Eating in Nice

Food in France is generally an adventure. If there’s something the French do well it’s food. Nice was a place for many firsts and wonderful experiences for the palate (if you could in fact taste anything with your palate…). It’s been a while since we were there, but I had to write this down. If we ever go back there are places I’d revisit, and if you’re going to Nice, you should check these out.

Ice-cream 

There’s only one place you need to go for ice-cream in Nice and that’s Fenocchio. Being so close to the Italian border the French in this area do ice-cream just as well as the Italians. And the man to go to is Fenocchio, a company that’s been around now for some time. Fenocchio boasts a number, and a LARGE number at that, of different flavours. You’ll find anything you can think of and the repertoire is changed every year, some flavours fall out new ones are tried. I had a go at rose and tomato/basil. Tomato/basil was refreshing and surprisingly good, but not quite like the traditional, sweet, desert-like type of ice-cream. Rose became a bit too much after only a few bites. Daughter on the other hand ate them both as if it was the best she ever had (but then she’s like that with everything she eats…). Anyway, Fenocchio, recommended!

Ice cream from Fenocchio, tomato-basil and rose. Eating in Nice. DelightfulchatterIce-cream. Eating in Nice. Delightfulchatter

Market 

The market with local fruit. Eating in Nice. Delightfulchatter


We lived near the Saleya market and thus this is the market we visited. I’ve been told there are larger and more impressive food markets around Nice, with fewer tourists, but we didn’t venture too far from our base. The market was still great. Except for the fruits and vegs and everyday-food I would recommend you to buy home fruit vinegars (I have mango and passion-fruit), lavender honey (no less that two large jars, it, is, that, good) and the flower (rose, lavender, etc) syrups.

Socca

We had already been out walking all day when we decided to go try some Socca. We did not know what Socca was, except that it was a specialty from Nice. We hit the streets and took to walking to a restaurant that I had been recommended, Chez Pipo. We were starving when we got there. And that was a mistake. They served socca, which was very good, with different pastes and sauces. It was good, quite different to anything I’ve had before. But for six hungry vikings it was not very filling. I’ve seen hints that Pipo also serves other dishes, but for some reason there was not much else while we were there. But while in Nice you have to try the socca, and to try the socca, you have to go to Pipo.

IMG_9575

Lou Pistou 

The real gem in Nice is the cosy, warm and intimate restaurant Lou Pistou. The restaurant is run by a couple who serve homemade, traditional dishes from the Nice area. We had to visit multiple times, there was so much deliciousness and such a perfect little place. In September we had no trouble getting a table. In summer, I’ve been told, the line is long. But no matter how long the line is the food is worth it. We tried almost all local specialties on the menu, and I would recommend them all. What I remember best are the filled vegetables and the deep-fried courgette flowers, surprisingly delicious.

Stuffed veggies. Eating in Nice. Delightfulchatter

Mini-pies DelightfulChatter

Take away mini-pies from Lou Pistou

http://www.chezpipo.fr

http://www.fenocchio.fr

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187234-d1104800-Reviews-Lou_Pistou-Nice_French_Riviera_Cote_d_Azur_Provence.html

Breakfast in Cannobio

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 20.52.55

Living in Cannobio was a dream. Every morning I would go for a short walk to the local baker where I bought freshly baked bread for breakfast. There are a few bakers along the main road, but I talked to someone at the hotel to hear where they would buy their bread and I was directed to a small narrow street behind the church. In September the town was no longer crowded by tourists and it was nice to see where the Italians themselves went to buy their food.

Eating out in Cannobio – the hidden gem

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 20.52.31The restaurants by the lake were similar and offered much of the same food. We tried a few and can no longer remember their names, but we were satisfied with what they had to offer and they were cooperative in finding food that our baby girl, then 9 months, could eat. But then
, we visited a well hid restaurant for lunch one day. We had been given an address and set out to find it. We were very insecure when we found the street and street number. We could not find anything that looked like a restaurant. But looking closer, the gravel-covered parking Hid a building with a gate that looked less private than the houses around. We entered a courtyard with tall trees that cast shadow over most of the open space. On the walls around us hang memorabilia from past farming and vintage images. At the tables sat Italian men smoking, eating and talking. They were mostly workers on their lunch breaks, all locals.

We didn’t get much attention, except for the glances from the people around us who were not used to tourists invading their space. Even the staff didn’t seem thrilled to see us. And nobody spoke English, anywhere, when we did they answered in Italian. When I tried German, they answered in Italian. When I tried French, they answered in Italian. When I tried in Italian, they were a little more cooperative. They warmed up to us after a while. But the breaking point came when they served us a small basket of bread. And the bread is the reason for this post! We didn’t try anything special at the restaurant (the insalata mista was nothing to brag about, the gorgonzola pasta was good, the pizza was delicious, but it was not what the locals ate). But the gem! The bread! It was baked in a stone oven. It’s been given time to rise, time to develop that amazing flavour. Heat enough to set a crust so crispy, and resilient, and savoury, and… well, you know exactly what I mean. Huge air-bubbles in the crumb showed off a gluten web so intricate and beautiful that nothing but love and patience can create. A drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt made the bread truly a divine experience. We complimented the bread and they gave us some more, along with that came a smile. A ciao for the kids while they ruffled their hair. We felt well taken care of. And the bread, yes, that bread.

 

Norwegian cuisine: Fastelavnsboller – exquisite sweet rolls with cream

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe

Fastelavn is the three days before lent. The word derives from low-German and means the evening before lent, it also tells of Norway’s religious history and influences: lent is a Catholic tradition, while Norway is primarily Protestant, much of the tradition has been brought to the country through German influences. Lent starts seven weeks before Easter, which would be now on Wednesday. Today is the last Sunday before lent. Traditionally the days before lent were days where you could feast before the 40 days of fasting, consequently the days before lent are in Norway called ‘fleskesøndag’ (lard Sunday), ‘fleskemandag’ (Monday) and ‘feitetirsdag’ (fat Tuesday).

The Christian traditions were mixed with heathen traditions of fertility. ‘Fastelavnsris’, twigs from a birch-tree decorated with colourful feathers, are sold by a non-governmental organisation for women’s health in all supermarkets the Saturday before fastelavn. Historically the ‘ris’ was used on married, young women who had yet not born children and to fight of winter. Norwegians might have invented friendly spanking…

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe Today much of this is lost. The meaning of it is not given much thought, but a combination of the earlier traditions lives on. Today is, by the man in the street, called ‘fastelavn’ or ‘bollesøndag’ (sweet-roll Sunday). The modern tradition involves exquisite sweet-rolls, the dough similar to that of the French brioche, served with cream and a sprinkle of icing sugar. And the tradition still stands strong. Last year my parents visited for ‘fastelavn’ and my mother made the rolls. Here is her recipe:

Makes 12-16 rolls:
3,5 dl whole milk
50 grams of fresh yeast
100 grams of butter
1 dl sugar
500 grams of flour
1 egg
1 t cardamom

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe

Melt the butter and mix with the milk. Make sure it’s not too hot when you add the yeast. Add the egg and mix with the dry ingredients. Knead the dough and leave to rise until it has doubled in size under a plastic cover (the plastic will keep the moist from vaporising). Roll out and leave to rise while the oven heats up to about 200 degrees Celcius. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and delicious. Try and wait until the rolls are cool before you slice them in two and add whipped cream (mix the whipped cream with custard cream if you feel decadent) and serve with a sprinkle of icing sugar. Many also serve with a layer of jam (raspberry or strawberry) and a thin slice of marzipan.

ChatteringAnne: Norwegian tradition Fastelavn. Sweet roll recipe

Norwegian Cuisine: Taco Spice Mix

Delightful chatter - Taco Spice Mix

One of Norway’s most popular dishes is taco. Yes, very logical and oh so Scandinavian, but we still love it. Many Norwegians eat taco once a week and Friday night seems to be the days where most of us devour our tacos. Well, to be honest, to call it taco might be seriously offensive to those who really know what taco really is, or can be, but it is easily pronounced, easily made, and totally tasty!

Many Norwegians eat the processed versions you find in the store: salsa in a jar, quacamole in a tin, and taco spice mix out of a paper bag. Of course these do not taste like or contain the same as the real deal, but many can’t look past the quick fix. A few years ago I came across a recipe for a mix-yourself-taco-spice-mix, I tried it and have never after gone back to the one-portion bag from the store. This is better in so many ways: it tastes better, it’s cheaper and you control the amount of salt you use. It takes you ten minutes to make the first time, and then your set for several Friday-night-tacos to come.

(! Tablespoons)
3 T chilli powder
1,5-2 T sea salt
2 T cumin
2 T powdered paprika

(! teaspoons)
2,5 t garlic powder
2,5 t crushed chilli flakes2,5 t dried oregano
1-2 t cayenne pepperDelightful chatter - Taco Spice Mix

Norwegians normally use mince meat, and for 400 grams I use one large tablespoon of spice-mix. I also toss in a small teaspoon in salsa and guacamole. The mix is, of course, also perfect for mexican inspired soups or casseroles.

Please let me know if you try!

Kakemenn – Norwegian christmas cookies

Kakemenn is always a favourite among the kids. It’s sweet, very mild in taste and, like the pepperkaker, they are shaped in various recognisable figures. They are very easy to make and the ingredients are items you most likely already have in your cupboards. Kakemenn is to me important come christmas, and I never go a year without making them.

Kakemenner

The recipe is very straightforward and easy. Just mix all ingredients together (but do feel free to reduce the recipe – we used about half this year):

1 kg of white wheat flour
0,5 kg of sugar
4 teaspoons of horn salt (“Horn salt (also hartshorn) is used in traditional Norwegian baked goods as a leavening agent. Modern horn salt is ammonium bicarbonate.In the USA it can be purchased at the pharmacy” says this site)
85 grams of butter
4 dl of milk

Kakemenn'As with the pepperkake-dough, the kakemenn-dough must also be cold before it’s easy to work with. The dough doesn’t need to be as thin as the pepperkake dough, I would set the thickness of it to double that of the pepperkaker, see this post. The kakemenn are baked at 200 degrees until they get a wee bit of a tan. They should still be white-ish, so about the colour of a Scandinavian in April would do.

Never stand too close to the oven when opening the oven-door, and never get the horn salt too close to your nose. You have been warned! (sneezing and swearing could occur!)

Strawberry jam

Strawberries are probably the best thing about summer and to preserve them is a way of having that wee bit of summer all year round. I have made tons of jam this year, it’s my very first time trying, but it’s so easy, it’s something I’ll be doing every year!

When making strawberry jam you have two options: you can just mix the strawberries together or you can boil them. The flavours of the two types are very different! I wrote about the easiest version here. Boiling the berries will however preserve them better, have them last longer, and will not be as runny as strawberries that have simply been whisked together. It’s still easy as pie (actually a lot easier than pie…)

Add as many strabwerries as you have to a fitting pot. Strawberries can be fresh, but you can also buy frozen berries. No need to defrost. Add to the pot and place the pot on low heat. Put a lid on and go do whatever you want for half an hour or so. Come back and take the lid off. This will send those wonderful odours travelling around the house giving you memories of summer and sunny days. The strawberries will turn into mush, a lovely pinkish-red mush. For every pound (half a kilo) of berries you have add about 3/4 of a teaspoon worth of agar. After adding the agar you let the mush boil for about two minutes (turn the heat up and make sure to stir often) before you turn the heat way down low again. Add as much sugar as you (or any other type of sweetener) but make sure you taste while adding. You’ll never know just how sweet the berries are without any added sweetener, if you don’t taste! Add the sugar and let it dissolve (it will do so almost immediately).

Leave the jam in the pot and wait until it reaches room-temperature before placing in the fridge. You can also can the jam or freeze it. And what an easy way to have home made fresh jam any time of the year! Enjoy!