The festive season is in full swing here in Provence - this weekend we have been celebrating so much that I almost feel I should skip the real holidays and go on a New Year's diet straight away. It all started Friday with a trip to Avignon - not to see the rather lacklustre Christmas Market but the huge Crèche (nativity scene) at the Hôtel de Ville (Lord Mayor's house). More than 600 santons (the traditional Provençal nativity figurines) are set into a valley depicting life in Provence as it used to be. (If you click on the photos to enlarge them you can see all the pretty details).
The big Crèche at the Lord Mayors house in Avignon
The on we went to the Palais du Roure just around the corner, where this delightful lady (below) was guarding another, much smaller but also very pretty crèche and explaining the "Treize desserts de Noël" and why the frist week of December we seed lentils or wheat to have the green sprouts on the table in time for Christmas (this is supposed to guarantee money all year round).
Night fell and on we went to the Hotel La Mirande just below the Pope's Palace to the grand opening of the hotel's Christmas market.
For me the main attraction there was this monsieur, the "Roi des Pois Chiches" (King of the Chickpeas), who, gifted with a fabulous personality and an unparalled gift of the gab sold chickpeas, chickpea flour and pots of poichichade, a delicious chickpea dip.
In the beautiful old kitchen of La Mirande I was more than delighted to meet Nathalie, whose blog Avignon in Photos I have been following for quite a while and who I admire for her creativity, her unique eye and sense of style. Can't wait to see this still life in her blog!
Cooking demonstration in the kitchen of La Mirande
After slaving in my kitchen all day long (more on that later) Saturday night found us at the
Cave la Vigneronne in the beautiful village of Villedieu where the new wines of 2011 where presented in the cellar of the Cave.
Delighted with their find - guests at La Vigneronne
When in France you eat when you drink. On the menu: Oysters from Bretagne and walnuts and cheeses from Provence
For dessert: fruit tarts
and cream filled choux
We all left rather happy - thank you Alain for driving us!
Sunday we had our official Christmas picture taken and made our friends take a more or rather less orderly queue towards the kitchen stove where a big pot of Goulash was simmering.
I always serve this Ghoulash at what we call our "Countdown to Christmas" - a happy and informal get together of friends around the Christmas tree with Ghoulash, a cheese board, some desserts and lots of red wine....
Desserts this year: Mince pies made by my friend Nadira, also known as Queen of Confitures
Pecan Tart and
Tiramisu made by moi
Dancing around the Christmas tree!
Cuisine de Provence wishes you all very
and a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful
NEW YEAR 2012!