Our recent European travel also took us to Southern France. We spent a few days in Nice, a major city on the Cote d’Azur; followed by a few days visiting family in the Languedoc wine region.
In Nice, our hotel was right across the street from an artisan boulangerie so naturally we started our days with fresh made pastries, like a delectable almond croissant. After meandering through the plazas, we sat down at a waterfront cafe to have a proper “petit déjeuner,” consisting of cafe au lait, half of a baguette with butter and jam, and a small glass of orange juice. After some refreshing gelato we took the bus to Monte Carlo in Monaco and had lunch at an Italian cafe, of course with some crisp white wine (we’re on vacation! and wine is cheap here!). Some of the best calamari and a saffron risotto with scallops and shaved truffles — mmmm. Overall the food we found in Nice had a heavy Italian influence, and would be considered a Mediterranean coastal style of cooking.
Our first night in Nice, dinner was Spanish Tapas at 11 pm; so for our second night we sought out a more traditional French restaurant and ended up at Le Petit Cafe. There I think we had the best meal of our trip! We started with house made foie gras and the best carmelized onions I have ever had, all smeared on top of fresh baked baguettes. to.die.for. Seriously I think I could eat that for every meal. For our entrees, Randy ordered some steak with a truffle sauce and roasted vegetables, and I got a seafood pasta.
In the morning, we made a final stop at the boulangerie for a baguette, and a small wheel of camembert at a local fromagerie for lunch on the train ride to meet my family in Sete. As we were making our way back to the hotel, we actually walked through the farmers market which was fantastic! Sadly it puts any San Diego farmers market to shame. So much fresh beautiful produce, and tons of fresh seafood and cheeses to choose from.
We enjoyed our picnic lunch on the train ride to Sete, while we watched the coast out the windows. Upon arrival in Sete, we feasted on a variety of raw shellfish, harvested right in the bay: oysters, clams, mussels, and even sea snails. So fresh and delicious!
From Sete we made our way up to the Languedoc wine region for a few days. There we enjoyed more delightfully airy croissants and cafe au lait, and some home-cooked goodness. I flipped through a book while we were there about the food of France, and the Languedoc region is home to mostly peasant comfort cooking – things like cassoulet, and pot au feu. We spent the better part of a day meandering around the small walled city of Pezenas.
We rode our bikes through wine country, and went wine tasting. We even got to help “rack” the wine at my Uncle’s vineyard! They have approximately 5000 grape vines, a Viogner, Grenache, and Syrah, and contribute most of their wine to a local co-op that produces some regional blends. They keep one row of each grape to make their own wine – of which we drank a lot :). They also grow a lot of olive trees, and contribute the olives to an olive oil co-op. And one perfect fig tree. The first time I visited them in 2005 was actually the first time I had ever eaten a fig, and I’d been dreaming about eating straight from that tree again. It did not disappoint!
Next up: Paris!