Bouillabaisse. This is a Provençal dish that is famous and synonymous with the South of France.. in particular Marseilles as that’s where it’s said to originate. It’s a fish stew that is made with fresh local fish, shellfish, vegetables and Provençal herbs and spices. Quite frankly, you can’t replicate it at home because of the local ingredients needed for this dish, and I don’t think I’d dare to attempt it because it doesn’t look easy ;)
When you’re in Marseilles, you’re bombarded by places that serve up Bouillabaisse, basically every single restaurant has it. However, tread very carefully. Most don’t do it well, probably served up to tourists who can’t tell the difference. Of course, I am said tourist, but after doing a ton of research by asking friends and surfing online, I can tell :P And this was how we knew to go to Chez Loury restaurant in Marseille (Restaurant “Le Mistral” 3 rue Fortia 13001 Marseille) that came highly recommended. Note that Chez Fonfon also came highly recommended, but it was closed for August :(
At Chez Loury
Pretty blue and white decor
Toasted bread with this INCREDIBLE rouille (mayonnaise made from olive oil, garlic, saffron, cayenne pepper)
Chez Loury is a tiny nook of a cafe, in the midst of a hundred others along the Vieux-Port (harbour). Their little outdoor terrace seats around 15 people and their menu is small. We don’t really care, because we already know what we’re having ;) I should note here that the staff don’t speak a word of English. They did assign us an English-speaking waitress later, but she was quite indifferent and rather pushy, not as good as the French-speaking male waiters.
In fact, it was here that we made a mistake – she insisted the Bouillabaisse was “FOR ONE PERSON ONLY” and we’d need to order another course instead of sharing the dish. Let me clarify first by saying I have a pretty big appetite – maybe around the size of a big Aussie guy’s appetite or so? Anyway, after asking her again if she was sure, we decided to order the Bouillabaisse, as well as another main course.
Considering both Chris and I have fairly giant appetites, we nearly fainted and killed ourselves trying to finish the meal. It would’ve been more than sufficient if we had just shared the Bouillabaisse. I honestly don’t know how other regular couples with regular appetites can handle this if she also cornered them into ordering 2 dishes. You know why…….?
The Bouillabaisse came out in THREE COURSES.
I picked the Bouillabaisse traditionnelle for myself, and it came out as follows:
- Soupe de Poissons – this was just the fish broth, served pure and simple. It came piping hot and with a tongue-enveloping flavour of rich shellfish and seafood. It was luscious. And so creamy and flavourful! In fact, after eating the large portion of soup and the toasted bread, I probably could’ve stopped there ;)
- Soup with Saint Pierre, Rascasse, Baudroie fishes – this was the next course. It was the same soup, but with large chunks of the 3 types of fishes floating in it. The portions were large, each piece of fish is roughly the same size you’d find as a main meal. Beautifully cooked, tender, smooth.
- Soup with Vive, Galinette, Fielas fishes – we were STUNNED when this one came out, as we didn’t realise it was a 3-course meal. Same broth (again!) and this time with another 3 types of fish. I was pretty fish’d out by now and my eyes were rolling into the back of my head, so I was trying to urge Chris to eat as much of it as possible.
Bouillabaisse course #1 – Soupe de Poissons
Bouillabaisse course #2 – Soup with Saint Pierre, Rascasse, Baudroie fishes
Bouillabaisse course #3 – Soup with Vive, Galinette, Fielas fishes
Chris was a bit smarter, and opted for the Whole grilled fish. It was delicious. So simple, but well executed. It was just a whole fish, grilled to perfection, and filleted at your table. Add a squeeze of lemon and you’ve got yourself a perfectly fresh fish. Don’t be like Chris and ask for more of that rouille mayonnaise to dip the fish into – he was met with a horrified look by the waitress for trying to bastardize the flavour of the fish ;)
A whole fish that they filleted for us. Lovely, simple, fresh.
I was feeling quite woozy from fish, fish and more fish by this point… so decided I needed DESSERT :D We picked a white chocolate and milk chocolate cake, which sounded enticing on the menu but came out tasting rather ordinary in reality. It was pretty pricey as well, so I would not recommend it.
A chocolate cake dessert
Stuffed to the brim with FISH, we walked around the Vieux-Port afterwards where the weather was lovely and cool. It was a delicious meal and yes, the Bouillabaisse truly is a stellar dish that I don’t think can be replicated easily.. but if you go, get that Bouillabaisse traditionnelle to share between 2 people and top it off with a shared Starter and Dessert, and I guarantee both of you will be full afterwards ;)
Night markets around the Marseille Vieux-Port area
Lighthouse in the picturesque sunset