Even in a nation as devoted to consuming as France, there is one thing unique about feasting in Provence. Provence offers endless sunshine, the French Riviera, house to Cézanne and a colourful countryside. It is this landscape that defines the classical Provençal cuisine with mineral-wealthy sea and soil accountable for extraordinary flavours. Rocky hillsides are infused with olive and bay laurel trees, exactly where wild juniper bushes flourish alongside thyme, sage, rosemary and fennel. This area’s influence is straightforward to distinguish with several sauces seasoned with zesty ‘herbes de Provence’.
To be completely immersed in an genuine Provencal atmosphere, one particular wants to embrace the core of their culture. Meals. Right here we appear at the well-liked and some of the significantly less discussed Provencal delicacies…
The Aigues-Mortes salt marsh spans an region roughly the size of central Paris. With 7000 hectares committed to the production of sea salt, this all-natural phenomenon dates back to Roman occasions. Salt was hugely preferred getting the only way to preserve meals.
Some of the salt flats generate pink salt, which turns the watery marshes a shocking intense fuchsia colour. Effectively worthy of a photographic chance.
It has been stated that lavender is the soul of Provence, so lavender lovers will be in taste-bud heaven. This aromatic plant is employed to flavour anything from ice cream to crème brulee, to infused teas and honey and even macarons.
Even though Valensole Plateau is lavender central, you will locate beautiful fields of the purple plant blooming in the summertime from Luberon to Aix to Roussillon.
Lavender has been employed for centuries as a holistic healer. Distilleries transform harvested plants into aromatherapy oils, lotions and soaps. Les Agnels distillery presents a guided tour of the processing plant and fields. Alternatively pay a visit to the summertime lavender festivals in Sault and Valreas.
Traditionally a poor man’s dish, this Provençal beef stew remains a firm favourite, especially in winter. Beef is gradually braised in red wine, vegetables, garlic and herbs and then served with polenta or gnocchi. A well-liked imitation in Good is raviolis à la daube, exactly where ravioli are stuffed with the cooked beef and served in the daube sauce.
In its simple kind, aïoli is practically nothing a lot more than a sort of garlic mayonnaise, even though the original recipe does not incorporate eggs.
But it becomes various when it capabilities as the centrepiece of a dish. Aïoli provençal complet (or aïoli garni) is a mound of vegetables, potatoes and shellfish, to be eaten dunked in aïoli. The dish is traditionally eaten on Fridays, which several restaurants in the area abide by.
Generations of Provençaux have revelled in the amazing chewiness of white nougat. This confectionary is created with sugar or honey, roasted almonds and egg whites.
There is also crunchy nougatine, otherwise recognized as nougat noir, which does not include eggs. Traditionally a Christmas treat, today it is offered all year-round.
The Mediterranean climate of Provence and dry scrubland does not generate lush grazing pastures. As a result, hardy goats are the livestock selection for Provençal farmers. Banon is famed for its thick, creamy goat’s cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, while we thank Le Rove for a lighter, fresher and fluffier fromage.
Chèvre comes either frais (fresh, with a mild creamy taste) or matured into a tangier demi-sec (semi-dry) or sec (dry). Farms such as La Pastorale du Regagnas and Les Roves de la Jacourelle welcome cheese enthusiasts to understand how the cheese is created and can even make their personal.
Provence produces the Saucisson de Taureau Camargue. An earthy sausage created from the meat of Camargue bulls. The culture of Camargue revolves about these bulls, raised on the marshlands due to the fact the Roman occasions. In the course of summer time, villages and towns erupt with events committed to the bulls and the celebrity status cowboys.
The attractive marketplace in Arles, wrapped about the old Roman city is exactly where to locate the region’s delectable bull saucisson. Certainly, it is one particular of a handful of meats with an AOC designation of origin certificate award.
Due to Provence’s coast suffering from overfishing, 3-star Michelin chef (and Provence native) Gérald Passédat encouraged regional fishermen to hunt for lesser-recognized fish alternatively. The region’s menus had been consequently revived with uncommon offerings such as tub gurnard and wrasse. Some of these can be located each and every morning at the Marché aux Poissons on Quai des Belges on the Old Port in Marseilles.
Alternatively, head for the fairly tiny fishing village of Cassis to the loved ones run Poissonnerie. A former fish shop now gastronomic restaurant serving some exquisite fruits de mer. Delight in picturesque views more than the harbour while you savour your poisson, most likely to be that morning’s catch from that extremely ocean.
Dishes served ‘a la Provençale’ imply they are ready in the style of Provence – ordinarily featuring garlic, olive oil and olives. Olive groves had been planted in Provence over two and a half thousand years ago and stay strong due to their thriving in dry, stony terrain. Most dishes right here are either cooked or drizzled in olive oil with the fruits heavily relied upon in the course of Provençal cooking.
Plump and glistening olives and olive oils are in abundance at St-Rémy’s labyrinthine marketplace. Quite a few farms and mills in Provence deliver free of charge olive oil tours and tastings such as The Domain Castelas and Moulin Jean Marie Cornille.
Even though employed significantly less in today’s Provençal dishes, these profitable fungi are a regional treat recognized locally as ‘black diamonds’. Truffles are ordinarily enjoyed thinly sliced and fried in oil on bread or as bouillades aux truffles, a especially high-priced omelette. Aups and Carpentras are truffle hot spots and offer you hunting tours in the course of the truffle season (November to March).
The truffle marketplace at Carpentras is exactly where stallholders, residents and restaurateurs battle for the ideal priced black diamonds.
Provence is one particular of the oldest wine creating regions in the nation due to the mineral-wealthy soil, balmy Mediterranean sun and the cleansing Mistral winds. The Ancient Greeks planted vines right here about 600BC.
Rosé is most made in Provence. Some red wine varieties are also made such as complete-flavoured Mourvedres and Grenaches, but you will require to head inland to the Alpilles and Baux regions exactly where the mountainous terrain is far better suited for this sort of wine. We suggest a tour of the Château Romanin with its huge underground limestone cellar carved out of rock. The wine right here emulates the landscape – strong, warm and wealthy with mineral elements.
However whites and rosés reign supreme about the coastal regions. A terrific spot to sample these is the Clos St. Magdeleine vineyard in Cassis. This 19th century prestigious regional winery occupies 20 hectares of the Cap Canaille sea cliff and is the only vineyard in the area facing the Mediterranean – a trait reflected in the intensity of the wine.
Lastly, do not neglect the Marseille bars, notorious for their aniseed-flavoured spirit, pastis.
What ever you do, you merely mustn’t leave Provence devoid of sampling the abundance of tantalising treats that explode from the regional shops and outside markets!
Valuable hints for gourmet gastro:
- Goods with an AOC (protection of origin) certification guarantees goods have been made locally and are the crème de la crème.
- Restaurants with a Table 13 accreditation are committed to employing only locally sourced goods.
- Check out Provence in late September for The Fête de la Gastronomie food festival.
- Wash down these Provençal delicacies with a glass or two of the region’s tantalising wine.
Su Stephens is Owner of Olives & Vines. Olives & Vines is a luxury vacation business primarily based in the South of France supplying stays at their beautifully developed vacation residence and boutique hotel in Le Castellet.
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