Bellet Wines in Nice

Just 30 minutes from the center of Nice is one of the oldest wine regions in France, dating back to the arrival of the Phocean Greek traders from Marseille.  Some vines are over 1000 years old and the wines of Bellet were awarded the coveted AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controllée) accreditation status in 1941.

Twice a year, the 10 AOC Bellet vineyards in the hills behind Nice open their doors and start popping corks – ‘Portes Ouvertes’ is a perfect opportunity to get tasting the local wines – free of charge!

Interactive domain map HERE (Organic wines are made at the Domaine de la Source.)

Portes ouvertes :
Samedi 24 et dimanche 25 mai 2014
Samedi 29 et dimanche 30 novembre 2014

Visitors welcome between 10am and 6pm on both days.

Enjoy a wine lover’s escape from the hustle and bustle of the city!

(Public bus transportation access or by car – Don’t forget to have a designated driver)

 See my previous post for the Chateau de Cremat in Bellet HERE

Source/Credit: The Riviera Reporter

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Port of St. Laurent-du-Var

Although the business card for “Le Farfalla” says “soirée disco funk salsa,” it was just a nice lunch at the Port de Plaisance with friends fromIMG_0017 Nice/Atlanta and their cute dog, Ditto.  IMG_0023

It was, in fact, a late-for-France lunch, so we basically had the restaurant to ourselves – a great chance to chit-chat and catch up with old and current news.

We ate leisurely, the meal accompanied by a cool, crisp Provencale rosé (bien sûr!), as we discussed politics and other French-American subjects and got to know each other better.

The port of St. Laurent-du-Var is home to a variety of restaurants, bars, and crêperies situated across from the port and links this area to Nice via the promenade, for a nice walk or bike ride.

 

 

 

 

Le Frog – A Typically French Restaurant in Old Nice

Of course, along with snails, tete de veau, and foie gras, frog legs are right up there when one thinks of French food particularities – or should I say, specialities.

Backlit in green (bien sur!)

menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to admit that I had never tasted frog legs and so, was somewhat apprehensive, yet excited, when this restaurant was chosen for a friends dinner get together.  I also figured that there would be other items on the menu.

frog menu

From our table, we had a lovely view of the local church.

view from table street side tables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Provençale Rosé wine called “Nuit Blanche” (white night)

Rose wine label
OK, so I didn’t order the frog legs – just in case – but I did sample a taste (how could I not?).  No- it didn’t taste like chicken!  The taste was not strong and game-y as I expected, but was surprisingly a little sweet and quite tasty.

3 course menu

Nicoise plate

Pissaladiere & Salade Nicoise

Beef & gnocchi

Beef & gnocchi

Swiss chard pie dessert

Swiss chard pie dessert

& Voila!

frog entree

Menu Frog entree/appetizer mon

The Menu Frog main course consisted of asian noodles topped with frog legs (like these) and other wok type veggies with frog menu dessert of crème brulée (no photos taken).

It was a leaping-good time and fun evening with new discoveries in food, friends, and comraderie!

 

Innovative Creative Cuisine in Vence

I recently lunched en groupe at “Les Bacchanales” restaurant, where the chef creates the week’s menu based on his market finds, sourced from within 250 km. and  from what is currently in season and his unique personal taste – literally & creatively speaking! The restaurant also filters its own still and sparkling water, in an effort to respect the environment.

This particular day’s menu involved three courses, with an unusual choice for the main dish (see menu photo). Was the amusing garden art at the entrance a sign of the creative cuisine to come?!

Personal Assessment:  In my opinion, my main course was somewhat skimpy in portion (would have liked a side of something), especially for the price.  I also thought that the cheese course seemed rationed (read: skimpy) for the number of people being served in our group.

A chacun son gout! (to each his own) 

 

(hover mouse over image for caption)

 

 

 

Name That Cheese

NAME THAT CHEESE: FRENCH FROMAGE QUIZ

Name that Cheese: French Fromage QuizName that Cheese: French Fromage QuizName that Cheese: French Fromage Quiz
1. If you’ve never had a picnic with a simple baguette and a nicely ripened round of this creamy cow’s milk classic from Normandy, well, it’s time to start living! The rind is a little furry with touches of beige and there’s recently been a fashion for baking it.

2. Similar to No. 1, but from a completely different region, this fine fromage is a cow’s milk cheese with an edible white rind and a pale creamy interior which softens as it ripens. An absolute French classic.

3. Not unlike the Dutch Edam in appearance, this unusual cheese is made near Lille. The texture is firm and the interior colour is a strong orange. A whole example of this cheese will come in a squashed ball shape and possess a grey, rough and pitted exterior. Boasting a nutty flavour, this cheese is often served after having been aged for a year or two.

4. A soft cheese which is often distinguished by an orange rind. It is made in the Vosges region of north-eastern France. The texture is creamy, smooth and quite sticky and it can be pungent on the nose.

5. One of France’s oldest cheeses, this is said to date back to the 6th century. It looks similar in outward appearance to Camembert but the consistency is more like a regular cream cheese. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of this Normandy cheese is that it is often produced in the shape of a heart.

6. A goats’ cheese from the Loire Valley, made in the area surrounding the village which provides its name, which was originally served as a snack for the local grape pickers. The texture becomes firmer with age, from medium to hard, but there is always a distinctive nutty flavour. Great on a cheeseboard or grilled with salads.

7. A cow’s milk cheese made in the high hills and mountains of the region of the same name. A round of this cheese can weigh up to 120lbs, so you will buy it in long thin slices. It possesses an aromatic, nutty but also slightly sweet flavour, reminiscent of Gruyere.

8. A soft goats’ cheese with a firm and creamy texture, which is only produced in this region of south-western France and sold in a distinctive cylindrical shape called a bonde. The flavours are mild and creamy, becoming more tangy and nutty as the cheese ages – but it will only age for weeks not months. The unusual name is said to derive from the Arabic for goat.

9. A mild and creamy blue cheese from an area which produces several examples. This one is named after a local town. Shaped like a tall cylinder, it has a mottled grey/brown exterior and a natural thin crust.

10. Named after the mountain region in eastern France, this popular cheese is made from the skimmed cow’s milk and has a lower fat content than many cheeses. The rind is thick and has a grey exterior, whereas its interior is pale cream with small holes. It boasts a sweet and soft taste with earthy tones.

11. Apparently the favourite cheese of the Emperor Charlemagne, this blue cheese made from ewe’s milk has a noble and ancient pedigree. Aging takes place in limestone caves where the mould develops, resulting in a soft creamy texture but a salty and tangy taste.

12. One of only two sheep’s milk cheeses to gain AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) status, this cheese comes from the mountainous areas of south-western France near the Spanish border. The crust varies from grey to orange and the interior is semi-hard with a pleasant buttery and nutty taste.

ANSWERS

1. Camembert, 2. Brie, 3. Mimolette, 4. Munster, 5. Neufchatel, 6. Crottin de Chavignol, 7. Comté, 8. Chabichou, 9. Fourme, d’Ambert, 10. Tomme de Savoie, 11. Roquefort, 12. Ossau-Iraty

SCORE GUIDE

10-12: Congratulations, you are a fully paid up turophile! Just remember to eat small portions like the French do!

6-9: Bien fait les fromagistes! You can show off at a party but that fancy restaurant cheese board may catch you out.

3-5: Not so bad, but you could improve your cheese knowledge and/or your geography to score better next time.

0-2: Time to visit France again and make sure to sample some cheese wherever you go. There are over 350 to try!

Credit/Source:  by France Today Editors/France Today.com

Roussillon in Provence

The ochre paillette of colors & pigments, that make this town one of the most beautiful villages in France, is quite evident from Roussillon‘s flaming colors in its landscape.  As I walked around this lovely village, I took in all the Provençal flavors, from the ochre cliffs to the local landscape, artisanal shops, and restaurants.

My stomach signaled it was time for lunch, so we chose Le Castrum restaurant, located on the beaten path to take in the sights (read:  people watch).  The daily menu was reasonable and provided enough variety lemoncello bee& choices: meat or fish with an entrée (appetizer) and dessert.  After the meal, we were offered a lemoncello by the restaurant – a very nice gesture on their part.  We weren’t the only ones who enjoyed the after-meal digestif , noticing that a yellow jacket was imbibing as well (maybe that’s where bees in Provence get their yellow-stripe color from)!

 

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Personal side note:  The Cafe de l’Ocrier in Roussillon is a tourist trap type place, with horribly rude service – we actually walked out before ordering drinks there!

Fontvieille in Provence

Our friends had already booked the hotel, so we followed suit and arrived early to take a look around the lovely setting at Hotel Val Majour in Fontvieille.  I hadn’t heard of this small town in Provence, but it certainly seemed centrally located to all the major sites – one of our friends was born in Cadenet, knew the area well, and so, did the booking.  The three-star hotel and pool settings were tranquil and beautiful, the staff was very friendly, the breakfast buffet top notch, and the bar service excellent.

Val Majour Hotel

 

Hotel map

signFor dinner, the receptionist recommended a couple restaurants (with one in particular) situated in the town’s main square, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel.  So, off we went and found the #1 recommendation, “La Cuisine au Planet,” with its inviting terrace.  We luckily got the last tables for our group, as they started telling arriving customers to come back around 9:30p.m.

IMG_0045

And boy, did we get lucky!!  The meal was fantastic, service was impeccable and friendly, and the prices were reasonable – we ate, drank, chatted and laughed throughout the evening – happy to have to walk back to the hotel, since we were so full from the three-course menu – what a lovely, delicious evening!

 

 

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