Sunday, July 27, 2008

Unique culinary experiences in the Cote d'Azur

Since we head for Cote d’Azur next week and will be covering from Saint-Tropez to Monte Carlo, I made a list of some of the more unique culinary enticements along the way. I figured there was no downside to sharing this publicly for anyone who might be head to the Cote d’Azur and researching their trip. These are a couple of things I compiled from the book “A Taste of Provence” by Francie Jouanin.

Roquebrune-Sur-Argens / Robert Bedot Master Cheesemaker

Robert Bedot is a master cheesemaker in the town Roquebrune-Sur-Argens. Especially recommended are the freerange goats. Their cheese varies from time of year as the different herbs of Provence mature. The aromas of the cheese take on the seasonal fresh herbs that the goats eat.

Iles de Lerins
A small island that requires a short boat ride (about 30 minutes) from Cannes Harbor. There is a beautiful fortified abbey where monks make some unique wines. Their white is 50% Clairette, 25% Ugni Blanc and 25% chardonnay. They also make a red consisting of 90% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre. They also make a traditional Lerina liqueur that is over 100 years old made from 44 plants, most of which they grow themselves or grow wild on the island. They also make a number of other highly distinct and unique liqueurs that sound amazing – Vervain, mandarin orange, and then a herb one (thyme, summer savory, orange blossom and other secret flowers). Sounds like a super unique out of the way trip to make.

Confectioner Florian in Pont-Du-Loup
A confectioner that specializes in making special candies made of violets, jasmine, citrust fruit and roses. They also make violet jellies and candied fruits.

Foods to definitely try:

Sacco: Chickpea and olive oil flatbread that is quite common in Nice. Recommended with a glass of chilled Rose.

Poutine: Tiny fried or poached fish, usually sardines or shad or young sprat. Srved with oilive oil and lemon juice.

Candied fruits: Nice (and Provence as a whole) is known for its candied fruits. It is suggested starting with the most mild flavored ones (apricots, plums, strawberries and fix, then to more intense tropical fruits such as kiwi, pineapple and melon and finishing with the most flavorful, clemintines, oranges and kumquats. Especially recommended by this the Taste of Provence book is the Confectioner Auer which is a 5th generation family business opened in 1820. The book recommends a toasted almond covered in chocolate tossed in powdered cocoa. There’s another one called the marron glace which I would love to try because I love chestnuts.

Porcheta: Stuffed, sliced suckling pig. Sounds like heaven for a Chinaman.

Pissaladiere: Anchovy tart that is native to Nice.

Ugni blanc: Varietal of regional white wine grape.

Other probably more obvious items on the list: Ratatouille nicoise, nicoise salade, different varietals of lemons from Menton, stuffed zucchini blossoms

I'll report back with thoughts during our trip.

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