Nice: 1. Pleasing and agreeable in nature: had a nice time...

/ Monday, June 9, 2008

Indeed...Mama and I had a
nice time in Nice. The cheesiness of that statement never gets old! 

Katherine's second trip to Paris came to a close with a lovely mother-daughter excursion to the south of France. A hop, skip and petit saut away...EasyJet from Orly-to-Nice was as simple provincial pie. 

Speaking of pie...have you ever heard of Tourte de Blette? Neither did I before our girlie jaunt. Tourte de Blette is a pastry filled with sugared vegetables, namely Swiss Char. Imagine the light and velvety texture of a thick vegetable quiche...only sweetened. It sounds insane,
I know! The regional specialty was created back in the day as a tarte with just about every palatable leaf in it that you could imagine. The same Tourte de Blette also comes in a savory version. The salé verision could easily pass as a quiche if hunger or early-morning fatige clouded your better judgment. Salé or Sucre? Take your pick! Clearly we had to taste-test both. 

The final verdict:The sugared tourte was distinctive! If given the option I'd rather have the savory pick, but nothing could compete with the bizare ingredients of it's honeyed counterpart. How many recipes successfully incorporates numerous vegetables into a dessert item? Besides carrot cake of course. Could you char and spinach sprinkled with a dusting of powered sugar? It's sheer Popeye heaven! Epicurious features a Tourte de Blette recipe that appears to be a bit more approachable than other versions that I've read. If you're hankering for a piece of provincial perfection...give this snack a try. I've yet to make this recipe but it has received a 100% rating!
photograph from the recipe

Next order of Business: Chez Palmyre
Thank goodness for fellow bloggers. My mother and I had read about this gem on a travel blog about Nice, France. We had no idea what we were in for when we approached the small resto in the Latin Quater. Through that entrance a unique dining experience awaits you. All other dining conventions are checked at the door. You are no longer the sapient are simply another mouth to feed and Anna will do it how she sees fit!

Anna's family has owned the restaurant for over 80 years. Her mother, 90 years old and change, lives above the restaurant to this very day. Anna is no spring goose either, but you should see the man power she has in the kitchen! Chez Palmyre is a one woman show. No one else is welcomed into the kitchen. Instead of a commercial stove, she has a standard four burner you'd find in your neighbor's home. Instead of a monster refrigerator, she has an old school fridge-icebox combo shoved awkwardly between the bar and the front door...facing out towards the incoming customers. Perhaps she uses the frigidaire as an additional barricade to stop unwanted patrons from entering when they are unwanted. Oh, and trust me...there were many unwanted costumers. 

Chez Palmyre appears to have only one seating per night. Anna fills the tiny tables and that's it. No one comes. No one goes. No one moves.Upon filling the final chair, Anna walks over to the door and turns the lock. Hungry walkers press their face to the window and jiggle the handle of the front door as if they were locked out by mistake. One persistent man rapped at the door for a solid six minutes until Anna finally took matters into her own hands.  She threw open the lock, poked her head out and snapped Avez vous une réservation? Unfortunately for this famished garcon the answer was no. She continued on, Non, tu ne peut pas entre. Revenu demain...and shut the door in his face. The lock was shut once again. 

Surely her brash approach to costumer service is only a reaction to her personal stress. As I said, she's a one woman establishment with more than enough to keep her occupied. She's the waitress, bartender, host, chef and busboy all in one module! There was one person there that could have been of some help, but his presence did little to make the situation any better. Her husband. 

Seated next to Anna in this photograph is her loving hubby. Katherine was insistent that we get a photograph of him, but snapping a photo of a man eating dinner is a thorny task. This man was the roi of the castle! He walked in as Anna was busily stirring pots and removing trays from the oven. He looked at her, looked at the crowd and sat himself right down...offering no assistance to his working wife. Anna would ran back and forth from the bar to the kitchen. She'd pass his table countless times arms filled with ingredients and platers. He offered nothing but a few barks, which I assume related some how to his own dinner. I say this because in the midst of serving the others in the room, Anna stopped what she was doing, prepared a special dish for her husband and brought it to his place. Even that was not enough. An addition bark from the seated lover demanded a bottle of red wine. Again, Anna put down her ladle and fetched a foggy green bottle from the shelf. Hubby shoveled his food into his mouth. He glared at the other patrons watching him eat as they waited for their own meals. At one point, Anna guilted him into stirring a pot which he tended to reluctantly. Indeed, he was the king of Chez Palmyre. All hail the full belly seated in the rear. 

The food. 

Well, there's no doubt that everything if fresh and homemade. You can see Anna working right behind your table. In terms of was fine. The dishes were certainly simple. No extra attention was paid to presentation and the seasonings were predictable if not a little too light. The menu is hand written each day on a few sheets of notebook paper. Options are limited. I started with baked artichoke with a vinaigrette dipping sauce. Next, I chose the beef dish which tasted similar to a classic pot-roast. Comme dessert, j'ai choisi creme caramel. My meal was satisfactory; small yet ample. My mother's meal on the other hand was a bit more meager. She order the turkey breast for her main plate. What emerged from the kitchen looked more like three tiny slices of turkey you'd get from the deli counter at Stop'n'Shop. Not only was the portion minuscule, there was hardly any gravy and NOTHING else on the plate. Clearly, our dear Anna has roasted one turkey breast and was rationing out only a few slices at a time for her customers. I bet hubby in the back had more than a mouthful of bird. Mama's dessert did make up for it though. She ordered a baked apple that was cooked until soft, spicy and sweet. 

In the end, Chez Palmyre charmed us with is ambience and dinner-theater like qualities rather than it's cuisine. Nevertheless, I would return if ever I visited Nice in the future. My greatest piece of advice...MAKE A RESERVATION. You can't get in without one...although we did...but we're girls and we're persuasive. 

And now, a brief tour of Nice...

The petit culinary mastermind was waiting for us right on the side of the road! Bonjour Ratatouille...

More to come...

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