Salade Niçoise, meaning salad from Nice, is served in restaurants all over the world making it undoubtedly the most famous of the local gastronomic specialities from the Côte d’Azur, but have you heard of my top 3 best snacks from Nice? When visiting the French Riviera you’ve just got to try them.
A large chickpea crêpe, cooked on a copper dish about a metre wide in a wood-fired oven, consisting of chickpea flour, olive oil, salt and water. While cooking, the flames should just lick the surface without grilling it too much; there’s an art to perfecting this delicious pancake. It should be very thin and slightly burnt on the top. Socca is served in little scrapings, piping hot with lots of pepper and ideally a glass of cold rosé!
A great big round bread roll, stuffed with tuna, tomato, onion, basil, slices of hard boiled egg, anchovy, radish, green pepper, black olives and plenty of olive oil – basically a salad niçoise in bread. The name comes from Italian pane bagnato meaning wet bread, which indicates just how much olive oil should be used – loads! Don’t expect to look elegant when eating this delight; you’ll have oil dripping everywhere. Great for eating on the beach – just jump in the sea to rinse off when you’ve finished.
This unfortunately named dish (to English ears) often doesn’t look great either, but trust me, it tastes wonderful. The name comes from “peis salats” which means anchovy purée in Nissart, giving a clue as to one of the ingredients. It is in fact a sort of onion and anchovy tart. It consists of a base made of a reasonably thick, and very soft, bread-like dough topped with a generous covering of lightly caramelised onions that should melt in the mouth. Some people add whole anchovy fillets on top, others spread anchovy paste on the base before adding the onions. Both versions are authentic and delicious. Pissaladière is dotted with black olives and can be served cold or warm but not hot.
You can find Pan-Bagnat and Pissaladière in boulangeries and snack bars all over the Côte d’Azur but Socca is less widely available. Sellers using a traditional oven are located mainly in the old town of Nice, at markets in nearby towns (Antibes every morning is a good example) and at village fêtes.