Tuna with tataki sauce


Tuna with tataki sauce

The French morning TV, Télématin, recently showed a nice clip from the fish market in Saint-Jean-de-Luz where a local chef cooked tuna with tataki sauce.

The tuna fishing season in the Bay of Biscay is from June to October. The fishing is sustainable respecting the quotas and every caught tuna is numbered. They seemed to weigh 30 kg in the market of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

The chef cooked the tuna filet mi-cuit gently over medium heat on all sides and leaving it raw inside. The tuna was then sliced, placed on top of sautéed green vegetables and drizzled with tataki sauce.

The simplest tataki sauce is lemon juice, soy sauce, grated garlic, sesame oil, and minced green onion whisked together. For more Mediterranean flavours, I replaced sesame oil with olive oil. Tataki sauce goes also well with salmon. Soy sauce is salty so if you want to reduce some salt in tataki sauce you could choose salt-reduced soy sauce.

2 servings tataki sauce

1 tbsp. chopped green onion

A dash of finely minced garlic

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. soy sauce

Whisk together all the ingredients until the sauce emulsifies and thickens. Keep refrigerated until needed.

Make a green vegetable sauté by cooking over medium heat in 1- 2 tbsp. of olive oil different greens in season such as green asparagus, courgette, green peas, spinach, and some shallot and garlic. Keep warm, covered while you cook the tuna steaks.

Warm 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan and gently cook the tuna steaks leaving them pink, almost rare inside. The cooking time varies according to the thickness of the steaks, about 2- 3 minutes on both sides. 

Divide the vegetables and tuna on the plates and drizzle the tataki sauce over the fish.

Loop in the Anelle Forest


Hiking in Anelle Forest

The following loop hike which circles Cime d’Anelle (1841 m) northwest of Saint-Etienne de Tinée (1160 m) runs partly in ancient pasture and agricultural land, partly in a verdant spruce, pine and larch forest.

The French name of the Anelle ForestBois d'Anelle,  is derived from the provençal word agnel meaning agneau, lamb.

We parked next to the Pinatelle Telecabin, crossed the river and walked past a school named Jean Franco to signpost #78 and started to ascend along the GR5 trail, crossing a road several times. The area on the sunny southern slope called Ublan comprised several old farmhouses, some apparently being renovated. 

We continued to signpost #80 and 81 where we left the GR 5, forked right (Tour de Bois d’Anelle), followed a dirt track then a good path which soon dove into the forest. The day was hot for mid-September, and it was nice to continue in the cool Bois d’Anelle where the trail undulated in the shade.

We followed the yellow-marked PR trail as far as to Col d’Anelle (1739 m) where we re-joined the GR 5 (signpost #71). We forked left and followed a wide track, climbing a bit. After about 1 km, we left the dirt track, and descended in open terrain with old fields, barns and some houses on both sides. We came back to signpost #81, completing the loop, then to #80, and descended fairly rapidly back to the village.

Distance: 10,7 km   

Duration: 4 h

Climb: 680 m

Map : « Haute Tinée I » 3639 OT

Bois d'Anelle loop hike track
Bois d'Anelle loop hike track

Location of St-Etienne-de-Tinée
Location of St-Etienne-de-Tinée

Salade Niçoise revisited


Salade nicoise revisited

The following salade niçoise recipe is not authentic. It is inspired by a lunch in the restaurant of Galeries Lafayette Nice some time ago.

The centrepiece of this salad is fresh tuna cooked like a steak. The tuna steak was mi-cuit, pink in the middle. For this kind of cooking, tuna needs to be fresh; pink- reddish, clear in colour. Tuna which is dark red, brownish is old.

2 servings

2 handfuls of baby salad leaves, mesclun

1 green paprika

2 eggs

A handful of cherry tomatoes

A handful of cooked green beans

2 tbsp. pitted black olives

2 spring onions or minced chives

1 sliced avocado, optional

8 anchovy fillets, optional

A few wedges of Italian artichokes from a jar

About 200- 250 g tuna steak

2 tbsp. olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Basil leaves to decorate, optional

For the dressing:

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. red wine vinegar

Boil the eggs for 6- 7 minutes until the egg white is set but the yolk still soft and a bit runny. Place in cold water for a while, then peel and set aside.

Divide the salad leaves on two large plates. Wash and chop the green paprika and divide on the plates. Scatter with cherry tomatoes, artichoke wedges, black olives and avocado slices. Place the eggs on the plates and halve them. If using anchovy fillets, divide them on the plates. Finely slice the spring onions or chives and sprinkle on the plates.

Warm 2 tbsp. olive oil in a steel pan over medium heat. Cook the tuna steak about 2-2,5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Be careful not to overcook- pink or even a little red in the middle is tasty whereas thoroughly cooked tuna is dry. 

When the tuna steak is cooked, halve it and place on the plates. Whisk together oil and vinegar and pour the dressing over the salad. Decorate with basil leaves.

Serve the salad with some good whole wheat bread for a balanced lunch.

Exploring Col de Vence

Viewing point near Col de Vence

We planned a leisurely walk near Nice as the city was preparing itself for a weekend lockdown due to the pandemic. The main reason for preferring a moderate exercise was, however, the deteriorating air quality in the region. Authorities even recommended prudence regarding outdoor activities. Desert dust from Sahara had reached vast areas in eastern France.

Parking at Plan des Noves (at 780 m elev. and a 10 min drive from Vence along M2) is a popular starting point for walks. We wanted to explore trails near Col de Vence (962 m). Studying the map, we found several trails and tracks some of which were neither signposted nor marked officially as hiking trails.

From the parking, we crossed the M2 road to signpost #135, and followed the GR51 trail southwest to signpost#136 where we forked right and ascended to Col de Vence, crossing the road a few times.

Just before the Col, we followed the M2 a few hundred meters. At the Col, we forked right and headed north along a wide trail which was used by riders. The trail was easy to follow in the mostly open terrain. At about 1000 m elev. there was still a lot of haze, reducing the visibility on this otherwise clear winter day.

We walked till the end of the of the trail, where an unnamed viewing point was marked on the map. There were parallel trails leading to the same turning point. We were high above the Cagnes River Valley. We had the Cheiron mountains to the left and Mouton d’Anou to the right, and the snow-capped Mercantour peaks further away.

We used the same trail back to the starting point.

This trail was much less frequented than the one leading to Plan des Noves. The only disadvantage was that you had to cross the M2 road a few times, minding both cars and cyclists.

Distance: 8,2 km

Climb: 270 m

Duration: 2h 40

Map: Vallée de l’Estéron Vallee du Loup 3642 ET

Col de Vence walk track

Pasta with goat cheese, spinach, artichokes and capers


Pasta with goat cheese, spinach, artichokes and capers

This simple but tasty pasta dish needs only minimal cooking and preparation. The secret lies in quality ingredients; the best Italian conserved artichokes and capers and tasty French goat cheese, chèvre. It is preferable to use fresh baby spinach leaves in this recipe but they can be substituted with some frozen spinach leaves.

2 servings

1 shallot, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

½ jar of grilled Italian artichokes

8 large Italian capers

About 100 g French goat cheese

A handful of baby spinach or some frozen spinach leaves

1 tsp. dried Provençal herbs

Freshly ground black pepper

Pasta, fusilli, penne or some other shapes, for 2 servings

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat and gently sauté the shallot and garlic with Provençal herbs. Add the baby spinach and continue sautéing for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted.

Place the artichoke on kitchen paper to remove some of the oil and vinegar in which they are conserved.

Chop the goat cheese and place in a large bowl. Add the artichoke and black pepper and mix.

Meanwhile cook the pasta, drain it and add to the skillet. Stir to coat the pasta with the olive oil in the skillet, then add to the bowl. Mix and divide into two bowls. Decorate each bowl with four large capers.

Puy de Naouri from St-Barnabé


Near Puy de Naouri

Situated at about 970 m elevation on the St-Barnabé Plateau, the parking by the D302 road is a good starting point for hikes to nearby mountains as well as for exploring the St-Barnabé Plateau itself.

The D302 road forks left about 600 m after Col de Vence, next to the horse stables.

We wanted to explore the trail to Puy de Naouri (1024 m) above Tourrettes-sur-Loup, using the parking as our starting point.

The GR51 trail, the first part of today’s itinerary, runs along the St-Barnabé Plateau next to the parking. From the parking, we first followed the D302 road about 450 m to signpost #262 where we forked right and continued along the GR51 trail southeast. We followed it to signpost #261 where we turned right, leaving the GR51 and headed southwest (yellow markings), then south along the eastern flank of Puy de Tourrettes, climbing a bit.

We reached the crossroads at signpost #176 at la Baïsse, forked left (east) towards Puy de Naouri, passing first signpost #178 before a short ascent to the familiar summit. There were two big cairns in addition to some small ones on the summit plateau. On a clear day the summit offers a great panorama.

We returned back to signpost #178 where we forked right and descended steeply. After a crisp and clear spring morning, the weather deteriorated. Low maritime clouds, not uncommon in the region in spring, now covered the peaks. We saw a path not marked in maps in a slope in front of us which went to a hill named Pierra. On our digital map, there was a track from Pierra to GR51 which we took. We soon came to GR51, forked left and walked back to our starting point. Our original plan was to descend further along Combe de la Baïsse to signpost #115 and join the GR51 there.

Duration: 2h 50

Distance: 9 km

Climb: 230 m

Map: 3642 ET Vallée d l’Estéron Vallée du Loup

Puy de Naouri hike track

Roasted pork chops


Roasted pork chops

Cyril Lignac is one of the most popular chefs in France at the moment. He is often on TV shows, opens new restaurants and publishes cookery books. He used to write recipes for supermarket booklets and his roasted pork chops was published years back in a such booklet.

The following recipe is my twist of his original recipe. It works just as well with traditional pork chops with bone and pork chops without bone. It now seems that removing bones from pork chops is fashionable among French butchers. Chops without bones need a bit shorter roasting time.

In spring, I like to serve the chops with roasted tomatoes, green asparagus, and rice mix as shown in the photo.

2 servings

2 pork chops

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 small shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. soya sauce

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C, roast.

Coat a large oven-proof dish with olive oil and place the chops in it. Make a mixture of Dijon mustard, minced shallot and garlic, soya sauce, black pepper, and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Divide the mixture on pork chops. Roast the chops for 30 minutes if the bones have been removed, for about 40 minutes if the bones are still on. Cover with aluminium foil if the chops brown too much.

Tomato halves and green asparagus can be roasted in the same dish. Sprinkle the tomato halves with some bread crumbs and olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes. Trim away the tough ends of asparagus and shake in a plastic bag with some olive oil. Roast for about 15 minutes.

Cook the rice mix according to the advice on the package. Divide the chops, rice, and vegetables on the plates and decorate with chopped basil.

Mont Capelet Inférieur Hike

Mont Capelet Inférieur 2419m

 Situated above the Gordolasque Valley inside the Mercantour National Park, Mont Capelet Inférieur (2419 m) does not have any marked trails to the summit in the official hiking maps. The mountain is nevertheless easy to reach from the Gordolasque Valley. The grassy southwestern face is a bit steep but nice to ascend. The neighbouring Cime du Diable (2865 m) and Mont Capelet Supérieur (2637 m) are both steeper and rockier.

NB! There is limited access to the Gordolasque Valley for vehicles under 3,5 t. The RM171 road was initially closed after the devastating storm named Alex in early October 2020. 

For updated info in the Vésubie Valley:


We drove to Bélvèdere in the Vésubie River Valley, then followed the narrow M171 in the Gordolasque Valley, and parked next to signpost # 271 at 1380 m (a sharp bend just after Cascade du Ray waterfall), showing directions to Crêtes des Terres Rouges; Serre de Clapeiruole.

We hiked southwest along a good dirt track and after 2 km came to a clearing at 1519 m. Here, at signpost # 263, we forked left (east) into the woods and ascended along a nice path in Terres Rouges. Gradually, the forest was replaced by Alpine meadows. There were yellow markings as far as to a meadow with a telecom mast. The marked trail descended back to the Gordolasque Valley (St-Grat) from here. We continued straight, staying on the ridge called Serre de Clapeiruole. There was a barely visible trail in places, and small cairns here and there.

 We reached the border of Mercantour National Park, marked with two large green dots. Here we climbed straight on.  After a short albeit steep ascent, we came to another flat Alpine meadow between two sharp cliffs. We now had the southwestern flank of Mont Capelet Inférieur in front of us.

We climbed quite steeply along the soft mountain slope, heading approximately northeast, then turned gradually north to the summit.

A big cairn marked the highest point in the middle of the summit plateau. The nearby Diable and Capelet Supérieur dominated the landscape in the east but we had a 360° panorama of 3000+ Mercantour peaks near the Italian border.

We headed back using the same itinerary. Our return route was easier to see from above, notably the section that went between the two cliffs (image with arrow). On either side of these, the terrain was quite steep and rocky.

Distance: 13 km       

Climb: 1040 m

Duration: 5 h 20

Map: Vallée de la Vésubie 3741 OT 

Mont Capelet Inférieur trail track
Mont Capelet Inférieur trail track

Gordolasque Valley location
Gordolasque Valley location