My apologies for the long silence. As I had mentioned in previous posts, I was in Nice for a wine qualification course. It was my second time in Nice and I got to explore small corners of the city more this time, and I actually enjoyed it more than I’d expected. Maybe it was because I was walking around in the evening under the influence of alcohol after tasting wines all day on the wine course, OR the city is nicer at night. Nice is Nicer at Nite? There’s lots of N, innit?
During the course, I thought tasting wines 9 to 5 seems like a great job and I wished that someone could pay ME for that, instead of the other way around. Even though I enjoyed starting the day by sipping wine in an empty stomach instead of breakfast, the alcohol effect would drag on throughout the day and there were moments at which I could no longer tell whether I was tipsy or sober.
The most anticipated moment was, without a doubt, lunchtime! Tasting wines all morning, you definitely crave food. I just gobbled down everything on the plate. The food, which was prepared every day according to the wines we were tasting, was so delicious, and the veal stew in the above photo is from the second day, the red wine day, and I am drinking Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the lush, red fruit-driven, big, earthy wine.And every evening after the course, the gastronomic adventure awaited me. I and my mentor from Bordeaux walked around small streets discovering good and interesting restaurants. Le Bistro d’Antoine, the first restaurant I tried, was absolutely SUPERB, satisfying all my gastronomic desires and demands; the cozy and lively ambience, the well-presented and genuine French cuisine, the very attentive yet discreet staff and service. It was so heavenly and a little nostalgic. Of course, I had magret de canard since it’d been a year since I left France. One of the criterias by which I distinguish good restaurants from bad ones is “bread”, and their bread was such high quality that I was sure, even before the food came to the table, that it was going to be great, and I was right. I indulged myself so much, eating much more than I could possibly manage, but that was the whole purpose of the 4-day food and wine trip. One of the highlights was Bouillabaisse, the French Provençal fish stew from Marseille. It was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. The super, aromatic saffron broth, in which croutons were to be dipped with garlic ailoi, almost had me collapse to the floor in extreme delight.
My sincere thank goes to L’Aarche Saleya, and I could have polished off your delicate lavender creme brulee like I did the fish stew, but it was too much for the night. On the last evening, we spotted Le Comptoir du Marche and I couldn’t resist going inside because of the bread and wine bottles on display. So we went in only to be told that the place operated only on reservation basis. Well, fair enough. Sometimes it is a good indicator for quality restaurants, so that place will definitely go on the list for my next visit.
So the refused entry to the restaurant and our hungry tummies led us to settling for a cheap and cheerful meal at Bar du Coin, where I ate not only delicious but huge pizzas: jambon and goat cheese; 4 seasons with artichoke, jambon and capers. There I learned about the olive oil infused with peri peri chili that people drizzle over pizza. I’d gone through different phases of love affair with chili heat, from tabasco, pickled jalapeno and NZ’s Kaitaia Fire to Nando’s,but I’d never thought about making this simple chili sauce. I was utterly speechless and thought I’d make it as soon as I go back home. It is so nice to have just a little kick of chili heat without killing the main flavours. Nice, nice, nice….
The long coastal walkway, Promenade des Anglais, was pretty impressive and beautiful, quite different to how I remembered it as. Sometimes memories can distort over time; perhaps I should check the old photos of Nice. This time I observed interesting architectural characteristics of Nice, old and new styles, and some buildings looked like paintings with illusionistic depth, giving the buildings and streets quite an atmospheric and surreal feel. With the concerns I had about the city’s touristic reputation prior to the trip, the vibrant culture and gastronomic experience I had there, a mix of French, Italian and North Africa, was a nice surprise.