Cooking in Provence with Jane Satow

Jane Satow is an American who has lived in France for 20 years. She has built a sterling reputation as a private chef (TV personality Stephen Colbert is a client) and runs cooking classes for small groups. These are held in a charming old building with a professional kitchen, in the center of St-Rémy.

Jane recently invited Val and me to join one of her cooking classes and it was a real treat. We started by shopping in St-Rémy’s weekly market, then moved to Jane’s kitchen where she put us to work. It was a lot of fun–learning recipes and cooking tips from Jane, chatting with our classmates, and enjoying an apéro on her sunny terrace before digging into our meal. Highly recommended!

Read all about our cooking adventure at Perfectly Provence!

A Taste of the South

One of the glories of France is its cuisine, and each region has its own delicious specialties. Along the country’s Mediterranean coast, you’ll find three culinary cousins to tantalize your tastebuds. They are made from the same ingredients, but in very different ways.

Panisse, cade, and socca are found from Marseille to the Italian border, and they share a common ancestor: Italy’s farinata. Centuries ago, Italian workers from Liguria brought this poor man’s dish with them as they labored in France.

The key ingredient is chickpea flour, which is common in the area because it thrives in dry climates and poor soil. Popular among the poor because it was cheap, today chickpea flour has gained new popularity because it is not only delicious and nutritious, but also gluten-free. And easy to make!

Learn about these three French specialties at The Good Life France!

Favorite Picnic Spots in Provence

Val and I live part of the year in St-Rémy, a little town at the base of the Alpilles Mountains. One of our favorite things to do is taking a picnic lunch as we explore Provence’s beautiful little nooks and crannies. Over the years, we’ve discovered many lovely places to eat outside, and nothing is better than picnicking with our friends…and our dog Mica, of course.

I’ve written an article about seven of our favorite spots, like the one on the shores of a lake created by the Romans. And the one with the best view of Avignon. And my favorite, the one so high up you look down on the hilltop village of Bonnieux, with a fabulous view of the Luberon Valley.

Read all about them at Perfectly Provence!

Northern Rhône Valley Wine Guide

I’m sometimes asked about my favorite wines, and there are a lot of them, but I always come back to France’s Rhône Valley. It’s long and skinny, going from Lyon almost to the Mediterranean Sea, and it has wonderful wines at all price points.

I’ve written a couple of guides to these wines, nothing too complicated or wine geeky, just some basic information that might be helpful to someone interested in learning more. This first guide is to the northern Rhône, because the wines are different in the northern and southern parts of this long region.

Read about some of my favorite wines in The Wine Scribes!

An American Pastry Chef in Versailles

Molly Wilkinson is a talented and popular pâstissière in Versailles, a graduate of the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. She has trained bakers around the world and been featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. But how did someone from Texas become an expert in French pastry, living just steps away from the most famous château in France?

Molly always wanted to be a baker but didn’t pursue her passion until her late 20s. Discovering that the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu was much less expensive than American pastry schools, she headed off to Paris, armed only with a basic French vocabulary. There, she trained for a year, learning the intricacies of French specialties like Mille Feuille and Saint-Honoré cake.

Armed with her diploma, Molly worked first as the pastry chef at a château, then at a French cooking school. One of her colleagues praised her talent as a teacher, inspiring her to host her own baking courses. All was going swimmingly until Covid hit, and France shut down.

But ever resourceful, Molly began teaching courses online. Her timing was perfect, as people around the world were stuck at home, looking for something to do. Why not learn how to make French pastries? Molly’s business boomed.

Molly’s focus is on making French pastry simple—in fact, it’s the title of her cookbook, French Pastry Made Simple. As she says, “My style is all about making French pastry easy and accessible. I teach using the tools you’ll find in a typical home kitchen, along with ingredients that are easy to buy.

“I’m like my students, because I started out making cookies and cakes and pies, so I can relate to them and encourage them to try something different. And I make sure that my recipes aren’t overly complicated, but still taste really great.”

You can read more about Molly at France Today, but the article is behind their paywall (it’s a great magazine, you might consider subscribing!) Or you can learn more about Molly and her classes at her excellent website here.

Art Meets Wine in Les Baux-de-Provence

Jill Barth is a wonderful wine writer with a particular fondness for Provence…which is not hard to understand! She recently wrote a very interesting article for Wine Enthusiast magazine about art and wine in the area around Les Baux-de-Provence, the stunning hilltop village that is classified as one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. It’s just a few minutes from where Val and I live in St-Rémy.

Jill needed background information about the region so she asked me for a few quotes, which you’ll find in her article.

Read all about it in Wine Enthusiast!

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!