Nice

Last weekend was spent with the book club boys on the annual trip to somewhere interesting (usually abroad and usually sunny).

This year we opted for the Cote d’Azure and it lived up to all of our expectations. Whilst the Euro/Sterling exchange rate continues to make eyes seriously water, this was compounded by the fact that we were in the South of France, where nothing is cheap. But to focus too much on the cost of things would be churlish – this is a spectacular weekend destination and given the dirt cheap nature of the flights and the hotel accommodation, well worth considering, especially given the beautiful weather for October.

Food and drink is of a particularly high standard as you would expect in Provence with even the humblest cafes serving tip top coffee and fresh breads and pastries. I though I might use the post to flash off about eating and drinking in the sunshine whilst dear old blighty basked in wind and rain.

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Although I’m not a huge sweet fan (honest) the displays in the local boulangerie/chocolatier were fabulous. Here’s some cakes that I didn’t buy, but if Julie was with me, rest assured we would have.

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It’s the tradition to buy one’s croissants etc elsewhere and then bring it to the cafe (I know, we didn’t believe it either) but I have to say it worked a treat with top drawer coffee and pastries. All good.

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Unbelievably simple and unpretentious food at a street brasserie in the old town. Steak ‘Rossini’, with a giant slab of artery hardening foi gras (which was outrageously indulgent) teamed with frites so hot you couldn’t eat them immediately. Making my mouth water describing them just now. Not cheap at all, but worth every penny with quality of ingredients, service and ambience of the highest level.

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Wowser. Spanking fresh seafood served hot with flavours so vibrant they jump off the plate. This was in the very lovely town of Villefranche sur Mer about 5 mins from Nice by train (just a handful of Euro to get there, remarkably). Lunch was taken with the most beautiful view of the bay with cruise holiday makers being disgorged every half hour from an enormous cruise liner. Ridiculously idyllic.

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Nothing is cheap on the Cote d’Azure (apart from train fares, perhaps) and this wine was no exception. Local Provencale Rose topped off the lunch in fine form. We decided we wanted to stay here forever.

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Some of the guys foolishly ordered a salad (!) but even this did not disappoint, expecially the eponymous Nicoise (from Nice doncha know, I didn’t). And even the desserts were interesting…I know, it looks like a bonsai plant, but apparently it was good.

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The last night was book review night. We dined at Chez Juliette, which was good but not the main event, as we blarged on about books all night (I know, I know). I had snails to kick off – it was either them or frogs legs – and it’s fair to say I can still taste the garlic now. Bit too earthy I think for my delicate sensibility although I tucked away 12 of the little blighters. Apparently they purge them for a week in water prior to eating…I suggest and extra week in brandy and tabasco, it may result in something more palatable.

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I can feel a Troffers trip coming on next year……

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