Bouillabaisse, originally a stew made by Marseille fishermen using bony rockfish they were unable to sell to restaurants or markets. The word stems from to boil and simmer. There is an art to preparing and a true experience being served. What makes a bouillabaisse different from other fish soups is the selection of Provencal herbs and spices in the broth, the use of bony local Mediterranean fish, the way the fish are added one at a time, and brought to a boil; and the method of serving. In Marseille, the broth is served first in a soup plate with slices of bread and “rouille” slightly different from aioli. Rouille has cayenne and the most expensive spice on earth — saffron. Then the fish is served separately on a large platter then served together in large soup plates.
There is a Marseille Bouillabaisse Charter which ensures restaurants use precise ingredients, respect the art and so the valued customer does not get cheated. This began in the 80’s and currently only 7 restos are included; LE RHUL is one of the 7. LE RHUL faces the sea and sits on a cliff. The view is to die for; with a view of the sea and The Corniche, the service was impeccable and the bouillabaisse— ooh la la! Before the feast, my starter was steamed mussels stuffed with parsley and garlic. Martin had the grilled cuttlefish with pieces of garlic which is similar to calamari. Both, were excellent choices.
My introduction to Bouillabaisse was in 1983 further south on the Riviera in Nice, as part of Lionel Hampton’s entourage. Yes, quite an enjoyable and unforgettable intro and experience.
Stay tuned…. tonight is the group’s farewell dinne at a bistro but tomorrow the group will have “soul food Sunday’ complete with a gospel singalong.