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Brandade in Nimes and Bourride in Nice


hazardnc
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I hate to say this, but brandade is on every single menu in Nîmes and a lot of it isn't very good, because it comes from a jar. My preferred way to find a good one is to go to a fish shop or a fish seller at an open air market and ask if their brandade is fait maison, if they've made it themselves. If yes, buy some. Actually that advice goes for restaurants too. It's a very simple dish, really, but a hassle to make, which I think is why so many resort to using the pre-made stuff.

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I hate to say this, but brandade is on every single menu in Nîmes and a lot of it isn't very good, because it comes from a jar. My preferred way to find a good one is to go to a fish shop or a fish seller at an open air market and ask if their brandade is fait maison, if they've made it themselves. If yes, buy some. Actually that advice goes for restaurants too. It's a very simple dish, really, but a hassle to make, which I think is why so many resort to using the pre-made stuff.

Brandade is one of my favorite things in the world.

What about just limiting brandade requests to the better sort of restaurants? When I was in that neighborhood, I ate it a lot and never got a bad batch. On the other hand, I usually ordered it at "Bib Gourmande" places and not no-name cafes.

Speaking of which, hazardNC may want to head over to www.viamichelin.com and fool around on that site. Not that Michelin is the be-all and end-all, (I'd go to Abra's blog) but they make it easy to search for what they consider the "better sort of restaurant," and you may then be able to cross-check with menus the restaurants themselves post on line (Au Plaisirs des Halles in NImes, for example, get a happy face and recognition for their wine list, and has brandade on their 27 euro menu. I must go there now). MMMMMMMMM salt cod...

Also, if you are in the mood for cured cod and are going to be in Nice, you might consider the stockfish soup at La Merenda, a restaurant which people tend to like very much or dislike very much. The soup is a wickedly stron combination of cured cod, garlic and tomato is not for the faint-hearted.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks to everyone. Now that I know that Bourride is from Sete and not Nice, I will look for something different. I am very thankful to you for telling me most of the brandade is from a can! We are planning on hitting the food markets in Nimes, and will ask for the real deal.

So, since Bouillabaisse is from Marseilles and bourride is from Sete, what should we try in Nice (other than Salad Nicoise?)

And Busboy, I have used Via Michelin quite a bit, but was leery of the recommendations. Have you ever used City Vox?

Edited by hazardnc (log)
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In Nice you should try plenty of stuff:

the home-made ravioli with daube sauce (ravioli originated in Nice) and Parmesan or Sbrinz cheese sprinkled over them,

the stockfish stew or estocaficada,

the daube de bœuf with gnocchi,

the green gnocchi,

the fish soup,

the soupe au pistou,

the ratatouille,

the "petits farcis" or larger "farcis" (baked stuffed vegetables),

roasted fish like chapon farci, petits rougets or grilled saint-pierre,

the salade niçoise (a simple dish with not too many ingredients, for instance: hard-boiled egg, tuna, black olives, raw artichokes, quartered fennel bulb or heart of celery, tomato, anchovy. The dressing should only be olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper),

the grand aïoli with vegetables,

the pissaladière or thin onion tart (preferrably from bakers in the Vieille Ville),

the socca (from street vendors on cours Saleya or near the other market, facing the bus station in the Vieille Ville),

etc.

Which is not to say that you won't find other Southern dishes that are sometimes available outside of their native region. Bouillabaisse is indeed from Marseille but there are variants all over the coast (including Martigues which includes squid ink, and Sanary bouillabaisse), and satisfactory versions in restaurants all over the coast (Antibes for instance). Bourride is really from Sète, hence Languedoc not Provence or Comté de Nice, but it has been adopted in many places on the Southern coast. It is best eaten in Sète, that is for sure, but if you find a good-looking bourride elsewhere, go for it.

You should bear in mind that the French Southern coast is divided into four regions, each with a distinct culinary culture but also many common dishes and others that have permeated the cultural borders. The Western end of the coast is Roussillon and part of Catalonia, then you have Languedoc — roughly halfway through the Rhône delta —, then Provence, then Comté de Nice which technically is not Provence but closer to the Genoese culture and starts around Cannes and Grasse.

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I think people around Nîmes feel that brandade Raymond, a local brand made in Nîmes for well over 100 years, IS the real thing. Personally I find it acrid and stodgy, but it's in every supermarket in the area.

Last week in the Sunday market I asked the fish vendor if she made her own brandade, and whether it contained potatoes. She said yes and yes. When I said too bad, because I don't eat potatoes, she offered to make some for me without potatoes, which I'll be picking up this morning. I'm really looking forward to getting it!

Depending on your point of view about this, when in Nîmes you might also want to eat bull meat. It's served as steak or stew, called gardiannne de taureau. It's a lot like regular beef, only leaner. If you eat it in Nîmes during the bullfighting season it very likely comes from the ring.

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I think Abra was exaggerating a bit by saying that most restaurant brandade comes from cans. As Busboy said, if you choose decent restaurants you will most likely get the real thing.

I also have my doubts about a potato less version, but will be interested to read about the results later today hopefully as today is Sunday and that's when the St Antonin market is held.

Good luck Abra!

By the way, the local salt cod dish is estafinado. Traditionally served around here with a good dollop of walnut oil.

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I wasn't exaggerating in the least, and I can't imagine why anyone would think that I was. Of course, where you live changes your perspective. I live half an hour from Nîmes, and believe me when I tell you, Raymond has a monopoly on brandade there.

The potato-less brandade is in fact very nice, and anyone who would like to learn more about the authenticity of this version can read this. The fish lady here used crème fraîche instead of milk, to make it a bit creamier, and I really like the way the flavor of the cod is not dulled by potato.

The Camargue is all about bull too, so I think you're going to have to try it. To make a little virtual visit to the Camargue, you can look hereand here.

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