Provence is famous for olive oil and lavender honey as well as its southern Cotes du Rhone and Provencal wines. Dishes prepared a la provencale are made with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, onions, herbs and perhaps aubergines whereas dishes made a la nicoise also include olives, capers, anchovies and tarragon.
Cote d’Azur cuisine is influenced by its close neighbour, Italy and you will find wide use of ravioli, cannelloni, gnocci and pistou, similar to pesto. Fish is commonly found on menus, often accompanied by raito or rayte, a sauce made from red wine, tomatoes, garlic and ground walnuts.
The speciality of Marseille is bouillabaisse, a rich fish soup, whilst the must-try in Nice is ratatouille – garlic, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines braised in olive oil.
Salade nicoise is so delicious, it’s served world-wide but come to Provence for the real thing – artichoke hearts, peppers, tomatoes, black olives and anchovy fillets with garlic infused olive oil and fine herbs. The variations of salade nicoise are as numerous as the restaurants serving it and you may also find haricot beans, hard-boiled eggs, capers and tuna.
To round off a meal, cheeses include banon, wrapped in chestnut leaves, and picodon de Valreas, goats cheese with a delicate, nutty taste whilst dessert highlights include apple galettes and walnut crepes. And don’t forget nougat from Montelimar and calissons, little boat-shaped almond-paste sweets from Aix-en-Provence.