TOP 5 FRENCH FOOD EXPERIENCES – CÔTE d’AZUR

The Côte d’Azur, a paradise of sapphire blue waters in the south of France, draws millions of visitors each year with its stunning ocean views and regional food specialties. Niçoise cuisine has a strong Mediterranean influence, combining olive oil, tomatoes and other classic ingredients found along near the Italian border. Stuffed peppers, tapenades, fresh pasta, seafood, and whole roast fish with Herbes de Provence are some of the classic dishes you will find here.

There’s a myriad of choices, but here’s my list of the top 5 must-have dishes when visiting the French Riviera.

 

1) DAUBE

 

Trip-de-France-Daube.20724-l750-h534Beef stew slow-cooked in red wine, this classic Niçoise dish is a hearty and sumptuous dish of fork-tender meat served with polenta or pasta.  Restaurant Acchiardo in Nice serves their version with hand-made ravioli. Other dishes to try there: Escalope Maison, a breaded veal cutlet stuffed with proscuitto, cheese and basil, then smothered in tomato Sauce Provençale; Gnocchi aux blettes (swiss chard), Panisse (fries made with chickpea flour).

Restaurant Acchiardo, 38 Rue Droite06300 Nice, France, +33 4 93 85 51 16

radio_soupe_de_poisson_xl2) SOUPE DE POISSON
A thick, elegant soup served with croutons, parmesan cheese and rouille, a rust-colored mayonnaise flavoured with chill and garlic. Best enjoyed with a chilled glass of rosé sitting en terrasse on the boardwalk.
La Mere Germaine, 9 Quai de l’Amiral Courbet, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, +33 4 93 01 71 39
3) SALADE NIÇOISE1001401_487504061338848_79016541_n Cliché I know, but when done correctly, nothing beats this classic. Alice Waters in the ’70s was inspired by this melange of tender mesclun leaves, balsamic vinaigrette and sun-dappled produce to create California cuisine as we know it today.
The authentic version starts with good lettuce, steamed green beans, or haricots verts (with little points!), tomatoes, small black niçoise olives, a hardboiled egg with the yolk a bit runny, tomatoes, and finally, slices of anchovy OR tuna (never both!). The whole lot is drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. Redolent of the salty ocean from the anchovy, the tangy tomatoes and comforting green beans make this mélange a winning combination.
Also try the Pan Bagnat, which is basically a Niçoise salad stuffed in a large, round airy roll! Delicious. Surprisingly, the best one I have had in the region is a little stand at the Hôtel de Ville bus stop in Cannes. It’s a great deal for 5 euros when you want something simple and satisfying.
Chez Palmyre, 5 rue Droite, 06300 Nice, France, +33 4 93 85 73 32
4) SEAFOOD PLATTER
P1430813No French Riviera experience is complete without having a Plateaux de la Mer of quivering oysters, bulots (whelks) and jumbo prawns. You can share with up to four friends for 50 euros at the famed Astoux & Brun in Cannes. I fêted a friend’s birthday there once with champagne and seafood. It is an experience immanquable.
Astoux et Brun, 27 Rue Félix Faure, 06400 Cannes, France, +33 4 93 39 21 87
5) SALADE DE CHÈVRE CHAUDE
This quintessential French salad is served with a crostini of warm goat cheese. Some may argue this dish would not count as la cuisine provençale, but you should not leave France unless you have had it!
salade-chevre-chaud1         There are different takes on hot cheese dishes; one version drenches a whole wheel of Camembert or chèvre with Calvados apple brandy or honey, then broils it in the oven.
         However a simple green salad with a tartine of chèvre chaude and paired with smoked duck breast (magret du canard fumé) like at Au Resto in Nice, is divine simplicity.
        At La Fourmi Toquée in Antibes, the cheese oozes over while baking and makes a crackling crust to be enjoyed with abandon.
Au Resto, 42 rue Droite, 06300 Nice, France, +33493796886
La Fourmi Toquée, 30 Rue Fourmillière, 06600 Antibes, France, +33 4 93 34 31 20
***

SOUPE DE POISSON AT HOME

rainy day in paris Soupe de poissons

            Whether you are planning a trip to the south of France, or want to revisit some wonderful food memories, making Soupe de Poisson will take you back to pastel coloured buildings and the azure seaside.

         The following recipe is from chef Anthony Bourdain, host of “No Reservations” and author of eight books, including best seller “Kitchen Confidential.” A 31-year veteran of professional kitchens, Bourdain is the executive chef at Les Halles in New York City.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 leeks, whites only, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 can (18 ounces) plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 pounds tiny whole fish (such as porgies or whiting), gutted with heads intact, or 4 pounds fish bones and heads
  • 1 bouquet Garni
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 3 strands of saffron
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 ounce Pernod
  • Rouille
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, leeks, and fennel and let them sweat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.

  2. Add tomatoes and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, then add the small fish or bones. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water to cover, as well as the bouquet garni and orange zest. Stir well; add saffron, a dash of salt and pepper, and Pernod. Lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.

  3. Remove pot from heat and let soup cool slightly. Taking care not to splatter or scald yourself, strain liquid into a large bowl. In the pot, crush the heads, bones, and vegetables as much as possible, then transfer that to the strainer. Push and squeeze every bit of liquid and solid goodness through with a mallet or heavy wooden spoon. Return to the pot.

  4. Bring the soup back up to heat and serve with croutons, rouille, and some grated Parmesan on the side. The idea is to smear a little rouille on the croutons, float them in the soup as garnish, and allow guests to sprinkle cheese as they wish.

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