I'm just mad about Saffron

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Food

I'm just mad about Saffron

And I’m even more enthused about being able to visit a local producer of the prized spice located at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail.

Architect François and Chef Marie Pillet left there regular jobs and moved to Provence in order to grow saffron and run a B&B (www.aube-safran.com). Saffron had previously been grown in the region as far back as the 14th century.

Today they harvest over 200 000 bulbs of the Crocus sativus each fall which provides them with about 1 kilo of saffron. It seems like a lot of work for just over 2 pounds of spice but these people are passionate.

Each week during the harvest Michelin Star Chef Pierre Gagnaire, known for his flagship restaurant in Paris (www.pierre-gagnaire.com) and Twist his Las Vegas restaurant (www.mandarinoriental.com), receives fresh hand-picked crocuses for use in his own culinary delights. François claims to be able to pick between 800-1000 flowers a night wearing his miners light.  He and his wife then remove the filaments from the flower, bake these wonderful red and orange threads for 30 minutes at 50°C and package them for sale in their boutique or on their website. Naturally they keep a supply for making some wonderful homemade madeleines and chutneys.