Provence, Part III: Dining Delight for Foodies — “Joie de Vivre”

August 20, 2012

One of the tenets I try to follow daily is also — coincidentally — a popular French saying: joie de vivre”, which means joy derived from life. I believe it’s our day-to-day experiences that give us the most happiness throughout our lives. This was amplified immensely during my stay earlier this year in the South of France.

After settling into the house and finalizing some of the accessories for this project, my husband and I decided to explore the local region and visit some neighboring small villages. I would like to share with you some of the design elements both small and large that were memorable for us.  Of course one often hears about towns such as Avignon, Marseille and Arles, which were lovely, but I would like to share with you some smaller, out-of-the-way villages that gave us some stellar experiences.

Up on a small mountain was the town of La Garde Adhémar. The residents there are famous for homemade wood-baked pizza with paper-thin crusts and delicate toppings. The adjacent, more formal restaurant had a collection of vintage plates that would make any dish collector swoon. This town with a population of about 8,000 was so charming, and was also home to a beautiful medieval church.

Another local town that might otherwise be missed is Uzès. Here we had the most artfully displayed ice cream I have ever seen served up in a Murano glass dish with fresh fruit. I do believe good design applies to all things — even ice cream!

In the town of Saint Paul Trois Chateaux, the chef at one of the local restaurants made Bouillabaisse especially for us. It was interesting how the broth came out first (served separately) followed by the shell fish along with a whole fish as well. The added saffron to the broth was wonderful.

In Grignon, we found a charming tea room with homemade orange and lemon tarts. Many of these small towns have weekly markets to visit, and offer products flavored with their famous lavender. Lavender honey, jellies, soaps, syrup and more were in abundance. This is where I purchased some of these fabulous things.

All in all, it has been very rewarding to see how happy my clients are with the results of this project. I am constantly learning and inspired from my travels, which, in turn, hone my design skills. So I thank you for following my journey to Provence and do wish you, as always, to “vivre admirablement” – live beautifully!

We felt so incredibly special as a chef in Saint Paul Trois Chateaux made an amazing Bouillabaisse dish for us. The same chef also created this tortellini salad masterpiece, which was beyond delicious. You can do this at home, too! Included in this salad pictured above is cheese tortellini, prosciutto, fresh peas, asparagus, peppers, lettuce and cucumbers – all topped with a drizzle of olive oil. Serve chilled or room temperature.

We found this gem of a meal in La Garde Adhémar. In a word: superb. Travelers come from far and wide to taste this scrumptious wood-burning oven pizza for which the town’s residents are famous.

Here’s an example of beautifully served ice cream in Uzès, France. This was one of the most marvelous desserts I’ve ever seen presented, and the sweet and refreshing taste was out of this world. It was served in a Murano glass dish topped with fresh fruit.

Our time in Grignon allowed us to see this wonderful lavender field. The town’s weekly markets offer an abundance of lavender products, including honey, jellies, soaps, massage oils, syrup, pillows and more.

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