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!




Pangea, Popping Up at the CIA

by Anne Maxfield on March 16, 2015

Accidental Locavore Pangea FlatbreadA strong case could be made for letting the inmates run the asylum. Especially if said asylum is the new pop-up restaurant, Pangea, at the Culinary Institute. It’s been a long time since the Accidental Locavore has eaten well there, but a recent lunch more than made up for past disappointments.

“Pangea explores the world’s interconnected foodways while uniting and transforming them.” Yeah, whatever. What that translates to is a series of interconnected dishes that highlight the proteins with fruit, vegetables and grains. Each course has one dish served family style and one plated. If you’re there with a big group that difference might be more apparent, but as we were only two and one was a vegetarian, for us everything was essentially plated.

Accidental Locavore Pangea VeggiesIt’s a fixed menu, which the lazy Locavore prefers… so nice to have someone else figuring out “what’s for dinner” (or in this case lunch). It started out with a couple of bowls brought to the table, each topped with a plate adorned with a stripe of sauce and an array of the tiniest vegetables you’ve ever seen! Pity the poor commis who has to prep carrots and beets measured in millimeters! These were quickly swept into the bowl of vegetable broth (trendy broth moment noted). It was delicious and, miraculously, the also-minuscule croutons managed to stay crunchy throughout the bowl. That’s a technique I’d like to learn!

With the soup, flatbread with a trio of colorful dips. Beet hummus, garlic dal and an edamame salsa looked great and tasted as good as they looked! The edamame salsa was particularly good, a wonderful use for what can be a healthy but generally dull snack. This was mixed with garlic, jalapeño and cilantro—must try duplicating it at home!

Accidental Locavore Pangea Seafood BrothNext up, broth number two, this one also hitting another trend – adding pine needles to flavor things. My second broth had a mix of seafood—mussels, lobster and fish along with fregola in a retsina broth. Jack’s vegetarian version swapped the fish for an earthy mix of mushrooms. Accidental Locavore Pangea FriesVery skinny (and excellent) fries in a miniature fry basket showed no real sign of the pine needle flavoring except for the bough garnish.

Accidental Locavore Pangea Tomato SushiAlong with this were three pieces of sushi in a roll. While mine with fluke was first-rate, the vegetarian version was simply amazing! It looked like beautiful tuna-rich and red, but turned out to be tomato. I’m not sure how they did it (especially this time of year) but it tasted as good as it looked!

Accidental Locavore Pangea TagineThe third course was a tagine of house-smoked duck along with a roasted celery root. What made this interesting was that it was the winning dish that the student chefs had proposed. It was tasty and the pickled papaya with it was a nice contrast to the richness of the tagine. I liked the idea of “smoking” it with the charcoal, cinnamon stick and star anise. Accidental Locavore Pangea Roasted Celery RootOur server presented the celery root in its entirety, before it was removed to be carved. Roasted with thyme and honey, it was another dish that will definitely get tried at home.

Accidental Locavore Pangea Cheese PlateThere was a nice cheese plate with a pair of local cheeses, honey and a fruit paste and a mango-carrot sorbet and meringue that might actually have changed my mind about root vegetables not being dessert worthy. It was sitting on a bed of brown sugar crumble which added a nice crunch to everything.

Accidental Locavore Pangea DessertPangea will be open for lunch through May 5th and dinner through June 11th. It’s only open Monday through Friday (don’t get me started on why the CIA thinks it’s too tough for the students to work weekends) and because the student chefs could be overwhelmed at dinner, I think lunch is the better option.



Noshi’s Coney Island

by Anne Maxfield on August 18, 2014

Accidental Locavore Noshis Hot DogsLike the Accidental Locavore did, you could pass Noshi’s for ages without it registering in your consciousness. But if you did that, you’d be missing out on a really good local hot dog joint. At the end (or the beginning) of Main Street in Poughkeepsie there’s a faded sign, a couple of tables plopped on the sidewalk, and a warm welcome when you walk in.

Accidental Locavore Noshis Burger

A family-run place, it’s usually Dave, his wife, or one of his daughters ready to take your order. While hot dogs, in various combinations, are the house specialty, everything we’ve eaten there has been great! There are almost as many hamburger variations as hot dogs, and if that’s not enough for you, there are a couple of salads and some great sandwiches.

Accidental Locavore Noshis GyroWhat’s spoiled me from all other local diners is their gyro. Actually sliced from a spit (instead of those weird, diner-processed slices), the meat is then sautéed on the flat top, giving you a mix of nicely browned bits along with some tender inner pieces. All this is tossed on a griddled pita with tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomato and onions. Since I often leave most of the pita, Dave’s daughter whispered that you can order it as a salad. I’m not sure why it’s not as successful that way – maybe just too much lettuce in relationship to meat, but I prefer it as a sandwich (even if I eat it with a fork).

Accidental Locavore NoshisMy husband, when he’s not eating his way through the hot dog menu, loves the steak sandwich. This is high praise indeed from someone who comes from the home of highly-contested steak sandwiches – Philly! Real cheese and decent bread makes this a winner, and 168 miles closer. If Noshi’s were open past 5:00, I’d probably be cooking a lot less; as it is, Frank tries to keep it to a once-a-week lunch treat.








Lobster vs. Crab: Which is the Ultimate Roll?

by Anne Maxfield on August 26, 2013

Accidental Locavore Fried ClamsThere are mysteries about Manhattan that puzzle the Accidental Locavore and several of them have to do with seafood. Why, for example, in a city where there is cuisine from almost every country in the world, is it almost impossible to find an acceptable fried clam? Was it in the spirit of PT Barnum (“a sucker born every minute”) that someone decided that clam strips – the most inedible part of the clam – would be an acceptable fried food? As any New Englander (or anyone with taste buds) would tell you, the belly is the best part of a clam. Which is why the fried clams you get anywhere north of New York are far superior to anything found in the Big Apple.

Accidental Locavore Lobster Roll and FriesThe other mystery concerns one of the trendy foods of the moment – lobster rolls. A lobster roll is a fine thing to do with a lobster, if you, like my husband, are not inclined to mess with a whole lobster (however, there’s something really satisfying about working through a lobster and plopping it in melted butter). Lobster rolls certainly beat other permutations like lobster mac and cheese or lobster chop suey (can lobster macaroons be far behind?). However, it’s something that shouldn’t be messed with and adding caviar or vanilla is just plain wrong – ditto serving it in anything other than a buttered and toasted spilt-top hot dog roll.

Accidental Locavore Crabmeat RollWhat about its cousin, the crabmeat roll? Something never seen on a New York menu (when I did a Google search for it, only sushi came up). Possibly, it’s a labor thing – it’s a lot easier to break up a lobster (claws, tail, possibly a little body meat) and it comes in a bigger package. Crabs, especially the Maine varieties, are a lot smaller and harder to “pick.” But what you’re left with – the fine strands of crabmeat, tossed with just enough mayonnaise to hold it together, on a hamburger roll, lightly toasted on a grill until it just loses its chill – is about as good as a sandwich can get. Add some hot fries, a cold iced tea, a view of the ocean and you have my idea of the perfect summer lunch.