Oliviera: 8 Bis Rue du Collet, tel 04-93-13-06-45
Each time I walk past Nadim Beyrouti’s corner shop in the Old Town, he beckons me in to try something new. If I happen to be with my son Samuel, he sits him down too with a bowl of olive oil and slices of baguette for dipping. Last time we sampled oil made with pure Bouteillan, a Provencal olive more commonly used in blends.
“This year’s crop tastes like an unripe fruit,” Nadim said, the usual playful gleam in his eye. “Can you guess which one?”
Sure enough, the Bouteillan tasted subtly of green banana, a flavor that Nadim says Canadians always recognize (which might say something about the bananas sold in Canada).
There is no shortage of olive oil to be found in Nice, but I’ve learned more about this essential Mediterranean ingredient at Nadim’s shop Oliviera than anywhere else. With an enthusiasm that could more accurately be described as fervour, he seeks out the most dedicated producers in Provence and buys as much as he can of the current season’s crop for his little boutique-restaurant.
“When it’s gone, it’s gone, and I have to wait until the next season and taste it again,” he says. “I’d rather sell no oil than old oil.”
Several years ago, when I first met Nadim, he stocked oils from all over the Mediterranean (he is Palestinian and worked in marketing before opening this boutique). Now he only stocks French Appelation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) oils, a label that guarantees the origin of the olives and the procedures used to make the oils. Because France’s production is tiny compared to Spain’s or Italy’s, most of the dozen or so oils sold in his shop would be nearly impossible to find elsewhere.
To complement his oils, Nadim serves a small, regularly changing selection of hot and cold dishes in the restaurant. He is modest about the food, saying its purpose is to showcase the oils, but I adore the dishes he turns out with his one gas burner and salamander (an intensely hot broiler used in professional kitchens). Recently, he whipped up a three-course seasonal meal for a group of 15 Norwegians that I brought to Oliviera for an olive oil tasting and lunch. The ingredients, such as multicolored tomatoes in summer and local goat cheese, come from small producers he has found in the arriere pays (the hills behind Nice) as he seeks out his oils.
The dish that never fails to surprise is the tiramisu served with a drizzling of Tanche olive oil on the side. “Try it with the oil and without, and tell me which you like better,” says Nadim. Strange as it sounds, the Tanche brings a whole new dimension to this often-abused Italian dessert.
One day, while I was having lunch at Oliviera, two British tourists popped their heads through the door. “Do you have anything in a pretty bottle?” they asked.
“Sorry, I don’t do pretty bottles,” replied Nadim, and off they went, following the tinned sounds of cicadas emanating from the more touristy shops.
Nadim turned to me. “I can do nothing for people who care more about the packaging than what’s inside. For me, this shop is a protest against the inauthentic.”
A perfect example is the Nicois olive, the little black olive found on the onion tart known as pissaladiere and sprinkled on salade nicoise. “Most of what is sold under the name Nicois olive doesn’t even come from Nice,” Nadim told me. At Oliviera, the AOC olives come in shades of green, violet and black, just as they should, and their flavour is never masked with herbs or garlic.
Nadim is the kind of idealist I can relate to, and that’s why I decided to create a new program with him: a market tour and food walk through the Old Town of Nice, followed by an olive oil tasting and lunch at Oliviera.
Riviera Pebbles Says
We were very grateful when Rosa introduced us to Oliviera. Truly the host with the most, we absolutely love Nadim and the delicious fresh simple food he and Regine dish up. It feels more like you are in a homey kitchen than a restaurant. They serve whilst they chat, oozing passion about the oils, the local produce, and life itself. If there was any advert needed that olive oil keeps you young, Nadim and Regine are it.
We take all our friends to Oliviera, confident that it won't fail to disappoint. Our friends often favour the rabbit or the lasagne—often coming back for a second helping during their holiday with us. I have to go at least once a month for my fix of Avocat Loco—Granny Smith apples covered in gorgeously fresh guacamole and served with four sorts of tomatoes and a fresh green salad. It’s topped with ample drizzles of Arlésienne oil, which I think tastes slightly of artichokes.
We love all the oils, but the hot peppery aftertaste of the Haute Provence has made this our favourite bread dipper for this year. We won't have any other oils at home but those sold by Oliviera. We once confessed to Nadim that we had bought a bottle elsewhere that was more expensive, but we were not that impressed. Nadim smiled: "I always advise my clients to try other oils, it's important." What he knew he didn’t need to add was that he had nothing to fear from competition.
Our Nice Old Town apartment guests should have Oliviera on their hit list of restaurants during their stay with us. In the summer you can dine on the small pavement terrace outside and after dinner stroll back to your Riviera Pebbles apartment.
Your nearest one bedroom rental apartments to Oliviera are Collet, one of our most stylish Old Town apartments and Croix, a cheaper option but still with plenty of space.
Your nearest two bedroom holiday apartments are Boucherie , a popular rental apartment which has been with us for three years. Alternatively, Perna is slightly bigger with more mod cons such as a dishwasher and SKY TV.
Your nearest three bedroom apartment is Rossetti a modern duplex on the fifth floor with a balcony overlooking Place Rossetti square.
– Gayle, Riviera Pebbles. If you would like to contact Gayle, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.