On our annual return to France every spring, certain "rituals" must be observed. Among the most enjoyable rituals are those concerning the re-stocking of the pantry. Soon after arrival, homage must be paid to the weekly farmers market, where currently, local strawberries and asparagus are placed highest on the podium. But other local fare deserves to be respected as well.
|Farm fresh butter and lavender honey are among the most celebrated embellishments for a warm from the oven (local Patisserie, not mine) baguette. I have been told that the confitures (jams) also work!|
|Even with the cool, wet weather that has been hanging on in the region, the "gariguettes" (first strawberries of the season) are sweet and flavourful. They make for a lovely dessert after a lunch of cheeses and olives.|
Once the "gods of the market" have been appeased, respects must be paid to the makers of the olive oil. A few kilometers outside of St.Remy de Provence, is the perfectly charming provencal village of Maussane-les-Alpilles. Set in a region that is surrounded by olive groves, Maussane produces much of the olive oil in France. "Moulin Jean Cornille" is a local olive oil mill that produces a very fragrant, fresh olive oil that is worth every minute of the drive 2 hour drive to acquire.
The entry to the olive mill, where at the right time of year, you can see the presses working their magic and coaxing the luscious elixir from the olives.
|The shrine of olive oils and various "condimenty" things that are currently in this French Canadian (Canadian French?) kitchen.|
Confiture d'oignons (a relish made with red onions and vinegar) is the perfect accompaniment to a variety of meats.
|It's a staple in the refrigerator, like green relish is at home.|
Paying respects to the "food gods" can leave one tired and hungry, so a lovely lunch out is very likely the best cure. (It usually works for me).
|Pan seared "daurade" (sea bream) is served on a bed of crispy potato gratin alongside a rosemary infused vegetable ratatouille.|
And then, just about when the initial French food rituals and cravings have been sufficiently recognized and satisfied, a little bit of North American comfort food seems to be the right thing. Hmmm.... !
|Counter clockwise from the top: "Our Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies" ( recipe from the Smitten Kitchen website; www.smittenkitchen.com ), along with my version of caramel chip cookies (adapted from the original recipe), as well as some cheesy puffy pastry snacky thingies, that go great with a glass of rose.|