My Provençal Summer Menu

Summer is a wonderful time of year in Provence, with blue skies everywhere and brilliant sunflowers and lavender in bloom. My favorite time of day is the early evening when the heat of the day is past and you can look forward to a long, lazy meal.

Even if you are not in Provence right now, here’s a menu that will bring the flavors of the region to you. We start with a refreshing aperitif, move on to an appetizer and a main dish, and finish with a cool and refreshing dessert. I’ve chosen some of my favorite dishes, all very Provençal, and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!

How to Picnic French-Style

The sun is shining, the weather is warm—let’s go on a picnic! We may not be able to travel to France this year, but we can still add some French style to our pique-nique.

I’ve written a short primer on picnicking à la français. What are the basics that no French picnic can be without? What are the three courses of a classic French picnic? And is it ok to take a nap after you’ve eaten? I explain all!

Read all about it in France Today!

7 Favorite Villages and Vineyards in Provence

My wife and I spend part of every year in St-Rémy-de-Provence, a charming town nestled up against the northern slope of the Alpilles mountain range. It’s our favorite town in the area but there are others we love as well. There’s tiny Les Baux-de-Provence, for example, sitting just below a great fortress. Or rustic Eygalières, where I sometimes see horses at hitching posts, waiting patiently for their riders.

There are plenty of vineyards as well, because Provence is famous for its wines. Would you like white, pink, or red? We’ve got them all and they are terrific.

Let me tell you about some of my favorite villages and vineyards near where I live. You might like to visit some on your next trip to Provence.

You can read all about them at Perfectly Provence!

Take-Out Food…From a Michelin-Starred Restaurant?

When most of us order take-out food, it’s pizza or chicken chow mien or something like that: tasty but not what you’d call elegant.

By contrast, restaurants with Michelin stars serve food that is the epitome of elegance—Duck à l’Orange presented on fine china, that sort of thing. Not what you would imagine being sold “to go.” Until now.

With the coronavirus forcing restaurants to close their doors, even those with Michelin stars have had to get creative to pay the bills. Some are now offering takeaway food for prices well below what they usually charge. Instead of meals costing hundreds of euros, these restaurants are offering dishes for as little as 8 euros! Prepared by the great chef himself! (or herself, bien sûr)

Let’s take a tour around France and see what’s cooking.

Read all about it in France Today!

Discover Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wines at a Fun Spring Event

How would you like to taste some of the world’s greatest wines for a mere 10 euros? If that sounds appealing, then come to the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine fair, the Salon des Vins. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a charming village in northern Provence, famous both for its wines and for its law banning flying saucers (more on this later).

To attend the Salon, you can a buy ticket ahead of time or just show up at the door. You pay 10 euros and receive an engraved glass which entitles you to unlimited tasting. This lets you wander from winemaker to winemaker, holding out your glass for a pour, and buying bottles of anything that strikes your fancy. Doesn’t that sound like a pleasant way to spend the day?

When you get hungry, there is a large outdoor food court with specialties from all over France. Would you like some foie gras from the Gers? Truffles from Ventoux? Or maybe oysters from Brittany? They are all there, along with plenty of simpler (but still delicious) fare.

Read all about it at France Today!

The Most Expensive Potato in the World is French

If someone asked you to name the most expensive foods in the world, you might come up with caviar and truffles and that sort of thing. But potatoes? POTATOES? No, you probably wouldn’t think of potatoes. But you should.

Yes, there is a type of potato that is so rare and delicious that it sometimes fetches a whopping $300 a pound—as much as Kobe beef! And it comes from France, from a little speck of an island in the Atlantic Ocean.

Read all about The World’s Most Expensive Potato in The Good Life France!

Wines of the Rhône Valley

If someone asked you, “What are the wines of Popes and Presidents?” what would you say? You might guess Bordeaux or Burgundy or maybe even Champagne. But the right answer is the wines of the Rhône Valley.

The mighty Rhône River bursts forth from Lake Geneva in Switzerland and flows 500 miles south to the Mediterranean Sea, passing Lyon and Avignon along the way. Along its shores are grown the grapes that make some of France’s greatest wines.

Many of these wines are produced near where Val and I live in St-Rémy and we just love them. I’ve written an introduction to the wines of the Rhône Valley that you might enjoy…and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite!

Read all about it in The Good Life France!

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 and it’s fun to learn about them.

The wine writer Jill Barth has written an interesting article in Forbes 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.

Easy Elegance–How to Prepare a Cheese Course

Nothing dresses up a meal like a cheese course. It’s classically French and who doesn’t love a meal à la française? But many of us don’t serve a cheese course because it’s intimidating. How many cheeses should I get? What kind? And what do I serve with them?

I’m here to help. I spoke to Patricia Hughes-O’Brien, the head of the cheese department at Draeger’s Market, a gourmet food store that’s been serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1903. She shared her advice on how to present a beautiful cheese course that’s easy and fun to put together (and to eat).

Read all about it at Frenchly!

5 Top Provence Restaurants

I was asked recently by Taste of France Magazine to name my favorite restaurants in Provence. “Well, that’s easy,” I thought, until they told me to limit my list to five. But there are so many wonderful places to eat! Even in my village of St-Rémy I can easily come up with more than five.

But rules are rules so my wife Val and I put our heads together and came up with our list. It’s a mix of styles and prices and you might want to check it out for your next visit to beautiful Provence.

You can read all about it at Taste of France.