Sunday, June 19, 2016

La Bananarie, much more than exotic decor, Eze Bord du Mer, France....

One of the reasons we bought a place in Eze Bord du Mer is because of the handful of exceptional local restaurants within walking distance. One of the gems is La Bananarie, a very special courtyard restaurant situated between 2 ancient buildings on the coastal road that runs along the Côte de Azur. Though I can't find information to verify this, I've heard that bananas used to be grown here and in nearby Petite Afrique. So I always wonder if this building, from which the restaurant takes it's name used to actually be a place for processing bananas in some way? 

I've written about The Bananarie before, emphasizing it's exotic decor

La Bananarie
But when we went there for lunch the other day, I realized there is so much more to this unique spot. Everything about the food, setting, views, and service just allows you to completely relax. It's run by 2 brothers who grew up in Eze, I'm sure they spent a lot of time running along the Nietzsche Trail that connects the Med to the Alps. 

They offer a refreshing menu of fresh juices. Tulum, a combination of orange and pineapple is my favorite. Mr. Splendid loves the Delhi Special made with grapefruit juice, strawberries and mint, SO refreshing. They also serve wines, beer, teas and coffee.

As you sip your beverages, if your eyes aren't glued to the amazing cliff rising behind you, you will probably enjoy contemplating rich patina of the walls that frame this garden paradise.

The whole setting is in and amongst a lush gardens which includes herbs that they pick to add to the meals and drinks as needed.

All of this is intertwined with exotic details that move you into a zen state of mind.

Along with all of that, the brothers whip up the most delicious, fresh, healthy meals. I ordered the grilled chicken which came with a variety of inspiring salads, I can't wait to experiment with some of these culinary notions. The chickpea salad had a marvelous punch of cumin, and the carrot salad was complimented with shredded coconut and orange sections. Look at how lovely that little salad is in the endive leaf, a mix of sliced radishes, celery and some greens with a light vinaigrette, it couldn't be more simple, and doesn't it look fresh and inviting on the plate?

So if you find yourself in our little section of paradise this summer, driving between Nice and Monaco perhaps, do swing by the Bananarie for a delightful respite,

or maybe just recreate your favorite parts of the scene in your own abode.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

if it's Monday there will be antiques, The Cours Saleya, Nice, France...

The Cours Saleya in the heart of the historic section of Nice, France. Ancient buildings frame this massive pedestrian square. On one side of these buildings are streets winding through ancient Nice, filled with shops and restaurants to explore. On the other side is the Promenade des Anglais, a busy boardwalk and the Mediterranean Sea. At the foot of the square is this prominent ochre colored Italianate building where Henri Matisse lived for much of his life, painting in the inspiring light of the South of France. 

On Fridays in the square there is an incredible flower market. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there is a produce and food market where you can find the freshest produce, a wide array of seasoned salts, herbs, local olive oils and so much more. But, on Monday the Cours Saleya is devoted to antiques or brocante, at the Marché a la Brocante. Dealers set up their stands and provide one of the largest offerings of antiques in the land.

You never know what you'll find at this market, you can start browsing when it opens at 7:30 in the morning and continue into the late afternoon. Here are some things that caught my eye: 

a deconstructed Murano chandelier

Random china and treasures from faraway lands

Vintage designer goods


funky shoes

Colorful clothing, bags and furniture made from Indian cottons

Vintage costume jewelry

this and that

antique silver and china

lost art and keys

home furnishings

My daughter and I walked away with a bag of treasures including this great piece. It needs to be reframed but I love this painting on a rough edged sheet of canvas. The colors and motion are perfect for our apartment. I am planning on having it reframed between panes of glass so it appears to be floating on the wall. 

After all of that browsing, one has to eat something. The shopping area is flanked by rows of restaurants which make the proposition even more appealing. I've tried many of them over the years, and so far my favorite is Le Safari at 1, Cours Saleya. 

Le Safari
They make the very best Grande Aioli I have ever consumed! Tender white fish in a stew of potatoes, cauliflower, celery, haricot verts, Niçoise olives, along with clams, prawns and a few snails. With a large side of creamy, garlicky aioli. Really cooked to perfection!

thanks for joining me at the Cours Saleya, I wonder what we'll find next week. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Chill your rosé....

You don't have to travel to France anymore to enjoy one of the classic pleasures of the south of France, a chilled glass of rosé, the colder the better. Rosé is a popular beverage here for lunch and aperitifs because it is lower in alcohol content than other wines and compliments most every food. Luckily, merchants in the US and beyond have recognized the delights of this beverage and you can find rosé at most good grocers. 

To keep your beverage extra chilly without diluting the flavor buy an extra bottle of your favorite pink stuff and pour it in an ice cube tray to make a batch of rosé ice cubes.

And just to make them even prettier, why not drop a few strawberries or raspberries in the wine before putting the tray in the freezer? It takes a couple of hours for the wine to freeze, so you may want to make these the night before, or just keep a tray in the freezer for spontaneous entertaining. 

Voila! The frosty pink cubes will add a fresh chic~pink accent to your to your summer bar scene.

For another layer of chill, visit Keeping it cool for tips on preparing these beautiful frosty glasses with ease. 

Keeping it cool, rosé and raspberries
A votre santé!

et merci trixie!!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Mas Provençal....Eze village, France

Can you believe this surreal setting?

It felt like a fantasy, but this really is the scene I savored each time I looked up from our lovely table at Mas Provençal in Eze Village one evening, a massive canopy of yellow lilies hovering over our table.

I felt like a ladybug dining in a flower garden,  sub lilium, in the depths of a fantastic forest. 

The talented and passionate owner, Heinz keeps this atrium of a restaurant lush, eclectic and alive. It is dripping with crystals, moss, tomatoes, orchids,

grapes and amaryllis

and even a few forbidden apples,

Wandering the trails beneath the understory I found intimate tables tucked away in the corners. 

Moss covered nymphs intermingled with antique ceramics.

If you find yourself in this section of the world I recommend you treat yourself to this delicious Garden of Eden.

The risotto is made in this Parmigiana casing.

Oh, and during dinner you're serenaded by a duet and after dinner, they pick up the beat and hand out tambourines so everyone can sing and dance around the forest floor. 

So if you find yourself in this part of the world, try to find a seat at Mas Provençal, I'm pretty sure it will make you happy.