The reference, of course, is to the city in southern France, almost a kingdom unto itself: special history, special food, and certainly special seafront. That Nicoise je ne sais pas salad coming foremost to mind and stomach. Can it really be universal, and what really is its origin? I tried in a few days recent stay in several Riviera towns (though, come to think of it, I'm not really sure about the correct geographical terms for that long lovely coastline between Spain and Italy) to understand the recipe. It's a grand melange...with canned tuna of distinction at the core, along with the cornucopia of fresh Provencal provisions. One restaurant - the cafe at the Rothchild Efrussi palace on Cap Ferrat - felt compelled to give it a fancy name, after the artist Tiepolo who was on show there. But I suspect more humble associations apply. At a seaside table in Villefranche, a Nicoise salad appeared in a charming edible basket. A real cornucopia.