While the joke answer to what does a locavore eat in the South of France might be “whatever they want” (as long as it was grown 100 miles/161 km from where they are…), the Accidental Locavore ate a lot of great food and most of it was local and fresh. You know your locavore choices are much better in a mild climate where olive oil, lemons and other citrus, along with amazing vegetables and good wines, are all from just down the road.
One of the “old standbys,” to quote my mother, is Le Safari in the old town of Nice by the market. We often go there for lunch, usually split a pizza from the wood burning oven and a classic salad Nicoise. One of the big differences in their salad dressings? More olive oil. On our last day in Nice at Safari, asparagus with fois gras was the special and as crazy as it sounds, made a great pairing with the pizza and a glass of rosé.
Another delicious thing to eat over there is steak tartare and if you’ve been reading the Accidental Locavore for a while, you know it’s always been a favorite. Frank was particularly fond of a version we discovered at a café in Antibes. It was essentially DIY steak tartare, with the chopped steak surrounded by ramekins containing: an egg yolk, minced shallot, chopped cornichons, Dijon mustard and chopped parsley. On table to mix in, Worchester sauce and Tabasco. I’m going to start adding chopped cornichons to my steak tartare and thanks to Charcutepalooza for this month’s meat grinding challenge, grinding my own steak.
Our last meal we went to a new (to us) place in Vence, a lovely hill town about 40 minutes drive northeast of Nice. As an amuse gueule we were served a pea puree bruleé. In a couple of weeks when the peas are local and fresh, I have to try to make this. It seemed to be peas pureed with heavy cream, topped with fresh breadcrumbs tossed with Parmesan. It looked good and tasted better.
For the Accidental Locavore the biggest surprise? An amazing daube de boeuf, the local version of a beef stew, served on the terrace in the old, walled town of Vence. What made it so good? The addition of orange zest (and a little orange juice?). Daube is traditionally served over tiny ravioli (don’t forget, back in the day this was all Roman territory), in this case it was over gnocchi which made it even better in my mind. As soon as we get a cool night, I’m looking for a recipe and giving this a shot.
What’s your favorite meal from the South of France? What would you like to see me try to duplicate here?