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!

IMG_1308

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.

New Years Eve Dinner: Leeks

My parents have been here in Nice for the holidays and we’ve been eating out A LOT and enjoying every bite 🙂 (more on that later).  But I’ll start recounting our week backwards because I decided to make my Sunday Night Dinner this week on New Years Eve.  In France, New Years Eve is called la Saint Sylvestre and they celebrate with a feast at night called le Réveillon.  The feast typically includes champagne, some type of sea food, and foie gras (duck or goose liver), so we made do with what we had.  We got a small bottle of champagne, had shrimp and garlic butter sauce as an appetizer, and of course French pastries after dinner 🙂

Made by mom :)

Made by mom 🙂

This is my life :)

This is my life 🙂

This week’s ingredient: leeks (poireaux).  I was inspired by an appetizer my mom and I had on Christmas of mini ravioli on a bed of wilted leeks that was DELICIOUS.  Chicken pot pie is a dish I associate with home and cold weather, so I decided on a chicken and leek pie with mushrooms and potatoes, adapted from here.

IMG_1276

Ingredients:
Pie crust (I used a boxed one since that’s what I had in the cupboard, but any standard pie crust with flour, butter, and water or even a pre-made puff pastry crust will do)
1 large potato, peeled and diced (1/4 inch – 1/2 inch cubes)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
500 g (about 1/4 pound) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in small chunks
2 leeks (just the white parts), thinly sliced
7-8 champignons de Paris OR medium-sized white button mushrooms, sliced
350 mL (about 1.5 c) chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp cold water
4 tbsp creme fraiche
1 beaten egg for glazing
salt and pepper to taste

Key ingredients: potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and LEEKS

Key ingredients: potatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and LEEKS

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Prepare the pie crust, cover, chill for 30 minutes.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potato.  Boil for about 10 minutes, until you can insert a knife easily into a cube of potato (but not so long that the potato starts to become mushy).  Drain.
3. Heat a large pan with the butter and olive oil.  Fry the chicken for 3-4 minutes.  Add the leaks and mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes, until soft.
4. Add the stock to the pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

IMG_1287
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, leeks, and mushrooms from the stock pan to a 1 to 2 liter pie or casserole dish.  Add the potatoes and stir to distribute evenly.
6. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and cold water to make a paste.  Thin with 2 tbsp stock, then add the paste to the stock pan and stir on the heat non-stop until thickened.
7. Remove from the heat, add the creme fraiche, season with salt and pepper.

IMG_1292

8. Pour over the leeks/potatoes/chicken mixture.

IMG_1293

9. Flour your counter and roll out the pastry dough until just larger than the dish.

IMG_1289

10. Carefully lay the pastry over the filling and push the edges of the pastry against the edges of the pie pan.  Make a small hole in the center of the pie.  Brush the pastry with beaten egg.

IMG_1294
9. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.

IMG_1295
10. Cool slightly before cutting and serving.

IMG_1296

The great part about this recipe is that it’s SO versatile.  If you like more potato, add more potato; if you’re a vegetarian, take out the chicken, if you like more sauce, double the stock.  You could even add more vegetables, like carrots or corn.  Personally, I would probably use more chicken to make it more substantial, more leeks because it’s the star ingredient, and more sauce, and I’d bake it in a smaller, deeper dish to make bigger slices.  This recipe yielded about 4 servings.

So Happy New Year!  Here’s to a happy, healthy 2013, wherever you are 🙂

IMG_1299

 

French word of the day:
billet (bee-LAY)- ticket
J’ai acheté un billet de train pour aller à Paris!
I bought a train ticket to go to Paris!