Friday, November 3

Grilled Nectarines with Figs, Kale and Hazelnuts

You will need:
Kale or similar

Olive oil

How to:
Mix honey, olive oil, honey and salt in a bowl.
Cut the nectarines in half and remove the pit and add to the marinade
Heat up the grill and grill the Nectarine halves until they get a bit of colour. The stripes both look pretty and this gives a whole new depth in flavour.
Sautee the Kale in some oil until the leaves soften a bit and become a bit crispy.
Put the Kale in a bowl and place the grilled nectarines on top. Add some figs that have been halved a
or quartered.
Sprinkle with roasted Hazelnuts, lingonberries or cranberries and blueberries.
You can use the leftover juices of the marinade and pour on top of everything.

This is superb on it's own or as a side dish.

If you are curious about the Grilled cauliflower then here's how to prepare them:

Cut a cauliflower in thick slices.
Sprinkle with salt and Ras el Hanout
Add a bit of oil and grill.
Sprinkle with fresh herbs (Cilantro or flat leaf parsley)

Wednesday, November 1

Visit Nice, France

It felt as if the weather was great everywhere but at home, in Finland, this summer. Therefore I felt the need to visit the sun :D and do a bit of travelling. Now the winter just arrived here and I'm already longing for some summer heat.

I've been to Nice, côte d'azur,  plenty of times but this time, finally, I found some great places to eat, the weather was exactly what I had longed for and last but not least my company was great.

My friend Janna and I are definitely foodies and we both love to travel and hunt for good places to eat. On previous trips to Nice I have been disappointed and had my fair share of really bad food experiences.
The problem when you go to popular tourist destinations is that it doesn't matter for many restaurants what sh*t (pardon my French :D ) they serve you or how bad the service is....'cause the next day they will be packed of hungry eaters anyways. This time we both relied on a list of recommendations given to us by friends (whom also like their food).

We had a long list but only a few days to try as many as we could. Unfortunately a few of these places are closed during the weekends or atleast Sundays and Mondays. Some of the recommended restaurants were not maybe that fabulous culinarywise but the whole ambience and food put together made them worth a visit.
The first place we wanted to try was Comptoir du marché but it was unfortunately  fully booked and closed the other days. We then tried La Mise au Verre, a small French bistro with only a short menu written with chalk onto the blackboard.

We tried the House pate, mozzarella salad and a steak with mashed potatoes.
The pate was really rustic and served in a glass jar. It was quite a big portion but tasted really good and homemade so I was quite happy with this dish.

The Buffalo mozzarella salad with hazelnuts and vegetables was a nice change to the typical caprese (mozzarella with tomatoes). I had never had mozzarella served with hazelnuts before but it worked really well.

 As a main we had the Chanterelle Risotto and also the Pavé de boeuf (steak and mash)
The risotto was quite good. The sauce was like a strong meat stock with mushrooms. However I feel the portion was too big and would have become a bit boring if we hadn't been sharing.

The steak was a disappointment.

You would think that when you order a steak and mash it would be really simple and well cooked in a restaurant which isn't giving a lot of options on the mains. I mean I wasn't expecting anything magical but I was atleast expecting a homey portion of a nice buttery mash with a nice piece of meat. Unfortunately they really failed on this one. The steak was really tough and we really struggled to finish it. Also the mash was really bland and lacked flavour. I'm not sure if I would go back here for the food itself but the atmosphere was really nice and welcoming and who knows what they will have on the menu the next time.

The next day we tried a restaurant I've been trying to go to on almost every visit to Nice, but every time it's either been full or closed. They don't take reservations online and nor do they have a phone, which makes it a bit more tricky to book in advance.
La Merenda is a really petite restaurant with a very good reputation. The owner and chef used to work in the famous hotel Negresco and earned himself two Michelin stars while working there.

He ended up giving up his stars to do what he loved the most, cook traditional simple French cuisine. I have to say, after waiting this long and only hearing good reviews, I had really high expectations....maybe too high.

We walked in through the curtains to a tiny restaurant crammed with small tables and an open kitchen. It really felt so cosy and warm. After not so long the restaurant was full and we almost felt like sardines squeezed into a tin can but this just added to the homey French bistro feel. We even drank water from Sponge Bob glasses :D I was really excited and loved the ambience. Now it was time to choose the food written in French on a very heavy blackboard which we had to hold on to for some time until the waiter was ready to take our order. The blackboard was quite unpractical but was very suited to this place.

I wasn't expecting anything other than simple dishes made to perfection and respecting the produce. The food was good but didn't exceed or even reach my expectations. I think my overall experience would have been better if I hadn't heard about the stars.
On the menu were, as you would anticipate, simple classics as cold cuts, ratatouille and pates pistou etc.
We ordered some Coppa, Rocket with ricotta and olives, Ratatouille, zucchini flowers and the pistou also known as pesto pasta. The Coppa was of good quality and quite a big portion. The Rocket with ricotta was good but very simple and lacked salt.

The ratatouille was tasty but nothing mind-blowing. The zucchini flowers were unfortunately the most disappointing part of the dinner.

I really don't understand why anyone would want to disrespect such a beautiful thing as zucchini flowers and cover it up with a thick batter hiding what once was a vibrant yellowish orange flower. The only thing good about this dish was that at this moment they brought us flake salt, but otherwise it just tasted like anything in batter (which fortunately was really crispy).

Luckily though the final dish of the evening saved everything.

The pasta was superb. In all it's simplicity, this green pistou pasta is still a reason to go back. I recommend this restaurant for this dish and the ambience. These two combined will not disappoint :) and I can understand why people like to go here. I was maybe just expecting a bit more.

Next day I had been walking around in the beautiful old town with its curvy alleys and had a quick simple Salad Nicoise to eat at one of the typical tourist places (don't ask me why).
I continued walking around and suddenly stumbled across a restaurant I had on the list of recommendations. I wasn't hungry but I was curious as a mouse would be.

The upstairs of Le Bistro du Fromager looked so nice that I popped in and asked for a table for the evening and of course it was full.
They only had a table right then at that moment so I thought I can always have a small snack :) There's always room for cheeeeeese.

I ended up having the creamy Burrata from Puglia with ripe, sweet tomatoes and also a cheese plate.

May I say as simple as it sound it was the most perfect cheese plate ever presented to me accompanied with a perfect glass of natural wine...

I also ended up buying a few bottles home :)

One of the days I ended up at Peixes, a fish restaurant owned by the same guys as the Comptoir du marché. It was a very casual and trendy seafood restaurant serving oysters and ceviches.

I tried a couple of their ceviches and they were a nice change to the typical French dishes. I had been longing for something refreshing and chose the ceviches just for that reason.

The ceviche was good but not the best I've had. I also had the grilled octopus which was really tender and good.

My friend had a fish dish inspired by the Thai cuisine which was also really good.

The portions aren't very big (I heard some guys complain) but I prefer eating many small dishes to really big ones. However I was perfectly full after eating two starters, the octopus and snacking on some of my friend's dishes.
If I do go back to Nice, I'm pretty sure I will be back.

Afterwards we headed for a nightcap at Les Incontournables

We didn't only eat and drink :) we also visited the waterfalls (which was a first for me), visited the harbour (I just love the colourful fishing boats there) and walked around the small alleys in the old town popping in to shops and cafés.