Saturday, September 20, 2014

TO MARKET, TO MARKET… WHAT TO BUY WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO BUY A FAT PIG?

Market Day in Lourmarin.  Photo by Mary Norcross

The long lazy days of summer in this part of the world officially come to an end this weekend. Already the days are abbreviated. After all the summers I’ve visited Provence, I have never lost my amazement at how long the days linger in the months of June, July, and August and how soon night begins to fall when September arrives!

By now, the last of the summer transplants has battened down the hatches of their country homes and returned north to places like Paris and Brussels. In their place are vacationers—probably more like you and me—striving to be satisfied with just a week or two in la belle Provence, folks who want to eke out the most of every day—while moving at a Provençal pace—before les vacances comes to an end.

What’s on their list of things to do and see in Provence? Markets, markets, and more markets, I hear.

According to my informal survey of the travelers I know—including the many people over the years to whom we rented our apartments in Lourmarin— the markets of Provence still hover at the top of the list, as they do in the spring and fall months.

Fall is a great time to visit the markets. The elbow-to-elbow crowds are gone, making possible a leisurely stroll along the colorful vendor-lined streets—even toting a heavily laden basket of goodies, a rather daring act in August; café tables are much easier to snag for a mid-morning break from shopping; and parking is a lot less challenging.

Map fo Market Days
Click on the map to visit an interactive map and see which day(s) of the week each town has its market (s). (Source:  www.Rentourhomeinprovence, a website created by Susan and WT Manfull.)

Somewhere not far from where you are vacationing in Provence, everyday of the week, there's a market.   Come rain or shine or the fierce Mistral wind and even on holidays, independent vendors across the region are up by daybreak,loading their wares into trucks, vans, carts, and deux-chevaux to make the trip to one of the many markets in Provence. Markets open around 8:30 in the morning and close shortly after noon (in time for lunch!).

I am most familiar with the markets  in the Provence  departments of the Vaucluse and Bouche-du-

Rhône (although two of my favorite markets are in neighboring Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department).  Click on the map (above) to see which day(s) of the week each town has its market(s).  If you do your planning right, you could visit a couple of markets.


What do you buy in the markets when you won’t be hanging your hat in the area long? The answer to this question was the subject of a conversation I recently had with some friends who were on the eve of their departure for Provence (for ten days!).  The glorious fruits and vegetables, beautiful fish, mouthwatering rotisserie chickens and roasted vegetables, and stinky cheeses that usually fill my basket and the pages of TMT articles about my favorite markets are not what short-stay travelers are most interested in.

The conversation prompted me to gather some photos—with a little help from my friends—to show what you might purchase when you go to market in Provence and are not in the mood to buy a fat pig. That is, when perishable items just won't do.

For more information on specific markets, please see earlier TMT articles by clicking here.  For more information on a specific item pictured below (e.g., what it is, which market it's from, who took the photo, etc.),  please shoot me a note in the "comment" section below.

Un grand merci to photographers David Scott Allen, WT Manfull, Mary Norcross, and Pamela O'Neill for allowing me to post their lovely pictures.



 




 






 



  

Home Again, Home Again, Market is Done....I would love to hear what you buy when you go to the market in Provence!



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Sunday, August 31, 2014

VANILLA ICE CREAM À LA CHÂTEAU DE BRIGUE: TOP WITH A SPLASH OF OLIVE OIL


Vanilla ice cream with sea salt, basil, and olive oil.  Photo by W.T. Manfull

I recently visited Château de Brigue, one of largest estates owned by a single family in Provence. Located in Le Luc en Provence, with vineyards and olive groves scattered among four villages along the famous Nationale 7 road in the Var, it is a now operated by four brothers who comprise the third generation of Brun family members to sit at the helm of this estate.

Two generations of winemakers – Father and son, Fernand and Olivier Brun. Photo by Pamela O’Neill

Photographer Pamela O’Neill and I had the pleasure of meeting with one of the brothers, Olivier Brun, and with his father Fernand Brun who held the reins until 2000 when he passed ownership on to his sons. We had an immensely interesting tour followed by tastings of their award-winning bubbly rosé and a little extra virgin olive oil made from the 2000 olive trees on their property. Please click here to read about our visit as well as the history of the château—in this Modern Trobadors post, I’d like to tell you about a dessert Olivier suggested as he wrapped our bottles of olive oil to carry home.

Vanilla ice cream with sea salt, basil, and olive oil.  Photo by W.T. Manfull


“Put it on some vanilla ice cream,” Brun said. I thought I had misunderstood—or that Brun had confused some English words—but he went on to explain that the fruitiness of the olive oil and the sweetness of the ice cream made a terrific pairing. He said it was delicious.

Pam and I were intrigued. Neither of us had ever thought of such a combination and certainly had not tried it.

It is evident, however, in current culinary writing and on menus in haute cuisine restaurants, that savory and sweet desserts are very popular. One food writer recently included...


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Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE PERTUIS MARKET

Pertuis Market    Photo by Pamela O'Neill

Conversations in Provence inevitably turn to local markets (and food and wine, of course). Did you see the plump figs at the small stand at the far end of the bassin? Who is your favorite cheese man? Which Tuesday market do you favor? Where can I get a good head of lettuce? Which market has the best espadrilles? Where do you park at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue?

This summer, markets still dominated many of my exchanges, but a question surfaced that I had never been asked: have you ever been to the market in Pertuis?

Pertuis Market    Photo by Susan Manfull


Now, for me, there were only four reasons to (occasionally) venture into Pertuis: 1) to go to the Zone Industrial where one finds, for example, the SFR store and the Hyper-U; 2) to pick up someone from the bus station; 3) to eat Vietnamese food; or 4) to play squash. I had never thought about going to the market in Pertuis.

There is a growing concern, among some of the local folks with whom I spoke, that the authenticity of many of the markets in the Luberon is declining. The Lourmarin market, long a favorite market of people in the area, appears to be the impetus for much of this worry. A surprisingly large number of local folks were quite vociferous in their opinion that my favorite market has gone to the dogs…uh, I mean tourists!

Pertuis Market    Photo by Pamela O'Neill

Bearing in mind that I am a tourist—and that I might be guilty of making room between my fresh dorade fish and saucissons de sanglier for a large sac of tres cher monogrammed lavender sachets that no self-respecting French person would...


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