Revered as being a playground for the rich, Monaco is the place to enjoy the finer things in life, where excess and extravagance is celebrated in spades. The principality is small; a seaside location squeezed into just 200 hectares nestled between the French and Italian Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea, boasting a balmy climate, picturesque coastal bays and al fresco cafes; making it one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations. However, with the highest percentage of millionaires per capita in the world, what Monaco lacks in size, it makes up for with its opulent and beguiling attitude. Catering to its superlative audience, this is where multi-million-dollar yachts docked in the harbour are very much the norm, major events like the annual Grand Prix and a whole host of other sporting and cultural festivals are celebrated amid much fanfare, oozing with glitz and glamour.
The Hotel Hermitage Monte Carlo, which attracts several well-heeled guests, including aristocrats and celebrities, is the epitome of old school luxury. Its sister property, the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort, while still magnificent, is relaxed and chic; a self-contained Mediterranean-style village, complete with artificial sand lagoon, palm trees and botanical gardens. Christmas here is more than just a celebration; with the festivities including resident Santa Claus and an-all out gastronomic extravaganza courtesy of celebrated chefs Joël Garault, Marcel Ravin and Nicolas Baygourry.
From high tea on Christmas Eve, to a gourmet meal devised by Michelin star chef Joël himself, this is where Christmas is a culinary journey of epic proportions; from the roast langoustine to the refined treat of foie gras lacquered with spicy redcurrant; this is a meal sure to seduce even the most discerning gourmet connoisseur. Meticulous attention to detail prevails here, where even the Yule Log, created by head pastry chef, Nicolas Baygourry, took months to create.
For those looking for a touch of decadence at a festive dinner party, our exclusive collaboration with the elite hotels will add a touch of sparkle to your spread…
Joël Garault's Blue lobster on a chickpea and cranberry strip with streak of tart beetroot
A combination of complex flavours and textures, this is a posh starter to get you going
2 500g blue lobsters
A generous pinch of dried red chillies (espelette peppers)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp thyme
A generous pinch of fresh laurel leaves
50g yellow beetroot
100g red beetroot
50g pink beetroot
50g chioggia beetroot 500ml water
25ml white vinegar
25ml white wine or grape juice
A dash of balsamic vinegar
A handful of spring onions, chopped
FOR THE CHICK PEA STRIP
200 g chick pea flour
50ml olive oil
1 Make the chick pea strip by first placing the cranberries in a deep serving tray. Set aside.
2 Add the chick pea flour to a saucepan.
3 Add the water and olive oil and mix thoroughly.
4 Add the egg.
5 Bring to the boil for 1 minute, and then pour onto the tray where the cranberries have been placed, filling the mix to the rim.
6 Cover with clingfilm and allow to poach in its own steam.
7 When cool, cut the mixture into 3cm x 10 cm long strips. Set aside.
8 Place the water, white vinegar, white wine or white grape juice, salt and pepper in a blender.
9 Add 50g of red beetroot and 50g of pink beetroot.
10 Blend until you have a smooth puree.
11 Carve the remaining yellow, red, pink and chioggia beets, and finely slice, using a kitchen mandolin.
12 Using a cookie cutter, cut them into perfect rounds and set aside.
13 Cook the lobster in a broth made from water, salt, thyme and laurel leaves.
14 Cook the claws and joints for 11 minutes and the body for 6 minutes.
15 Retain the head and tail for decoration.
16 In a frying pan, sear the chick pea strip.
17 Streak the tart beetroot puree across each serving plate.
18 Place the chick pea strip on top.
19 Add the lobster, decorating with the head, the tail, and the various coloured beetroot slices.
20 Add a dash of balsamic and a piece of spring onion and serve.
Joël Garault's scallops, and apple foie gras mousseline with liquorice jus
6 golden delicious apples
120g raw foie gras
A dash of apple juice
8 leek stems, trimmed
150ml chicken stock
1 liquorice stick
2 slices of black bread
1 Preheat the oven to 130C.
2 Peel and core three apples.
3 Fill with the raw foie gras. Season with the salt and pepper, then place in a dish with a dash of apple juice.
4 Cover with aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
5 Remove the apples and set aside.
6 Reduce the oven heat to 120C.
7 Boil the chicken stock and infuse the liquorice stick for 12 minutes.
8 Strain the liquid through a sieve, discard the liquorice and set aside.
9 Cook the leeks in a pot of boiling salted water. When cooked, remove and set aside.
10 Cut discs from the black bread, and toast in the oven for 6 minutes.
11 Peel 2 golden apples and make balls from it with a melon baller.
12 Place a knob of butter placed in a frying pan set over a medium-high heat and cook the balls until slightly softened.
13 Using the same pan, cook the scallops for 30 seconds on each side.
14 Place on a plate with a small quantity of the apple and foie gras mousseline, 2 leeks, a bread disk and the apple balls.
15 Cut the remaining raw apple into shards and use as a garnish for each plate.
Joël Garault's Red Mullet on cuttlefish with grape condiment and bergamot oil
4 150g whole red mullet, gutted and descaled, tail-on
1L grape juice
1 clove of garlic
25g bergamot syrup
50ml sherry vinegar
50ml balsamic vinegar
¾ tsp honey
1 ½ tbsp cashews
1 Soften the fish bones by sautéing the fish in butter.
2 Add half the grape juice and the clove of garlic.
3 Allow to cook for 15 minutes and drain the liquid.
4 Cut the cuttlefish into strips, and place in a saucepan filled with the other half of the grape juice. Poach for 20-30 minutes over a low heat. Remove the cuttlefish and set aside.
5 Add the bergamot syrup to the pan of remaining grape juice and reduce by half.
6 Dice the onions and add to the pan. Allow to soften and then add the diced apples and grapes. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes until thickened and you have a compote.
7 Make a caramel using the honey, sugar, sherry and balsamic vinegars.
8 Add to the compote, and finish with the raisins and crushed cashews.
9 To serve, layer three strips of cuttlefish on a plate.
10 Place the cooked mullet under a hot grill and flash-cook for 30 seconds.
11 Dress the mullet with the grape condiment bergamot syrup and 2 ½ fresh grapes.
Nicolas Baygourry’s YULE LOG
As the head pastry chef at Hôtel Hermitage, Chef Nicolas knows a thing or two about baking and meticulous precision for success. To make this recipe easier we have divided the method for each layer into steps.
FOR THE MOUSSE
400g basic crème anglaise custard
200g calamansi juice (Filipino lemonade)
100g chocolate, chopped
900g whipped cream
2 tsp gelatine, soaked in water and then drained
1 Pour the hot crème anglaise on to the chocolate,
2 Add the calamansi juice and the gelatine.
3 Gradually fold in the whipped cream and mix until you achieve a light and airy consistency.
FOR THE Raspberry Crémeux
300g raspberry puree
12 large eggs
20 gelatine leaves, soaked in water and then drained
1 Heat the raspberry puree in a pan set over a medium-high heat.
2 Add the eggs and the sugar and bring to the boil.
3 Add the gelatine. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
4 When the mix has cooled down to 40C, add the softened butter and mix. Set aside.
FOR THE Sacher cocoa biscuit
3 whole eggs
6 egg yolks
8 egg whites, beaten until stiff
200g melted butter
200g cocoa powder
1 Relax the marzipan with the sugar, whole eggs and the yolks and whisk vigorously.
2 Add the firm whipped egg whites and the sugar, the melted butter and finally the flour and the cocoa.
3 Spread 600g per baking tray
4 Cook for 8 minutes at 240C.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE CRUMBLE
300g plain flour, sieved pinch of salt
175g unrefined brown sugar
200g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
Knob of butter for greasing
500g milk chocolate
The zest of one lime
1 Preheat the oven to 180C.
2 Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. Taking a few cubes of butter at a time, rub into the flour mixture. Keep rubbing until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3 Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the crumble is browned.
4 Crush the already cooked crumble.
5 Add the melted milk chocolate and the lime zest and mix to combine.
FOR THE RASPBERRY CONFIT
1kg fresh raspberries
300 gr sugar
1 tbsp pectin
1 Cook the raspberries with the sugar and pectin on a low heat.
2 When the raspberries have softened and the mixture has thickened, mix well and remove from the heat.
1 Pour half of the calamansi chocolate mousse into a yule log mould.
2 Layer the sacher biscuits on top, reserving some for later.
3 Add a thin layer of raspberry confit and the other half of the chocolate mousse.
4 Top with the raspberry crémeux and add the final third of the mousse, the remaining sacher biscuits and the crumble.
5 Refrigerate until firm.
6 Remove from the mould and ice with red frosting.