Saturday, 12 July 2014

Nice

This story is about bouillabaisse and Michelin starred lunch menus. I went to Nice! I could talk you through the trip in chronological order but I did that for the Explorer only yesterday over lunch and bored even myself. My comments on the trip are as follows:

Incredibly Good Looking has a stupid nickname for this blog, likes to plan rigorously, is often inflexible but ultimately often right. It's his holiday home so it would be silly to presume we know better. The Magician also has a stupid nickname, great dress sense and likes clubbing. He doesn't get enough sleep in the week. Contrary has an appropriate nickname and enjoys aesthetics. She has well painted nails and lays the table well. I am half tempted to put the tacky magnet I bought for my parents on our fridge to rile her. Juicy has a stupid nickname and a (great) haircut that matches her attitude. She enjoys ice cream and keeps Incredibly in line (very enjoyable to observe). It makes his stupid nickname worthwhile.

The previous paragraph doesn't really illuminate much about the place but I think that's appropriate since it was a holiday based around the weather and being with good people than the place. This is at odds with my city breaks over the past two or three years. It was perfect for this time as Nice is idyllic and idylls are best enjoyed as a worker ant. (Going back after five days of bliss is tough.) We didn't just lounge and fizzle in the sun though - a fair amount of 'yomping' took place. We made like Nietsche down the hilly path from Eze. We also walked up to a hilltop in Nice with a great view. (I feel like every place I visit involves a rewarding view at the top of a steep walk.) This walk was perhaps the only poorly timed bit of the trip: it took place after a two course Michelin starred meal at L'Univers de Christian Plumail. I think this was the most exceptional food memory of the trip. Even the amuse bouche, a seafood pastry, was subtle and clean and well executed. The seafood risotto had the potential to be workaday but was really interesting: creamy rice surrounded by vivid black squid ink. The prawns were garlicky and served on top while the clams and scallops were nestled in their shells and hidden amongst the cream. All of this was finished off with sweet courgette flower and moreish cheese. Even the much simple main, lamb shoulder with runner beans, was excellent. Those beans! They had an almost citrus flavour that reminded me of raw courgette or jackfruit. The lamb wasn't slow cooked, a way of eating shoulder I hadn't had before, but still wonderfully soft and melty. 

The only other meal we had out was at Le Hussard on our final evening. It's located on a rooftop and I worried the food would lack effort because of the location. I was wrong to worry - the duck and pistachio terrine was UNREAL. Whole pieces of duck with hazelnut, pistachio and unctuous fat. The bread, served in a very east London paper bag, was delicious enough to match it. The duck cannelloni was rich and well accompanied with sour turnip 'tagliatelle'. It was just a little too rich for me after the starter so I was unable to finish it or fit in any pudding. (Though I really wish I had now since I have no doubt that this is the place to get a creme brûlée.)
We cooked the rest of the time, something I've never done on holiday before. We ate loads of fish and tomatoes, both suited the weather well. I think the bouillabaisse was the my personal highlight and I'll certainly try to recreate it back home.

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