Posts Tagged ‘Nice’

Sorry for not being in touch lately – been hanging out and about in Nice.  Here’s my photo to prove it!


After a long, hot and frustrating trudge west along the Promenade des Anglais checking out various beachside establishments we descended on the Blue Beach Bar & Restaurant and were more than pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome.  Although our waiter resembled Peter Stringfellow‘s simple cousin he was adequately dressed (thank God) and brought us our reasonably priced, reasonably tasty food and wine in reasonable time: amazing, and in stark contrast to Lido Plage.  For me, the filets de rouget (red mullet) au thym:


et pour lui, les tagliatelles au basilic (do you really need a translation?), toothsome albeit tepid, which was actually ok on such a warm afternoon:


plus, of course, the de rigeur bottle of Côtes de Provence rosé.  All at not-so-shocking-after-all prices, at least for the Côte d’Azur….

… and that old devil Nicolas Sarkozy lurking in the underground area only added to the charm of the afternoon.

sarkozyBlue Beach bar & restaurant, 31 Promenade des Anglais, Nice 06000 – opposite the Negresco



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One (mental) escape from the enforced trogloditism (yes that’s my word) of this year’s Whitsun Bank Holiday might be via a 2 minute video in The Times travel section: that suavely sincere and sincerely suave Raymond Blanc tucked into a pink bib while explaining and demonstrating that classic and exclusive Mediterranean dish, bouillabaisse, in a location just to the east of Nice on the Côte d’Azur.

If Raymond himself fails to delight (hardly likely), pay a cyber-visit to his venue – the fabulous Coco Beach restaurant – for a quick fix of Riviera deluxe.  No wonder he’s smiling.

It’s such an old saw that bouillabaisse can be made only with local rockfish that I shan’t labour the point here.  Mind you, with French fisherman stunt pulling once more I’ve a good mind to hire myself a speedboat and raid their waters of every loup, lotte, rouget and rascasse I can find.  Just need a bit of marine diesel…

Until such time, I am willing to share my delightful version using chicken in place (no pun intended) of fish:

Pouillabaisse™ aka Chicken BouillabaisseHenri Bardouin pastis
serves 4

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs, skinned and cut in large chunks
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 bulbs fennel, chunked – keep fronds for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced fine
  • generous pinch of saffron
  • a sprig of thyme, 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tin of tomatoes (whole or chopped, whatever is on hand)
  • generous slug of pastis
  • 1 litre or so chicken stock
  • 500g waxy or new potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • olive oil

We want to keep the flavours pure and clear, so in a large cast iron casserole and over a medium heat, soften the onion and fennel in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  After about 5 minutes add the garlic, saffron, thyme and bay leaves then pop the chicken pieces on top.

Sprinkle over the pastis then add half of the tomatoes with their juice (break them up with your wooden spoon if using whole).  Add the potatoes and pour over sufficient chicken stock to almost cover the chicken and vegetables, then decide whether to add the rest of the tomatoes.  We’re making a bouillabaisse here, and with the price of fennel and saffron we’re in polite company, so mustn’t allow the tomato to shout down the other flavours.  Think visually – more yellow than red.  If you think the tomato is in danger of taking over the party, top up with chicken stock.  If not, add the rest of the tomatoes and top up with stock to barely cover.

Bring to the gentlest simmer, cover and cook for between 30 minutes and an hour until chicken and potatoes are cooked through.  There should be plenty of liquid, so serve in shallow bowls, sprinkled with a dash of good olive oil and the chopped fennel fronds.

A homemade rouille sets it off perfectly.  Recipe coming soon…

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