As part of a new series of blog posts highlighting some of France's historic gems on the Côte d'Azur and in Paris, I will be highlighting a few places which would be perfect venues for events, concerts or are just fantastic places to visit.
Last week I visited the 'Musée de l'Art Culinaire' which is located in the quaint historic village of Villeneuve-Loubet, a large town situated between Antibes and Nice. Tucked away in the heart of the village, this museum really captures your imagination as it tells the story behind the creation of Auguste Escoffier's most famous desserts - the Peach Melba.
This museum takes you through the career of the famous French chef Auguste Escoffier who was born in Villeneuve-Loubet in 1846 in the house which is now used for the museum and Foundation which was created to celebrate his expertise and contribution to the culinary patrimony of France. During his lifetime Escoffier trained more than 2000 chefs and passed on all his savoir faire to his apprentice Joseph Donon who was instrumental in creating this Foundation.
One of the most impressive rooms in the museum is the one dedicated to the Foundation's collection of 1500 menus, which date from 1820 until today.
The story behind the Peach Melba
Peach Melba is a sweet combination of poached peaches served with a raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream. It was created by Auguste Escoffier in 1892/3 especially for the Soprano Dame Nellie Melba. At that time, Dame Melba was performing in Wagner's opera in Covent Garden. Duke Orleans organised a dinner party at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London to celebrate her performance. Auguste Escoffier who was the Head Chef for the dinner, created a dessert which was dedicated to Dame Nellie to commemorate the occasion. He sculpted a swan out of ice to display the dessert which was a reference to the Opera which Dame Nellie was performing in at the time (there are rumours that Dame Nellie was one of Escoffier's love interests but this isn't mentionned in the museum...) It was not until Escoffier became Head Chef at The Carlton Hotel and he added Peach Melba to the menu (without the ice swan) that the dessert started to become famous.
As a surprise addition to my visit of the Musée d'Art Culinaire I was served a peach melba along with the raspberry coulis and vanilla ice cream and it was delicious! This classic dessert is still a crowd-pleaser well over 100 years since it was first invented.
More information about Musée de l'Art Culinaire is available here. Full price adult entry is 5€ and it's free on the first Sunday of every month. Check opening times before visiting.