South of France: Ventimiglia + Monaco

Not many people can say they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner in three different countries. Well, now this girl can!

Nice could’ve easily kept us occupied for three days but we wanted to explore the surrounding area along the coast. Thanks to some suggestions from locals we met, we took a train to Ventimiglia, Italy, a mere 30 minutes away. The quaint beachside town is home to a lively market, charming Italian architecture and a beautiful beach. After searching for a restaurant to have lunch, we settled on Ristorante La Pergola. Until this meal, I used the term “local” too loosely. La Pergola is the definition of a neighborhood dive with a friendly staff and freshly made pastas. Each of us ordered a different pasta, which came with one tomato sauce to share. So simple, yet so good. We also shared an antipasti plate full of fried vegetables and seafood.

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Ventimiglia, Italy

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The best parmesan cheese I've ever tasted

The best parmesan cheese I’ve ever tasted

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An appetizer sampler complete with charcuterie and fried vegetables and shrimp

An appetizer sampler complete with charcuterie and fried vegetables and shrimp

Sauce for the table

Sauce for the table

Tagliatelle

Tagliatelle

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

Ravioli

Ravioli

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No trip to Italy is complete without gelato!

No trip to Italy is complete without gelato!

Our friends that suggested our detour to Italy may have been right about charming Ventimiglia but they were very wrong about Monaco. We had originally planned to spend the entire day in Monaco but they advised us to avoid Monte Carlo and only swing by for an hour if we really wanted go. After our Italian lunch, we hopped on the train for 15 minutes and arrived in Monaco. What was supposed to be a quick trip turned into hours of exploring the both the natural beauty and glitz of the place.

Now officially one of my favorite places in Europe, Monaco boasts an extravagant yacht-filled port, an enormous cliff (called le rocher), crystal blue waters, clean streets and a rich population. Our dinner at Le Cave de Max was a hidden gem away from the overpriced Monégasque eateries, yet still maintained a trendy, glamorous vibe. We sat down with the intention of enjoying some wine, cheese and charcuterie but were quickly wooed by our waiter and the chef, who insisted we try food from the kitchen. I was even pulled by hand (a nice touch) over to the see the enormous handwritten menu on the wall. Of course the prices were steep (it’s Monaco, la duh) so we compromised on two truffle-filled plats to share. First, brouillade d’oeufs bio à la truffe (truffle scrambled eggs) topped with fresh black truffles and a tagliatelle with truffle oil. Y’all know I love truffle, but I definitely overdosed on it in Monaco.

Le Cave de Max

Le Cave de Max

Complimentary appetizer

Complimentary appetizer

Pasta with truffle

Pasta with truffle

Scrambled eggs with truffle

Scrambled eggs with truffle

Port Hercules

Port Hercules

The Casino in Monte Carlo

The Casino in Monte Carlo

It’s funny to think how plans don’t always go accordingly. Happenstance is to thank for making our Nice experience truly unforgettable. I’ll always remember spending a day in three countries all along the Mediterranean and the delicious foods we unexpectedly were able to enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “South of France: Ventimiglia + Monaco

  1. Pingback: 10 Best Things I Ate in 2013 | pamplemousse

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