I was invited to try the handsome Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet’s new Spring menu at Fig & Olive on the corner of Melrose Place and La Cienega. The night before he was presenting a similar menu to food writers at the upscale Fig & Olive in Newport Beach.
Born in the South of France, Hocquet’s a classically trained chef with over 15 years of international experience in Paris, New York, Monaco, and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. He has worked with some of the most renowned Michelin chefs around the world, such as Alain Ducasse and Daniel Boulud.
“Spring is the most beautiful season in the South of France,” Hocquet shared with me. “The vegetables are like newborns; they’re pure and delicate. From peas to asparagus, they require minimal treatment, as the quality of produce speaks for itself. The new dishes channel a sense of culinary nostalgia and inspiration from the markets in the South of France.”
Throughout the evening, Executive Chef Wilfrid Hocquet visited our table to tell us about each dish. They were bright and flavorful with a theme of fresh Spring asparagus and peas and blends of citrus, including Clementines.
Founder Laurent Halasz collaborated with Executive Chef Hocquet, along with eight of FIG & OLIVE’s chefs, to create the following dishes:
Provencal Carrot & Thyme Soup – My new friend Jerone is vegan and throughly enjoyed a bowl of heirloom baby carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and thyme with an olive oil crouton. This dish was inspired by a recipe from FIG & OLIVE’s new cookbook, “FIG & OLIVE: The Cuisine of the French Riviera” showcasing Francine and Laurent Halasz’ recipes.
I enjoyed the Burrata & Asparagus with a glass of champagne on ice with sliced strawberries. The creamy burrata was served with tender asparagus, snow peas, hazelnuts, arugula, and micro-basil with a blood orange zest dressing.
Next we received a Crab Salad made with jumbo lump crab, celery, celeriac, snow peas, green apples, lime, cilantro, scallion, horseradish, and pink pepper. It was not my favorite, instead I pushed it aside to try the more comforting Primavera Risotto made with Arborio rice, asparagus (the first vegetable of Spring), green peas, pea shoots, and a green pea puree with parmesan, garlic, and shallots.
Our table had the choice of three entrees. My friend Emilia and Shaena agreed with me that we would each order a different entree and share it with each other. Emilia ordered the seared Sea Scallops with a Moroccan flair offering multi-colored honey heirloom carrots and orange purée, roasted orange segments, poppy seeds and charmoula.
Shaena ordered the Filet Mignon marinated with rosemary, thyme, garlic, beef and barley risotto with hedgehog mushroom, manchego, and mascarpone cheese with a creative and healthier Olive oil Béarnaise. Premium olive oils are used in most dishes, instead of butter or cream. It was delicious.
I ordered the Riviera Salmon offering a variety of Spring flavors with seared salmon, grilled asparagus, sweet braised fennel, on a bed of pea puree and Arbequina olive oil emulsion and lemon zest.
For dessert, my vegan friend had poached pears, while the rest of us enjoyed the Clementine Vacherin dessert made with blood orange coulis, clementine sorbet, white chocolate mousse, and meringue kisses. It was a balance of sweet and citrus, crunchy and smooth promoting a satisfying ending.
I left the restaurant feeling fortified, because nothing was laden with fat. I didn’t fill heavy, tired or too full. It’s a menu filled with antioxidants. FIG & OLIVE continues to maintain long relationships with farms and premier purveyors that have been used for many years including D’Artagnan, Premier Meat Company, Baldor, Nature’s Produce, Kenter Canyon Farms, amongst others.
Visit www.figandolive.com to find a location nearest to you.