Retrospective: Nice

Our last day in Nice, Jan and I had a list of errands we needed to complete, including packing, feeding the little doves who truly kept track of us during our stay, finding moules frites (mussels with french fries) before we departed, arranging our transportation to the airport and train station, and having a fine dining meal at one of Michael and Tim’s favorite restaurants, down on the Port.

We discovered that the doves hang out on the roof of the school house across the street. While I was packing, Lovey landed on the balcony railing just outside the open French doors of the bedroom and made her presence known with loud cooing to the point that I had to close the doors for fear she would come hop into the suitcase.  We fed her early…she arrived with TWO guests…and the pigeons, emboldened by the sight of so much food, engaged in a winning battle for the evening meal in spite of Jan and me standing guard and shooing them off.  They intimidated the doves who departed for good that evening.

Bags duly packed, we slipped on jackets and took the seven minute walk down the hill to Le Passe-Plat where we were the first arrivals for dinner at 7:30 PM.  Our meal  was a total contrast to the one we had in St. Paul de Vence.  We could have titled it “Playing with Food” in the most delightful, highest complimentary way.  For a starter, Jan ordered zucchini stuffed with crab and I ordered foie gras with shrimp.  We were both wildly surprised when these two plates arrived at the table.

Sushi of fois gras and shrimp with radish straws, tiny pearls of wasabi and dots of honey mixed with miso…all to be consumed using chop sticks.  Ribbons of zucchini sitting in a deconstructed dab of crab salad, a zucchini stick on top, a slice of roasted blood orange all sitting in a puddle of red pepper coulis.  Then a large round yellow zucchini, fully stuffed with crab salad and surrounded by the same coulis…all served on a round matte black plate. The photo does not do it justice.  Not sure which was the most delightful…the taste or the presentation.

Jan ordered grilled tuna with a green curry sauce for her main course and my choice was roast lamb with ratatouille. Jan’s tuna arrived on a long slender plate and looked like a flower garden..ribbons of carrots, slightly steamed pea pods, carefully prepared purple onion quarters and the minty green curry with a hint of wasabi heat served in a shot glass for dipping individually cooked pieces of sashimi tuna. It was accompanied by a bowl of the most delicious sweet potato puréed with coconut milk.  My roast lamb tenderloin had the same carrot ribbons with puddles of carrot purée, little shoots of chard leaves and a side dish of ratatouille with a very finely, evenly chopped melange of nicoise vegetables.  And we each had dessert!!   Delicious, every single morsel. Two hours later as we walked home after dinner, Jan said, “I didn’t know what I wanted for dinner tonight, but that meal was exactly the right thing.”   By the time we departed, the restaurant had filled.

 

We discovered as we travelled together for the past two weeks that our patterns have not changed much through the years. In 1994 we spent two or three weeks on a long and hilarious journey through France. We visited museums and galleries and jewelry stores and scarf stores, olive stands, ate too much tapenade (so much too much that it no longer appeals),  shopped and viewed art until we dropped, engaged with people wherever we were and created memories that still cause us to burst into laughter as we recall an incident. In Nice it was the same. Whereas olive oil was just olive oil in the nineties, it has now morphed into infused oils, blends of herbs and oil so once again our oil-tasting expedition took on a new and updated form of flavor magic. In an homage to age, Jan carried the heavier sacks and grumbling along the way, acquiesced as I insisted that we take the granny cart to carry our groceries. It wasn’t just little old ladies whom we saw pulling them along the streets, but it feels that way to us. Better the trolley than the arm.

Our rides to the airport and the train station arrived all too soon on Thursday morning and we hastily and tearfully said our goodbyes.  Rain and sunshine, dove, strawberries and asparagus, Galeries Lafayette, Picasso, Miro, Leger, blue seas and blue chairs, #ILOVENICE and the construction on rue Cahterine Segurane and a French election all combined to make a memorable two weeks for both of us.

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