It was only a week or so ago that I did a Google search to see what was on in Nice while I’m here and I came across A Taste of Nice tours (www.atasteofnice.com). Their food tour promised tastes of Nice’s specialities and a background to the history and culture of Nice. I don’t really ‘do’ tours normally but remembering the brilliant food one I did in Istanbul with Linda and George, I thought the Nice one was worth a go. I’m so glad I did for not only was it great fun, it was fantastically well organised and our guide Megan extremely knowledgable. And the rest of the group – there were 12 of us – were a friendly lot.
We met on the seafront by Opera Plage at 10.00am. Megan gave us a good background talk about the history of Nice and how it was once part of Italy and that has heavily influenced the cuisine. You’ll find lots of Italian restaurants in Nice and I noticed a lot of people talking Italian in the market area. The Nicoise dialect is a mix of French and Italian. The warm climate also affects food. With little rain there are no pastures for cows and so it’s not a great area for cheese and milk products but olive oil features in a big way instead. Once a poor area the local food is very much vegetable based but the town became a favourite haunt of the English in the nineteenth century – hence Promenade des Anglais – for the climate’s health benefits and thus it became a chic and fashionable place to visit. Before we set off on our three and a half hour tour, Megan gave us each a piece of a local delicacy: Tourte aux Blettes Sucre.
The base of the sweet filling was surprisingly Swiss chard, which is very popular here. It was very good and continuing with the sweet theme, our next stop was Maison Auer, the oldest shop in Old Nice and famous for its candied fruit and chocolates (we were given tastes). It was a favourite haunt of Queen Victoria.
Next stop was a wine shop: Caprioglio in Rue de la Prefecture. Megan gave us a good background to different wines and classifications and then we sampled how reasonably a red wine sold for just €2.30 a litre can be. It may have been early to drink wine but we are in France!
The next stop required a tram ride and Megan was very organised with tram tickets for us all. She also carried little bottles of water to hand out. We were very well looked after! She was taking us to a food market where locals shop, having told us that the famous one on Cours Saleya in Vieux Nice has become quite touristy now. We got off at Liberation stop.
It was great to be taken here as we’d never have found it on our own and it really was a local market with local shoppers and local farmers selling their produce. Megan pointed out different produce and told us the way they were usually cooked. We were given a taste of a delicious local goats’ cheese and then moved on into a small covered market where meat – including a triperie – was sold and then sat at a bar for a drink of choice: local rose wine, pastis or beer, served with squares of homemade pissaladiere.
Then we took the tram back to the old town for lunch. A table had been reserved for us at Bella Socca where we were to sample the local speciality, socca, a chickpea flour based pancake. I loved the socca. We also had petit farcies, which were excellent, and roasted peppers and mushrooms in oil. It was all fabulous and bottles of rose were put on the table too. I sat at the end of a long table wih Kathy, Kathy and Wendy from Canada who were great company.
We had a couple more stops before the tour ended. First we went to an olive oil shop, owned by a family who produce their own olive oil: Olio Donato in Rue de la Boucherie.
We were given a tasting of an ordinary blended oil and then some of th shop’s extra virgin olive oil. The difference in quality was obvious as we enjoyed the lovely fruity flavour of the EVOO. We also tasted some wonderful sea salt flavoured with white truffle. It was a great little shop and if I wasn’t travelling with a small suitcase and hand luggage only, I’d have bought lots!
Our final stop was dessert. Gelato! Megan described the difference between Italian gelato and ice cream. Then we went the short distance to Roberto 1er gelateria. Megan said this was the best gelato in Nice and one of the few shops that make their own gelato in Old Nice rather than import it from Italy.
I usually have my ice cream in a cup, Italian style, but couldn’t resist one of their homemade waffle cones which I could see them making. I chose tiramisu and grapefruit flavours.
It was fabulous ice cream. Even better than yesterday’s. I’ll definitely be making this a regular stop while I’m here!
What a wonderful morning. I’m so glad I came across A Taste of Nice tours in my search. It was almost by chance but a lucky find. Megan was delightful and very well informed; everything was brilliantly organised and every little thing thought through – like the trams tickets and bottles of water. The half day cost €65 but everything was included, even the drinks and wine at lunch. And there were only 12 of us so a smallish group. I’d definitely recommend them to anyone coming to a Nice.
It was a full-on morning so I had an easy afternoon. Megan gave us a list of restaurants they recommend so I took this with me when I went out in the evening in search of s good place to eat. The first place I tried was closed tonight. I came back to an Italian restaurant in Cours Saleya and by chance was sat next to the lovely Canadian friends from this morning so I joined them at their table and had a great evening too.