While many French regions will claim their cuisine is the finest in France, there’s something about Provence and the Cote d’Azur that gives it an edge. Almost certainly the climate plays a part, for who can resist sitting outside a Provencal restaurant and eating a selection of the region’s famed dishes. Shopping in the local markets is an experience too. One of the most famous, the Cours Saleya market in NIce, for example, is an experience that will delight any lover of fine food.
A short city break in Nice offers so many culinary delights that it’s worth a trip at any time of the year, although August does find the city so packed that the best restaurants may be difficult to get into. August is famously the time the French enjoy a month of relaxation, although the traffic, noise and bustle makes Nice somewhat less relaxing than normal.
Cheap flights to Nice make it a very easy to get to while the superb French railway network, with half a dozen fast trains a day from Paris, mean you can enjoy Nice without having to fly. There’s probably a wider choice of hotels and apartments than any French city, with the sole exception of Paris. And while Paris may have now installed its artificial beach on the banks of the Seine, it cannot compare with the delights of Nice’s beach and the Promenade des Anglais.
Eating on the beach can be a delight too. Many of the ‘private’ beaches not only offer the comfort of an umbrella and pair of sunbeds, their restaurant would put many city centre establishments elsewhere to shame. They are not cheap, but for sheer pleasure, sitting on the beach, sipping a chilled Provencal rosé wine and feasting on top quality food takes some beating. And afterwards you can be back on to your sunbed, relaxing, and then slipping into the water for a cooling swim.
Enjoying ‘Nicoise’ specialties can start at breakfast each day. Socca is an institution, and for football fans from the States, this particular ‘Socca’ has nothing to do with the ‘beautiful game’! It’s a flat round bread sandwich that’s the basis for some of the most interesting sandwiches ever made.
One of the best is theiao sedais, a delicious fish and onion sandwich that’s also known as ‘sautéed vegetables’. The ingredients in this sandwich are scrambled eggs, sautéed greens, and the star of the sandwich is the addition of finely chopped herbs. The result is a fusion of flavors, and when combined with the saltiness of the egg, the strong flavor of the vegetables and the buttery flavor of the butter helps to make a superb experience.
Bloody Marys and Martinis
You can enjoy a cold pint of BarBeQue in the afternoon and while you’re enjoying the day out with your friends, you can pick up a few interesting recipes to try. Bloody Mary and Martini glasses are fairly common, but if you’re in the interior of France, you might be lucky enough to find something different. The blood of the animal is wasted to make this drink, and it’s said that the flavor is much lessened by the way the meat is cooked.
While you’re in town, there’s a surprisingly vibrant art scene taking up space in the Creative Kitchen. Over the past five years, this scene has brought together chefs who are as well known for their creativity with their food as they are for their techniques. New York, Boston, Pennsylvania, and California are all hotbeds for culinary learning, but for chefs who are willing to try their hand at cooking, France is one of the best places to learn. The French generally get their food from a larger supply of livestock and fish than their American counterparts, so there isn’t the need for as much seasoning. The local kitchens are able to get by on fresh ingredients alone, so grits and other traditional southern foods are made to compliment this type of cooking perfectly.
The best chefs learn from their mistakes, so while these recipes are not always going to beados, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what they’re missing.