I recently spent a very relaxing ten days in Provence, near the Camargue, where I was treated to the most delicious food and wine. Food and wine featured heavily during my stay as three hours after breakfast (where coffee was drunk from a bowl with fresh croissants and fruit) aperitivo was served by the pool, straight after aperitivo and a swim was lunch, followed by relaxing in the hammock and then about three hours after that there was more aperitivo followed by dinner. It was wonderful! I love aperitivo. It varied from drinking pastis, the typically French aniseed liquor (a less lethal cousin of absinthe) served with water which turns it cloudy, to wine flavoured with truffle to champagne with a hint of liquor from mandarin to plum. The drinks were served with slices of baguette or fougasse with tapenade, a tomato and garlic paste and the most delicious spread which was a blend of melon, mint and a touch of curry powder. These were from a stall at the market at St Quentin La Poterie which has a fantastic Friday market with local produce such as honeys and olives.
Delicious desserts from the local patisserie in Uzès.
Vineyard Deleuze-Rochetin where we sampled wines and saw exhibitions in the art space.
One morning we went to one of the local vineyards, Deleuze-Rochetin, to sample wines and stock up for meals and, needless to say, aperitivo. It was such a pleasure going there and sampling wines that are straight from the region and not exported. One of my favourites was Zéphyr, 2011, with a fresh, slightly floral nose but, unfortunately I can’t remember its blend of grapes. The vineyard even has a stark art space upstairs so after sampling everything we could get our paws on we discovered the art of Denis Pondruel, Martine Lafon and Cecile Andrieu.
A beautiful array of mushrooms cooking in cream.
Aperitivo by the pool – tapenade and the most delicious tomato and garlic paste. I could eat it every day forever!
Barbecuing whisky soaked prawns – a Provence speciality! No, not really.
Dried fruit from the market at Saint Quentin la Poterie.
Figs in the garden. I had my eye on them every day but only two ripened whilst we were there. Sigh. I could have eaten the whole tree!
Pastis and olives for aperitivo.
My Karen Mabon swimmers scarf looked great by the pool. Find it here on Howkapow.
A delicious cocktail to start our dinner at L’Artemise near Pont-du-Gard. It was a concoction of whisky, ginger and cubes of mashed basil.
Delicate olive breadsticks.
Amuse bouche – mozzarella cream with sun-dried tomato.
Amuse bouche – petit pois purée.
Dessert at L’Artemise – poached apricots, meringue sticks, creme patissier and brioche.
L’Artemise at Pont-du-Gard, Provence.
On our final night we went to a fantastic restaurant: L’Artemise. It is situated on a hill near the Roman aqueduct Pont-du-Gard with sweeping views of the stunningly green countryside with occasional yellow patches of sunflowers. The restaurant is set in a beautiful old house with tables in the garden next to the tomato patches with lights suspended between them and from trees. There isn’t a menu to speak of, you specify whether you would like meat or fish, then the evening of many courses begins. We started with a green cocktail of whisky, ginger and mashed basil cubes, followed by two amuses bouches, a starter, then the main of fish or meat. I don’t have photos of every course as night set in making it too dark but you get a good idea from the photos above. After the main was local cheese served with pickled courgette, goat’s cheese ice-cream which tasted of yoghurt and was surprisingly delicious, a dessert of poached apricots, meringue sticks, creme patissier and brioche, then plates of chocolate pots and madeleines were presented. It was all utterly delicious and the dishes change frequently so you are very much encouraged to go back. Even if the dishes remained the same I would be back in a flash many times!
Places I would recommend to visit when in Provence are:
The Friday market in Saint Quentin la Poterie
The Saturday market in Uzes
La Maison de la Truffe in Uzes for truffle wine
Rencontres Arles – an enormous photography exhibition set all over Arles
A walk along the medieval fortifications at Aigues-Mortes