Results tagged Nice from David Lebovitz

Swiss Chard Tart (Tourte de blettes)

tourte de blettes

When I was in Nice a few months ago with my friends Adam and Matt, I wanted to show them some of the more unusual local specialties, ones you wouldn’t come across unless you were actually in a certain region. French cooking is very regional, which is why you won’t find bouillabaisse in Paris or all that many macarons in Nice. And a lot of people visiting a certain town or city might not be familiar with some of the more unusual things that are only available there, like Socca or Panisses, simply because no one would think about eating them outside of the area where they originated.

swiss chard pine nuts

In case you’re wondering, you can’t make a Tourte de blettes without Swiss chard (blettes). For one thing, if you did, then it wouldn’t be Swiss chard tart. So get that notion out of your head right now. And believe me, if you can’t find chard, I feel your pain. One fine morning at the market, I bought my big, beautiful bunch of chard from a big pile at the market to make this tart.

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Mirazur

pink grapefuit sorbet, panna cotta, peaches

During my trip to the Côte d’Azur with Matt and Adam, after the second or third day, we realized that we hadn’t eaten in any restaurants. With the fresh ingredients available, we were preparing our own meals (pretty well, I might add), and we didn’t feel the need to hand over the cooking duties to a third-party. It was a bit of heaven being in part of the country where garden-fresh vegetables are abundant, and we found ourselves gorging on local specialties that we made ourselves, like aïoli and socca, and not craving any meat or cheese.

But one restaurant did catch my eye, which many consider the best restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, and that’s Mirazur, located in Menton, a small town that meets the radiantly blue Mediterranean and is literally walking distance to Italy. When I wrote to Rosa Jackson, who teaches regional cooking classes in nearby Nice, about the restaurant, she wrote me right back; “… if you go, you should arrange in advance to visit their vegetable garden, it’s amazing!”

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Fenocchio Ice Cream

2 ice creams

Every time I go to Provence and the Côte d’Azur, I keep remembering that I want to share Fenocchio ice cream with you. But I’m not all that good at sharing, when it comes to ice cream, so I hope you’ll forgive me for keeping this all to myself for a while. But after tasting more than my share of their ice cream down in Vieux Nice, the old part of the city of Nice, I summoned up the courage to ask if I could step behind the counter and into the kitchen for a look behind the most famous ice cream maker of the region for a little bit of a look, and a few licks.

chocolate ice cream makers

Fenocchio is a family-owner and operated business that has been making ice cream since 1966, and their production facility is up on the hill in La Gaude, overlooking the Mediterranean. So to get up there, you’ll have to take a bit of a drive up a few rather steep roads.

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Classic Salade Niçoise

summer tomatoes

There were various responses on my Strawberry ice cream recipe, requesting a retraction of the moniker ice “cream” since it didn’t have cream in it. And a respected food writer pointed out that pumpkin was obligatory in Soupe au Pistou. I, too, know that folks will sometimes call something hot ‘chocolate’ even though it was made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate. And have been served fried onion rings that were actually broken circles, not neat, closed rounds of onions. And don’t get me started on thinly sliced fruit being called carpaccio.

So I have seen the error of my ways, and you’ll be happy to know that I slavishly followed the recipe for classic Salade Niçoise, as espoused by Jacques Médecin in his book Cuisine Niçoise. (Not this one.) Which everyone in Provence agrees gets the last word on cuisine from their region.

French olives Salade Niçoise

For example, once can not put grilled or seared tuna on the salad and call it a salade Niçoise. Canned tuna or anchovies are acceptable, but not both. And he cautions “”…never, never, I beg you, include boiled potato or any other boiled vegetable in your salade niçoise.”

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Aïoli: Garlic Mayonnaise Recipe

yolks

On a recent visit with my friend Tricia Robinson, who lives in the small village of St Jeannet, overlooking Nice and the Côte d’Azur, after a huge lunch, we weren’t that hungry for dinner, so we decided to just sip some rosé and wait for inspiration to strike. I was admiring her mortar and pestle, there was some violet-colored spring garlic, a bottle of local olive oil was nearby, and voilà…suddenly, there was our dinner.

aïoli

Frugal me toasted some stale rounds of baguette au levain, which I brushed injudiciously with olive oil that was pressed just a few kilometers away, sold in her village, and scraped them with just-cut garlic cloves while still warm from the oven. (Try it…it’s the best! Or crumble and toss the garlic toasts into your next salad.) But having them simply slathered aïoli, we were content.

The great thing about aïoli is that you always have all the ingredients on hand; olive oil, garlic, egg yolks, and salt, and it pretty much goes with everything. The downside is you should only eat it with others who are eating it as well, since you’ll likely develop a distinct garlicky aroma that will also follow you around for a few days afterward.

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Coasting la Côte

When I heard there was going to be an inaugural voyage for the recently refubished Club Med 2 sailboat, I was so excited to go, that I actually invited myself to come along. Since the trip was a press preview, with a sprinkling of the rich and perhaps famous to rub elbows with, and since I lived so close, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t be able to easily race down to catch some sunshine, and participate in the buzz—cruising past St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, and Portofino.

Portfino

So after spending a few days on land in Provence, I was ready to set sail and meet my travel mates. Having not gone on many press trips, I wasn’t sure what to expect and happily, our rag-tag group was from all over the map: Japan, the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Italy, and, of course, France. We boarded boat and set sail eastward.

sailboat

I’d been on one boat before, a medium-sized cruise liner, and was less-than-impressed with that one. It was freezing cold from the boat being severely overly air-conditioned, so I was wearing sweaters indoors, while sunny Mexico was right outside. Not only was it cold physically, it was also uninspiring and I felt like I was on a floating hotel, it was so big and impersonal.

But this was a small vessel, a 5-masted sailboat, with less than two hundred rooms and sure enough, it was just the right size and pace for cruising the Côte d’Azur.

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Socca Recipe

When people come to Paris, they often ask me where they can find good bouillabaisse. And when I tell them, “You can’t”, they’re always very surprised.

“Well, isn’t it French?” they’ll reply.

adding olive oil rose

Yes, it is. But to get many of the regional specialties in France, you need to go to the region. Hence my frequent visits to Nice, to get socca at the fiery source.

And although you can make it at home, making it in a home oven is like baking off a batch of S’Mores in there: it’s close, but not exactly the real thing. You really do need a wood-fire to get that blistered crust. Still, after much experimentation, I got it close in my home oven and I now make it all the time to serve with an apéritif before dinner.

mixing socca batter

Socca is basically street food, intended to be eaten off napkins to blot up all the excess olive oil, with plastic cups of frosty-cool rosé.

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Panisse Recipe

A few months ago I was having drinks at a friend’s house up by the Place des Fêtes, outdoors on their patio, and I noticed something tucked away in the corner.

frying panisses

Me: “Hey! What’s that?”

Them: “What’s what?”

Me: “That! Over there…in the corner. Is that what I think it is? Oh my God!”

Them: “Oh, yeah, that. We put it in about fifteen years ago, but we never use it.”

And that, ladies and gentleman, is how I learned that my friends actually had—get this, a grill!

panisses

I didn’t think anyone here had a grill. And with the 4th of July en route, I immediately suggested we grill an all-American dinner.

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