Fête de L'Oursin

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Food

Fête de L'Oursin

During the 1st three Sundays of February  the village of Carry-le-Rouet, just west of Marseilles on the Côte Bleue, will be celebrating l'oursin or sea urchin in English. These are nasty critters to step on when swimming but they are a Mediterranean delicacy served fresh from the sea.

Craterellus cornucopioides

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Food

Craterellus cornucopioides

Also called the Black Trumpet, these mushrooms are known in France as Trompette des Morts which literally means the Trumpet of the Dead.  It’s not a very appetizing name but it is the most delectable mushroom. This season the markets of Provence offer a wide selection of mushrooms. We have had regular rainfall this autumn which makes for a good mushroom harvest.

Coquilles St. Jacques

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Food

Coquilles St. Jacques

Les Coquilles St. Jacques or scallops are not harvested anywhere near Provence but they are on every menu come the end of the year holidays. These delicately flavored shellfish are fished along the coasts of the Atlantic and the English Channel from October through April.

Calisson Kisses

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Food

Calisson Kisses

Aix en Provence in known throughout France for its delicious almond shaped confections. Think of them as the Hershey’s Kisses of Provence. First created by a local confectioner in honour of the King René second marriage in 1473, calisson factories sprouted during the 19th C. Calisson’s are not well known abroad but a very busy sales and marketing staff at La Confiserie Roy René is working on diversifying the flavours in order to have a wider appeal. In fact they have just developed a date filled calisson for the Dubai market place. www.calisson.com

Basics of Bouillabaisse

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Basics of Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is the world famous fish stew which originated in Marseilles. The name comes from the words bouillir which means to boil and baisser which means to reduce. Originally this meal was prepared by fishermen using their unsold fish. Bouillabaisse is served as two courses.

13 desserts

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13 desserts

On December 24th just after the celebration of midnight mass 13 desserts which symbolise Christ and the 12 apostles are served.  In Provence there is no traditional cake or pie at this time of year.  Instead they prepare a gathering of what used to be exotic fruit and nuts that came to the seaport city of Marseilles from other Mediterranean ports.

Galette des Rois

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Galette des Rois

The Fête des Rois (or Festival of Kings) takes place on the 12th day after Christmas and is known as the Epiphany. In France the tradition is marked by a dessert known as the Galette des Rois or King's Cake which is sold with a paper crown.

Willy Wonka in Provence

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Willy Wonka in Provence

Master chocolate maker Philippe Second, who was also awarded the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France (it means he is among the best pastry chefs in the country) may have been inspired by Roald Dahl when designing his 2011 Christmas promotional campaign.

Open season: Truffles!

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Open season: Truffles!

The official opening of the 2011-2012 Tuber Melanosporum season kicked off today in the town of Richrenches with a procession by the Brotherhood of the Black Diamond and a special mass blessing these elusive gems. Interestingly truffle are placed into the collection basket as opposed to coins or bank notes. Producers, brokers and just plain old admirers were on hand to attend an entire day dedicated to the first truffles available.

Free-Range Escargots

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Free-Range Escargots

Snail farming or héliciculture in French (from the scientific term Helix which is one of the varieties of snails that can be farmed) is making a come-back. They aren’t really completely free-range as the giant pens have an electric fence so that they don’t just wonder off and so that their natural predators, like hedge hogs and birds don’t get there first.

Star Studded Grape Harvest

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Star Studded Grape Harvest

From September 22-25th, 2011 the town of Cassis has organised a festival dedicated to wine and flavours. Targeted to those passionate about both food and wine, the Star Studded Grape Harvest offers tastings throughout the town and surrounding vineyards.