There’s a lot to be said about French food, but the south is not where the best dishes originated. So while Nice is not a culinary hotspot, it has its high points. Among them are soupe de poisson (fish soup), farcis (stuffed vegetables), socca and panisse (starchy and savory things made from chick pea flour) and, my favorite sandwich in the whole world, the pan bagnat, which is essentially a Salade Nicoise in a bun.
Each season has its special market offerings. In autumn, the standouts are porcini mushrooms (cèpes) and the arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau wine.
In Italy, the porcini are an immense cause for celebration in markets and kitchens all over the north of the country. Here, there’s less of a to-do about them. I did find fresh ravioli with cèpes filling, and hit them up three times in one week. Oh, my, how sweetly earthy and distinctive a taste. In-between, I chopped up a bunch, cleaning off the dirt delicately with a sharp knife to preserve as much of the plant as possible, sautéd them in olive oil and garlic with some “giroles” (otherwise known as chanterelles or finferle).
I already can’t wait for Beaujolais Nouveau season 2019. This week was the launch of the 2018 dégustation, where wine bars and restaurants host tasting gatherings. There is no escaping the fact you are in France and no where else in the world if you participate in one, as I did. Bottles being poured for young and old, charcuterie and fromage being eaten, lots of jambon on small, crowded tables, ensconced wall-to-wall within the din of happiness.
The fruity young wine is a good quaff, but it’s not an exceptional vintage. Happily, that keeps the price of revelry to an affordable level. And you can take home a bottle for as little as 7 euro.