Fine French cuisine may not be the the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, but that didn’t stop Chef Jacques Chretien from opening a French restaurant in Cabo San Lucas. As an award-winning master chef, Chretien’s culinary career spans two decades with stints at some of the most renowned restaurants in France and Mexico including several Michelin star-rated venues — Chez Bruneau in Belgium, Le Relais de Bracieux in France and La Tour d’Argent in Paris.
Chretien, one of just five chefs in all of Mexico to have earned the prestigious Maitre Cuisinier de France award, is the chef/owner of French Riviera, a stunning dining venue overlooking the Sea of Cortez and the often-photographed Los Cabos landmark, the Arch at Land’s End.
The culmination of a longtime dream, Chretien personally supervised all aspects of the September 2002 restaurant opening including interior and exterior design and menu development.
“The art of fine cuisine; that is my passion,” said Chretien.
This month, Chretien heads north to California where he’ll participate as an invited chef in the 17th annual Culinary Evening with the California Winemasters. The gala event on the “Streets of New York” back lot at Paramount Pictures benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Grilled sea scallops with sauteed mushrooms and wine butter sauce Serves 4
For the sea scallops:
8 sea scallops
8 porcini mushrooms, approximately 2 ounces each, with long tail
1/2 cup shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the porcini mushrooms by cleaning them with a damp cloth; never directly under water. Heat olive oil in a saute pan that can go into the oven. Add mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper. Cook for 12 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Cut the scallops in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Sear scallops for one minute on each side.
For the wine butter sauce:
3 tablespoons shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thick cream
3/4 cup butter
2 cups white wine
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Chopped chive, for garnish
Combine shallots, white wine and vinegar. Heat over medium heat for five minutes. Add cream and bring to simmer for five minutes. Add butter and stir while sauce thickens. Season with salt and lemon juice.
PRESENTATION: Layer sea scallops alternating with mushrooms. Top with sauce. Garnish with chopped chives.
Pan-seared scallops of foie gras with caramelized grapes, mesclun salad and sherry vinegar Serves 2
6 1/2 ounces fois gras cut into 1-inch slices
2 Anjou pears
3/4 cup red wine
3 tablespoons orange juice
6 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
5 ounces onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2/3 cup grapes (white or red)
6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 1/4 cup veal sauce
Mesclun lettuce, to plate
Peel the pears. Combine with red wine, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon. Simmer over medium heat for one hour. In another pan combine onion, honey and grapes. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes until ingredients blend to resemble marmalade or chutney. Add sherry vinegar and continue cooking over low heat for another 30 minutes.
Place foie gras slices in a hot pan without any added fat. Cook on each side until color darkens. Remove cooked foie gras slices from pan and place on an absorbent paper. Add the pear sauce, sherry vinegar sauce and veal sauce to pan. Deglaze. Add salt and pepper to taste.
PRESENTATION: Spoon the sauce onto a plate. Place a foie gras scallop on the sauce. Top with mesclun. Garnish with more sauce.
FRENCH RIVIERA RESTAURANT
Carretera Transpeninsular KM 6.3
Cabo San Lucas
Baja California Sur 23410, Mexico
tel 011 52 624 1043125
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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