Seafood? Nice, very Nice
France has always been one of my favourite places for eating out. The quality of food is always superb, the service is always amusing if not particularly inviting, and the drink is always very good.
On one particular excursion to the Southern coastal city of Nice however, I was thrilled beyond belief.
The city itself is very small, and has a distinctly Mediterranean feel, that is reflected in everything from the architecture to the laid back attitude of its residents. But where Nice unmistakably leans on its more southerly neighbours is in its daily food markets, where huge baskets of various local and continental delights are precariously balanced on rickety stalls. Nonchalant owners are more than happy to offer you a sample of there produce, with local restaurateurs negotiating bulk prices on the market's tasty seafood produce.
Always more than a little wary of eating seafood abroad unless I have some water tight travel insurance, I found myself unable to resist the sight of succulent sea bass and lip-licking langoustines disappearing into the welcome arms of local chefs knowing that they had probably only been out of the water for a few hours.
What certainly didn't help was the fact that, for obvious health reasons, the seafood and fish was about the only thing on the markets that I couldn't satisfy my urge for with free samples. As a result, it was not long after my girlfriend and I had started our stroll through the market on our second day that I suggested we stop for an early fish lunch.
It didn't stop there. My first fresh salad Nicoise, which incidentally was invented in Nice, proved only a tantalising tease of my tastebuds. That night, we went to a fantastic little restaurant where we were provided with a hotplate on which to cook our own fish according to our tastes, which was fantastic. I went home full of rare tuna steak and marinated lobster tail.
But it didn't stop there either. For the following three nights, I managed to all too easily convince my not-too-keen-on-seafood girlfriend to accompany me to three more restaurants with nothing else in mind except sampling another fresh and delicious fish dish. Be it squid, scallop or just plain cod, we wolfed down each meal - much to the surprise of our waiters, so often used to the English either unaware of exactly what they've ordered or convinced that it will end up spat back onto the plate in a not-so-polite fashion.
On our final night, while relaxing, top button of trousers undone and thoroughly stuffed with only the finest fishy cuisine, I decided that I would definitely come to Nice again. On the basis of my addiction while I was there, I don't imagine it'll be too long.