Sunday, August 29, 2010

Garlic Festival in Piolenc

The Garlic Festival in Piolenc is one of the nicest food festivals in Provence. A true village affair it centers around a beautiful market and starts with a mass that is held in the Provençal dialect. Then the Confrerie de l'Ail (loosely translated: the Club of the Garlic Brothers) leads a procession of carnival floats through the village. Today even Christian Etienne  a very well known French chef came to Piolenc and held a cooking demonstration. If you are in Avignon and feel really flush go to his restaurant right next to the Pope's Palace. But do have a look at the prices first!  And since pictures talk more than a thousand words, have a look at the ones I took this morning.

One of the carnival floats

Obélix was there, too 

Marinated Garlic

Garlic made pretty

Nice Price - 3 Euros per Kilo

Flavors of Provence

Cooks with Garlic: Chef Christian Etienne

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cheery little Cherry Crunchies

Aren't they pretty? Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes

I classify my culinary friends into "sharers" and "keepers" - of recipes that is. While I (and most of my friends) think it to be the ultimate compliment to be asked for a recipe there are those (like the lady whose Coronation Chicken I admired some time ago) that just say "no", even when asked nicely. Well, my friend Myriam is a sharer and so I'll happily share her Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes with you, too.

You'll need soft brown sugar which in France is called "Cassonade" that you
melt on very low heat in a small saucepan until it turns into a light brown caramel.
Put small cherry tomatoes on toothpicks and dip them into the caramel. Then quickly dip just the bottom of the caramelized cherry tomatoes into some poppy seeds - place well spaced apart onto a dish and let cool. (If you don't leave room between the cherries they glue together into one delicious, but rather unlovely mess!)
These Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes are lovely served as nibbles with drinks, they are not only deliciously crunchy, but oh so pretty!


Melt the brown sugar

into caramel

dip tomatoes on toothpicks first into the caramel

then into the poppy seeds

eh voilà - beautiful and crunchy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cavaillon Melons or The Taste of summer

The first ones appear in late May on the Provençal markets: the irresistibly delicious melons from Cavaillon. After finally having mastered the art of choosing the best and ripe ones (they should have 10 sections, clearly marked by their green stripes, the stalk should come off easily and they should give off a delicious smell) we try to eat as many of them as we can before they disappear again in September. Gilles Diglé, our local butcher who is also a very sought after caterer, prepared this refreshing melon soup for the summer party of Vaison's Rotary Club and  very generously shared his simple but delicious recipe with me.

A perfect  melon from Cavaillon

You need 2 really ripe Cavaillon (Cantaloupe) melons, white pepper fresh from the mill, a good slug of Beaume de Venise – a sweet dessert wine (alternatively use sweet white sherry) and a handful of fresh mint leaves.
Quarter and peel the melons, discard the pips. In a blender mix the melon flesh with the mint leaves and a generous splash of the sweet wine. Season with a few rounds of white pepper. Cover and chill thoroughly before serving.

The taste of summer: chilled melon soup

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Take away Tuesday

"Salade fraîcheur" -  fish and pasta salad

Walking around Vaison's beautiful Provençal market I realized that now that we are at the height of the tourist season all of a sudden there are numerous food stalls that you do not normally see the rest of the year. Pizza and paella can be found all year round but right now it looks like the horn of plenty! And don't think it is only the tourists who buy all these delicacies - I have seen more than one French lady happily stocking up. Looks almost like Tuesday is becoming take away day in Vaison!

Tellines - tiny mussels in a fragrant garlic sauce

Fresh fruit juices

Roasted Chicken and frîtes (French fries)

Eggplant and Zucchini fritters

Almost sold out: Asian specialities

And pizza of course!