Benvenuti in Italia!

Lately I’ve been neglecting my blog and I’ve been called out a bunch for it.  I only have about 4 weeks left in France, so I’ll try to get all my thoughts down (and a few recipes) before then!

One of the coolest parts about being in Nice is that Italy is so close, only about a 45 minute train ride to Ventimiglia!  Over the last couple months I’ve had a lot of Italian influence in my life and I’m definitely not complaining.  When Emily came to visit in March, we took a day trip to Ventimiglia and it started how I think every morning should start—with 2 Italian cappuccinos and a cannoli 🙂  I learned that the hard shell cannolis are actually from Sicily, but we had a cannoli with a soft pastry outside, which is more common in the north of Italy.

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Italian cappuccinos

Italian cannoli

Italian cannoli

After that we walked to the giant food market that had some of the best looking produce I’d ever seen.  We walked around looking at all the fruits and vegetables and flowers and then doubled back to buy some stuff for dinner: a couple artichokes, fresh tomatoes, some buffala mozzarella, and two kinds of ravioli.  I was really tempted to buy a kilo of strawberries but it was only March so Emily convinced me they wouldn’t be very good…

Flowers at the market

Flowers at the market

Mozzarella and tomato salad with our produce from the market

Mozzarella and tomato salad with our produce from the market

Ricotta ravioli and mushroom ravioli

Ricotta ravioli and mushroom ravioli for dinner

Then we wandered down to the flea market, where they literally sell everything.  There are vendors with cheap sunglasses next to huge stacks of kitchen pots and pans next to vendors selling bras and underwear and bathing suits next to tables of men’s and women’s shoes next to gourmet food stands with cheeses and sauces and dried meats.  It’s definitely a one-stop shop.  It’s also right next to the beach.  The view of the sea is nice, but the beaches on the Italian Riviera aren’t as nice as the beaches in Nice and it was really windy, so I think I’ll stick to the French Riviera for that.

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Flea market

And of course it wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without trying some gelato 🙂

YUMMM

YUMMM

 

Now fast-forward to this past weekend—Italy came to Nice!  Every year in June, there’s a big Italian food expo in Nice, right on the Promenade des Anglais, called L’Italie à table.  There are tons of vendors selling cheese, olive oil, meat, and more.  The weather was finally fairly decent so Isabelle and Tanya and I spent Saturday afternoon at the beach and then met Luc and Ursula for an aperitif at L’Italie à table.  It was SO good.  We each bought a glass of wine and just walked around visiting all the booths, most of which were giving out free samples.  Isabelle and Tanya both speak Italian, so they were chatting up the vendors a bit.  Throughout the course of the evening, I tried a LOT: pecorino cheese flavored with pear and one flavored with truffle, dried sausage, the best olive oil I’ve ever had in my life, porchette (a giant roast pork), hazelnut and chocolate spreads like Nutella but better, parmigiano reggiano, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, and the crunchy Italian snack food taralli flavored with fennel and red pepper.  We each bought an arancini, which are rice balls stuffed with meat and peas and coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, and yes, it is as delicious as it sounds.

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Arancini

And guys, we ate olives the size of golf balls!

All kinds of olives

All kinds of olives

At the end of the night, I had to indulge myself in a real Sicilian cannoli before we each bought a glass of Prosecco and sat on the beach to watch the sun set.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect evening 🙂

Sicilian cannoli

Sicilian cannoli

Prosecco and the sunset-- chin chin :)

Prosecco and the sunset– chin chin 🙂

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Luc, Ursula, me, and Tanya

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Tanya, me, Ursula, and Isabelle

 

Ok now rewind a little bit.  When I went to Ventimiglia with Emily, I bought a packet of squid ink pasta to save for another time, so this is where the Sunday Night Dinner recipe comes in.  Squid ink pasta is obviously flavored with squid ink, so it’s black and looks a little bit creepy, but it’s really good.  Two weeks ago, Isabelle and I (well mostly Isabelle) made squid ink pasta with fresh seiche (kind of like squid, but closer to cuttlefish).  So here’s this week’s SND with squid/seiche (from http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Tagliolini-al-doppio-nero-di-seppia.html, but good luck reading it since it’s in Italian) 🙂

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Tagliolini al nero di sepia (Squid Ink Pasta)

Ingredients:
250 g squid
4 g squid ink
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste
Pepper
½ glass white wine

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Instructions:

1. Wash and clean the squid – don’t forget to take out the bone inside if there is one.  Cut into thin strips.

Trying to get the ink out of the ink sack...

Trying to get the ink out of the ink sack…

2. In a medium sauce pan brown two whole cloves of garlic in four tablespoons of olive oil.

3. Remove the garlic from the pan and add the squid. Cook for a few minutes.

4. As soon as the squid has lost its moisture, add the white wine and cook for a few more minutes before adding ground pepper, the tomato paste, and the squid ink.

5. Cook until the squid is tender, which will change depending on what size squid you have used (max. 5-6 mins of cooking in total).

6. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, and add the squid ink pasta.  Cook until al dente.

7. Drain the pasta, but keep some of the cooking water, and add the pasta to the sauce and stir.  Add some of the cooking water if the sauce is too dry.

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8. Cook for 1-2 minutes more to combine the ingredients.

9. Serve with a generous garnish of chopped parsley.

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When I leave France, I’m definitely going to miss the warm baguettes, delicious cheese, and good wine, but there’s now a special place in my heart (and stomach) for Italian food 🙂

 

French word of the day:
fourrer (foo-RAY)– to stuff
J’espère que je peux fourrer tous mes vêtements dans ma valise quand je retourne aux États-Unis!
I hope I can stuff all my clothes in my suitcase when I return to the US!

Better Late Than Never: Christmas continued

I know I’m super late with this, but I still wanted to share my Christmas vacation adventures with my parents.  Better late than never, right?

December 26-27
After our train ride back to Nice on December 26, we took the afternoon and evening to settle in and go to dinner on the Cours Saleya and then to the Christmas market.  The next day, I showed them the medical school where I work, and we continued up the hill to Cimiez, where we visited the Franciscan monastery, museum, and garden, which was really beautiful, even in December.  Then we made our way over to the Matisse Museum, which was really cool and reminded us of some of Cat’s work 🙂  After a picnic lunch, we walked down to the Promenade des Anglais to sit on the famous blue chairs and grab a drink at one of the beach restaurants.  Pizza and pastries for dinner! 🙂

Franciscan monastery

Franciscan monastery

Garden behind the monastery

Garden behind the monastery

Flowers blooming in December!

Flowers blooming in December!

Matisse Museum

Matisse Museum

Blue chairs by the sea :)

Blue chairs by the sea 🙂

Aubergines on my pizza?  Yes please!

Aubergines on my pizza? Yes please!

December 28
I really wanted to show them the fruit/vegetable/flower market so we walked to the market in the morning and enjoyed a few breakfast pastries.  In the afternoon, we took the bus to Monaco, where we walked around the Christmas market and indulged in some waffles, typical French carnival food… yummm!  We walked around for the afternoon and saw the Monte Carlo casino (and actually went inside!), the palace, and the cathedral where Prince Ranier and Grace Kelly were married.  On the way back to the bus stop, we saw the most beautiful sunset, and the Christmas lights were spectacular!

Breakfast from the market

Breakfast from the market

Eating by the sea :)

Eating by the sea 🙂

Christmas decorations in Monaco

Christmas decorations in Monaco

Palace

Palace

Cathedral

Cathedral

Waffles with whipped cream and Nutella!

Waffles with whipped cream and Nutella!

Sunset over the port in Monaco

Sunset over the port in Monaco

Monte Carlo casino

Monte Carlo casino

December 29
Saturday morning started with a trip to my favorite museum in Nice— le Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC), followed by a picnic lunch and a walk up to and around the chateau.  The chateau is my absolute favorite view of Nice, and we even saw a rainbow in the waterfall!  A trip to Fenocchios for some ice cream before watching the sunset on the Promenade des Anglais was the perfect end to the afternoon.  Once again, an amazing dinner on the Cours Saleya.

Waterfall at the chateau

Waterfall at the chateau

ICE CREAM :)

ICE CREAM 🙂

Sunset on the Promenade des Anglais

Sunset on the Promenade des Anglais

December 30
On Sunday, we decided to spend the day away from “tourist-y” Nice on the small island of Ste Marguerite, which is a 15 minute ferry ride from Cannes.  There are no cars allowed on the island and since it was December, there weren’t many people there either.  It was beautiful!  There’s a small fort on the island, which we visited, as well as a museum.  We also visited the building where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned before he was transferred to the Bastille.  We ate lunch on a little beach and took a walk around the island and down the Allée des Eucalyptus.  Chinese for dinner 🙂

View of Cannes from the ferry

View of Cannes from the ferry

The fort and the museum on Ste Marguerite

The fort and the museum on Ste Marguerite

We found a friend :)

We found a friend 🙂

Allee des Eucalyptus

Allee des Eucalyptus

Beaches on Ste Marguerite

Beaches on Ste Marguerite

December 31
We managed to find a few places open on New Years Eve, so we spent the morning at the Chagall museum (the only museum in Nice that isn’t free), which is very nice.  But this afternoon was my favorite part of the week.  We went to St. Paul de Vence, which is a little walled village at the top of a hill with a bunch of little artist galleries, candy shops, and cafés.  We walked around looking at the art galleries for a few hours and watched the sunset from the hill.  We went home and made dinner (chicken and leek pie) and walked down to the Promenade des Anglais to see the few (measly) fireworks at midnight.  I missed our big family celebration, but to make up for it we went back at the apartment and indulged in pastries and champagne 🙂

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

Chagall artwork

A street in St. Paul de Vence

A street in St. Paul de Vence

Sunset from St. Paul de Vence

Sunset from St. Paul de Vence

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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January 1-2
The last few days of visiting were spent mostly relaxing and hanging out, doing some souvenir shopping, walking around the Christmas market again, and eating more delicious food.  Then it was time to say goodbye 😦  I loved hanging out with my parents for a week.  It was a different, but fantastic and memorable way to celebrate the holidays! 🙂

 

Our French word of the day:
congélateur (con-JAY-la-tour)- freezer
Je garde toujours des viandes, des légumes, et des pâtes dans le congélateur pour un repas vite.
I always keep meat, vegetables, and pasta in the freezer for a quick meal.

Winter Activities

Even though it’s about 55 degrees and sunny everyday here, I’m still finding opportunities to do winter activities.

With the beach and the palm trees and the absence of snow, it’s hard to get into the Christmas spirit, but decorating my apartment has helped 🙂  I just got a little 3 foot tall artificial tree from the store, and a few decorations.  As a little craft project, I decorated my own ornaments!

My little Christmas tree

My little Christmas tree

Window clings

Window clings

Last week, I went to the Christmas market with some of my new friends.  It’s pretty big and impressive for such a small city like Nice.  There’s a small outdoor skating rink, a huge Ferris wheel, and a bunch of booths where vendors are selling everything from art to cheese to churros to toys.  Plus, there are beautiful lights all over the city!

Christmas tree made of little Christmas trees

Christmas tree made of little Christmas trees

Lights over the Christmas market

Lights over the Christmas market

One of the booths at the Christmas market, and a light show on the building behind it!

One of the booths at the Christmas market, and a light show on the building behind it!

Me on the Ferris wheel :)

Me on the Ferris wheel 🙂

A view of the square from the Ferris wheel

A view of the square from the Ferris wheel

I’ve been missing hockey a LOT, both playing and watching (but I guess I’m not missing much back in the US since the NHL is still locked out).  So when I found out there’s a French hockey league (and a team in Nice– the Eagles), going to a hockey game moved to the top of my list.  I went last night with my friend Donna (she’s Canadian, so she loves hockey too!)  They played Toulouse and Nice won 3-2!  It was much, much, MUCH smaller than any professional or semi-professional hockey game I’ve been to in the US—the rink was probably about as big and as full as a high school rink.  But it was still fun!  We were sitting behind some guys who were leading the cheering and had brought a big drum.  And it was only 6 euros to get in!  I’m definitely going to go again!

GO NICE AIGLES!

ALLEZ NICE AIGLES!

Me and Donna

Me and Donna

They won!

They won!

Finally, there was some talk at our expat coffee this morning of a ski trip… so stay tuned for that 🙂

French word of the day:
pantoufle (pahn-TOOFL)- slipper
Quand il fait froid, je me mets mes pantoufles.
When it’s cold, I put on my slippers.