For our second visit to Collioure, Dawn and I did not make hotel reservations in advance. All week, we’ve been without internet or phone. While that may sound relaxing it’s really not.
We got into Collioure around 3:30, and I parked at the top of the hill, near the condo where I lived in 1998 (“Les Batteries”). We headed down into town, and stopped in the first hotel (“complet…sorry”), then the second, a four-star hotel/restaurant called Le Relais des 3 Mas. This was my first four-star experience, and it was worth every euro.
The rooms all faced the sea, and were each named after a different artist from the region. We were next to Dali. That artist’s work was featured in the rooms. The hotel has its own beach, and multiple terrasses overlooking the sea. There’s a pool, jacuzzi, and a wonderful restaurant, named La Balette. We sunned ourselves, swam together in the sea, then swam in the pool, returned to our room (the Blanquette was now chilled), and relaxed before dinner.
I knew before going in I was going to pick the most expensive fixed menu, and we did that – Le Gourmand. It featured seven courses, and our plan was to eat, then walk into town in search of a bar we both liked called Le Cave. The maître-d’ was young, shaved head, suit and tie, and a touch persnickety. He asked if we wanted to start with an aperitif, such as a Banyuls? I said we would be having some wine; he asked what would we be eating; I pointed to Le Gourmand; he said it’s beaucoup de poisson, so red would be a bad idea. Then I think he got tired of the game of me speaking French and said, “We could just speak English, if you want…?”. And so we did. We were redirected to the wine waiter, and he was quite mellow – in fact, he said we could have a red if we really wanted, with the fish – and so we did.
The hierarchy of waiters was interesting. The maître-d’ clearly was in charge at a macro-level. He made us, and everyone else feel very comfortable the whole time, and he toggled between languages as he visited each table. They had all of us figured out. The wine waiter was a drifter with a limp (he had just recovered from a broken leg, or something). The actual waiter, who brought us our food, was very young and subtle. He just snickered each time he brought us something (like, boy you are going to love THIS).
First course was a small shot glass that resembled a miniature cappuccino with a rosemary twig in the foam, and a light blue rosemary petal. It tasted like some type of a seafood bisque, and we gulped it down.
Then, we had foie-gras drizzled with white Banyuls liqueur, alongside paper-thin slices of baked apple and fresh apple compote.
Third course: lobster, followed by a shot of chilled vodka that had a scoop of lemon sorbet in it (fourth course).
Fifth: broiled fish, with paper-thin slices of baked cheese on top, next to a roasted roma tomato with an asparagus sprig, and sauteed chantarelles.
Sixth course (the “pre-dessert”) was a roasted fig drizzled with liqueur, next to a scoop of pistachio ice cream. Last, more ice cream and something that looked like a large pink bon-bon, but filled with chocolate and drizzled with cherry sauce. We then had coffee and the waiter snickered as he left us a plate of cookies.
Dawn and I were both up in the middle of the night, bloated and caffeinated. I actually went out to the pool at about 5:30 a.m., and curled up on one of the beach chairs with my towel, attempting to sleep. But that seemed strange, so I went back to the room.