Riviera – home to great food – A French Riviera Gastrocrawl

The french Riviera – not only a place of luxury homes, beautiful views and charming villages,  the New York Times recently had a great article on some wonderful food related things to see and do here… we have some great properties in Provence, within a few hours drive of here – we also work with some lovely boutique hotels – in Nice and surrounding areas – so  take a closer look at the whole article – A French Riviera Gastrocrawl; a few delicious excerpts below: and see if you would like to book the next jet out to the Riviera. from the article in the New York Times

By ALEXANDER LOBRANO
Published: May 11, 2012

For years, there have been so many Michelin-starred restaurants along the Côte d’Azur, the glamorous seaside strip known to Anglophones as the French Riviera, that the company’s guidebook includes an inset map of the region to display them legibly. Today, though, it’s not fancy dining rooms with tuxedo-wearing waiters and vertiginous tariffs that are the stars, but small, casual homey places with chefs who showcase the region’s superb produce as part of brief and regularly changing menus — and at reasonable prices.

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Last summer saw an acceleration of this trend, as a necklace of bistros opened, rebooting the reputation of the Mediterranean shoreline as one of the best places to eat in France. Having followed these openings from my home in Paris, I found in them a tempting excuse for a long weekend on the Riviera, so I planned a gastronomic crawl from Nice to Antibes, with a different local friend joining me at most meals.

Chat Noir, Chat Blanc

Tucked away in a cool lane behind the sunny tourist-filled terraces overlooking the Cours Saleya market in Nice, Giorgio Grilenzoni’s vest-pocket bistro, which the Milan-born chef opened in 2010, serves up delicious modern, market-driven Mediterranean food. And if you manage to get one of the restaurant’s three sidewalk tables, it also offers a show of daily life in the neighborhood.

Lunching on my own, I settled in over a glass of white wine and enjoyed the action. Everyone in the neighborhood loves Mr. Grilenzoni, and he loves them back. Pushing his official yellow bicycle, the postman handed Mr. Grilenzoni his mail, cheerfully adding, “Pas de factures!” (no bills). A market vendor stopped in to give him some unsold tomatoes, and the Pakistani spice merchant next door came by for a chat. “Le Vieux Nice is a village, and it’s surprisingly international,” Mr. Grilenzoni told me. “What we have in common is a love of good food.”

Mr. Grilenzoni and Nicola Sikic, who makes the desserts and runs the dining room, worked at the glamorous Nice restaurant La Reserve when the Finnish chef Jouni Tormanen was heading its kitchen. But though Mr. Grilenzoni may be cooking on the Côte d’Azur, he is decidedly proud of his Italian roots, as evidenced by my menu that day: a terrific starter of foie gras with a sauté of black cherries, followed by a superb risotto flecked with tiny sweet peas and topped with an octopus-studded Bolognese sauce, two plump grilled gambas and a scattering of wild arugula.

“The French don’t understand you shouldn’t add crème fraîche to risotto — the creaminess comes from the starch in the rice,” he said with incredulity, as I was finishing up my meal with some mascarpone-enriched tiramisù. “But, as you say, I let them off the hook because of their incredible cheeses.”

Chat Noir, Chat Blanc, 20, rue Barillerie, Nice; (33-4) 93-80-28-69; chatnoirchatblanc.com. Lunch for two, without drinks or tip, is about 60 euros, about $78 at $1.30 to the euro. Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday.

Flaveur

There’s no shortage of old ladies in gold lamé flats walking small dogs in Nice. But during a visit last summer, the young crowd at Flaveur, which won a Michelin star last year, favored architectural eyeglasses and expensive Italian sportswear. It also seemed energized by the restaurant’s unusual offerings, a delicious example of a rejuvenated city.

The Mediterranean has always been a caldron of culinary exchange, as commerce and conquest bounced flavors, ingredients and techniques around its shores. Today, though, many of the Riviera’s best young chefs are looking beyond local horizons for inspiration. Among them are Gaël and Mickaël Tourteaux, brothers who run the compact kitchen of this storefront space.

Gaël, the elder brother, was born in Reims, and Mickaël on Guadeloupe, and they trained with two of the Riviera’s reigning maestros — the star chef Alain Llorca, who was once chef at Le Chantecler at the Hotel Negresco in Nice and now runs Alain Llorca in nearby St.-Paul-de-Vence, and the Nice-based Japanese chef Keisuke Matsushima. No surprise, there was a deft and original use of tropical produce, Asian flavors and Provençal ingredients throughout our tasting menu.  click on the article for more….

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