Unlike Lyon, Nice isn’t known as a capital of gastronomy but it should be! Many of its restaurants represent both well-established tradition and inventive cuisine based on ingredients that are local, fresh and delicious … Here’s a small sample and some tips on where to try them.
The Niçoise Salad
No, you can’t just throw a Niçoise Salad together with whatever you have to hand. It requires high-quality olive oil and fresh produce, ideally from local suppliers.
The real Niçoise Salad combines the flavours of sun-ripened tomatoes, poivrade artichokes, green peppers, radishes, slivers of spring onions, a handful of fresh broad beans and small black olives. The addition of hard-boiled eggs, a tin of tuna and a few anchovy fillets adds flavour and makes it a substantial meal.
A good quality olive, a little garlic, salt, pepper, and a scattering of basil leaves are used for seasoning.
For the best salade niçoise head to l’Escalinada in Nice
Pissaladière (olive and anchovy tart)
To make a good pissaladière (an essential addition to any cold niçois meal or as an appetiser with pre-dinner drinks), home-made pastry is best: top the flatbread-style dough (similar to a pizza-crust) with finely chopped onions gently fried in olive oil. Spread the onion mixture over the base and top with anchovy fillets and a few black olives.
Bake this pissaladière for about twenty minutes in a hot oven. It’s delicious and nourishing.
Where can you polish off a good pissaladière in Nice? La Socca d’Or, rue Bonaparte
La Soupe au Pistou (vegetable and basil soup)
To make an authentic Soupe au Pistou, wash and dice fresh onions, leeks, carrots, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes that have been deseeded and peeled, local green courgettes and fresh borlotti beans. Sweat the onions and leeks with thyme, bay leaf and a clove of garlic. Add the carrots, borlotti beans and a large quantity of chicken stock, cook for 30 minutes, then add the potatoes, turnips and fine pasta such as broken spaghetti.
While it’s cooking, use a pestle and mortar to prepare the pistou (pesto). Pound the basil, pine nuts, parmesan and a clove of garlic with olive oil.
Serve the soup with a spoonful of the pistou. A real treat!
Fancy a good soupe au pistou in Nice? Chez Pipo!
Petits farcis niçois (stuffed Provencal vegetables)
This dish takes a little time and patience. Scoop out fresh onions and round courgettes before blanching them (or you can use tomatoes). Drain the flesh then mix it with parmesan, garlic and a little basil. Carefully stuff the scooped out vegetables with the filling. Place them in a gratin dish greased with butter. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, add a drizzle of olive oil or a knob of butter and bake for about 20 minutes at 180°. Eat with a mesclun side salad.
Try petits farcis niçois at La Voglia near cours Saleya
La Tarte aux figues (fig tart)
Make a shortcrust pastry and add 50g of icing sugar and a sachet of orange blossom water extract. Line a tart tin and prick it with a fork. Blind bake (using baking paper and chickpeas to prevent it from rising). Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes.
After removing it from the oven, sprinkle a layer of fine gingerbread crumbs over the tart case, then fresh fig quarters and scatter knobs of butter over the top. Sprinkle with sugar then return to the oven for around 10 minutes until the figs are cooked and the topping is brown and golden.
Fancy a gourmet tarte aux figues? In season you can buy or order one from LAC
And once you have tasted all these you can dream of Nice, a colourful city under a bright blue sky with delicious culinary specialities.
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