CHEAP EATS IN PALERMO

VOGLIA MI PIZZA

Eat for… €5

The chairs are plastic. The cups are disposal. The sun never quite reaches the terrace. Luckily for Voglia mi pizza (“I want pizza”), it makes a damn fine pizza.  The popular bakery next door, Voglia mi pane (“I want bread”), owned and run by the same family, supplies the restaurant with its unique fennel-seed flavoured pizza bases. The result is a range of around fifteen crispy, thin and über fresh pizzas topped with market-bought vegetables  – all for around €3. Perfect with a chilled Sicilian beer (€2).

Address: Via Chiavettieri, Palermo.

KUS KUS

Eat for… €7

According to the folks at Kus Kus, their signature dish was introduced into Sicily by fishermen from Tabarca, an island off the coast of Tunis, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Made from semolina flour and served with garlic, olive oil, spices, chilli and vegetables, meat or fish, couscous is cooked in a glazed ceramic pot – the “mafaradda Siciliana” – that has a slightly higher body and taller neck than a North African tajine. Semolina is much less finely ground in Sicily too, and there’s a heavy emphasis on saffron, nuts and olive oil, so the local dish tends to be more intense, course and salty.

A small, family-run restaurant opened in 2004, Kus Kus makes everything on the premises. If you want a glimpse of the kitchens, use the take-away entrance on Piazza Virgilio, rather than the sit-down entrance on Via del Fervore. Take-away is also a lot cheaper – half the price in fact. We paid about €15 for two generous servings of fish coucous, with two rolled sardines stuffed with pine nuts, and a large beer.

Address: Piazza Virgilio, 9, 90141 Palermo.

Website: http://www.kus-kus.it

 

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Hmm, c’est bon

From homely French cooking and Bono-inspired brunches to roof-top finger food and “sophisticated deli” fare, the foodie scene in Cannes turned it up a notch in 2012. Here’s a snapshot of who made it down this year’s culinary red carpet.

La Toque d’or

Despite opening just six months ago, this modest eatery is already threatening to wrestle back the gastronomic crown from Cannes’ luxury hotels. Trained under the Riviera’s top chefs, husband-and-wife team Steven and Magalie Trucco offer a Mediterranean menu made from local produce (the restaurant is just a courgette’s throw from Fourville market), including meat from the award-winning Boucherie du Bosquet. “My favourite recipe? Pig’s cheek with porcini mushrooms,” says Steven, almost apologetically. “The simplest dishes are always the best!”

Address 11 rue Louis Blanc – Tel. 04 93 39 68 08. Open Tuesday to Sunday.

Cost €65pp.

Sea Sens

Nicknamed “the serial cooker” because of his extraordinary culinary repertoire, Arnaud Tabarec recently took the city’s roof-top dining scene to a whole new level. Head-hunted last July by top chefs Jacques and Laurent Pourcel (the guardians of the Five Hotel and Spa’s gastronomic reputation), this globe-trotting foodsmith has wowed the critics with his French-Singaporean fusion finger food served to live DJ sounds in the hotel’s minimalist poolside brasserie. The mini cheese burgers with wagyu beef and comté are out of this world.

Address 1 rue Notre-Dame – Tel. 04 63 36 05 06. Open 7pm to 1am.

Cost €80

3.14 Cannes

Launched just three months ago and already a Cannes institution, Sunday brunch at 3.14 Cannes – the favourite haunt of Bono at film festival time – is the brainchild of Italian chef Mario d’Orio, a Croisette veteran with 38 years of culinary invention under his belt. “My menu’s brimming with sunshine,” says Mario. “I play the matchmaker: I bring cultures together.” The buffet selection of salade niçoise with white tuna, spicy tabbouleh and a trusty potato gratin certainly fits the bill.

Address 5 Rue François Einesy, Cannes – Tel 04 92 99 72 00. Sunday brunch 11am-5pm.

Cost €38

Le Relais

There’s sibling rivalry afoot at the Hôtel Martinez. When top chef Christian Sinicropi unveiled his new menu for Le Relais, the hotel’s “sophisticated deli”, last August, he didn’t expect its rustic line-up of regional dishes, such as sea bass and red pepper marmalade flavoured with aniseed, followed by cherry trifle with rosé champagne jelly, to win over a visiting sell-out pop star who snubbed the Martinez’s premier-league restaurant, La Palme d’or, in favour of this young upstart. The staff are far too discreet to name names…

Address 73 La Croisette, Cannes  – 04 92 98 74 12. Open daily.

Cost €120

This article first appeared in Vertu Select magazine in November 2012.