You really need more than one day in Nouméa to appreciate it in all its diversity. For that you first of all need to sample its produce (visit the market and go to a cooking class), sit down with some of the locals over a glass of something nice (Garden Party) and explore the nearby attractions (the zip line at Mount Mou).
Although it had been a very full day, yesterday left the Caledodreamers wanting even more. All of them wanted to see more of Nouméa, a city with 180,000 inhabitants that is a mixture of sea and mountains, Oceanian serenity and western dynamics.
The ideal way to experience this unique blend is to visit Port Moselle Market. This is a stopping-off place for all the communities in the country and the group is happy to wander through, looking for fresh produce to enjoy or souvenirs to buy. There's a pleasant surprise waiting, as they bump into the chef of the famous Nouméan restaurant, Au P’tit café. Under Gaby Levionnois.
Guidance, the Caledodreamers proceed to select fresh local produce (tuna, coconut, prawns, pineapple, etc.) and they are invited to prepare all of it in Gaby's kitchen at the restaurant. Ethan and Aya get stuck into making a green papaya salad, Marion and Linda create some delicious croquettes from Pouengo bananas and yams, while Dario and Monique chop various vegetables and create seasonings for a coconut milk and tuna sashimi that's as healthy as it is flavoursome. For Ethan, it's a first because he's "never cooked in his life before" apparently and all of them have fun together listening to a playlist that includes every country's top songs.
This delicious dinner has to be followed up by some good exercise to burn it off. And that is what's on the schedule at Mount Mou, only half an hour from Nouméa with La Belle Verte Canopy Tours, who offer a 600m forest walk with 1.2km of zip lines. The view when you're hanging from a cable over a treetop canopy is breathtaking and a little stressful! Despite everything, Linda manages to get over her fear of heights and they all end up at the foot of the mountain, buzzing from the walk and surrounded by a wealth of greenery that is so different from anything they have seen before coming to New Caledonia.
Returning to the city around five in the evening, the group would like nothing better than to watch the sun go down in style so they join the Garden Party at the Chateau Royal Complex. The view from the gardens of a hotel overlooking Anse Vata Beach is memorable, just like the party atmosphere that has local Nouméa residents flocking to this event every month on the Sunday it takes place. Once evening has fallen, the DJ takes over and the Caledodreamers dance to the beat under the lights and swaying coconut palms.
It's going to be hard to get up tomorrow but the show must go on...
Recipe by Gaby Levionnois from the Au P'tit Café restaurant
Caledonian raw fish salad
1. Prepare the tuna sashimi by cutting the fillets into regular slices.
2. Arrange the fish slices over the entire surface of the plates.
3. Salt the dish.
4. Sprinkle with lemon juice flavored with condiments (chilli, ginger, turmeric, dill, green pepper, green onion).
5. Sprinkle with coconut milk (freshly squeezed).
6. Spread over your thinly sliced garnish: red radish, black radish, watermelon radish, fennel.
7. Enjoy a simple dish, as sweet as healthy!
Chef's tip: Be creative by replacing condiments according to your current inspiration and mixing culinary cultures.