Thursday, 16 January 2014

Luxe Snacks at the Christmas Village, Monaco Style

Now that the holidays are just a memory and a frightening number on the scale, I thought I'd tell you how, for us in Monaco, all those kilos got there in the first place.

Every December, Monaco's Port Hercule is transformed into a charming Christmas wonderland or a Village de Noël.  It's similar to those that pop up during the holidays in cities and towns all around France and it's quite pleasant to bundle up and stroll between the little wooden huts buying charming, inexpensive gifts and grabbing a snack al fresco. But that's where the similarity ends...

First of all, you'd never recognize it but Monaco's Village is in the exact same spot where the pits are set up in May of each year for the Formula 1 Grand Prix race.  Multi-million dollar race cars zoom around Monaco and end up here at the finish line where the Prince, along with anyone in the general vicinity, is doused with champagne by the driver of the winning car.

Mixed in with the traditional fare you'd find at any French VIllage, Monaco offers the sorts of food you're more likely to indulge in at a high-end gastronomy event than an outdoor Christmas Village...

There's champagne of the white or rosé variety served in flutes that are glass, not plastic.  There are a selection of fine red and white wines to wash down foie gras on toasted brioche and a variety of oysters.  Beside the oyster stand is one selling steaming plates of mussels and cold sea urchins with lemon wedges. Pinky wipes are kindly provided as needed. There's Bellota ham from Spain and Hungarian Goulash.  And if it's not luxurious, it's probably strange like giant marshmallows coated in chocolate called Têtes du Choco and on the savoury side of strange, "Cheese and Fries" and Badass Burgers from a "Secret Recipe transmitted from Biker to Biker." Looks to me like the Cheese and Fries were copied from Quebec and look a lot like Poutine to this Canadian girl!  

Monaco's Port Hercule.  A Christmas Fair in December, the Grand Prix pits in May

If you or the kiddies would like to munch on something more traditional, there are old standbys like Churros, waffles, or crêpes spread with Nutella or doused with Grand Marnier. There are entire booths devoted to cochonnerie, (I love that word) which is the French term for junk food like lollipops, candy apples, and cotton candy in your choice of 10 flavours.  Personally, I prefer a modest helping of yeast-raised, sugar coated doughnuts made à la minute while you watch and lick your chops. 

Apart from the food and gift stands, there's entertainment with daily puppet shows, karaoke, magicians, games, a Ferris wheel, a beautiful antique carousel, a skating rink, and sprinkled here and there, creepy looking sculptures. 

Good friends Christine and Geoff and I took a spin around the skating rink one fine and sunny day which was quite pleasant until a giant teenage girl careened into Christine and then took me out along with her.  After we pried our aching bums off the ice, we called it a day and fled to the safety of the Ferris wheel to take in the spectacular view.

One thing for certain, people in Monaco may not be skilled skaters but they're definitely skilled eaters.
Opposites attract:  foie gras to go and Têtes de Choco, giant chocolate covered marshmallows
The skating rink where the pool usually is

Decisions, decisions...

Your choice of 10 different oysters or sea urchins with 5 different wines.  This stand was very popular
Cheese and fries sounds a lot like Canada's Poutine.  Hamburgers are rare in these parts
Mmmm.  Doughnuts...

Creepy sculptures here and there

I love the bird's eye view from the Ferris wheel
One of the hand painted panels on the beautiful antique carousel
Maybe someone will drop some Foie Gras...
Bird's eye view from the Ferris wheel

See you next year!


Loree said...

I'll have 2 waffles doused in Grand Marnier and covered in Nutella. This Christmas village sounds like a wonderful culinary experience.

Heather Robinson said...

Oh my gosh. That final photo made me bust out with laughter!! I scared the dogs! Wow, that is all kinds of creepy but the food is all kinds of...ready? "Yummy." Your favorite word. :)

Gustia said...

Two waffles coming right up. Then we can meet at the skating rink.

Gustia said...

Yes, yummy.. Especially the doughnuts. You'll have to check it out next year.

donna baker said...

I would so love to be there. What a delight. I once saw a diner eating oysters in a restaurant in Monaco; the oyster so fresh, it moved ever so slightly in its shell.

Gustia said...

Come next year and we'll skate around the rink together!