Quick Visit: Tourrettes sur Loup, France

I recently posted a few lines about one of my favorite places in the south of France, the Auberge de Tourrettes. One of the many things that makes the Auberge so special is that it’s located at the edge of one of the most picturesque villages in the area, Tourrettes sur Loup.
Listed below are a few helpful facts.

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Population: 3,921
Altitude: 400 meters

THE VILLAGE:
Tourrettes sur Loup is located five kilometers west of the town of Vence, and approximately forty minutes from the Nice airport.  Literally hanging off the side of a cliff, this beautiful village is well known for producing more violets than anywhere else in France.  A good place to start your tour is Continue reading

John Cleese Puts Wine Snobs in Their Place

John Cleese and I have at least two things in common.

1) We have both parlayed good looks and a crackerjack sense of comedic timing into long standing and lucrative careers in show business
2) We each have a healthy disdain for wine snobs

I’ve just finished watching “John Cleese’s Wine for the Confused” and I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in wine.  Cleese broaches the sometimes intimidating subjects of choosing, tasting, serving, and storing wine with humor and a simple, easy to understand style.

Released in 2004 and running a quick 92 minutes, this film is a must see for anyone in need of a wine confidence boost.

Available on Netflix and Hulu.

La Pizza: The best pizza in Cannes, France

It takes quite a man, resolute and in possession of a strong character,  to walk out of a restaurant and proclaim to the world, “that was the best damn pizza I have ever had and ever will have in my lifetime.”

My friends, I am that man.

I first visited La Pizza in Cannes on a cold, gray December afternoon in 2000, and to this day, can remember exactly what I ordered.

One slice of cheese pizza
A fresh, green salad
A glass of Italian red wine

It’s easy to remember my first order because at each subsequent visit to La Pizza (approximately 12 to 15 times) I have never ordered anything but:

One slice of cheese pizza
A fresh, green salad
A glass of Italian red wine

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and let me tell you the pizza at La Pizza ain’t broke!

Now, if you want to go to a restaurant where the waiters are always convivial and make you feel welcome from the moment you step inside the door, then by all means DO NOT go to La Pizza!  But if your main objective is tearing into a wondrous slice of pizza smothered in fresh cheese and spicy olive oil, then this is the place for you.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll actually branch out and add a topping or two to my cheese slice or ask them to put an egg on my salad, but not today my friends.

Not today.

La Pizza
3, Quai St Pierre
06400 Cannes, France
tel. 33 9 61 01 57 31

Dining in France: 12 Tips

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1) Good food, like good wine, plays an important role in the lives of the French.  Along the Cote d’Azur dishes follow the seasons and almost always include olive oil, fish, and fresh local vegetables.

2) The French view lunch and dinner as experiences to be enjoyed and not rushed.  It’s not uncommon for a meal to last two hours or more, but once the visitor becomes accustomed to the pace, dining takes on a flavor and enjoyment all its own.

3) The French, in general, are much quieter and more reserved than Americans, especially in restaurants.

4) It’s not necessary to tip 15 or 20 percent in restaurants.  The service is always included.

5) It its acceptable to leave a small tip if you’ve been particularly pleased with your meal.

6) When you wish to order at a restaurant, close your menu.  This will indicate to your waiter that you’re ready.

7) If you find yourself becoming frustrated because the waiter has not brought your check, remember, the table is yours for as long as you want it.  He will not bring the check until you ask.  When you are ready, simply get his attention and say
“l’addition s’il vous plait.”

8) Most restaurants have their own house 
wine (la reserve).  It’s usually hand picked by the owner and of a high quality.

9) Menus usually comprise three or four courses: the entree (first course), main course, cheese, and dessert.

10) Coffee is always served after dessert.

11) An aperitif comes before your meal and a digestif after.

12) Having a drink while standing at the bar in a cafe or Brasserie is less expensive than sitting at a table and drinking.

Alpes Maritimes: The country auberge

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I want to let you in on a little secret:
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat and drink well, really well, in the south of France.  Usually the Michelin starred establishments garner all the attention, but I am here to tell you that devoted foodies are really missing out on something special if they choose to snub their noses at lesser known country kitchens.  I’ve eaten in many restaurants in France over the years and there is simply no substitute for the Mom and Pop operations.  This is certainly not meant to be disparaging to restaurants that have worked hard to earn their stars.  In fact, ask me about my experiences at one, two, or three starred establishments and I will regale you an entire evening with stories about the incredible attention to detail, the perfectly choreographed presentation of each dish, and the mind blowing service that reaches a level that can only be referred to as intuitive.
You’ll hear at least one or two quips about the speed at which a server almost impaled himself on the back of a chair while rushing to light a customer’s cigarette (pre-smoking ban of course), and certainly there will be a mention Continue reading