Enjoy a first-hand introduction to the culture and cooking of Nice.
Our day begins at 9.30am at the Cours Saleya market, while there is still a fresh morning breeze. The narrow maze of centuries-old streets that is the Vieux Nice opens up onto this splendid space lined with bars, cafés and fish restaurants on either side and market stalls down the center. “Le tout Nice” converges on the terraces at lunch, but early in the day it’s time for that famous Niçois street food, la socca (a chickpea-flour pancake), as you stroll through the market and admire the vivid displays of flowers, candied fruit and seasonal produce.
Though the bigger stalls are the most dazzling thanks to their array of colors, what really interests us is the small producers’ stalls. The fruit and vegetables are not as uniformly shaped and the variety not as great, but every ingredient we’ll find here is firmly rooted in the region and much of it is organic. Depending on the season you might see untreated oranges, including bitter oranges for jam; real wild asparagus; fragrant Mara des Bois strawberries; tomatoes ripened on the vine; figs bursting with juice; and of course the mix of salad leaves known as mesclun (no Niçois meal would be complete without it).
Depending on your menu choice, I will select the the best meat and fish for you - perhaps lamb from the nearby Alpes de Haute-Provence or Mediterranean sea bass. Because traditional Niçois cooking relies more on vegetables than meat or fish, we can also plan an entirely vegetarian menu. No matter what the main ingredient of our meal, we will not forget the wine. Then we will make our way past the fresh pasta shop to my 400-year-old (but thoroughly renovated and air-conditioned!) apartment in rue du Jésus, where if pissaladière is on the menu we can get started on the yeast dough. A couple of hours later we will sit down to an authentic Niçois meal and toast our efforts with a glass of rosé (or, if you prefer, an intriguing local red or white wine).
My classes are recommended by the travel guides Rick Steves, Frommer's, Fodor's, Lonely Planet, MTV and Time Out, as well as by Gourmet Magazine.
Cost of the market tour, cooking class and four-course lunch: 195 euros per person for up to 7 people. Cooking classes are also available for larger groups on request.
Nice is the only city in France that is famed for its street food, a reminder of the days when the county of Nice belonged to the Italian-ruled Kingdom of Savoy. Many of the snacks sold at the market and in the Old Town's street food stands are the types of things farmers would have eaten in the fields to calm mid-morning hunger pangs: a tradition known as la merenda.
On a fascinating three-hour private tour led by a bilingual local food specialist, you will learn about the history of Nice and its food and taste such unexpected delicacies as pissaladière (caramelized onion tart), socca (chick pea pancake), fougasse (Provençal flatbread) and tourte de blettes (a sweet pie with a surprise ingredient). You will also sample a selection of Provençal olive oils, taste vinegars flavored with passion fruit or piment d'Espelette, discover the secrets of French cheese and visit an artisanal pork butcher. Participants will receive Rosa's list of recommended restaurants complete with a map showing where to find them.
Cost of the Nice Street Food tour: 80 euros per person (minimum 3 people, maximum 8), including tastings and public transport. This tour takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays. Private tours and tours for larger groups are available on request.
A healthy and fun challenge for your employees.
There is nothing like spending time in the kitchen to build camaraderie and a healthy sense of competition! Our teambuilding classes for 10-20 people take place at an organic vegetable farm in the wine-producing area of Bellet, in the hills of Nice, or at a café next to the Cours Saleya market (privatized for the occasion). We will split the participants into smaller groups and provide them with basic recipes that also leave room for creativity. Then the timer will start for 90 minutes, giving each group a chance to show its stuff under time pressure. What is important is not only the final result but how cooperatively the participants work together. Finally, everyone will enjoy the results of their efforts with a well-deserved glass of wine.
Cost of the Teambuilding Cooking Class: from 90 euros/person for an appetiser class to 150 euros/person for a full meal.
"I've wanted to touch base and say hello - but also thank you for a wonderful day in the market and in your home. It was a perfect introduction in to local cooking and the traditions of southern France. Last weekend, I had guests for dinner and tried the Corsican cheesecake - my niece had spent the day picking strawberries at a local farm and brought them fresh to accompany the cake. It was heavenly!"
Shirley Lewchuk, Toronto