallen in Minnesota in October and I am dreaming of perfectly ripe tomatoes topped with rich, creamy burrata with just the right amount of well-aged balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, and a dash of salt. Oh, and maybe a glass of chilled rosé and a table with a view of the Mediterranean Sea. Yes, I am in my happy place and for a moment I have forgotten that winter is coming.
For four glorious sun-soaked days this past July I returned to my favorite hotel, the fabulous Belles Rives on the French Riviera. I was not the first visitor to stay here from St. Paul—favorite son F. Scott Fitzgerald spent time there in 1926, writing of his trip, “I’m happier than I’ve been for years. It’s one of those strange, precious and all too transitory moments when everything in one’s life seems to be going well.”
I have no idea if Fitzgerald was eating tomatoes and burrata in 1926, but I couldn’t stop. My husband was amazed that my lunch order never wavered—I was in heaven. When something is perfect, why change?
When I think about the perfect meals I have had in the past, the food was certainly important, but the company and the setting were the factors that pushed a favorite meal to become exceptional and unforgettable. Our table at the water’s edge came with a view of swimmers, yachts, and the hilltop villas across the bay. My dining companion was my husband of 32 years who had just spent 6 days biking up and down the twisting roads of the French Alps. I was more than a little relieved that he had made it down each day safely and we were both happy to have nothing to do now but sit by the water, take long walks along the coast, and eat perfect meals.
And so, while my colorful plate of tomatoes was simple, the memories of those lunches by the sea were just as Fitzgerald said, “precious and all too transitory.”