Honeymoon in Villefranche Sur Mer and Mushroom Risotto

As promised in my previous post (https://recipesontheriver.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/honeymoon-in-nice-france/), here are some photos from one of our day trips to Villefranche Sur Mer. This quiet little place was only 15 minutes away by train, it offers a great beach, lots of restaurants and shops and a large marina full of both small boats and big/expensive yachts. We left early one morning to catch the train, within a few minutes of our departure we went through a long tunnel and we were suddenly transported this picture perfect sea side town. It was a welcome change, to get away from all of the hustle and bustle of Nice, our apartment was right in the city and I’m used to being in the quiet country, so my mind, my ears and my eyes were in for a real treat! We spent the afternoon soaking up the sun and swimming in the clear blue Mediterranean sea, my husband also lost his wedding ring in the water…. Oh well, makes for a good story. And like always, when any beach day comes to an end, we were happy, relaxed, a few shades darker and famished! We headed over to one of the many restaurants along the water and this is where I had mushroom risotto for the first time, needless to say, it was fantastic. I knew that once we returned from our vacation I would have to recreate this dish at home, and I did, with delicious results to my surprise! I’ll include the recipe at the end, but first, some pictures!

First here are a few shots of our home away from home in Nice

The apartment building where we stayed for 10 days

The apartment building where we stayed for 10 days

Spacious living room with large windows, shutters and balcony

Spacious living room with large windows, shutters and balcony

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The view from the balcony in our apartment

The view from the balcony in our apartment

The view from our bedroom

The view from our bedroom

Some of my favorite shots from Villefranche Sur Mer

Sparkling blue water

Sparkling blue water

Colorful buildings

Colorful buildings

Pebble beaches

Pebble beaches

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Great architecture

Great architecture

Boats all over

Boats all over

Ok, now for the Mushroom Risotto! I’d had this dish before, but nothing compared to the delicious flavors and the creamy texture of the risotto I had in Europe (I had it more than once, just to be sure…). I always thought risotto was very difficult to make and way above my culinary expertise, kind of like the perfect flaky pie crust (which I am still working on) or creme brulee.

When we returned from our honeymoon and reality hit me right in the face, I found solace in my old friend Pinterest. I started searching for a risotto recipe to try, and to my surprise the very first one I looked at seemed perfect, it had simple ingredients and fairly simple instructions, which I always look for in a good recipe. I was also very happy to find out that the local grocery store had the “special rice” called for in the recipe, unnecessary trip to the city averted! So, like many other of my recipes you can find the original on my Pinned and Made board http://www.pinterest.com/janol83/i-pinned-i-made/. And if you don’t do the Pinterest thing, here is a link to the recipe as well http://spoonful.com/recipes/mushroom-risotto.

Mushroom Risotto

5 to 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups flavorful mushrooms chopped (I used portobello)
2 green onions, minced (or 1/4 cup onion)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice (I was able to get Arborio at the grocery store)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (I used Italian parsley, but found it a bit too strong)

1) In a large pot, warm the broth and keep it on low heat.

2) In large pot or sauce pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and green onions and saute for 5 to 8 minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Add rice and stir to combine. Toast the rice with the mushrooms for 2 minutes.

3) Add wine and stir frequently until almost all of the wine is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of warm broth and stir frequently until the broth is absorbed and the risotto becomes thick. Repeat the process, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and waiting to add the next 1/2 cup when the the broth absorbs. This process will take about 20 minutes. After the 5th cup of broth has been added, the rice should be cooked and have a chewy bite to it. If not, just add more broth and continue cooking until the rice is cooked the way you like it.
Do not leave the stove or the risotto unattended, this is a labor of love! The liquid will not take very long to absorb and you should keep stirring frequently. I had a little bit of left over broth when the rice was ready, but its always better to have more just in case.

4) Once the rice is cooked and the risotto is creamy, add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Risotto should be creamy and a bit loose. If it is too thick, add a little more broth until you have reached the desired consistency. You can sprinkle the parsley on top when you’re ready to serve. Also as a side note, try to eat this dish when it is freshly made, I do not recommend heating it up the next day at work for lunch….

I was too hungry to take a picture of the risotto I made at home, but here is a picture of one of the (many) dishes I had in France.

Mushroom Risotto with french fries cooked in olive oil

Mushroom Risotto with french fries cooked in olive oil

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