The Black Diamonds of Provence

The black truffle season has begun, thrilling chefs the world over. Black truffles are one of the culinary delicacies of France, and their pungent, earthy taste enlivens many a plate.

France produces about half the world’s black truffles, mostly from Provence. They are difficult to farm, so most are foraged in nature, especially among the roots of trees like oak and chestnut.

Traditionally, truffle pigs were used to find them, but pigs have fallen out of favor because they eat the truffles! Now truffle hounds are used, because dogs don’t find truffles tasty.

The tiny Provençal village of Richerenches calls itself the Truffle Capital of the World, and it might be right. This year its truffle market celebrates its 100th anniversary, and the town’s church even holds a special Truffle Mass!

Read all about these “black diamonds” in Perfectly Provence!

How to Make a Holiday Toast Around the World

From drinking glühwein in Germany to Lambrusco in Italy, each country has its own holiday traditions.

The wine writer Jill Barth has written a fun article about wine and winter holidays around the world, including recommendations on what to drink. It might come in handy for New Year’s! And I’m thrilled to be quoted—about France, of course.

You can find Jill’s article here. Happy New Year!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bonjour!

It’s Thanksgiving in the US, one of my favorite holidays. And the star of many American dinner tables today will be turkey. So how about giving it a French twist?

Here’s a recipe for you, inspired by one of France’s greatest chefs, Georges Blanc. It’s a little late for today’s meal but you can try it another time, maybe Christmas?

Bon appétit !

Provence, the First Wine Region of France

Wine has been made in France for a very long time, and names like Burgundy and Champagne put stars in the eyes of wine lovers everywhere. But did you know that French winemaking first began in Provence, thanks to the Greeks? Or that more rosé wine is produced there than any other kind? Or that Italian winemakers won’t let the French use the name of one of their grapes–they have to call it something else?

Learn all about the wonderful wines of Provence in The Good Life France!

5 Favorite Restaurants with a View

Provence’s Luberon Valley is one of the most beautiful spots in France. It is chock-full of restaurants serving excellent food, and I love the ones where Val and I can enjoy a nice view along with our meals.

Would you like a simple café, perfect for an afternoon glass of wine? How about a restaurant with views over the stunning ochre quarries of Roussillon? Or for a special occasion, maybe you’d like to enjoy a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant along a lovely riverbank.

I’ve made a list of our five favorite Luberon restaurants with a view. You can read all about them in Perfectly Provence!

One Thing French People Agree On: McDonald’s

France is the land of haute cuisine, with dishes like escargot and foie gras and bouillabaisse. It’s a country with food so elegant and delicious that UNESCO has declared it part of the world’s cultural heritage. So, then, you might imagine that the French, with their refined palates, would turn up their noses at fast food. But the reality is more surprising.

After a rough start, McDonald’s has become a fixture of the French culinary landscape. It is so popular you could even say it’s about the only thing French people agree on! And while there are a lot of similarities with McDonald’s in the US, the French “McDo’s” are different (and better) in many ways.

Read all about how McDonald’s has captured French hearts in Frenchly!

Is This the Best Mustard in the World?

When people think of French mustard, they usually think of Dijon, the most popular mustard in the world. And maybe they think of Grey Poupon, remembering the funny ads that once made this brand of Dijon mustard a luxury item.

Dijon mustard originated in Burgundy, and today most of it is made by big conglomerates, in factories all over the world. But one company still makes it the old-fashioned way. Moutarderie Fallot’s mustard is made in Burgundy, using traditional methods and local ingredients. And it’s so good that top chefs seek it out for their restaurants.

Read all about Moutarderie Fallot—and how you can tour their facilities!—at My French Life.

Chapeau de Paille Restaurant for Authentic Provençal Flavors

This may be my new favorite restaurant in St-Rémy. It’s where Val and I go for delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere.

Sometimes we’ll have a big platter of steamed fish and vegetables, plus a side of that garlicky mayonnaise called aïoli. Another time it will be lamb shoulder that’s been cooked so long that it practically melts in your mouth. And if we want something lighter, we’ll have a bowl of crunchy raw vegetables to dip in flavorful anchoïade.

Chef Julien Martinet used to run a gastronomic restaurant in Burgundy, but decided he wanted a simpler place in Provence. “Everything  in my restaurant is homemade and there are no shortcuts,” he says. “I’d rather spend hours shelling coco beans than I would fussing things up to impress the critics.” But impress the critics he has, making it into the prestigious Michelin Guide.

Read all about this terrific restaurant in Perfectly Provence!

 

The Apt Market in Provence, One of France’s Best

If you’d like to visit one of the best markets in France, don’t miss the one in Apt, the capital of Provence’s Luberon Valley. Don’t just take my word that Apt’s market is something special: it’s been named one of France’s 100 “exceptional markets” by the French National Council of Culinary Art. Not bad!

The market is the biggest in the Luberon Valley and is also historic—it goes back to the 12th century. It has everything you want: wonderful fruits and vegetables, olives, cheeses, wines, honey, flowers, colorful tablecloths…the list goes on and on. During the peak summer months, nearly 500 vendors sell their goods—if you can’t find what you are looking for, it may not exist!

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

The Beating Heart of St-Rémy

St-Rémy has a lot of great cafés and restaurants, but there’s one that really stands out: the Bar-Tabac des Alpilles.

It’s not just that the food is good, it’s also that it’s comfortable any time of day. Whether it’s a coffee and croissant before hitting the weekly market, a glass of wine in the afternoon, or a delicious meal, you can find it here. And even more, it’s an important part of the local fabric of St-Rémy, while also being welcoming to tourists.

Sitting at your table, you might hear Americans on one side of you discussing their travel plans and, on the other side, there will be workers unwinding after a long day. Patrick, the owner, calls his place “A mix of modern tourism and local identity.” It’s family-friendly, and I often see kids there with their parents, having a Coke or a juice. It’s a must-stop for your next visit to St-Rémy.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!