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!
"Just wanted to thank you again for a wonderful week of cooking. It was truly the highlight of my visit on the Cote d'Azur!! I wanted you to know that I have made several of the recipes here in Australia; the Beet Orange salad at least 4 times and it has been such a hit, the apple tart twice - very VERY impressive and so yummy, the lentil soup at least twice with ordinary Aussie sausages - still nice and the couscous salad at least twice. Will try lots more recipes when I get back to the USA."
Eleanor Therese Coyne, Australia