There are thousands of boulangeries in France, offering a wide range of breads and pastries. By law, their breads have to be made by hand and on site. But the law doesn’t apply to pâtisseries and viennoiseries, all those croissants, pastries, and quiches we love so much. As a result, many boulangeries buy these items frozen, from big industrial suppliers, and bake them on site.
True artisanal breads and pastries taste better, no doubt about it, but how can you find them? Good news: a new label will make it easy. It’s called Boulanger de France.
Find out what makes this new program so special and how you can find the very best boulangeries in Taste of France!
You may have read about something called Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF), or perhaps you’ve spotted someone wearing a distinctive red, white, and blue collar. Wonder what it means?
The phrase means “best craftsman of France” and it is a title bestowed on only the best of the best, those who pass a grueling series of tests. Famous title holders include the late chef Paul Bocuse and the chocolatier Jacques Torres.
The MOF was created a century ago as a way to encourage artisans and to preserve and promote traditional crafts. Awards are made in over 200 categories. Some are well known, like baking and pastry making, while others are more obscure, like boiler making and piano tuning. There’s even one for denture makers!
Read all about these elite craftsmen, including the stars of Kings of Pastry–a film about the 3-day pastry competition. It’s all there in France Today!
“The culture of Nice is based on three things: the sea, soccer, and socca.”
In a city famous for dishes like pan bagnat and ratatouille, socca holds a special place in the hearts of the niçois. A thin, deliciously crispy bread made from chickpea flour, socca was first brought to Nice by Italian dockworkers in the late 1700s. Cheap and filling, it became known as “poor people’s food,” a favorite of workers and fishermen.
Eventually, all of Nice discovered the dish, helped by a socca maker named Thérésa. She began with a pushcart near the beach before opening her own restaurant, Madame Thérésa. Today, niçois of all ages love socca’s rich, crispy taste. You’ll find cafés full of these locals, having a chat over a plate of socca and a glass of wine. It is so popular that some call it “the national dish of Nice.”
Socca’s ingredients are simple—chickpea flour, water, oil, and salt. Its distinctive crispiness comes from the wood-fired ovens where it is baked at a roaring 750 degrees. The secret ingredient—you might call it the magic—is the loving care with which Nice’s chefs make it.
Award-winning filmmaker Scott Petersen now shares a bit of that magic with us in his short documentary We Eat Socca Here. Read all about it and watch the fun trailer at Perfectly Provence. Warning: it might make you hungry.
If you look at a list of the most expensive wines in the world you’ll see it stuffed with beauties from France. Look closer and you’ll see one name pop up over and over—Leroy. You think to yourself, I don’t know who this Monsieur Leroy is but he must be quite the winemaker.
Surprise! It’s not Monsieur Leroy, it’s Madame: Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy. Another surprise: she’s in her 9th decade and still at the top of her game. You might not have heard of her but she’s famous among the cognoscenti, and for good reason.
Lalou Bize-Leroy is the fourth generation of her family to run Maison Leroy, founded by her great-grandfather in 1868. She was perhaps destined for a life in wine after her father Henri placed a few drops of Burgundy on the lips of his newborn daughter.
Read all about this fascinating lady in The Good Life France!
Dominique Crenn is one of the world’s greatest chefs, and her flagship restaurant in San Francisco has been awarded three Michelin stars. Known for her creative cuisine, Crenn has recently published her autobiography Rebel Chef: In Search of What Matters. It’s a fascinating look at a fascinating person.
Crenn’s has been an unusual journey, and she is not your usual chef. As an infant she was adopted by a couple in Brittany, her father a Resistance hero and a friend of Charles de Gaulle. Despite being raised by a traditional French family, Crenn never quite fit into the conservative France of the 1960s. One reason was her looks—part of her heritage is North African. Plus she was a tomboy with a crush on Olivia Newton-John. And then there was the matter of cooking. Crenn longed to be a great chef, and why not? “But the top restaurants are for men!” she was told. “Women cook at home.”
Read all about this rebel chef in France Today!
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, John Legend, and Jon Bon Jovi are just a few of the celebrities who have fallen in love with the delicious rosé wines of Provence. And not only do they love them, they make them! (well, maybe they hire someone to do the actual work…)
Who are these famous vignerons and, more important, are their wines any good? I decided to do deep research on this vital subject and am happy to share what I learned.
Read all about it in Perfectly Provence!
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!
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!
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!
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!