In Nice

Nice Salts

Flavored Salts of Every Imaginable Variety at Lou Pantai

I’ve only been twice, and just for a day each time, but culinarily speaking, Nice is my mini-Mecca.  It’s an enclave unto itself, with its own food that no one else makes, and its hectic vielle ville, the old part of the city with crooked streets and little shops.  I plan to go hungry, so I can fill up on all the things I can only find there: socca, beignets, petits farcis.  Soccas are giant chickpea flour crêpes, but they are made with olive oil, and are savory, and crisp around the edges and crumbly inside.  I adore socca, and have never found it anywhere else.  Beignets are, like in New Orleans, little fried puffy fritters, but in Nice, they are stuffed with zucchini flowers and, again, are savory.  And petits farcis are vegetables, like zucchini, stuffed with meat and spices.  There is also pissaladière, that fantastic Provençal pizza covered in soft, sweet onions instead of sauce, and topped with anchovies and olives instead of cheese.  And, the best ice cream at Fenocchio, which has three cases of flavors (only one is pictured below) with classic flavors, and out-of-this-world flavors, like spekuloos, after those insanely cinnamon Belgian cookies, and riz au lait, or rice pudding.  And then, there are the absurd flavors, which are my favorite, made with the produce of the region: black olive, tomato and basil, rosemary, thyme, poppy, lavender, orange flower, verbena.  They’re not just novelty; they are actually really truly excellent, and it’s such an adventure going there.

For my day in Nice, I did what any sensible girl would do: I hit the soldes (sales) at Petit Bateau and Princesse Tam-Tam.  And when that was successfully completed, I found my way to Lou Pilha Leva, a street food vendor for all the foods I listed before.  That’s the best part of Nice–all the best delicacies are so casual.  You just sit at one of the broad benched tables, and share.  I bought two soccas for the three of us, and we had them with frothy, cold Kronenbourg.  They were salty, crisp, perfect–just enough to take the edge off.  One the way to dinner, I stopped in at a little bakery and bought a lavender navette, a little crisp tea cookies shaped like a boat, with dried lavender blossoms baked in.  And then, to dinner at La Tapenade, a little corner café where I had a fantastic ratatouille, and tagliatelle pistou (not an authentic version–but it wasn’t bad).  After a bottle of rosé, we broken heartedly watched the other tables with their crème caramel and chocolate mousse, but we were steadfast.  We got up, and marched to Fenocchio.  There’s no tasting, so I had to choose very wisely.  My mom and M. Français shared vanilla, coffee, and spekuloos.  But for me, I restrict myself to the local corner.  Orange flower ice cream and thyme sorbet.  The thyme sorbet was genius–cold, fresh, different but somehow not unfamiliar.  And the orange flower ice cream was just slightly fragrant, and much less sweet than the more “normal” flavors.  I loved them.  After that, I shared my lavender navette among the three of us as we hopped the automated trolley to our car.  I was honestly devastated at the thought I might not have another socca for years.

Fenocchio Flavors

The "absurd" corner of flavors at Fenocchio--as in, absurdly delicious.

Soccas

Socca, the most amazing chickpea crêpe, is only available in Nice

Socca Zoom

Because I want you to see how crispy the edges of socca are...

Socca Inside

...and how wonderfully dry and crumbly the interior is.

Lavender Navette

A little lavender navette...

Nice Ratatouille

Ratatouille at Tapenade in Nice

Fenocchio Vanilla Spekuloos Café

My parents' flavors: vanilla, coffee, and spekuloos (the best little Belgian cookies in the world that taste like Christmas)

Fenocchio Thyme Sorbet Orange Flower Ice Cream

Mine, all mine: fresh thyme sorbet, and orange flower ice cream

Lou Pantai – spice, sugar, tea, salt shop – 5 rue de la Poissonerie 06300 Nice – 04 93 62 12 25

Lou Pilha Leva – cuisine niçoise traditionelle – 10 rue du Collet 06300 Nice

Fenocchio – provençal ice creams – 6 rue de la Poissonerie 06300 Nice – 04 93 62 88 80

La Tapenade – restaurant – 6 rue Ste Réparate – 06300 Nice – 04 93 80 65 63

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Categories: Côte d'Azur, Provence, Voyages

2 Responses to In Nice

  1. Shane Farmer says:

    Just returned from my 3 week trip to Antibes and I must say your blog was a welcomed host to my culinary excursion there. On the one day trip I made to Nice I wandered into Fenocchio unexpectedly and of course had to try the Lavande thanks to this article along with coco. We found a Socca Vendor at the marche in Antibes so that became a daily ritual for the revolving door of friends that came through, and your video on French in a Flash: Herbes de Provence was the inspiration for a phenomenal cote agneau that we made one evening.

    Great blog and thank you for all the info. I’ll be posting an article about my cooking experience while there, on Monday if you have a desire to check it out. Sante!

    • Kerry says:

      Isn’t Antibes breathtaking? When I was next door in Juan-les-Pins, the water actually glittered, from something gorgeous and sparkly that floated around in it. Like diamond dust. Did you by any chance go to the restaurant Coquelicot, or Le Jardin? I have such a problem at Fenocchio: I always get the orange flower. How was the lavender? It must have been to die for. I would love to read your post. I’m so glad you discovered socca. I tumbled more and more head over heels for it this trip than ever before. I’m just so thrilled you went to one of my favorite cities. I always think of Sara and Gerald Murphy, who basically invented the place in ’20s. They famously said “living well is the best revenge.” No better words could have invented Antibes.

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