I was planning to post a decadent dessert in observance of Valentine's Day later this week, but I spent yesterday making this French Olive Bread. I found the recipe in the sweet little book, Confessions of a French Baker, by Peter Mayle. Recipes for sixteen different breads from Chez Auzet in the Provencal city of Cavaillon, are adapted for the home baker by boulanger/owner Gérard Auzet.
GREEN and BLACK OLIVE BREAD
When we arrived in Arles and strolled through the Centre Ville, I began to notice them frequently. I don't know if the hands are unique to this area in France, or if they were just so abundant they became more obvious to me.
They all bore an age-old patina.
No mass production here. Each hand was one-of-a-kind.
Each cuff was unique and several of the hands wore rings.
I may need to log onto French eBay and see if any bronze hands are available in antiquities.
This post is for my husband. I've been trying to get him to sit down and look at the photos I took of this golf course in France, but it hasn't happened.
I'm not sure what the buildings of this golf club were originally. Maybe part of a farm?
A simple, but elegant interior. Very French.
I thought it was interesting that each table had opened bottles of red wine, ready to go. Also very French.
Was the chilled champagne for a golfer celebrating a hole-in-one?
I've always said, "You'll never get me to live on a golf course!", but I wouldn't mind living next to this place.
I am always in search of olive oil when I am in France and usually haul home several. This past trip was no different. Two of the oils I bought were purchased at an outdoor market. One was purchased in Malaucene and the other in Carpentras. Our friends Maria and Dieter have spoken often of their favorite olive oil that is produced in France near the charming Provencal village of Maussanes Les Alpilles. Since Maussanes was on our way to Arles, where we spent our last night in France before returning to Germany, we naturally planned a stop to visit the mill and salesroom where the oil is produced and sold.
Once you reach Moulin Mas Des Barres, you drive through the grove of olive trees...
until you reach the buildings that house the mill, salesroom, commercial kitchen and dining room. I peeked into the kitchen where they were assembling desserts. We were told that Mas Des Barres prepares lunch for tours of 30 or more people.
I would have been very happy sitting at this table with a French baguette and a glass of wine.
The cafe table and chairs were covered by a canopy of fig trees.
There was a charming salesroom (I could find a place for that cupboard somewhere in my house!)...
that sold regional food items...
soaps in the shape of olives...
Owner/manager Rene Ouenin spoke with us (or I should say my daughter, since he spoke no English) about this area of Provence. His home is right next door. I tried to imagine what it would be like waking up every morning on this incredible property. He seemed very proud and rightly so. If you're driving through the Alpilles between St. Remy de Provence and Marseilles, I urge you to take the small backroads through the mountains and explore this special area of France.
Susan and I have just returned from our visits to France and Germany. It was an incredible trip, first staying with our friends Maria and Dieter in Germany, and then flying to Marseilles for a week in the south of France. It is hard for me to say what my favorite part of the trip was....waking up each morning in Maria and Dieter's beautiful home, full of light, amazing collections, Provencal furniture and good food was definitely a highlight. Jumping into our car each morning in Provence and heading out to markets in breathtakingly beautiful hilltop villages was a dream (plus, Susan did a superb job of driving our rental car each day, many times under stressful conditions and on the edge of perilous drops to nowhere!). The weather was perfect with extremely cool nights and warm, sunny days. I took hundreds of photos, as I had planned, and am torn between which ones to use for my first post on my return.
Right before we left on our trip, my friend Maureen sent me an article from the May 18th issue of the New York Times Magazine, titled PROVENCE PROFOUND, and it mentioned CHEZ SERGE, located in Carpentras, the town we made our home-base. It did not disappoint!
We were the first ones waiting that noon at the iron-gated entrance, and were able to be seated on the picturesque outdoor patio.
My entree consisted of guinea fowl in a morel mushroom sauce, potatoes and a molded carrot puree.
My daughter dined on French pizza.
I chose the lemon tart for my dessert (I always choose lemon if it's on the menu), but the winner was my daughter's choice; panna cotta with fresh strawberries that Serge had purchased that morning at the Carpentras market. We all agree that our meal at Chez Serge was our favorite meal that week in France.
I have just gone through the painful process of purchasing airline tickets to Europe for my daughter, my sister and myself. The excitement of being in Germany this June to visit friends, and Provence, to explore, is tempered by the knowledge of how weak the dollar is against the Euro. As I've repeatedly promised my husband, this is not a buying trip, altho' I will allow myself grocery store and Provencal market purchases of food items I cannot get back here at home. This trip will be about taking photos. I cherish the photos I have brought home from my previous trips. Food markets tend to be my favorite.
This photo reminds me that I bought saucisson d'Arle (donkey sausage), and didn't tell my sister or daughter the entire week what they were eating.
We could practically drink from these Cavaillon melons, they were so juicy.
Sometimes your choices are overwhelming.
Many of the things I see inspire me, and I consider taking up oil painting again.
And many of the things I see make me wish I had an oven available to me. It's difficult seeing all of this produce without a kitchen to go home to at night.
Hopefully we'll come back from this trip with many more photos to share.
I had been wanting to remodel my kitchen for quite some time. I could see the colors of the granite and the backsplash and the cabinets in my mind’s eye. But first everything had to be torn out – cabinets and countertops and backsplash – and I was dreading it, so I just continued to dream. Then in June of 2005 Eileen, my niece, Claire, and I took a vacation in Provence, and we haven’t been the same since. I knew I wanted to recreate the old limestone floors of the old paper mill turned bed and breakfast where we were staying in Entraigues sur la Sorgue. Of course, I wanted a window over my kitchen sink just like the one in our breakfast area at the old mill to give the kitchen that Provencal feel. So what’s the first thing I did? I bought dishes, of course!
I also found a lovely soap dish in shades of browns and rust and every now and then a little touch of black made in two sections, the top part having a pierced open pattern which allowed for drainage of the water into the bottom dish. If I had to wait for the other pieces to arrive, that was definitely going home with me!
Several months later everything arrived in perfect condition. My kitchen is no longer just a dream, and the dishes from Apt are displayed in a plate rack to remind me every day of Provence. Next on my list are serving pieces, but this time my color combination will be black, cream and yellow. Unfortunately, the horrible exchange rate has made these once expensive dishes now outrageously expensive, but I am not deterred. They’re worth it!
Yes, I know the holidays are approaching and I should be posting a cookie recipe or a photo of holiday decorating, but I can't stop thinking about an old episode of Public Television's VICTORY GARDEN that was rebroadcast last week. The program was on private gardens in Provence. The garden I can't get out of my head was near Bonnieux and belongs to Judith Pillsbury. The property was terraced and the full-time gardener kept all of the rosemary and lavendar plants clipped into perfect orbs. The outdoor vintage French table and chairs invoked images in my mind of warm, lazy afternoons on the patio, dining on a salad made from the freshest produce found that morning in the village market, bread from the local patisserie and of course, French wine!
Bonnieux is an incredibly charming and picturesque hill town. When you reach the top you will be rewarded with views of olive trees and cherry orchards, vineyards, and in the distance the villages of Gordes and Roussillon. Mont Ventoux is prominent 25 miles to the north. It isn't necessary to be invited to a private home to view beautiful landscapes. The photos above and below were taken while driving through the countryside around Bonnieux.
Well, I've dreamt long enough about being in Provence today. Better get back to reality and start baking Christmas cookies.