Posts Tagged ‘food shopping’

Charcuterie Ghibaudo in Vieux Nice

I’ll try anything twice but this time just the once will do fine.  Porchetta is one of those authentic specialities of la cuisine niçoise I would have loved to love but it just aint gonna happen.  We’d been gazing in awed fear and longing for far too long at the petrifying porcine carcasses in their glass coffins outside the charcuterie shops along rue Pairolière in Vieux Nice; now was the time to bite the bullet and actually buy a slice.  Thank heavens Madame at Charcuterie Ghibaudo was kind enough to offer a demi-tranche as this stuff is not cheap at near-enough €20 a kilo.  As it was, our package weighed a good 400g.
whole porchetta seen from the back in Vieux Nice

So we trotted off home, buying a baguette en route, to unwrap the porchetta and unravel its mystery:

a slice of porchetta nicoise
Not a lot of mystery there, as it turns out: it’s everything that was originally in the piglet, chopped up and mixed together with a few herbs, garlic, a little seasoning, then stuffed right back in.  And when I say everything I mean everything, that brilliant white circle at bottom centre of the slice is a piece of bone, the pale wiggly bits are intestine and the pinky-white chunks are hunks of fat.  The T-zer and I felt like Jack Sprat and spouse trying to enjoy this curate’s egg: he quavers at the taste of offal, which I rather enjoy, while I tremble at the texture of anything too chewy.  Not a hit chez nous, but you may find the idea delightful and, failing a trip to Nice to taste the real thing, here is a recipe (in French) for making your very own Porchetta Niçoise.

2 porchetta roasted pig stuffed with own entrails and herbs
Supply your own squeal…

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Once upon a time hill farmers would bring down a flock or two to Nice for a mini Christmas transhumance: the Journée du Haut-Pays Niçois, when the Jardin Albert 1er on the Promenade des Anglais would host a mini-festival of produce from the high hinterland behind Nice, the southwestern foothills of the Alps, indeed.   This mini-vid was taken in December 2007.  I really dig the feisty mini black and white goat.

We were lucky enough to be staying at our apartment – just a short stroll through Vieux Nice to the Promenade des Anglais where we found horses, donkeys, pigs, goats and sheep. It was a delight to see, hear and smell them all up close – and taste all the wonderful products on sale: sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses, charcuterie, honey, vin chaud; so much on offer I forget but we had a lovely time despite the chilly weather and bought half a kilo of aged farmhouse tomme (de savoie-type), which we nibbled all the following week.

baby donkey down from the hills to the big city
And who couldn’t fall in love with these little guys, just look at that beautiful coat!

Not much porchetta left on this one!

I’m sure Valentine had a good life but I haven’t yet taken the plunge into Nice-style porchetta so couldn’t tell you how well she tasted:  this is no dainty Tuscan arista shoulder stuffed with fragrant herbs but an entire pig stuffed with its meat, tripe and liver, and each slice weighs about 200g,  an awful lot to get through if I decide I don’t like it.   Maybe next time…

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A pilgrimage to Ikea is unsanctified without a trip to Wing Yip for a foodster fix.  Croydon’s oriental alimentary emporium has really been snazzing itself up lately; witness the snappy slogan for a start – I love it.  It’s also all smart uniforms and smiles nowadays – nothing wrong with that; in the time of inscrutable scowling I used to feel like an interloper adrift – just so long as they stop short of employing greeters at the door, I’m a happy punter.

Marketing pundits advocate aerosoling the scent of bread baking to foster a super-duper supermarket experience but that ruse is getting pretty tired; we’ve all cottoned on to their cotton-wool loaves.  Wing Yip has come up with something much more evocative: the stinky sock stench of durian filled our nostrils the second we breached the threshold.  Yummy – seriously. I can’t decide which part of this freaky fruit is my favourite – the foetid aroma, the weird succulent flesh or its viciously spiky carapace: don’t ever try to carry one home in your arms, it will hurt you.  Anyway, at £5.95 a kilo and not one weighing less than three we regretfully declined this time.  My hunt for durian flavoured wafers continues, however.  I opened a pack once at work in Vancouver and next thing I knew they’d evacuated the building, convinced of a gas leak.  Try this if you’re not keen on your job, but if you do please let me know where you got the biscuits.

With domestic relocation imminent (hence the Ikea mission) I’m supposed to be running down the stocks so it was just a couple of bags of whitebait, some Panko, a wasabi refill and an assortment of frozen seafood.  I did, however, purchase one of these reusable stunners to carry them home:

and for 84p Anya Hindmarch can eat my shorts. :mrgreen:

Wing Yip Croydon superstore
544 Purley Way
Tel: 020 8688 4880

Wing Yip online shop

Deciding if a durian is decent
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Steak frites
Wine stocks were getting perilously low and with no trip to Nice on the horizon and a brief interlude between French workers’ strikes, time was ripe for a quick jaunt to Calais. A choppy crossing each way rendered walking about a poor idea, so on the return leg, for just under £20 I enjoyed a proper dinner with good wine, starched napery, professional waiter service and sea views in a sanctuary from the staggering hordes.  With perfect timing too: we docked at Dover just as I washed down an espresso with the last of the San Pellegrino.

Being insufficiently hungry for the £15 2-course deal I opted for the £11 pièce du boucher (unidentified steak) with 3-peppercorn sauce and chips.  It came quickly, was cooked as requested, reasonably tender and tasty;  pretty good in the circumstances.  Even better was the half bottle of Chapoutier Côtes du Rhone at £6.  All in all it made the 90 minute ferry ride sheer pleasure for once: well done, SeaFrance.

A motley assortment of Good Things to buy in (northern) France

  • Dijon mustard
  • Marseille soap
  • fruit tarts (pack carefully)
  • Guérande salt
  • an enamelled cast iron pot
  • boudin blanc
  • Belgian endive
  • tomatoes (Summer only)
  • garlic plaits
  • espadrilles (Summer only)
  • cheese
  • frozen flageolet beans
  • crates of oysters (Winter only)
  • interesting non-alcoholic apéritifs
  • pastis
  • wine, wine, wine and more wine (French only, please)

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