|Clear waters and white sands at Anse Vata Beach|
In my kitchen, this April....there is no kitchen! Mr K and I find ourselves in a very retro hotel in New Caledonia. The island is absolutley stunning, very idyllic and our hotel is charming and exctionally comfortable, but it is like someone has set our watch back 30 years to the 1980s land of le specs and le tan - it's just marvelous!
|A choice of Piper-Heidsieck or Mumm champagne and vol au vents in the Air Calin airport lounge|
|Sunset by the pool at Le Meridien Noumea|
Indeed even the flight here, with Air Calin, had the most wonderful retro vibe. It was like flying, as flying used to be! There was legroom in economy (can you believe it), fantastic friendly service, which made us feel very at ease - as well as a delicious meal of New Caledonian flavours: fresh marlin filet in a lime sauce with a sweet potato gratin and a very generous selection of French aperitifs (Mr K was lured in for a large pastis), French wines and cheese. I have to say the 2.5 hour flight was absolutely delightful and the perfect way to start a long weekend holiday.
The fish market, on the edge of Port Moselle
A limited grasp of French and the lack of a kitchen has not stopped Mr K and I exploring the culinary delights of Noumea - starting with the local market. First we had a quick cafe and pains au chocolat at the bar of the local market ( A tip is to avoid a cafe creme or cafe au lait in New Caledonia, unless you are a fan of powdered milk). The vibe was incredibly friendly, with locals chatting to us in French and offering a seat at the bar. From here we explored the colorful stalls filled with locally grown tropical fruits, honey and the incredible display of fish and shellfish.
|The small bar, set in the heart of the marketplace|
|Pains au chocolat|
|Local honey, with lots of floral notes, sold in 750cl bottles|
|Selling the local staple, taro|
|Giant avocados from the Loyalty Islands|
Incredibly sweet, very small local pineapples
The market is literally right on the edge of Port Moselle, in between the displays of local blue prawns and giant crabs, you can catch glimpses of luxury yachts and working fishing vessels chugging into the port with the days catch. The market opens at 4.30am and that is when most of fishermen bring in the days catch. However, even when we were there, around 8am, fresh fish and the wonderful local blue prawns were still being bought in - straight from the massive reef that lies just off the New Caledonian coast.
|Bringing in the days catch|
|The colorful array of fresh fish, with tropical blue highlights|
While the market itself was fantastic, Francophiles will love the fact the noumea is also home to a number of French supermaches, such as Carrefour and Casino - the shelves absolutely heaving with French butter, wines, cheeses, herbs and spices and much, much more! I'm normally not an advocate of supermarkets - but the one exception is French supermarkets, with their abundance of beautiful, high quality produce from France. Even if you are not interested in the food products - it is worth a visit for the stunning variety of reasonably priced French wines.
|Just a small part of the 'cave' in the casino supermarket|
Without the aid of a car, trying to find a French supermarket took us on a wonderful adventure. Mr K and I were haplessly wandering out of the port, with a basket of fresh tropical fruits from the market and unbeknown to us, we were heading into perhaps on of seedier parts of town. To our rescue came the wonderful Bridgette, a local primary school teacher, who not only insisted on driving us to the nearest supermarket, but she also insisted on waiting for us while we shopped, to then drive us back to our hotel. We could not come up with enough French words to thank Bridgette!! So kind and generous, Bridgette told us much about the culture and history of Noumea, as well as giving us many insights into daily life. We will definitely be staying in touch!
My absolute favourite fleur de sel from the Camargue in Southern France. One or two grains sprinkled on a very ripe tomato or for those moments when something sweet is needed - sprinkled on a rich creamy dollop of home made vanilla ice cream - is heavenly!
Tubes of spicy, vibrant red harrissa paste from Tunisia. Perfect to rub on baby carrots and bake in the oven or to marinate fresh pieces of white fish, before adding to a tagine with onions, tomatoes, garlic and potatoes - with perhaps an olive or two.
A bottle or two from the Loire valley including an Augustin Florent Touraine Gamay, full of red fruit and cherry flavours with a hint of spice and Les Gardelles Anjou - again full of fresh red fruits, perfect with des fromages!! There was also a wonderful blushing rose from the Camargue, it's slightly salty finish perfect with big plump pacific oysters.
Two beautiful cheeses - a fresh local bouche de chèvre filled with Provençal herbs and a very rich, creamy Camembert from Normandy.
I hope you enjoyed a sneak peek into "my kitchen" this month. I'd like to say a huge thanks to Celia for coming up with this great concept and for hosting!!!! I look forward to sharing more with you next month...
Port Moselle Marina
open daily 4.30am - 11am
CASINO PORT PLAISANCE
10, rue Jules-Garnier
Baie des Citrons
Open mon to sat 7.30am - 7.30pm & sun 7.30am to 12.30pm