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Rita, la Vierge à la mer

Rita, la Vierge à la mer (Saint-Jean-de-Luz)

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When you were a little kid and your parents promised you Christmas vacation in Lapland if you got good grades in school, you could already smell the scam they were cooking up. So when Greg Back, the owner of La Vierge in Paris, told his chef Matthew Robertson: “You’ll see, one day I’ll take you to Basque Country,” the American chef probably had a sheepish smile on his face…. But exactly one lockdown later, the two accomplices have headed south to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, to be roommates for the summer at the Maria-Christina, a hotel that feels like a Californian taqueria. The result? Incredible! The night we went, seated under the lemon tree on the patio, the laidback vibes reached a magnitude of 8.3 on the Kool & the Gang scale: tender caponata with basil; molto buono fritto misto with aioli that’ll have you licking the bowl clean; a generous portion of hummus, tabbouleh and homemade flatbread; juicy chicken wings and thighs served with roasted garlic; before a crème caramel that went down easy…. // Hugo Zaorski

FEELING THIRSTY? Regional natural wines: Aristu, a red from Navarre (€4 a glass), a Tarn pet’ nat’ from Laurent Cazottes (€32 a bottle), an Irouléguy white from the Domaine Ilarria (€40)….

PRICE: Plates €8-15.

Le Fooding’s 2022 Guide is fresh out of the oven!

What’s on the menu this year? A brand-new selection of 200 restaurants, bars and bedrooms across France, articles sprinkled throughout the magazine, the taste of the times distilled down to its purest form in our highly anticipated award’s list and, for the very first time, two new guides to the country’s best stand-out shops and spirited cellars!

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