My Best Plum Recipe

Autumn has brought a distinct change in the selection of fruits in our supermarket. Apples, pears and plums have replaced the strawberries, cherries, apricots, peaches and melons that we enjoyed in spring and summer.

The following spicy plum dessert perfectly complements autumnal dinners.

2 servings
4 large red plums
1 orange
10 dark raisins
50 ml red wine
2 cloves
2 star anises
1 vanilla pod (Fresh and moist!)

Wash the plums, cut into quarters and remove the stones.

Wash thoroughly the orange. With a zester, remove some of the zest. Then juice the orange. Pour the juice into a small casserole. Add the zest.

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a small sharp knife. Scrape with the knife some seeds into the casserole; add the whole pod as well. Add the red wine, raisins, cloves, star anises and plums into the casserole. Bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15- 20 minutes until the plums are soft.

Serve at room temperature. Don’t remove the spices, leave them as a decoration.

I don’t need to use any extra sweetener in this recipe because the natural sweetness of the fruits combined with spices and wine makes it wonderfully tasty. If you prefer sweeter desserts, you can add a little sugar or honey.


Menton Walk

It’s time for a leisurely city stroll on the Riviera. Menton, the town next to the Italian border is said to have the most temperate climate on the French Riviera. The mountains above the coast rise abruptly to 1000m and above protecting the town from chilly northern winds in the winter.

To reach Menton from Nice, we recommend the world famous moyenne corniche. If you need to save time, the motorway A 8 is a good option, especially if you drive from western Nice. You can always take the corniche on your way back.

Visiting some of the gardens, strolling in the old town and along the beach is simply enough for one day. Remember that some of the gardens such as Val Rahmeh have an entrance fee, whereas some are free.

Music courtesy of Far Out Recordings
Artist: Azymuth
Album: Brazilian Soul
Track: Retro Visor


Quails in Casserole, en cocotte

Quails are mid-sized birds which are much appreciated for their taste. Not all quails in Nice supermarkets are game, they are also farm-raised.  In any case, autumn seems like an appropriate season to cook quails in casserole.

My Le Creuset cocotte, casserole is again super for making this dish.

2 servings:

2 quails (cailles)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp tapenade
2 oranges
About 16 small black olives
100 ml white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Grind a little black pepper and stuff a few sprigs of parsley and 1 tsp tapenade inside each quail.

Heat 1 tbsp rapeseed oil in a heavy casserole and brown the quails on both sides until golden brown. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic in the casserole and continue cooking. Add a few grindings black pepper, more parsley sprigs and white wine in the casserole. Reduce the heat, cover the casserole and simmer for 30 minutes, turning the quails once.

Peel the oranges, divide into sections and discard all the white parts and tough membranes. Warm 1 tbsp rapeseed oil in a small saucepan and heat gently the orange sections.

Add the olives in the quail casserole and continue cooking for about 10 minutes.

Serve the quails with orange sections and new potatoes and decorate with chopped parsley.


Hike to Montagne de Thiey (1553 m)

Napoléon disembarked at Golfe-Juan on 1 March 1815 on his return from Elba. At that time there were only mule trails between Grasse and Digne. He was busy returning to Paris and would probably not have ascended any of the mountains on horseback or by foot for that matter. The scenic route used by the Emperor between the French Riviera and Grenoble is today called La Route Napoléon or D6085 (formerly N85) in Alpes Maritimes.
The only connection with Napoléon and the hike presented here is probably the fact that it starts from D6085, north of St-Vallier-de-Thiey. The exact starting point is the parking at Nans, just 19 km from Grasse.
The summit of Montagne de Thiey at 1553m is reached quite easily as the starting point is already at 860m. Even so, the hike presented here is classified as sportif as an additional loop along Créte de Thiey is made and the tour will therefore take about five hours.
The hike is described in French in the guidebook Moyen Pays by Conseil Général and on the web site
Map: “Haut Siagne” TOPno 3543 ET
Music courtesy of Far Out Records; Brazilian Groove Band
Album: Anatomy of Groove; Track:Bananeira


Filets de Sebaste, Redfish, sauce Livornese

This dish was inspired by a plat du jour in Cours Saleya in Nice. Plat du jour is the dish of the day on a restaurant`s menu, usually lunch, and it is always good value for money. It was a gorgeous vegetable, fruit and flower market day in Cours Saleya, and at lunch time we sat outside on the terrace shaded from the September sunshine. Plat du jour was filet de saint-pierre, John Dory fish, sauce Livornese. It was so delicious that I decided to try and emulate it at home.
That day I couldn`t find saint-pierre in our local supermarket, so I replaced it with sebaste, redfish. Sauce Livornese is said to go well with any firm-fleshed white fish. There is no need to add any salt in the sauce because there is already a fair amount of salt in capers and olives. Sauce Livornese compliments cooked potatoes and steamed small courgettes, squash in slices.

2 servings

For the sauce Livornese:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers
About 10 black olives, pitted
100 ml white wine
Juice of ½ a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parsley

For the fish:
2 filets of sebaste, redfish (NB! I prefer filets of saint-pierre, John Dory fish)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 clove garlic, sliced

Pour 2 tbsp rapeseed oil in a small bowl, add the garlic slices and set aside to infuse.
Start preparing the sauce Livornese. Heat 1 tbsp rapeseed oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and gently fry the shallot and garlic. Add the tomato and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add some chopped parsley, save a little for decoration. Grind a few rounds of black pepper in the saucepan, then add the white wine and lemon juice and let reduce a little. Add the capers and olives, and let simmer.
Cook or microwave the potatoes and courgette slices. Keep warm.
Heat the garlic-infused rapeseed oil in a large frying pan on a high heat. Fry the fish filets, about 1 ½ minutes on both sides, depending on thickness. Set the pan aside, covered.
Divide the potatoes, courgette slices and sauce Livornese on the plates. Place the fish filets on top of the sauce, and decorate with chopped parsley.


Hiking Boots

Hiking boots

Choosing suitable hiking boots may not always be a simple task.

My Merrell boots have served me well for seven years! I just had to replace the laces; the new red ones seem to compliment well the old shoes. Even so, it’s soon time to buy new ones.
I have been wondering if it is better to stick to Merrell although I am tempted to try Lowa for a change. Maybe it would be better to continue with the brand which suits you one hundred percent.
My wife’s boots are ladies Salomon Grand Randonnée. She used to have a pair of Asolos which always gave some minor problems during long hikes. Salomon has served her well. You have to remember not to leave them out in sunshine; she once destroyed a pair by doing this.

Do you have a brand that you faithfully buy again and again?


The second favourite dish of the French

Moules frites - The second favourite dish of the French

Moules frites, mussels and fries, was voted the second favorite dish in France a couple of years ago. It lost narrowly to duck breast. Actually, moules frites is thought to originate from Belgium. About one litre mussels is fine per serving. I prefer the small tasty French mussels. An 1,4 kg package of moules de bouchot du Mont Saint Michel AOP is enough for us two, although it is a bit less than 2 litres. The quality is superior.

Instead of frites, I prefer to serve my moules with good whole wheat bread to mop up the good sauce.

2 servings

  • About 2 l mussels, moules de bouchot
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bouquet garni (a bundle of dried herbs tied together with string)
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley

Warm the oil in a large heavy casserole and soften the shallot and garlic.
Wash the mussels and discard any that are damaged or do not close if you knock them.
Add bouquet garni, black pepper and the white wine in the casserole and bring to the boil. Add the mussels and cover the casserole. The small Brittany mussels need about 4 minutes cooking time after the wine has started boiling again. Give the casserole a shake now and again and check that the mussels are well open. You should discard any that have not opened.

Divide the mussels in deep bowls and decorate with parsley.


The other face of le Boréon

Le Boréon today seems to attract more and more visitors. It is one of the gateways to the Mercantour national park. The driving time from Nice is less than 1h 30 minutes. It’s not only a hiker’s paradise as the summer months offer trout fishing, riding and even a wolf park. In the winter, you can rent cross-country skis or snow shoes.

We have done and presented several hikes starting from le Boréon. The tour called Circuit des Adus featured in this video clip shows the easy ascent to col de la Salèse, then the steeper and rockier terrain before reaching the mountain pass Col de la Vallette (2356 m).  On a clear day, you may be tempted to climb the nearby Cime de la Vallette (2449 m), and maybe catch a glimpse of Nice?

Duration:  5 hours
Vertical ascent: 700 m
Map: Vallée de la Vesubie 3741 OT
Music courtesy of Far out Recordings
Album: Aventura
Track: Laranjeras
Artist: Jose Roberto Bertrami (in memory of) and his modern sound


In Nice, we eat flowers

Courgettes flower

In the end of September, I could still find bunches of courgette flowers in our local supermarket. In many countries they are called zucchini flowers. Stuffed and deep-fried courgette flowers are a staple in Nice. The flowers are large and crisp, and never attached to baby courgettes. They are sold in bunches, and I read somewhere that these are in fact male ones, which don`t produce any fruit.

I am not a fan of deep-frying so I have used these flowers to make a simple omelet. I choose free-range eggs, œufs de poules élevèes en plein air. These are shown to have a more favourable fatty acid profile and less cholesterol.

2 servings

  • A bunch of courgette flowers
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 2 tbsp low-fat crème fraîche (15 % fat)
  • 6 slices low-fat chevre, goat cheese (12.5 % fat)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh herbs
  • Pinch of salt (optional, if you need NB! There is plenty of salt in chevre)

First wash the courgette flowers and discard the stems. Heat rapeseed oil in a large pan and gently cook the flowers until wilted. They do not need to be all soft, some crispiness is nice.
Beat the eggs with black pepper and low-fat crème fraîche. Pour into the pan and dot with chevre slices. Cook until the eggs are set, stirring a little now and then.
Decorate with fresh herbs, parsley or chives, and serve with whole wheat bread and green salad for a simple lunch.