Articles Tagged ‘Provence Confidential - Cuisine’

Farm to table experience

What better way to spend a Sunday then dining on perfectly prepared local produce with friends at a 300 year old sheepfold overlooking the Luberon mountains?

I've been to the restaurant before and raved about it. But it got even better. The new owner re-opened Le Castellas in May 2019 after investing in some very elaborate renovations to both the kitchens and the hotel orginally built in 1720 as a sheepfold. He also recently had the country road between the hamlet and the domaine paved making it far less treacherous to drive up if you don't have a four-wheel drive vehicle. 

Rove goats with their lyre-shaped horns welcome you to the domaine set above the hamlet of Sivergues. Be on the lookout for a small white free roaming goat by the name of Vivi who like the contents of women's handbags or check out what she's up to now on Instagram @vivi_la_chevre .

Large picnic tables are set up at three locations: at the foot of the building, under the giant oak tree for shade in summer, and inside the building for colder autumn and winter days. On Sundays Chef Julie has a set menu starting with 4 different fall vegetable salads (beet, chickpea, tomato and spelt) accompanied by a kale quiche as an appetizer. The main course was an entire roasted free-range chicken cooked with wild rosemary and served with cauliflower in creme sauce, parsnips and potatoes cooked in the roasting juices. Dessert was the lighest cheesecake (marcapone is the secret) on a bed of homemade red fruit coulis. Menus will change with the seasons but are sure not to dissappoint. 




Fontenille - art, wine, cuisine & boutique hotel

     After a 14 month 10 million euro refurbishment project the Domaine de Fontenille, owned by French fashion exec Frédéric Biousse and Parisian gallerist Guillaume Foucher is now home to:

  • an organic vineyard producing award winning wine
  • an art centre with 3-4 temporary exhibits
  • 1 exquisite restaurant and a bistrot run by a Michelin star chef 
  • a boutique hotel with 17 rooms and suites


  Set on the edge of the Luberon in Lauris just a 1/2 hr from Aix-en-Provence,  the 18thC bastide has a contemporary décor that plays homage to Provençal tradition. The landscaped grounds are bordered by majestic ancient plane trees - a variety of sycamore and tall cypress trees. The setting is spectacular even on the dreariest drizzling day in February.


Chef Jérôme Faure, who obtained a Michelin star at the age of 30 and retained it for 8 years left the Vercors region to run both onsite restaurants - Le Champ des Lunes and La Cuisine d'Amélie (more of a bistrot really). His cuisine pays tribute to the seasons by working with in-season produce sourced locally. Purveyors in Tour d’Aigues provide the goat cheese, in Curcuron the olive oil and organic honey, in Puy Ste. Réparade the eggs and saffron. The portions of his authenitic and creative cuisine are generous. Jérôme said he missed the Michelin cut-off date by 3 weeks this year but you can count on him getting a star at Le Champ des Lunes in 2017. 


Guide to 800 restaurants

The 25th edition of the reference guide to gourmet addresses in Provence -Cote d'Azur was official released last week in Bonnieux.. Provençal chefs present at the launch include Jean-André Charial, Guillaume Sourrieu, Eric Sapet, Xavier Burelle and Jean-Jacques Prévôt who greeted guests with some examples of their culinary delights.

For the past 25 years The Gantié Guide has featured the best restaurants in the south of France. The guide not only includes gastronomic restaurants but bistrots, brasseries, auberges and even gourmet shops and charming local hotels.

Author Jacques Gantié and his entourage of writers, including fellow Canadian Ester Laushway,  take on the task of eating their way through the Bouches du Rhone, the Vaucluse, the Alpes Maritimes, the Var, the Alpes de Haute Provence, Monaco as well as the Italian regions of Liguria and Piedmont to update the guide annually.. Restaurants are rated between 1 and 4 olive branches- the symbol of Mediterranean culture.

You can find the guide in English in bookstores or online at

Julia's kitchen

    Set among olive trees, La Pitchoune,the house built by Julia Child in Provence is now owned by another francophile with culinary aspirations. Recently listed on Airbnb for those who are looking to rent a holiday home - the owner also plans on launching a cooking school.

     Vogue, Town & Country, Condé Nast Traveler and the New York Times  have all written about Julia's modest home in Provence where culinary traditions will prevail. If you want to try mastering the art of French cooking have a look


Les Oursinades

  Carry-le-Rouet, the small port city just west of Marseille along the Côte Bleue, will host the Sea Urchin Festival - Les Oursinades - this Sunday, as it has every year since the beginning of the 1960s. The festival has been so successful that it has been extended to the first 3 Sundays of February giving more and more people the opportunity to attend. 

     In addition to spiky sea urchins, oursins in French, platters of other shellfish are also available. People are encouraged to buy a platter, some white wine of-course, and settle at one of the long picnic tables set up along the port for a convivial lunch.  

   The orange flesh of the urchin is most often eaten raw but it can also be added to an omelet. Sea urchins are high in calcium as well as vitamin A and D. They taste a bit sweet and salty all at once. You can count on some of the biggest fans to eat several dozens. Legend has it that in 1952 the fisherman offered the Mayor of Carry-le-Rouet his weight in sea urchins. 

Provence Cooking Classes Part 1

Provence not only offers exceptional cuisine but many of those chefs are so passionate about the local produce they work with that they offer cooking classes. I tried and tasted my way through many classes and here is a selection of some of my favorites:

La Petite Maison de Cucuron

Michelin star chef Eric Sapet offers a journey into Provencal cooking with each of his classes. Eric personally selects each product he works with and he has found the best local purveyors. There is a good chance that one of them will drop in to make a delivery while you are there and you’ll find out more about how the produce is grown and harvested.  Local purveyors will explain the patience and perseverance needed to produce the best of the best. 

Eric lets everyone take part so it isn’t just a cooking demonstration. He is jovial and generous. He will join you for the meal you and your classmates have just prepared. During the spring and summer months you will dine on the terrace shaded by ancient plane trees that overlooks the basin in the heart of the town square or during the fall and winter months you will dine inside the wood paneled dining room with terracotta tile flooring and authentic Provençal furniture. Classes are available on Saturday mornings only.  As have probably already guessed, the classes offered are in keeping with the seasons - so this fall expect to see mushrooms, game and root vegetables. 

Eric started his career at La Tour d’Argent in Paris before returning south to Les Herbes Blanches and then the Moulin de Lourmarin. In 2007 he purchased La Petite Maison where he was awarded a Michelin star two years later. 

Classes from 10 am to 3 pm
70 euros per person including lunch and wine
60 euros per person for guests joining you for lunch

Le Miramar - Bouillabaisse

If you want to find out what is behind Marseille’s signature dish this is your chance to do so hands on. Chef Christian Buffa hosts a Bouillabaisse – derived from the words bouillir to boil and baisser to reduce – on the 3rd Thursday of every month. Originally, fisherman prepared the meal for themselves using their unsold fish. Today it is one of the delicacies of the region.

The class begins with a walk-through of the daily fish market to familiarize yourselves with local species used in the making of Bouillabaisse including the tiny rock fish that are cooked whole for the broth. You will chop, peel, stir and sift along with your group of 5 to 8 participants before sitting down to the meal.

Christian attended the Ecole Hoteliere d'Ecully at L'Institut Paul Bocuse before working at Le Moulin de Mougin and l'Amandier. In 2003, at the age of 29, he purchased Miramar in his hometown of Marseille.

Classes from 9:30 am to 2 pm
120 euros per person
70 euros per person for guests joining you for lunch