Tuesday, September 4, 2012

En Provence

Greetings from Mollans-sur-Ouveze in Provence, where I arrived yesterday for an eight-day cooking class and tour at Maison Mollans.

Maison Mollans is owned by two American chefs who, once a year, host a group of six for eight days at their home in Mollans. Owners and teachers Hallie Harron and Mary Evans have strong French connections and a love of France. When not here, they teach in the United States.

When we arrived in Avignon yesterday, they drove us the approximate 40 kilometers to Mollans, our home for the week. We stay at the Hotel Saint Marc, a lovely hotel that is about a two-minute walk to Maison Mollans.

Compared to my hotel in Paris, the Saint Marc is palatial.

The photo at the beginning of this post is the view from my window.

I was not at all familiar with Mollans and this area, but am quickly having my eyes opened to this beautiful region in the Drome region of France, high in the hills.

The Tour de France frequently comes through here, making it a popular biking destination for tourists from around the world.

It's also a thriving wine regional in the southern part of the Rhone Valley.

Last night Hallie and Mary hosted us for a dinner that they prepared at Maison Mollans.

After cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, we were treated to our first "home-cooked" meal. During cocktails, Hallie introduced us to Pamlemousse Rose, a pink grapefruit syrup that is a new popular flavoring that the French are wild about adding to sparkling wine and water, as well as to white wine. It's not yet in the U.S.

Dinner was a salad of local vegetables, followed by a Basque chicken dish made with preserved lemons. Dessert was a slice of Gateau Basque, a cake made with pastry cream and almonds.

Why Basque food in Provence, you might ask? They told us that we'll be eating so much Proven├žal food in the next week, they wanted to give us a taste of another region.

Early this morning, we got to explore the area, starting with the weekly Market in Vaisson. We spent the entire morning meeting Hallie and Mary's favorite vendors and learning about local specialties. Vaisson Market is the biggest and most congested Outdoor market that I've ever been to.

We left Vaisson for lunch in Cairanne.

My lunch started with an Endive and Tomme cheese salad to start, followed by Lyonnaise Sauage, and, for dessert, Fromage Blanc with local honey and almonds.

I passed up trying the Caillettes as a first course. It's a local specialty..sort of a pork meatball mixed with greens and seasonings. Kelley, in our group, was more adventurous and shared with those who wanted a taste. I passed, but Hallie has assured me that there will be even better Caillettes at Sunday lunch! Guess my day of reckoning is coming!

There rest of our afternoon was spent tasting locals wines, first at a wine cooperative with a wonderful wine museum, in Cairanne, Maison Camille Cayran, and then at Domaine des Girasols in Rasteau.

Rick Steves first "discovered" Domaine des Girasols and then Oprah "found" them. Despite, this, this family winery makes wonderful wines that can be now found in the U.S.

1 comment:

mary ann said...

oh, oh, oh ~ what fabulous posts! You are having such a wonderful time...