Travel tips: sometimes local delicacies are foul and just because you think you are a foodie, doesn’t mean you should eat them/not everything in France tastes good.
When cats really like you, and are marking their territory, they rub their furry cheeks on you. The pheromones can get pretty musky. The cat that we were pet-sitting in Nice, had quite the heavy duty love-scent going on. So, I knew we were in trouble at lunch when I caught a whiff from the wine-bar kitchen and thought for a split-second that he had followed us.
This was a Saturday at the Cave de la Tour in the old town. The Cave is a wine cellar. Two rooms, three vats, wine for sale. We buy our litre bottle of re-fillable red there for €2.40. Simone the matriarch, drives down from their mountain vineyard every Tuesday to bring the vat in the back seat of her car.
Four generations have run this place. They only open lunchtimes for two hours and two hours in the evening. Every Saturday we try and do their lunch. It’s pretty social. The butcher from down the street is always there, often serving behind the bar in his bloodied apron if they get busy, and someone usually ends up using the glowing Bluetooth lamp for a singalong.
Stockfish is a Nice delicacy. If you google stockfish (which we were rapidly doing after the steaming pile of brownness was placed in front of us) interesting information comes up. It’s one of those dishes that comes from the Vikings. They it ate to survive on long voyages . Which makes me wonder why people eat it now. It is also a Nice delicacy, and one that people had reserved ahead to eat on that Saturday.
Logistics of the dish? You buy a €90 air-dried fermented cod (yes, expensive). You soak and rinse it continuously for seven days, until the incredible smell dissipates slightly. Simone, thank the lord, does this up in the mountains. Apparently, they used to do it in the cistern in the toilet of the Cave. It makes a lot of sense using the cistern for continual flushing, but, given the smell, well. After seven days, you simmer it for about 8-10 hours with green, red and black peppercorns, olive oil, tomatoes, and add potatoes in the last hour.
4th generation co-manager, the lovely Marie, advised that the best way to eat it was to cover it with as much black pepper as you could, drown it in olive oil, and wash it down with copious amounts of red wine.
PK braved it. I was leaning far away from the table trying to get downwind of it. He did well. About two thirds down. None came back up. I’ll let the photos tell the story. The change in face colour towards the end of the dish, speaks more eloquently than I.