Just a self-trained home cook in an 8' x 12' kitchen honing his craft…

Archive for June 28, 2011

Summer Vacation

Unfortunately, due to several household projects around my condo scheduled for this year, we are foregoing a trip other than a possible quick visit to Tybee Island this fall. As much as we would love to go to France, it was just not the fiscally responsible thing to do until a few of the household renovations are completed- and paid for.

Fortunately though, our friends who are traveling have been generous enough to share some photos.

Ah, the Côte d'Azur!

This incredible view looks out to the Mediterranean along the Côte d’Azur. Please click on the image and open them to their full-size to enjoy the color and details.
It’s almost as good as being there in person. I keep telling myself this, hoping if I say it enough, I’ll eventually believe it!

The quintessential French farmhouse.

This is the classic French country farmhouse, even though very little farming goes on anymore. Don’t miss the fabulous wisteria clambering around the windows on the second floor. Just close your eyes and imagine the warm sun on your skin and the scent of the flowers.

One of the most famous(and fiercely debated- the French love to debate most anything and there are as many opinions as there are Frenchmen) dishes of this part of the French coast is the classic salade Niçoise. It may well be the most famous composed salad in the world. This means simply, the ingredients dressed separately, arranged artfully on the platter(or individual plates) and served. As Julia said, ‘some people toss everything together and it looks like dog food.’ Certainly a less-than-appetizing description in my opinion.

The debate originates as so many food debates in France do about what is the most classic approach, which ingredients are essential and which are optional according to season and region. I have ordered this salad many times in France and each time it varies ever so slightly. Sometimes anchovies included, sometimes not. Sometimes the potatoes are steamed, other times boiled. Most often though, the green beans are ever-present, as is the tuna(always canned or bottled, never fresh) and the dressing is always vinaigrette. If you’ve never had bottled tuna packed in oil, look for it in a speciality market. In my neighborhood, you can find it at Toscano and Sons Italian Market and it is just delicious.

Here’s the bountiful table during preparation.

The 'bare-bone' ingredients during preparation.

Looks like the only thing missing is the al fresco dining area. Oh, here it is…

Lunch, anyone?

And here is the presentation. Doesn’t this look just delicious? Here’s the line-up from the top going clockwise-

stuffed eggs- 2 kinds, quail and chicken(notice how yellow the yolks of French eggs are due to their diet), tiny black niçoise olives, cherry tomato halves, haricot vert(tiny green beans), new red potatoes, anchovies and tuna, all atop buttery green leaf lettuce.

A perfect salade niçoise- lyrically composed!

If you serve in this way(from a platter), each plate gets a bit of each ingredient. Usually extra vinaigrette is alongside.

Next time you make a salad for your mealtime, whether it be a salade niçoise or a green salad with tomato wedges and carrots, try this method of composing it artfully for presentation, and you may just may hear in the background the crashing of the barricades and those famous words ‘Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé……

Toujours, bon appétit!
© Kyle A Nelson