It was a shiny December morning, with warm winter breeze and a temperature that made the rest of the country looked downright miserable. He was young, I was younger. He was eager to show me his charming city. I grew giddy just by looking at him smile. We had walked hand in hand all along Promenade des Anglais. I gazed at the blue sea, the gray pebbled beach, the pink dome of the Négresco and took a deep breath of the fresh wintry air. Aaah Nice. It truly was a wonderful place to be.
He suddenly pulled my hand signaling we take a left turn. We passed the farmer’s market, down a narrow alley, dodged a delivery motorcycle and headed straight to a packed little eatery. I saw what must’ve been the biggest pan ever. Smoke was blowing off it and I could see what looked to me like pancakes. He told me to wait by the table and minutes later came back with said pancake in one hand, and a spinach pie in the other. The pie turned out to be pleasantly sweet. And the green inside turned out to be chard. He chuckled as he wiped a speck of icing sugar off my cheek and handed me the pancake this time. I took a bite. Salty. Peppery. Dry. I politely nibbled on the edges. He could see that I preferred the Tourte aux Blettes and handed me back the pie before leading me to Fenocchio to spoil me some more.
When I saw that socca was up for this week’s FFwD, I just knew that I wanted to make it. No matter that the only chickpea flour I could find was of the yellow, Indian kind, I just knew that I needed to make it. I had forgotten what it tasted like along with the memories associated with it. And although I knew that I wouldn’t like the end result, it was nice to have been reminded.
Socca from Vieux Nice (in 5 steps)
- Make batter by mixing chickpea flour and water. Add in olive oil, salt and rosemary. Mix well.
- Let batter rest at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven and pizza/cake pan until screaming hot.
- Bake batter for 10 minutes, until golden on top.
- Serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
The complete recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table”.