Archive | January, 2013

Skiing fuel and mountain food, Isola 2000, Alpes-Maritimes

29 Jan

Last weekend I took my first ever ski trip to Isola 2000, a mere 2 hour bus journey from Nice.

club montagneAs the resort is so close and fares are incredibly cheap it seemed silly not to take up the opportunity to learn to ski. I was doubtful of how everyone seems to rave about how ‘amazing skiing is oh my god you have to go!’ after spending the Saturday hurtling down a mountain unable to stop or turn, shouting ‘PAAARDDOOOON’ to innocent bystanders. Sunday however changed my outlook from being scared and a bit confused to how people enjoying feeling completely out of control speeding down a mountain on two sticks. The technique of shifting weight to turn and stop finally clicked and I spend an amazing (in control!) day skiing down the green runs, relaxing and really enjoying myself (simple pleasure, I know.)

The combination of the spectacular landscapes, blue skies, peaceful silence from the snow, the adrenalin of carving up a mountain, chocolate chaud breaks and of course the wooden mountain-side restaurants complete with log fires has got me hooked.

Skiing and the fresh mountain air really builds up your appetite! For one lunch I fueled up on fresh, wood-fired pizza whilst sitting outside watching people ski pass. For my other lunch I opted for a ‘club sandwich de montagne’ a rustic ancienne baguette stuffed with tomatoes, spinach, gherkins and reblochon – a soft, slightly nutty, strongly flavoured sheep cheese which is a specialty of the Alps.

In every restaurant there were ‘spécialités de montagne’ (literally – specialties of the mountain) which included infamous raclette – a semi-wheel of cheese which is slowly melted and scraped off to cover potatoes, gherkins and varieties of cured meats. It is perfect wintery warming food. I did not have any this time round but when I next go skiing it is on the menu!



My southern French chunky aubergine tapenade

25 Jan

Tapenade is everywhere In Nice, served with your aperitif, as a starter, there’s even a restaurant named after the stuff!
This southern French speciality is one of my favourite snacks or lunch. However I am not too keen on the ones that are a little too overpowering on the anchovy taste, hence the reason why I invented my own.
You can find such a variety of different tapenades here, including roasted red pepper tapenade, green and black olive tapenade, tomato tapenade and my favourite, aubergine tapenade! It’s amazing! I don’t know why I haven’t discovered it before but it is going to be a common snack or lunch made in my kitchen from now on. Simple, tasty and full of olive oil goodness. My tapenade can be eaten hot or cold, on some crusty baguette or toast, served a salad. It keeps for days and serves ¾ for a light lunch. If desired, you can add a couple of anchovies or capers to the mix.

1 medium aubergine
8 black olives, stones removed and roughly chopped (I prefer to use olives with stones in as I believe they have more flavour than pitted ones!)
A few tablespoons of good olive oil
1 fat clove of garlic
Salt and pepper

1. Heat your oven to 190C. Wash and chop your aubergine into small chunks, leaving the skins on (gives it more flavour and texture plus there’s more nutrients in the skin!) peel and finely chop your garlic.
2. Spread the aubergine chunks out on a large roasting tin, sprinkle with the chopped garlic, 2/3 tablespoons of olive oil and season well. Leave to roast for around 40 minutes, tossing halfway.
3. Chop up your olives and place into a bowl big enough to hold the aubergine chunks. Once the aubergine is cooked, add everything (including the olive oil in the roasting tin) into the bowl and with a fork roughly mash everything together until combined.
It is important to mash when hot as it is a lot easier!
Voila! Eat hot or cold! Image article – eating, cooking and staying healthy!

23 Jan

I’ve been writing for Third Year Abroad a few times this year. My latest article is food and travel related therefore I thought it would be suitable to share it with everyone on here 🙂

Hope you enjoy it!

The healthiest, most fulfilling salad ever eaten

16 Jan

It’s healthy January. I am going to the gym, eating lots of seasonal fruit and veg and lowering my carb intake (for a while anyway – baguettes and homemade chips just call out for me to eat them sometimes.) So, I came up with this salad to eat. I managed to find a butternut squash in an organic stall in the market (uncommon in France – they usually sell watery, tasteless spaghetti squash) so thought of some loveeeellyy meals to make with it. Genuinely never felt more satisfied after eating a salad. If you think they are only for light lunches or starters, think again. It’s also super healthy, full of avocado, spinach, lentils (protein-packed and cheaper than lean meat/fish), olive oil and a bit of feta cheese for flavour and protein.

Serves 2 for dinner (big plates!)
½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes.
½ red pepper, cut into cubes.
400g tin of puy lentils, drained and rinsed.
A few handfuls of washed spinach.
Few handfuls of rocket and lambs lettuce.
Cherry tomatoes, halved (as many as you like)
Feta cheese, crumbled (again, as much as you like)
To make the dressing:
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard.IMG_20130115_014204

1. Prepare your squash and pepper, in a roasting tin, lug a few tbsp olive oil over and season. Place in a preheated oven (180C) for around 45minutes until nicely roasted.
2. In a large salad bowl, add your salad leaves, tomatoes and lentils. Make your dressing by shaking all the ingredients in an old jam jar (make sure it’s well sealed!) or stir vigorously in a bowl. Once combined, add to your salad and toss so everything is covered.
3. Once your squash is cooked, divide the dressed salad onto two plates, top with the squash and pepper, and sprinkle over the feta cheese and sliced avocado.

Farmers market, Nice

13 Jan

If you venture north of the Nice Ville train station (a seldom-practiced activity for tourists and locals alike) and you will come across the biggest open air market in Nice. Hop off at the Libération tram stop and you will find yourself in the middle of the buzzing market. It’s a great place to people watch so before you lug your buys home, sit yourself outside a cafe for ten minutes and observe!





Tens of market traders come down from the hinterland to sell their fresh flowers, seasonal fruit and vegetables, honey, jams, cheese and other produce every day bar Monday. It is a truly huge farmers market – yet a little more rustic and not so middle-class orientated and expensive as the ones we have in the UK. It’s no wonder that it’s so popular with prices that are genuinely cheaper than supermarkets, including the Organic produce stalls.





You can even barter with the stall holders to get a better price – great French practice too! Despite being half asleep during my mission there today I managed to get 3.50Euros worth of parsnips for 1Euro as all the decent sized ones had sold out and all that was left were the skinny, weedy looking ones (I went out to a friend’s housewarming party last night so it was quite an effort to get up and go before the market closes at lunchtime…)
Also near the Place du Général de Gaulle is a small under-cover market selling speciality cheeses, pastas and cured meats. Oh I love being so close to Italy! There is also a fish market on one side of the Place selling fresh produce.
It’s so great that here in Nice most people use the market to buy their groceries. It’s a shame that in the UK it has diminished. Like here in Nice, it would be a win-win situation if we had more of a market culture in the UK as producers could successfully sell their produce at cheap prices (no supermarket middle man!) to a demanding customer base. I love the UK farmers markets and I’m pleased to see that they are being supported more and more. For me however, trips to the farmers markets are a rare treat due to my student budget! IMG_20130113_131239

So, when in Nice, avoid the overpriced, touristy Cours Saleya market in the Old Town although and head here for an authentic French market experience!




Galette des rois

11 Jan

At this time of the year you cannot walk into a supermarket, boulangerie or café without being confronted with a huge variety of different galletes des rois. IMAG1030
Originally eaten to celebrate the epiphany, they are now more of the French mince pie – a special gateau only eaten for a few weeks of the year.

Traditionally they are a brioche pie filled with frangipane. However, you can buy ones today that are filled with chocolate cream, salted caramel, topped with chocolate and pretty much anything tasty you can think of!

In the boulangeries of Nice I also have come across rings of brioche topped with candid fruit next to the traditional galletes. A few minutes on Google image trying various combinations of couronne (crown) brioche, noel, rois blah blah I finally figured out that they are a special variety to the South. Even more choice of galettes for me to taste yaaay!

The best part of theses however, (and no, for once it is not the eating!) is that inside the galette is hidden a lucky charm – la fève. And… whoever eats the slice of galette that has the charm inside, is crowned king for the day! I like this power. I’m going to buy one later for Ollie and I… do you think there is any way I can figure out where the charm is hidden?! hehehe
Picture is of all the coronnes in the boulangerie at the end of my road!


Ventimiglia’s healthy pasta with courgette, tuna, tomatoes, basil and capers

10 Jan

New Years resolution: To carry on eating as healthy as possible. And to drink less wine. The French price of wine has my student self constantly stocking up on cheap, decent wine (good rosé is in abundance down here in the Cote d’Azur!)and having oh too casual glasses of it in the evening. Therefore, a healthy, balanced meal with no wine is what we had tonight. Using wheat pasta bought from the market in Ventimiglia, Italy just before Christmas, made this dish a little bit more special.
Easy and super tasty! Plus tinned tuna for protein keeps the cost low.
Serves 2.

120g tinned tuna in olive oil (way less ‘fishy’ tasting and more ‘tuna steak’ tasting that tinned tuna in brine)
1 dessertspoon capers


1 tablespoon roughly torn basil
125g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 courgette, thinly sliced lengthways
1 clove garlic, chopped
140g Maccheroni al ferro or anything like wholewheat penne
Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling
Good olive oil, salt and pepper

1. Place your strips of courgette on a piece of foil on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season and pop under the grill to colour.
2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta. Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry your chopped garlic in a large frying pan until lightly brown. Turn to a low heat and add the halved tomatoes, you don’t want them to go mushy – just slightly. Add the tinned tuna. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the saucepan, coating with the sauce.
3. Your courgette will be cooked by now so add these to the saucepan along with the capers. Serve, and top with Parmesan and the basil. Enjoy with a glass of rosé if feeling naughty.