Riviera Meals, from Marseilles to Portofino!

Our favorite recipes are the product of a Mediterranean-inspired longing, a great love for the sea and the culture and history of this French and Italian coastal paradise.

The bounty of the coast is intoxicating. Bouillabaisse! Salade nicoise! Fresh fish (Branzino! Orata!), and briny mussels. Fragrant basil, bright lemon, and plenty of garlic. Oregano, rosemary, and mint.

On the rocky coast of Liguria, vendors hawk resta— strings of fresh hazelnuts. Ships sailing into port against a sea breeze are greeted by the heady fragrance of sweet basil, that’s how dense and lush herbs thrive on the steep hillsides near Genoa. And everywhere, there is pesto.

In Provence, dusty, silvery-leaved olive trees have been growing for hundreds and hundreds of years. The wrinkly olives are ubiquitous finger food, or they get mashed up with olive oil and become tapenade. Each fall, ripe olives are crushed into a potent pulp that will form the basis for cooking everything, drizzling on everything, dressing salads. Wooden salad bowls do not get washed, only rubbed, so that the extra virgin oil will flavor the wood and imbue salads to come.

And then there are perfect tomatoes. Beautiful eggplants. Artichokes in springtime. Fennel. The thrill of brandade—still-hot salt cod, crushed with olive oil and garlic (what else?). The magic of a minestrone, simmered for a lavishly long time, so that the veggies and beans and perhaps short ribs melt into each other and the whole house smells warm and symphonic.

It has caught the attention of nutritionists and food writers that all this is not only incredibly romantic and delicious, but also healthy. We’re not nutritionists, but we know eating fresh, wholesome, unprocessed foods, simply and wonderfully prepared is good for the body and soul. We believe in the staggering power of good olive oil, and support feasting on veggies, fruits, and grains. Also: fresh fish and shellfish, nuts and seeds, lots of herbs and spices…

Also important: fresh air, and leisurely, beautiful meals enjoyed with family and friends. And a glass of wine or two at dinner.

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