Biot, a hill village just up from Antibes on the Riviera, is one of our favourites places in the world. We’ve been twice before and the heart of our Biot romance is the Hotel Des Arcades, with its wonderful food, eclectic accommodation, basement art gallery and wonderful staff. We gloomily expected to find the ancient buildings turned into condos atop GAP stores and our Hotel des Arcades had become a chi-chi bar.
The last time we were here was October 20, 1987. Liz went down the street to get the Herald Tribune (her paper getting habits started a long time ago). Of the 20 various papers on the stand at La Presse, they all had "Second Coming" type, screaming "WALL STREET" - no matter the language of the paper. Well, this can't be good, she thought. We called our broker and went to the bar.
But 24 years since our last visit, nothing has changed. The same winding streets, the same little shops and – most importantly – the same wonderful people (albeit a little older) and food to die for – all seemingly frozen in time.
And they still tally the bill on the paper tablecloth; and a pic of our favourite room – the terraced one at the top
Even the pipe mosaic in the entrance way is still here
And just to prove that fate can be kind, the daily special was the raviolis we used to beg Mama to make for us
We settled into our favourite table; wine and olives appeared and the giant dog agreed to fill in for the departed feline (see pic below)
First, finely sliced raw artichokes in anchovy sauce with perfect bread. A simply wonderful simple dish. Then grilled skinned peppers, also in anchovy sauce. We grill and skin peppers, but they don’t taste like these. These are more like meat than vegetable
Chef, looking like a character from a Dickens novel, came out to say Bonjour
Finally, the raviolis – more of a dumpling or gnocchi (or nudi as they are called in Italy) since they are skinless. Poached balls of some mysterious green vegetable (probably spinach or chard) served in an aromatic (cinnamon and nutmeg) sauce. Twenty years of yearning were fulfilled.
The potatoes were accompanied by the best – and we mean THE BEST – aioli ever. Garlic to peal paint, no bitterness, fruity olive oil….mmmmmmmmmmmmm
The look on Dickie’s face tells it all. We are very happy puppies.
(Note from Liz – people often comment how few pictures there are of Richard on the blog and assume it is because he takes the pictures. Wrong. He doesn’t like having his picture taken…..but these ones with his happy aioli face – he likes!)
Next old home week – a visit to the kitchens. Hello to the ladies prepping beans, hugs with Marco (who was a kid when we last saw him), and tears with Madam when Liz showed her a shot of her picture on our wall of menus
(that’s Madam’s picture behind us)
And a return visit to the basement gallery…last time we were there we almost bought a print…it was $2,500 – sanity prevailed
So take that, Thomas Wolfe. We did go home again and it was as good the third time as the first
And the previous blog pics – the then and now pics of Liz (corrected as per Julie from before and after) in fact the “young” shot was taken the first time we were here in 1983 - so 28 years ago - a bit of wear and tear but lots of wonderful life experiences. And an additional photo with Liz’s ubiquitous laptop – mainly because of the fun reflection of the finished meal!
Things that are the same in the picture
- I still use my sunglasses as a hairband
- I’m wearing the same earrings
- I have a glass of wine in front of me
Things that are different
- I have not succumbed to Botox (yet)
- I have replaced cats with aioli!
A closing mystery – we stayed at a sterile chain hotel down in Antibes (which was just what we wanted – easy parking). By the bed is a rainbow switch that causes a pair of LEDs in the ceiling to flash purple, pink and lime green lights. When asked what this was for, staff just smiled. Can’t be erotic. Flesh looks like you’re past your “best before” date when bathed in lime green illumination (trust us on that one). We’re open to suggestions