I left my heart in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Where? Why, it’s in the South of France! This gorgeous little seaside village sits between Nice and Monaco, attracting beach-goers to its sunny and relaxed locale. Homes are painted delightful shades of orange, red, and yellow and their reflections shimmer off an azure-blue sea. The pedestrian-only streets are old, uneven cobblestone, and steep stairways go on forever; cozy restaurants and gift shops abound. The tall buildings lean ever so slightly into the narrow walkways, tired of standing straight for so many hundreds of years.
Let’s spend an easy, breezy afternoon teatime together, imagining we’re sitting in a French seaside café, along the harbor of Villefranche-sur-Mer. We’ll enjoy a light lunch while watching the local fishermen bring in their haul, and take in the sights of sunbathers and swimmers splashing in the cool water.
At our café, finger foods are a-plenty. A refreshing fruit salad is just what the warm weather calls for, and cold, crisp Rosé wine and iced tea will quench our thirst. Finally, we’ll indulge in a delicious dessert, typical to the summertime beach scene in the South of France.
The colors that remind me most of Paris, France are red, blue, and white. As we travel south to the sea, however, the scenery lights up like a stained-glass window, with buildings everywhere painted in bright pastel colors. There’s a reason they call it the Cotê d’Azur, or “Coast of Blue”; its bright, rich, and mesmerizing turquoise waters are unmatched.
Everywhere you look, there are window boxes and baskets of cheerful flowers. For this event, I arranged some gorgeous burgundy-colored Asters in small glass vases of various shapes. The monochromatic theme creates a nice visual impact even though the arrangements are small. Consider sending these adorable flower-filled vases home with your guests as gifts!
Let’s get some food on the table! This menu is simple to put together and packs in a lot of flavor.
- Jambon Beurre Sandwiches on Crusty Sourdough Baguettes
- Gherkins (Mini Pickles) & Pickled Pearl Onions
- Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives
- Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
- Melon Ball Salad with White Wine & Honey Dressing
- Vanilla Bean Gelato & Crêpes with Hazelnut Spread
Jambon Beurre (translated: “Ham Butter”) is a sourdough baguette smeared with butter and lined with sliced deli ham, but don’t let its simplicity fool you — it’s amazingly delicious! Variations of this sandwich include adding lettuce, tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs, and swapping the ham for tuna or patê.
One baguette will make four sandwiches. Cut the baguette into four equal parts and then slice each section length-wise to split open, keeping an edge intact. Smear each side with butter. Arrange the ham slices in a fancy manner on top of the butter and then place halves back together. For a fun presentation, wrap each sandwich with wax paper and raffia or twine.
Gherkins, blue cheese-stuffed olives, and salt and vinegar potato chips will be your side dishes. You can find these items at your local market.
Melon Ball Salad & Dressing
A refreshing melon salad is a delicious complement to the saltiness in this menu. Cilantro provides a surprising twist of flavor and adds a pop of color. A light dressing of wine and honey brings it all together.
- 1/2 cantaloupe
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup white or rosé wine
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. Use a melon baller to scoop out the melon, or cut the fruit out of the rind and into small chunks.
Remove cilantro stems and chop finely. Toss the melon, raspberries, and cilantro together in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, combine the wine, honey, and lemon juice, and whisk until smooth. Pour over fruit and mix until well coated. Cover and refrigerate until served.
Save Room for Dessert
One of my absolute favorite things to eat when visiting the Cote d’Azur is a warm crêpe, made fresh while you watch, drizzled with hazelnut spread and topped with vanilla gelato. Let’s recreate this tasty treat for our guests!
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Hazelnut spread, a heaping tablespoon for each crepe, plus more to drizzle over the gelato
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
Heat a large, lightly oiled pan over medium-high heat. Pour the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup batter for each crêpe. Slightly tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly, leaving room at the edges for lifting with a spatula.
Cook the crêpe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn, and cook the other side. Remove from pan.
Crêpes can be filled with a number of delicious options. We’re going to use a popular choice, hazelnut spread. Lay the crêpe on a flat surface. Warm the hazelnut spread in the microwave until it’s spreadable (about 20 seconds). Spread a heaping tablespoon (or more!) onto the warm crêpe and then fold in quarters. If needed, cut into smaller triangles to accommodate your dessert dishes. Scoop vanilla gelato on top. Drizzle on more hazelnut spread and serve.
While you can easily assemble this menu the day of your event, if you prefer, you can make the sandwiches, fruit salad, and crêpes ahead of time and then refrigerate. If you do make ahead, be sure to wrap the sandwiches well so the bread doesn’t dry out. About an hour before your guests arrive, set out the sandwiches to bring them to room temperature.
Fill your glass with some cold and crisp Rosé wine or some refreshing Plum Deluxe iced tea and your seaside café menu is complete. I like to play French café music to fill the soirée with delightful tunes. You and your guests will be enchanted by sweet sounds and tastes while imagining the fun of a summertime vacation on the sparkling blue coastline of the South of France.