Markets, On and Off the Beaten Track

by Anne Maxfield on January 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Liberation MarketThere’s something everyone always searches out when they’re traveling. For my father, it’s hardware stores, for the Accidental Locavore, it’s markets. And when it comes to markets, the one in the old town of Nice is pretty much the standard. Beautiful flowers, perfect produce, it’s hard to find fault with it. However, I’ve known for a while about the “real” market in Nice–where the folks who live there shop. It’s in Liberation, one stop north on the tram from the train station. I hopped on the tram the other day and went up to check it out.

Accdental Locavore Purple ArtichokesWhere the Cours Salaya market is fairly compact, the one at Liberation ambles on for blocks. It’s almost exclusively produce and there’s a lot of repetition, but if you look carefully you’ll find treasures like these beautiful purple artichokes. Prices are lower too, but if you figure in the tram ride it’s probably a wash unless you’re stocking up (something that most French people never do).

Accidental Locavore Scallops

Down a side street, you’ll find fish mongers selling everything from the tiniest anchovies to whole fish to scallops still in the shell. It’s supposed to be the best place in Nice to get seafood and you can easily see why.

Accidental Locavore Lots of Lettuce

I took home a couple of the purple artichokes and some lettuce to go with a roast chicken from the local butcher. Like a lot of purple food, once cooked, the artichokes lost their color, but were still delicious, a little more citrus tasting than the ones we get at home.

Accidental Locavore Antibes Market

For sheer variety, there’s always the market in Antibes. Very dog-friendly, as you can see, there are a huge variety of goodies to choose from. Along with produce, you’ll find some great charcuterie, local products like olive oils and tubs of tapenades.

Accidental Locavore Olives Antibes

I’ve been on a mission to find green olives with garlic like they have at Le Passe-Plat. Although I still don’t think these were quite as good, I seem to have eaten half the container already (and am looking for an excuse to go back to Antibes for more).

Accidental Locavore Cheese Vendor Antibes

While the cheese guy was easy on the eyes and the cheese was good, I resisted and went on to find Frank a bottle of pastis from his favorite place and had a great lunch of steak tartare and frites.

Accidental Locavore Steak Tartare in Antibes

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It Started With Olives

by Anne Maxfield on January 25, 2016

Accidental Locavore Green Olives and PitsIt started with the olives…small and green with garlic and herbs. Six, to be savored while sipping wine and waiting for the main course. Well worth searching out.

Accidental Locavore Nice PortTo be truthful, it actually started out the other day when the Accidental Locavore was walking around the port. In another year or two it will once again be spectacular, but for now, it’s a glorified construction zone, awaiting the continuance of the tram. I saw a cute place on the corner and the menu looked interesting, so I filed it away for a future lunch.

Accidental Locavore le Passe Plat InteriorLe passe-plat is an open room, casual, with lamps perched on top of piles of wine boxes. There’s an open kitchen – rare for here, filled with copper pots, mason jars with spices and a handsome chef, Anthony Coppet, straight from central casting, dark hair, piercing blue eyes and two days’ stubble.

I went in, curious about the pot au feu with Thai spices, but ended up with the plat du jour. On this particular jour, it was a veal steak with a wild mushroom cream sauce and mashed potatoes.

Accidental Locavore Veal With Cream SauceThe veal turned out to be grilled and had that great grilled taste. The cream sauce was wonderful, with lots of mushrooms and possibly just a hint of Roquefort. There were a couple of cherry tomatoes as garnish, roasted into sweetness. And what can you say about mashed potatoes? It’s France and they were great!

One of the things I always wonder about here is why most restaurant tables have four legs. It’s what French Morning NY would call a question bête, but here’s my answer – more room for dogs to stretch out. It struck me as amusing that the couple sitting by the window (with a dog) had risotto with scallops, which were served in a dish that had an uncanny resemblance to a dog’s bowl. Just saying.

Accidental Locavore Cheese Board in NiceExpanding on my vocabulary, I learned that the ardoise de fromages was what I was hoping for – a cheese plate, and since ardoise means slate, it arrived on a handsome slab. On the slate were a Brie, a chèvre rolled in herbs, a gooey vacherin and a semi-soft cheese like a mild Pont-l’Évêque. They were all good and worked well together and with the fig compote, but the chèvre was outstanding! Another thing to try to hunt down. I was happy and will be back to try the pot au feu soon.

 

 

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Nice With Lots of Lunches

by Anne Maxfield on January 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Beach at Lunch

Sometimes, here in Nice, it’s hard for the Accidental Locavore to realize it’s January. Even though it wasn’t particularly warm last Sunday, the sun was bright and there were lots of people lunching on the beach (and a few brave souls taking a swim).

Accidental Locavore Market Guys

I wandered through the old city and ran into these guys, selling all sort of local cheeses and charcuterie. The older man in the black hat was a quintessential Niçoise and had probably had a few too many photos taken as he hid behind his iPad after this shot (ah, technology), but his cohort was happy to mug for the camera.

Accidental Locavore Soup de Poissons

Since it’s been on the cool side, after a long walk through the port, a bowl of soupe de poissons seemed like the perfect lunch. Unlike Italians, the French have no qualms about mixing seafood with cheese–in this case Gruyère. However, my favorite part is the toast with aïoli. Little rafts floating in the soup, added at different times so there are crunchy ones and softer pieces. If the aïoli is really good (sadly, this one came from a jar) and no one is looking, I just put it in straight, it gives a creaminess and an extra garlic kick to the soup.

Accidental Locavore Chevre Crepe

One of my goals here is to walk every day. It’s the one thing Frank and I both miss the most from living in the city and so far, goal achieved. Exploring my neighborhood and thinking about lunch, I passed Turkish, Thai, Chinese, French (of course) restaurants and nothing was really calling my name until I went by a crêperie. Although it was totally empty, it still looked inviting. My choice; a galette (savory, buckwheat crêpe) with chèvre and smoked duck breast. As you can see, it was a perfect triangle, with crispy buttery corners and a creamy center. Butter, cheese and duck–just what I wanted with the slightly bitter salad making a nice contrast. Sadly, not enough room for a dessert crêpe, but I can always go back!

Accidental Locavore Chocolate Caramel

Speaking of dessert, here’s the next one in my quest to eat my way through the chocolate treats at Patisserie Lac. This one is called Guerande and it’s chocolate mousse with a center of salted caramel. And yes, it was as good as it looks!

 

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Tasting Le Bon Magot’s Condiments

by Anne Maxfield on January 18, 2016

Accidental Locavore Le Bon Magot ChutneysThe Accidental Locavore met Naomi at the spice blending class at La Bôite. She’s the brains behind Le Bon Magot, a new line of condiments. As the website says: “Le Bon Magot – ‘the hidden treasure’ – celebrates a family’s lifelong culinary adventure across Africa, Middle East and South Asia.”

Currently there are three different products and I was eager to try them all. So eager, that when I picked them up from Naomi, I grabbed a plastic spoon from a coffee shop and sampled them all while I was waiting for my train!

There’s a white pumpkin and almond murabba (a sweet preserve). If you like pumpkin and can’t wait for fall and all the pumpkin-spiced whatever, this is going to be your favorite. It’s light and not too sweet, with cardamom, vanilla and the crunch of almonds. Try it with pork, or top some yogurt with it for breakfast with a kick.

Accidental Locavore Le Bon Magot LineNext up was the brinjal caponata. A riff on traditional caponata, this time the eggplant teams up with cumin, curry leaves and capers. My first thought was to pair it with lamb chops, so I did. Of course lamb and eggplant are always a good match, so this was kind of a no-brainer (and yes, it was delicious). If you wanted to go in another direction, it would be great slathered on some toasted bread in a version of a bruschetta.

Last but not least was the tomato and white sultana chutney. The minute I tasted this in Grand Central, I ran over to Murray’s Cheese for some Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. As it turned out, the guy waiting on me was the same one from a few minutes before. He tried the chutney and loved it so much that I gave him the label from the bag Naomi had given me and told him Murray’s should start carrying it. It was great with the cheddar! Since I had the lamb chops going, I also tasted them with the chutney. It was even better than with the caponata! In the spirit of experimentation, we also put some cream cheese on a baguette and topped it with the chutney and liked that too. It would make a simple and delicious appetizer the next time we have dinner guests. Naomi says to use it in place of ketchup, so there’s a burger waiting in my future.

Accidental Locavore Le Magot RaisinAs a special treat, I met with Naomi recently and she gave me a sneak preview of what she’s cooking up next. There’s a delicious savory granola and a raisin and rose petal compote. The compote would be wonderful with a good chèvre on a nice olive crisp, like the ones from David Lebovitz’s book. Hmm, I think there’s some in my freezer…

Also in work is the sultana’s lemon-saffron preserve with caraway and crystallized honey and coming in the summer, a blackberry compote to take advantage of the summer’s bounty – I can’t wait! If you’d like to try them, the first three are available on the website. Enjoy!

 

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