Brixton-based author and chef Rosie Lovell explores the South of France’s Cote D’Azur. Famed for it's glittering beaches and glitzy lifestyle, she encounters a typically rustic cuisine far removed from the haughty reputation sometimes associated with French cuisine.
Instead of the ubiquitous (and largely unaffordable) foie gras and truffes noir, Rosie discovers that the colloquial cuisine is shaped not just by the seasons but also by a wide ranging climate, soil and geology.
This is a remarkable region blessed with sun, sea, mountains, flowing rivers and lush plateaux, all offering up the most eclectic and fantastic produce that’s always served up fresh on the plate.
Starting off in the entry port of France, Marseille, Rosie joins celebrated chef Christian Buffa and concocts a classic Bouillabaisse soup made with the freshest fish found in these rocky Northern-Mediterranean shores.
A short trip North takes Rosie up into the limestone mountains surrounding Aix-en-Provence where the ecology provides ingredients that make up some fantastic and hearty rustic fare: simple, nutritional meals garnished with the most fragrant wild herbs. Rosie samples the animated fruit and vegetable markets of Aix and cooks up a mouth-watering Lamb Provencal in neighbouring Lourmarin using the real Herbes de Provence – Sage, rosemary, bay leaves and thyme.
Heading East into the Var, near Toulouse, the climate becomes less temperate and saturated, especially in the Massif des Maures mountains, where regular rainfall and good altitude produces lush forests bearing abundant game and nuts.
Rosie comes to the chestnut town of Collobrieres and learns that locals like to hunt their own food! She takes part in a boar hunt learns how to prepare a hearty stew ‘daub’ with the creamiest dauphin potatoes imaginable.
Rosie heads back to the Riviera where she visits the citrus capital of France, Menton. Picking the most savoury lemons known to European restaurants from a local citronnerie, she rustles up a tantalising tarte au citron with pastry chef Fabian Pasquale.
She ends her culinary quest in the Italiannate city of Nice making stuffed vegetables called Petits Farcis with Italian chef called Luc Salsedo. A perfect end to a perfect culinary journey!
RECIPES FROM THE SHOW:
Bouillabaisse by Christian Buffa
Originally a fisherman’s dish prepared from the leftovers of the daily catch the Bouillabaisse has been turned into high cuisine in recent years and has been protected by a charter since 1980. There are now only about a dozen restaurants in Marseille that prepare the bouillabaisse accordingly.
Petit Farcis Niçois by Luc Salsedo
A delicious dish of stuffed vegetables, typically eaten at the beginning of the meal. This dish represents the culmination of a day spent at market, surrounded by the sights and smells of fresh ingrediants.
Ragout de Mouton by Paula Marty
This is a hearty Provencal country dish that includes all the flavours typical for the region. It’s a recipe that has been handed down for generations.
Tarte au Citron
A firm traditional staple in this sunny spot on the Riviera, but chef Fabien Pasquale decided to make a modern, much lighter version that suits the climate wonderfully.