La Cuisine Provençale

    Driving through the vast plains of Provence gives a feeling of lighthearted freedom, passing by fields of grape vines or massive sunflowers soaking up that golden sunlight made famous by artists and authors the world over.  Stopping in the occasional village, you can visit the morning markets where farmers come to sell their various fruits and produce, and vendors offer their local specialties made daily with their experienced hands steeped in generations of tradition. 

    While the Côte d’Azur can be just as glitzy as reputed in the summer months, when you travel a bit further inland to old villages such as Biot, Grasse and Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the glamour is quickly replaced by old-world charm and local trades of artists and craftsmen.  One can spend an entire day exploring, satisfying every craving for food, drink, culture, spirituality, and natural beauty whether observing a sprawling vista where Renoir and Cezanne used to paint, or a little café where Baudelaire used to write. 

    Provençal cooking is pure and simple, though the range of ingredients and various combinations can yield hundreds of dishes.  Fresh produce is the focus of most dishes and the most popular items include:  tomatoes, olives (Picholine, Nicoise), lemons, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, peppers,  artichokes, capers, pine nuts, almonds, saffron, basil, and herbs of all varieties.  Fruits include berries, grapes, cherries, peaches, pears, dates, and melons. 

    Near the Mediterranean coast, seafood abounds with Loup de Mer (Seabass), Rouget (Rockfish or Red Mullet), Cod, Sea Bream, Daurade (pink Snapper), Sardines, Anchovies, Oysters, Mussels, and Clams.  Poultry and meat include chicken, duck, quail,  lamb, veal, and pork.  Sheep, cows and goats are used primarily for their milk, creating beautiful cheeses known as fromage de Brebis, Vache and Chevre

    The health benefits of Provencal cuisine are not to be overlooked.  Olive oil replaces butter in nearly every application, with the exception of certain pastry recipes that require leavening.  Cream is rarely used and is often replaced by fresh yogurt, or fromage blanc. Fresh goat cheese is lightly crumbled over salads and baked Tians of vegetables, or served warm on a biscuit with a beautiful mesclun salad. 

Fresh, healthy, flavorful, simple, family-style cooking is the theme of my culinary repertoire and I feel passionately about sharing it with others so they can reap the benefits.  I hope that the recipes I have chosen to share will give you and your loved ones as much pleasure and fulfillment as they give me. 

From my heart to your kitchen, bon appetit!