Archive for February, 2011

Spring is arriving

Posted in Gardening, Nice at 17:55

Luxury dog

While this furry canine may not seem to have a strong link to flowering prune trees, daffodils and irises, all heralds of spring, in fact, I photographed her (or him) next door to Graineterie Fiol, a seed and plant shop in Vieux Nice. It’s the time of year to plant seeds for summer growth. Yesterday I picked up some chives, Romanesco broccoli, Saxa radishes, violets, and coleus, a decorative plant, then planted them today. Radishes grow quickly, and this Saxa variety should be ready to eat in less than a month, after which I’ll plant some more regularly. The broccoli take longer to mature at 3-4 months, and I’ll be able to cultivate the chives for quite a while. The violets will decorate the fence border, and the coleus should be a nice addition to my potted plants. Both are plants that do well in the shade. Despite living on the French Riviera, I don’t get a lot of sun, since my apartment’s terrace is a northern exposure. This is a good thing here, however, since it makes a huge difference in summer temperatures at my place. The only downside is that I can’t grow any of the showy flowers that require full sun.

Another sign of spring’s arrival is the annual Carnaval, held around Mardi Gras each year in Nice. As a humorous link between my Oregon hometown and my current home in Nice, I snapped this shot of Brice de Nice holding a “Nice” brand surfboard. Nice’s Greek name was Nikaïa, from the Greek goddess of victory Nike — you can probably think of a related sports brand. It was founded in Eugene, Oregon.

Brice de Nice - Carnaval 2011

Wriggly cat

Posted in Cats at 13:46

Kanoko wriggling

It’s exceptionally warm for February in Nice today, at 15°C (about 60°F). I took advantage of it and cleaned my rain-dirtied shutters while Kanoko explored the terrace. At one point he started wriggling around, stopping occasionally, so I grabbed my camera to try and get a good shot of his furry stomach. He responded to my standing over him by wriggling even more, but silly human that I am, I kept trying to take photos anyway.

I ended up with a series of blurry furry Maine Coon wriggles. It’s fun to see which parts of him stay still and are in focus, and which others move into blurs. This one is my favorite, with his tongue darting out and the contrasts between his beautiful fur colors — he’s a brown mackerel tabby. There’s a detailed online guide to housecat coat colors and patterns here.

Old and new

Posted in La France at 19:04

Old key

In France there’s still quite the mix of old and new locks. This key isn’t very old, comparatively speaking, as one of the originals in our 1953 apartment building. We have the same modern developments in door security as anywhere else, but you do still come across these beautiful keys anywhere that there are older buildings. My previous apartment had a very similar key for its entry; using it daily felt very retro, I kind of miss it, despite its bulk.

This key is to a rather unimportant door (shown behind my hand), to the shared building débarras. A débarras is an area where things you don’t necessarily need any more are put. The verb se débarasser (de quelquechose) means “to get rid (of something)”. Technically the room isn’t supposed to be a débarras in our building, so once a year it gets purged and people try to store their bicycles in it, but eventually the cast-away furniture, bits of extra carpentry, leftover tiles and such find their way back inside.

Tasty local products

Posted in La France, Nice at 18:53

Olive oil from Nice

I do my grocery shopping at a small shop in Nice called Diététique Malausséna, located on the avenue of the same name (Malausséna). Having gone there for seven years now, I know the owners and employees well — they’re really nice people, and very helpful, which is great when you have food allergies and/or intolerances. In addition to foods for those with special dietary requirements, they carry a lot of delicious organic foods that I rarely, if ever, see in larger stores here.

Last week they brought in red and rosé wines from Bellet, for instance. Bellet is part of Nice. All the Bellet wines I’ve tasted have been wonderful, quite unique compared to other areas, even those from nearby Provençal vineyards. The store also had olive oil from Bellet, which I’d never seen before. I didn’t even know olive oil was produced in Nice, but one of the shop owners told me it was hard to come by. The color was stunning, and it smelled good, so I bought a bottle today.

This olive oil is from Saint-Roman-de-Bellet. You can see it’s a very green part of the city:

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