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Archive for the ‘Cooking trip Provence’

Cooking sessions in Provence continue with chocolate

October 11, 2013 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Provence, Women 2 Comments →

I know you are all waiting for the chocolate but before that, there is more.

We went with the owner of our hotel and the chef to the supermarket to buy the veggies for our cooking session. Pierre, the owner, explained the local produces you can find at this local store:

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Jutta, with the green shirt, was very attentive. Jutta is probably our A student on the trip. Lani and Cathy, on the other end, would probably not get a A. They were much more …dissipated.

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At least they are having fun and that is what matters. Below is a picture of the whole group with the chef Yvan (below to the L and the owner Pierre):

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Back at the hotel, we started our cooking session. Yvan taught us easy recipes to reproduce, that involved pistou (=provencal version of pesto), tapenade, lamb, veggie tart, tian of veggies (a version of ratatouille), mashed potatoes with raw garlic (and gallons of olive oil in it!!!!) and for dessert, a “fondant au chocolat” (chocolate lava cake).


As you can see, in the back, Jutta is watching very carefully and taking notes. I told you she was our A student.

We aslo went in the herb garden with “kilted” chef….Yes our chef wears the kilt (see pic below) and I couldn’t answer Lani’s question. Does he wear it the “real” way meaning the scottish way, without anything under???

Kyle was following him, not because of the kilt-I think- but because she didn’t want to miss an opportunity to taste some samples from the garden. When it comes to picking up herb and tasting and smelling, Kyle is the A student.


Lunch was served in the garden.


Kathy had a different question, not about the kilt but about the the pot. What does it have a hole in the tip?


Lani suggested it was to avoid dripping and Kyle, who also gets a A for google searching, confirmed the hypothesis.

What about the chocolate pastries? Well, we did make a chocolate lava cake but I forgot to take a picture. Tomorrow, we will go to see a pastry chef who will teach us how to prepare some fine chocolate desserts.

Too see the whole itinerary of this cooking and food trip to Provence, click here.

Olive oil tasting and truffle hunt in Provence

October 09, 2013 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Provence, Women 3 Comments →

French regulations demand that the origin of the olive oil must appear on the bottle. Look closely. At times, such info appears in mouse type. The FR5 sleuths embarrassed one shady vendor at a market in Aix-en-Provence who was selling olive oil from Spain.

Take the generic phrase “a product of the European Union” that appears on the back-of-the-bottle label of the popular French supermarket brand Puget. Origin of this olive oil: Spain.

So if you want to make sure the olive oil is from France, you should go and see Andre in Gordes, Provence. That is what we did on our food trip. Andre built his beautiful shop in 2003 and started to produce olive oil.


We started the visit with a walk in the olive orchards. We learned everything about the olive tree, the harvest technique by hand and the process to produce the oil: extra virgin first cold press of course.


We then tasted the different oils Andre produces: AOC or tradition olive oil but also basil, rosemary and truffle olive oil. But that is not all: toasts with different tapenades and of course some rose wine.


Kathy, from our group, felt very comfortable with Andre…


Kathy is the “trouble maker” in the group. You will see what happened to her in the afternoon.

After lunch we went truffle hunting. Of course, we needed a dog. We went with Robert, truffle hunter and his dog, truffle hunting under the white oaks in the forest of Gordes. Kita, the dog, was excellent and found 5 truflles in the 3 different areas we visited.


After the hunt, we were invited by Robert to eat truffle toast in his house. He served us toasts with butter, fleur de sel de Camargue, sliced truffles and olive oil. It was simply delicious. He also served us two different types of white wine.


Kathy, again, decided to double the slices of truffle on the toasts. So she removed the slice from one toast and put it on another one. She started to pile up all the toasts from where she had removed the truffles. She finally tried to hide them but doing so, she spilt her glass of wine on the table and on Jutta’s pants…Robert had to take care of it.


I think Kathy should be voted out of the truffle farm too!!! Just kidding. We all love her.

It is actually a very nice group and everyone is getting along great. More adventure to come on our food and cooking tour to Provence.

Food and culinary tour to Provence

October 07, 2013 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary No Comments →

My new trip has started, a food and culinary holiday in Provence for small groups.

The trip started yesterday with a welcome drink and a gourmet dinner.

Today we went to an educational farm. We started by picking up veggies, fruits and herb in the organic garden. The do have many varieties of tomatoes, some that you don’t find at the supermarket anymore: red tomatoes, pineapple tomatoes, orange tomatoes, green tomatoes, 10 finger of Naples tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, etc…I don’t even remember all of them.


Cathy, the farmer, gave us many samples to taste or to smell but Kyle (with the black hat below) just ate everything: strawberries, figues, tomatoes, chocolate mint, stevia, lemon verbena, grapes, etc…


Below is our group: from L to R, Lani, Jutta, Kathy, Kyle, Cathy (the farmer) and Christine.


After our harvest, under a pleasant sun, we went to the kitchen to start our ratatouille, a typical provencal dish. For hygiene reasons, we needed to wear hats. We looked like women in “the little house in the prairie”:




Time to get started: washing, peeling, cutting, dicing,…


Jutta was the clever one!!!! In terms of cutting more, she took over the lead and replaced the chef, stirring. She said that she saved the meal because the ratatouille started to burn but by stirring away  she avoided  a catastrophe!!!!


Kathy has been “voted out of the island” or should I say “out of the kitchen” on day 1  because of her lack of talent slicing the tomatoes. Kyle, Lani and Kathy were slicing the different colored tomatoes to make a pretty salad. Lani stated quite vigorously that Kathy had no skills and asked her to remove her sliced tomatoes from the dish. It just didn’t look good!


Kicked out of the kitchen, Kathy decided to use her skills in decorating the table, under Christine’s supervision. Apparently her skills were better used there.

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In the afternoon, we went to Chateau Neuf du Pape village, well known for its famous wine of the same name. Kyle loves wine so she bought a lot of it. But we don’t know if she bought it because she liked the wine so much or she liked the sommelier….with his blue eyes and little black fur on his chest!!!

After the wine, chocolate of course: Lani and Kyle were not the last one for the tasting….


Not sure if Kyle bought as much chocolate as wine (I guess the woman doing the chocolate tasting was not as cute as the guy at the winery…) but for sure Christine did:


More adventure tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Cooking with famous chefs in Provence

September 29, 2012 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Jac's Travel diary, Provence No Comments →

Today we spent the day in Cavaillon, the “melon” town.

After going to the market and finding out how to recognize fresh veggies, ripe pears and sweet melons, we went back to jJ Prevot’s restaurant and starting to cook.


The chef, Jean-Jacques Prevot, is the melon specialist. He is famous for all his recipe with melon.


We mad a melon flower with a losbster sauce for starter (served with ham):



We had lunch in the fancy restaurant run by Jean Jacques Prevot and his daugther Sandra Rose:

The day before we went to La Mirande, five star hotel in Avignon. The class was given by the famous chef Jean-Claude Altamyer and his assistant Sevrine. Our guest, Colleen, have been busy smashing the shell from the lobster to make the lobster bisque:
I don’t know if it was Colleen’s touch but the lobster bisque was out of this world.
Laurie was the one who cut the guinea fowl’s head off with a big knife. She was so fast and hit so hard that you can’t see the knife on the picture but you can see the chef being scared of her:
The setting in a medieval kitchen was like living a dream:
Nancy had a great idea. She brought an indelible pencil to have the chefs sign all the aprons:
It was an incredible week with a very fun group.
From L to R: Anita, Nancy, Stephanie, Colleen, Sherri, Diane, Laurie and Donna.

Will you stay in Provence for the weather or for ….

September 27, 2012 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Provence, Travel notes from our guests, Women No Comments →

What will be your reason to decide to live in Provence? The sunshine 300 days a year? The lavender? The olives? The nougat? The potteries? The art? or ….?

Well, Sherri M., one of our guests on the cooking tour for women in Provence has another reason for living here:

Sherri M. says:

“No cooking expedition to France would be complete without an exploration of that most precious of “mushrooms”
known as the diamond of the kitchen- the truffle. While many amateur cooks visiting France would be content to purchase truffle pieces or truffle oilat Fauchon or Hediard, we were fortunate to go on a truffle hunt in Gordes with Robert Florent, a third generation truffle hunter, and his son.

Our hunt took us in search of summer or white truffles, but Mssr. Florent educated us about winter or black truffles as well. We learned about truffles from the region, from Perigord, and the less desirable truffles from China. We now know how truffle oil is made, what truffle products to avoid at the grocery, and how to store and use fresh truffles.

truffThis is not Sherri but Diane holding the truffle found by Robert’s dog.

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(Sherri continues..): For me, it was love at first sight, or should I say at first bite. The unique flavor of summer truffles, which we tried thanks to the hospitality of Mssr. Florent who welcomed us into his home and served us savory truffle canapes, and winter truffles which I’ve been privileged to taste in the past, had made me dreaming about relocating to Provence and marrying the charming and entertaining Mssr. Florent :)!”


Here is a picture of Sherri cooking while dreaming of the truffle man!!!!!!


New cooking tour in Provence: a fun group!

September 25, 2012 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Provence 2 Comments →

We are now in Saint Remy de Provence and a new group has arrived for….cooking in Provence.

Everyone has received an apron to be ready for the cooking sessions:


Today we went to an educative farm where we cooked a ratatouille, a typical Provencal dish. But first, we needed to go and pick up the veggies in the garden: eggplants, zucchinis, tomatoes, purple basil, pepers and more. Some were not small although everything is organic.




The farm has many different species of each veggies. For example, the tomatoes: you can see on the picture below some of the tomatoes we used for our salad: green tomatoes, black tomatoes, pineapple tomatoes, moroccan tomatoes, roma tomatoes and some whom I forgot the names:


Everyone took part of the cooking, even Stephanie who doesn’t eat tomatoes and Sherri who doesn’t care about cooking but only about eating:


September is also the time for the harvest of the grapes. That is what we did. We used the grapes along with figues and apples to make a fruit clafuti.


As for me, besides doing the translation, I picked up little tiny flowers…


Check the complete itinerary of our cooking tour in Provence.

Cooking Trip in Provence

May 14, 2010 By: guest Category: Cooking trip Provence, Food and Recipe, Provence No Comments →

I am now in Provence with my first cooking group in Provence: 9 women who love food and want to learn the secrets of provencal cooking.

On our first day, we went with Finette and her master to hunt for truffles. Finette is an expert dog in finding truffles. Despite the rain, Finette found several big truffles. Since we are in May, the truffles are the white truffles or spring truffles. They don’t have the same aromas as the black truffles from the winter (and are only worth about 180 euros/kg instead of 1000 euros!!).

After the hunt, we got invited by the master into his house.  We were served rose and white wine and toast with truffles of course.

To make the toast: grill some little pieces of baguette on both sides, cut the truffle on top, add salt from Camargue and olive oil. Let them sit for a few hours so the olive oil can melt the salt.

It was delicious.

Tomorrow, we will be cooking a ratatouille in a farm, picking the herbs ourselves.