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Socca, Petits farçis and Tourte aux blettes in Nice, France

Posted by Thierry Guez on 30/04/2017
Queue Rene Socca

French Riviera is often said to be very popular in summer and also very expensive. That’s true, of course. But it is still possible to find wild places (this will be for a next article), great deals for holiday villas on Cote d’Azur directly from the owner (yes, it is mine), and eat healthy and traditional cuisine in a simple and friendly atmosphere in the heart of the old picturesque city of Nice. I am going to tell you where you can find this for the price of a fast food menu. Good to know in a period where GBP is weak against EURO, isn’t it?

Your menu is going to start with “La Socca”.  Chickpea flour is the basic ingredient of “La Socca”: pronounce it SOOOCa with a long “O” and a short and light “a”.  La Socca is part of the culinary heritage of the city of Nice. It is baked in a wood oven on a very large round metal plate and looks like a crispy pancake, prepared on demand, cut out on the spot and is eaten immediately and well peppered with aperitif or as a starter with a small glass of rosé or Prosecco.

Service Socca
photo credit: Thierry Guez via Flickr

Then, I recommend you continue with the small “Farcis Niçois”. Onions, zucchini (round), tomatoes (small and rounds, not big ones), and eggplant (small).

Farcis Niçois
photo credit: Thierry Guez via Flickr

For the stuffing : a little bit of meat, the chef’s favorite herbs, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, the flesh of the vegetables that will have been cooked together for a long time. But mostly no rice nor sausage meat! Loulou, my beloved mother-in-law says this is the way they prepare stuff tomatoes in the NORTH of France. So nothing comparable with “les Petits Farcis” !

Finally, try “La Tourte aux Blettes” (sweet green chards pie). Here, we also say the herbs pie. Well, I can already see some of you grimacing! To tell you the truth, I did the same when Zézé (Loulou’s sister, but I’m not going to tell you all my life either) prepared it to me for the first time.

But again it is very local and very very traditional. So be polite and try it: between two layers of broken dough, the leaves chips are cooked mixed with vanilla sugar, raisins swollen with a little bit of rum and pine nuts. It’s simple and it’s simply good!

Farcis Tourte et Socca
photo credit: Thierry Guez via Flickr

If I have opened your appetite with this menu, you still have to find one of the two institutions of old Nice where you can eat all that for less than 10 € / person (one share of Socca for two, one dish of “Farcis Niçois” and a piece of “Tourte aux Blettes”  for two are enough for a normal stomach).

In my opinion, the best of both is “Chez René Socca”: 2 Rue Miralheti, 06300 Nice. But “Lou Pilha Leva”: 10 Rue du Collet, 06300 Nice, is very typical too and for the price you can try both.

Queue Rene Socca
photo credit: Thierry Guez via Flickr

In both cases, no reservation, no white tablecloths and be aware you will eat with your fingers at “Chez René Socca”: allow 10 minutes of queuing to order at the counter, 5 minutes for preparation, sit down, you will be called back at the counter when it will be ready. Share one of the tables with other tourists or regulars. Enjoy, meet people from Nice and from everywhere else in the world in these places for less than 10 €!

So, who said the French Riviera is bling bling?

Thierry, owner of  VillaRomane.info: a Holiday Villas French Riviera Antibes Juan Les Pins