Water mixed with wine on Sunday Evening as Sud de France, the French food and libations festival, opened with a packed-to-the-gills dinner cruise along the East River—complete with jazz band on board, naturellement.
Sold out for weeks, the first-of-summer fete pushed off from the East 23rd Street Pier, where a World War II-era Navy Yard patrol boat transformed into a floating restaurant under young Uruguayan chef Ignacio Mattos of Estela in Noho.
The next evening, a second yacht party sailed off, this time, with a shrimp-based cassoulet by Chef Paul Liebrandt of Williamsburg’s The Elm. Guests lined up, like boat hands in the galley, as a sous chef ladled the white bean stew into small cardboard trays, with a slice of sourdough on the side.
“Yeah… I think that’s the last of it,” Mr. Liebrandt said, scraping down the sides of the pot at 8 p.m., half an hour before the boat even set sail. Luckily, DJ Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem manned the (audio) decks, appeasing the frenchies and francophiles, who were themselves tipsy on wine and the blare of horns from a Balkan jazz band that came along for the ride.
Evoking the flavors of the South of France—hence the festival’s name—Messrs. Mattos and Liebrandt preceded six other chefs who are exploring the terroir, or the distinct tastes, of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, pardon my French.
Chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske of Contra, Camille Becerra of Navy, Sean Rembold from Reynard (Gallic for “fox”) and brothers Max and Eli Sussman at The Cleveland will try their hand at tweaking rousquille (we hear Miss Becerra is adding rose water and vanilla to the meringue-coated Catalan biscuit), aligot, cod brandade and more, while sommeliers pair each dish with wines from the region. That’s happening all throughout June so even if you didn’t make it to Sunday, don’t fret. You haven’t completely missed the boat…
Buy a ticket to one of Sud de France’s “tasting tables” here. The price per seat includes the multicourse menu, wine pairings, tip and tax.
Click on the slideshow for the lineup of events, as well as some snaps from the opening.