The lemons at the Cours Saleya market don’t look like other lemons — they are fat, irregularly shaped and juicy, with the leaves still clinging to the stems. Instead of looking unnaturally shiny, the skin seems straight out of an oil painting. What is their secret? They come from the nearby town of Menton, between Nice and the Italian border, whose sunny, dry microclimate makes it the perfect setting for lemon trees. Seventy producers in the Var valley and the Menton area produce 1400 tons of citrus fruits, 70 per cent of which are lemons whose qualities are recognized by chefs such as Paul Bocuse and Joël Robuchon. Menton lemons are harvested from December to May and sometimes later; they keep remarkably well. The town celebrates this zingy fruit, whose zest and juice enliven any dish, with a two-week annual festival in February, complete with parades, fireworks and exhibitions.
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The small artichokes known as "violets" here are in season from November to May. I love to cook with them!
"I had a great time on Rosa's cooking course! From the introduction over coffee in the mediaeval flower market, sampling wines with an expert and choosing the perfect chicken at the local boucherie, all this before we started to cook! I came away learning a complete lunch menu with a decidedly Niçois flavour. Rosa made the day great fun and also taught me to cook some wonderful dishes. I will definitely go back." Mark Howorth, London, England