Do you bring back culinary treasures and inspiration from your summer travels? For me, this is one of the best parts of traveling. A couple years ago I was in Nice, France, and the Provençal food and flavors were so fresh and inspiring. (I am hardly alone in this; the South of France is practically a cliché in food writing!) Here are five things that I ate and drank in Nice, and that I brought home to my own kitchen.
• 1. Socca - Socca is a hot and crispy chickpea pancake, blackened around the edges, and custardlike inside. It is the quintessential street food of Nice, baked over hot coals on enormous steel platters. You can make a very good version at home, however, and it has the lovely bonus of being gluten-free. Here's a recipe review of the socca that I like to make.
• 2. Niçoise Salad - The classic Niçoise salad includes anchovies, Dijon vinaigrette, shallots, red peppers, and other fresh vegetables. Potatoes were a later addition, as was fresh tuna. Here's a fresh recipe from a reader: Grilled Salad Niçoise, Long Beach Style, and here's one more simple version.
• 3. Pissaladière - This is a tart, or pizza, topped with all of my favorite things: Anchovies, onions, and olives. It is salty, tart, and intense. It is also a great example of how Italian and French food mingles in this seaside town.
• 4. Farcis - These are a classic specialty of Nice — vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini, hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat, garlic, and bread crumbs. They are baked and served hot or cold. These zucchini stuffed with mushrooms and quinoa are a fresh take on farcis. Also check out these stuffed 8-ball zucchini recipes.
• 5. Rosé Wine - Rosé wine is the classic accompaniment to every summer meal in Nice. The local rosé is cheap, dry, and perfectly attuned to the flavors of the food. I had always loved rosé, but the wines I drank in Nice reinforced my abiding love, and taught me to always have a cold bottle in the refrigerator in the summertime. Here are some great rosé wine recommendations from Mary (see last year's here).
Have you ever been to Nice, or to the south of France? What do you remember eating? Did you bring anything delicious back for your own kitchen?
(Images: Faith Durand; reader Jennifer; Flickr member bhamsandwich licensed for use under Creative Commons; Flickr member Cuisine de mère en fille, et des autres licensed for use under Creative Commons; Mary Gorman)