Nice

Nice

By
Luke Nguyen
Contains
12 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742707181
Photographer
Alan Benson

I’m wobbling my way on a bicycle down the cobbled backstreets of this delightful Mediterranean city, trying to keep up with chef dominique le stanc. On one arm he gracefully balances a box of the freshest zucchini flowers I’ve ever seen.

We’re going back to Dominique’s kitchen to learn the secrets of niçoise cooking, a cuisine he tells me is traditionally the domain of women.

Dapper Dominique left a career in Michelin-starred establishments to pursue his dream, namely to cook hands-on in his tiny kitchen at La Merenda, using market-fresh ingredients that he personally selects each morning. There’s no phone for bookings, he only seats 20, and his food is a revelation — even celebrities such as acclaimed thespians Catherine Deneuve and Robert De Niro think so! His is definitely my kind of food: fresh, simple, regional, and cooked with so much love and passion. It’s what Nice is all about.

I love this city, with its romantic streets lined with pastel-coloured Italianate buildings, and its sweeping views over the Mediterranean. For centuries, poets have waxed lyrical about Nice, while artists have tried to capture its beauty and elegance on canvas. Many iconic movies have been shot here too, so walking along the four kilometre Promenade des Anglais, with its magnificent ocean vistas, is an act of déjà vu; this feels like a place I already know.

Niçoise cuisine is comfortingly familiar too, and includes globally adored dishes such as pissaladière (onion tart), ratatouille (a light summer vegetable stew), pistou (a fresh basil sauce that is rather similar to pesto) and, of course, salade niçoise. I always thought salade niçoise had potatoes in it, but Lola, of local favourite Bar de la Bourse, quickly sets me straight. ‘Never potatoes!’ she insists. ‘Jamais! ’ Lola’s salade niçoise is like spring-in-a-bowl — the most delicious arrangement imaginable of raw, just-picked vegetables, canned tuna, boiled egg, basil and lashings of Provençal vinegar and good olive oil.

Then there are the local sardines. Wow, these are good. So good they inspire me to make a dish reminiscent of the Vietnamese ga farci, or stuffed tomatoes. Farci is a loan word the Vietnamese use from the French (meaning ‘stuffed’), so I figure there’s already a connection here as I make my rice, chilli, lime and coriander mixture and pile it onto the spanking-fresh sardine fillets. I’m in a wonderful outdoor setting, high above the Promenade and right in the shadow of Elton John’s mansion, fighting off massive seagulls that really, really want my fish.

As I look around at where I am, I think, ‘All I need is a convertible, a hot girl wearing red lipstick and a big hat... and I’m a movie star!’

Well, almost.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again