We only have a few spots left on this tour and we are now calling the second deposit (50% if you are booking now, 45% if you have already paid your 5% deposit), which is due before the 27th of June. We will call the final payment on July 27th, but you can prepay now if you prefer.
It all started there decades ago: We were driving back from Salon de Provence where we had spent sometime with my maternal grandparents and we were heading home which was in Tours at that time. There is a big obstacle in the way, a very wide mountain range called Le Massif Central - The Central Range could be a translation. There was no freeway at the time and only a road on each side of the Rhone river, one called the Nationale 7, now doubled by the A& freeway and the Nationale 6 on the west side of the Rhone. We drove down via Roanne and the N7, but on the way back, the traffic was horrendous with trucks and other vacationists, so Dad decided to go via the N6 instead and rather that heading to Roanne again, he decided to explore another route...
Once he was on that road and Mum had calmed down a little about the change of plan(!) he stopped to look at a map (a real one, no iPhone then...) and decided we could reach the charming Lamastre in time for dinner. He then checked the Michelin guide and decided that we would stay and eat dinner at the Hotel du Midi. There was obviously no telephone nearby to reserve and we went on the odd chance that we would find a room and a table...And we did!
And what a dinner we had! I can't recall what we had as a starter, but we surely had one, and then we had the specialty of the region: Poulet aux morilles et à la crème - We probably had some cheese but I certainly remember the dessert: Fresh raspberries with guess what? More crème fruit!. Mum and Dad obviously enjoyed some wine, but again nat the time it was beyond my care!
So when my children asked me what I would like them to cook for my birthday dinner last night, I thought it would be nice to try to make that recipe as a tribute to my late father, but also because I knew I could get some beautiful morilles (morels) from my friends at Commissary Kitchen...
In essence, the recipe is a glorified Chicken Fricassée with lots of shallots and garlic, as well as plenty butter and cream and a good dose of Chardonnay. It was cooked in the versatile Australian frying pan, which is conveniently located under a good light, so we could easily record the process for your benefit! So here it is without further delay...
My Birthday Dinner - Ceviche of scallops for starters!
My Birthday Dinner - Poulet aux Morilles - Chicken fricassee with Morels
My Birthday Dinner - Fromage et Dessert!
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading through my birthday celebrations....But there is more cooking on the way as I got a new set of "casseroles" as a present and I have been recently appointed as the exclusive Architectural Sales representative for a new brand of kitchen appliances from Italy!
Well, it was a memorable edition yesterday, as I had a chance to meet a few of my Instagram friends in the flesh, namely Karen aka @vanityfare_1 and her Adelaide friend Amanda, aka @lambseashoney, long time friend, grand amateur of food, french wine, calvados and sake as well as Grand Audiophile Fredrik, aka @redfernsydney and his business partner Peter M. Obviously, I also had a chat with the usual suspects @birdcowfish, @thenuttybaker, @karenb_81 of Willowbrae Cheese fame. Fredrik introduced me to the supreme taste of local (non fat...) duck liver from Thirlmere Poultry, purveyors of Vic's Meats and most famous restaurants in Sydney and beyond.
Amanda and myself paid separate visits to Flour & Stone, and we both rave about their gorgeous pastries. Also in the sweet department I had a chat with Gena from Sweetness The Patisserie who offered me to taste her "pate de fruits" packed with so much flavour and great texture - probably the best I ever had - then a chat with neighbour Miriam from 2 Duck trading selling her wonderful French baskets, all you need to carry all these goodies you just bought...
A few more people I like or buy from. These happy people have the best basil, so rush to buy from them, as I have suggested they should rise their price... And if you want real "pruneaux" then see this young man we first met in North Sydney with his gorgeous "piquante" partner Pip @pipsplate who makes a famously good chilli sugar plum sauce with these pruneaux.
I have kept the best for "la bonne bouche", i-e the first release of this year olive oil pressing from @alto_olives. I have talked about this olive grove before and it is one of my three regular suppliers of EVOO. But on Saturday they were releasing a very short supply of their first pressing and unfiltered oil and I could not resist to buy a 4L can for an undisclosed amount of well spend money. I consequently convinced - it was not difficult - my friend Fredrik to do the same, so that was 50% of the contingent for the day sold! Some of our most famous restaurants had an allocation as well...lucky us to be able to partake in such a natural, fresh and delicious local EVOO.
BTW, Alto Olives just won best EVOO in the World at a competition in New York! Well done!
My maternal grandparents lived in Provence all their life and my grandfather, Paul Amiel, was the first photographer in Aix-en-Provence, then moved on to Salon-de-Provence.
I just found an article in the local newspaper "Le Memorial d'Aix" with a mention that he covered the visit of the French President in May 1922! Reading the whole newspaper is actually hilarious and if you want a copy, let me know and I will email it to you.
My own parents eventually retired to Salon to take care of my grandparents, including my paternal grandmother who was moved to a retirement home near by when she turned 95, having fallen in her own apartment in Paris, and rescued by my sister three days later...She passed away at 102...
You would have understood by then that I have obviously spent an inordinate amount of time in Provence and although I never lived there, I know the place inside out.
And this is the reason why, after many years of procrastination, my wife and I , encouraged by our friends, decided to organise a food, wine and lifestyle tour of Provence in September 2015.
Well, talking about New Year Resolutions, ours was to redesign this website, make it simpler to navigate and acknowledge the fact that we are primarily a food, wine and travel blog and ressource.
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We have decided to put two of our pages under paid subscriptions:
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It is only 10USD a month and will go towards all the tools of the Internet trade (web hosting, web editing software, domain name registration, etc...) as well as maintaining and upgrading our computer and photographic equipment and associated software, which becomes obsolete every 2-3 years as you know in our digital age!
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I came across Lisa Goldberg listening to one the famous interviews that Margaret Throsby conducts every day now around lunch time on ABC Classic FM, my favourite radio station.
So, when I heard that she and all the other members of the MMCC would be at the Pyrmont Market, I jumped at the chance to meet them, even though the meteo forecast was pretty bleak...
But, as serendipity has it, it ended up being a nice morning with barely a few drops of rain!
And meet, we did and had a great chat and even got a slice of their beautiful cake to take home!
They have been at it since 2006 and their main objective is to collate the best recipes from the Australian Jewish Community and beyond. They have published 2 books and rumour has it that a third one is in the making...Stay tuned!
But for today second cooking show (yes, I know, i never make it to the first one...), we were treated to a beautiful zucchini salad, an eggplant and Israeli couscous salad and the grand finale, fig bread and butter pudding. Enjoy the story through these photos before and during the presentation.
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: