International Cooking: Food from Monaco

I found Monaco to be a little tricky, because it turns out that food from Monaco is, for the most part, the same as food from France. I did my best to choose dishes that are common in Monaco, but I think most of them are technically French.

Monaco is a small European country that is almost completely surrounded by France, with the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

Monaco was once part of the Holy Roman Empire, which gave it to the Republic of Genoa. The House of Grimaldi contested the territory for years, before gaining control in 1297. They have continued to rule the country, barring a few brief interruptions, ever since.

During the French Revolution, France annexed Monaco. After Napoleon was defeated, the country was given to the Kingdom of Sardinia. During the 19th century, Sardinia became part of Italy and Monaco once again fell under French influence. However, France allowed the country to remain independent this time. Since then, Monaco’s independence was only briefly interrupted by the Axis powers during World War II.

Today, Monaco is considered one of the wealthiest and most expensive places in the world. It has a good relationship with the European Union but is not currently part of it.

What Do People Eat in Monaco?

Monégasque cuisine is nearly the same as French cuisine, with many dishes coming from the surrounding region of Provence. There are also some Italian influences.

Dishes typically rely on fresh ingredients, including seafood, fruit, and vegetables, along with plenty of olive oil.

Starbucks and McDonald’s are the only large American fast food chains that exist in Monaco; instead, there is more of a focus on fine dining. The country is home to an impressive number of Michelin-starred restaurants for its size—around 13 (there are differing accounts but this is the number on the Michelin Guide website).

What I Made

Scroll down to read about other popular Monégasque dishes I didn’t make!

Barbagiuan (Swiss Chard and Ricotta Pastries)

Barbagiuan (Swiss Chard and Ricotta Pastries)

These little pastries are considered Monaco’s national dish. One of the most popular versions is filled with Swiss chard and cheese, which I made, but other fillings can include pumpkin, meat, or eggs. Barbagiuan are typically deep fried, but I baked mine in the oven instead for a healthier version.

I started by making the pastry out of flour, salt, olive oil, egg white, and water. I kneaded it for a few minutes, then wrapped it in plastic and put it in the fridge.

For the filling, I sautéed onion and leek in olive oil. I added Swiss chard, spinach, and a little oregano and cooked until the chard and spinach were wilted. Once the mixture cooled a little, I combined it with ricotta, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and an egg yolk.

To make the pastries, I rolled out the dough and used a pastry cutter to cut out small rounds. I added a spoonful of filling to the center of each one and folded the pastry over. I brushed the edges with egg white which I think was meant to help them stick together. Then I sealed the pastries and crimped the edges with a fork.

I sprayed the pastries with oil, then baked them in the oven at 400°F for around 15-20 minutes. I would have liked to get them a bit darker but they were done and I didn’t want to dry them out. I think a higher temperature would be better for future attempts, if I don’t just decide to deep fry instead!

These little pastries were delicious. I really liked the filling; I had some left over so I spread it on toast and broiled it—it turned out amazing!

The recipe I used here is from Living in Monaco.

Tourte de Courgettes (Zucchini Tart)

Tourte de Courgettes (Zucchini Tart)

This is a simple zucchini tart; you may find many variations in Monaco using other vegetables such as Swiss chard. The recipe I followed was made even easier since it called for store-bought puff pastry as the base.

First, I blind-baked the pastry for about 10 minutes. Then I arranged zucchini slices on the base and poured over a mixture of eggs, milk, Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper. I think crème fraîche would be a great substitute here and possibly more authentic, but that’s more difficult to get around here. I topped the tart with shredded Gruyère, then baked it in the oven until done. I probably could have given it a few more minutes but I didn’t want the crust to get any darker and I didn’t feel like covering it.

I thought this tasted pretty good; it made for a nice summer dinner with a salad on the side.

The recipe I used is from Melassi Recettes on YouTube.

Daube (Provençal Beef Stew)

Daube (Provençal Beef Stew)

It is really not stew weather here right now, but I thought this looked delicious enough to make anyway. Daube is a stew from the Provence region of France, which surrounds Monaco. It can be made from various types of meat, but a daube of beef seems to be the most common.

First, I marinated chunks of beef chuck overnight in a mixture of red wine, orange zest, orange juice, cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, and juniper berries. I also added some salt, which the recipe didn’t include.

The next day, I strained the marinade from the beef and reserved it. I browned the beef on all sides until brown, then set it aside. I sautéed some onion and carrot, then added bacon. When it was turning crispy, I added garlic, then stirred in some flour. I added canned whole tomatoes, squeezing them with my fingers before putting them in as the recipe directed. Then I poured in the reserved marinade along with saffron, minced anchovies, and sliced olives. The olives were meant to be whole I think, but I prefer them sliced since I’m not a big fan of them.

I returned the beef to the pot and let it simmer, covered, until it was very tender, which took around 3 hours. The recipe called for short ribs or beef cheeks and said to cook for 5 hours; maybe that would have been necessary if I’d used those cuts.

This stew tasted really good. The red wine was prominent but I could just taste a little of the orange, which I think was perfect. I garnished it with a little fresh thyme since I had it on hand. As with most stews, this was even better the next day.

The recipe I used is from Simple French Cooking.

Pissaladiere (Caramelized Onion, Anchovy, and Olive Flatbread)

Pissaladiere (Caramelized Onion, Anchovy, and Olive Flatbread)

I was apprehensive about trying this since I don’t always love anchovies or olives and this has both. However, I was short on recipes (aside from some sweet dishes I didn’t want to make) so I decided to try this. I figured the caramelized onions might be enough to temper the taste of the anchovies and olives.

This was simple. I made a basic pizza dough, but you can use homemade if you prefer. Then I topped it with caramelized onions, anchovies, black olives, and fresh thyme, followed by a drizzle of olive oil. The ingredients are usually arranged in a pattern, like in my photo. I soaked the anchovies in milk first as the recipe directed; I think maybe that was meant to tone them down a little but the flavor was still pretty strong. Overall though, this wasn’t bad. I’d probably not make it again but if you love anchovies, you would probably enjoy this!

The recipe I used is from Serious Eats.

  • Fougasse – not to be confused with the French flatbread, which is usually savory, Monégasque fougasse is a sweet, festive flatbread. It’s typically topped with nuts and red and white sugared anise seeds.
  • Petits farcis – stuffed vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. The filling typically includes meat and herbs.

Final Thoughts

This was another great week! Everything was good but my favorite was the barbagiuan.

Next week, I will be taking a break since I don’t have any room in the freezer! I need to use up some leftovers and then I will be back with food from Mongolia.

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