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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Here are 5 amazing places for food to carry you through the summer until Aixcentric returns, Susan Gish says: 
  • Fanny’s 
  • Aux Pates Fraiches 
  • Au Pave du Roy 
and a reminder about Tita & Meow Cat’s Café – both of which have been written about before.
Fanny’s ‘Come on-A My House’ comfort food home cooking. (Come on-A My House:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mriXncI96lw  )  Bienvenue! Welcome to my house/my bistrot- Fanny seems to be saying with her smiling eyes! I know Fanny’s family. I’ve never met them, but I know them. She shares her family with us at her bistrot, and oh, this is a good family! Her grand-mother was also named Fanny: ‘I spent a lot of time watching her cooking and helping her when I was growing up. The memory of the smell of her chocolate fondant coming out of her oven. It was the best! That’s why I chose it for my signature dessert. Soon I will use the chocolate Jika from my brother’s factory in Jakarta.’ 
There’s an excellent playlist of music, not too loud, just perfect. Pink Martini, Ella Fitzgerald…’Music has always orchestrated my life…my Mum owned a piano bar where I worked. My sister Aurélie who also owned a restaurant in Bretagne, shares with me her favourite pieces of Jazz.’ Her sister made the tablecloths for the bistro. Her brother the furniture. A true coming together of family. 
Sam and I ate there often before confinement. We love the home cooked meals and warm atmosphere. Fanny’s smile lights up the room when we arrive. In fact, she knows almost everyone that comes in and we all get equal, warm smiles and welcomes. If she knows you love a specific dish she makes, she might text you to let you know she is making it that day. 
L’assiette du marché (15.90) has a meat, a fish and a vegetarian option that change according to the season. In early March before confinement I had a tasty chicken curry (from Fanny’s Indonesian sister-in-law) with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, turmeric, birds eye pepper, coconut milk, and curry spice. It came with a side of green beans with radish, red onion, beets and a really good dressing. A second side dish of her luscious lentils were served slightly warm with carrots and onions. Sam had beef with carrots – similar to a beef bourgignon. Underneath were little teeny tiny elbow macaroni with the same green bean salad and lentils. We always have the warm chocolate fondant for dessert and the fruit crumble, which her son Charles used to make every week.  Or there is a delicious café gourmand which sometimes might come with a coulis de fruits rouge avec fromage blanc or a little piece of lemon cake which her husband Philippe makes…all in the family! 
I often see Fanny on her bike shopping at the marché for fresh seasonal ingredients for her menu that day. There’s that great warm smile: ‘Bonjour, Susan!’ ‘Bonjour, Fanny! What are you making today?’ ‘Hachis parmentier.’ ‘Oh, wow, can I reserve for 2?’ ‘Bien sur! A bientot!’
Fanny spent a year in the US when she was 13 with her sister who had married an American. So she speaks English if you like. But she’s happy to speak in French to me to help me learn…(will I ever learn?!). Besides cooking and family, she loves sports and is in great shape. ‘I grew up with sports and tennis was my favourite, so when I moved from Paris to Lourmarin in 1999 with my husband and two children, I decided to involve myself in the tennis club of Lourmarin.’
I love this article about Fanny’s in The Huffington Post from March 2014:
All of it is true to this day. Nothing has changed. We are all still part of her family!
Fanny’s
11, rue Chastel – a small street just behind the Place des Precheurs.
There is outdoor seating as well as indoor. 06 08 60 33 95 
Open Tuesday-Saturday – 9am -3pm for lunch-or stop in for a coffee and a piece of cake in the morning
*New info…….Open for dinner in July & August – 7pm to 9pm
fannys_bistrot on Instagram
 Aux Pâtes Fraîches –  Young and dynamic, Pierre-Antoine and Charles were looking for a place to open a food shop here in Aix-en-Provence. They saw Aux Pâtes Fraîches, which some of you might have been to as the shop goes back to 1878. It’s on the street behind the Fontaine au Sanglier off of Place Richelme and the fish market. Charles and Pierre-Antoine thought it immediately felt like home and bought the shop. This all happened just before confinement… They both speak English fluently after living awhile in London. Pierre-Antoine is an architect. He worked on museums projects in London. He is passionate about his work but wanted to fulfill his dream: to open a business related to food. Charles was working in marketing for a French cheese company. ‘We miss speaking English so if you want to come by just to have a chat, please do!’
They make their own pasta in the back, fresh every day. Spaghetti, tagliatelle, ravioli with petit-pois/menthe, spinach/ricotta, gorgonzola/nuts, lemon. Fresh products depending on the season
I bought their tagliatelle which my husband, ‘Chef’ Sam made for dinner. He minced garlic and sautéed it with those local little green slightly spicy Marseille peppers, and then added chopped cherry tomatoes, some cream and white vermouth. Garnished it with parsley leaves, and topped with some grated grana padano.
The next night we had friends over for apéro a la Aux Pâtes Fraîches: truffle cashews (my tongue had a party in my mouth!), tapenade with figs (delightful), creamy brandade (YUM), small round saucisson piment (available with parmesan or herbes de Provence too).
The Epicerie (the guys call it a Deli) has Italian and French products such as Maison Marc for cornichons (pickles in Deli talk!).  I can’t wait to try the Maison Marc velouté d’asperges. ‘We are working with Nadia Sammut (Auberge La Feniere outside of Lourmarin). She is very well known for gluten free products. There’s a full range of Maison Dubernet products who make amazing patés. The products we select don’t use any additives. We prepare charcuterie cold cuts for your aperos and we make our own tapenades, sometimes with figs but always without anchovy.’
As you can hear, the guys are very energetic and passionate about what they do. I watched them with customers and really appreciate their kindness to everyone. The shop is very clean and they wear masks. Oh, they sell beautiful flowers as well!
Go by and say hello. They’re hard working and I wish them success. 
Aux Pâtes Fraîches 
12 rue Laurent Fauchier 04 42 26 23 74 Tuesday-Saturday 9am-7pm.
Instagram and FB: auxpatesfraiches.aix
Au Pavé du Roy’s card says it all: Artisan Patissier Chocolatier Boulanger Glacier Traiteur.  Since discovering this outrageous place, I’ve been twice a week. Have. Got. To. Stop. J’adore everything from this place! It’s our new favorite PCBGT (see above).
Everything is made right there in the back atelier: Chocolat. Pain. Viennoiseries. Salés. Glaces. Pistachio croissant with pistachio creme inside, topped with slivered almonds.
Need I say more? Have you ever had a pistachio almond croissant? I hadn’t.
I get one every time I go in; they’re just amazing.
I don’t like most almond croissants as there is too much sweet frangipane inside. Not with Au Pavé du Roy’s pistachio frangipane. It’s just perfect.

Pain au chocolat with Valrhona chocolate. Uh-huh. (swoon). We’ve fallen in love with the nicely crusty (but not too hard) baguette with the little knob on the end to eat on the way home. It’s called ‘La Parisse’.  A sourdough baguette made from very high-quality flour whose recipe was developed by Gaëtan, Paris, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1997.

If you’re craving dark chocolate chip cookies they have the best I’ve had in France. Some with almonds, some with pecans, there’s even a milk chocolate with noisettes. Sablés Framboises to die for. Gorgeous pastries and citron or pistachio cakes. Whole cakes too that look outrageous. Chocolate cats. Chocolate sheep. This one: ‘Chocolat pâte pistache et pâte fruits griottes, enrobé chocolat noir Valrhona’. Watching some of the chocolate videos on their Instagram is downright decadent…look at their cakes & pastries there as well. Incroyable! @aupaveduroy
Lunch
  • They take the time to produce an old style quiche. This is difficult to find. Their tarte is twice as high with that creamy, almost but not quite undercooked custard. 
  • Tartelette fleur. I can’t even begin to describe this. It’s sort of like an everything bagel but stuffed with saucisse or jambon and grilled sésame, a mousse of sundried tomatoes, some with feta, cucumber, basil or mushrooms and fromage blanc. 
  • Sam loves their Croque Monsieur, and we had a Salmon Croque Monsieur just yesterday.
  • They also have gorgeous creative salads with lots of different ingredients rather than just a boring salad. Even their sandwiches and wraps are good.
Au Pavé du Roy is 3rd generation owned by Laurence Campanella. After WWII, Laurence’s grandfather left Italy and opened a bakery in Marseille, then her father took over. In 1974 they moved to Aix and in 1998 Laurence & her husband Eric took over.
Guess what? Laurence invited me to take a tour of l’atelier de fabrication: Can’t wait!
Au Pavé du Roy 
04 42 26 22 81 – 9 Cours d’Orbitelle -just next to Hotel Roi René
Open Tues-Sun 7:00am-8:00pm – aupaveduroy on Instagram
 
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Another shout-out to two places that have been talked about previously on Aixcentric:
Tita  This Méditerranean street food café started off as a food truck at the market.  We had friends visiting from the US that ate there 3 times in the one week they were visiting. It’s that good. Trip Advisor has it listed as one of the best restaurants in Aix. They moved to their new location which is down the street from Place des Augustins, a few months before confinement. We would get take-out and go to O’Sullivan’s to eat lunch there with a glass of rosé. (How many bars could you bring your own food to in the US?)  It’s now more amazingly fresh tasting than ever before. I don’t know how that can be but it is.
I can’t get enough of their falafel. It comes with the absolute BEST grilled aubergine and coleslaw and green sauce and creamy hummus and tomato/red onion salad and rice I’ve ever had. Anywhere. Sam loves their kefta. We both crave their chicken shawarma. The pita bread is shipped in from Israel. Sometimes I want a nice juicy, messy sandwich with falafel spread evenly throughout the sandwich at the bottom too, so every bite has a bit of it in your mouthful. They don’t skimp on the number of falafels they give you, it’s a big sandwich. Then there’s times I’d rather have l’assiette. Sweet Dana and Gael and their other wonderful team members welcome you with open arms! 6 rue des bernardines 04 42 38 93 54 Tuesday-Saturday 11h30-15h & Friday and Saturday also for dinner 18h-21h . Tita on Facebook & tita_aixenprovence on Instagram. 
*(Whew! Beware, long run on sentences above!)
Meow Cats Café just celebrated their 1 year anniversary before confinement. Morgane’s cat café is a perfect place to relax and hang-out with the 4 house cats and have lunch or a drink. I have to admit that Dexter, the ginger cat with his big expressive eyes, is my favorite to play with. Opium and Olympe are brother and sister and there’s long haired Fripouille who rolls onto his back to show off his belly. Morgane is connected with shelters in the region to try to find families and give love for abandoned cats. They have a really great success rate in getting adoptions for the cats they bring in. Thank you for all you do to get the cats fur-ever homes! 
Morgane is also a really good cook. Everything is homemade with love.  At the moment, there is a re-invention of the virgin mojito as well as milkshakes and chai latte frappés on the drinks menu. The salads are uniquely layered in ball jars and the wraps are good too. Desserts, though, are really where her passion is. Speculos muffins, cake a l’orange, chocolate pecan cake, cookies…Vegan friendly items as well.
This is a purr-fect place to chill when you are stressed out. Just sit for awhile, have something to eat and/or drink and talk to the cats. You’ll feel better in just a short time! Meow Cat’s Café is always extremely clean and takes all health precautions.
10 rue de la Fonderie – on a back side street close to the Peripherique and Arts & Metiers 
09 83 81 18 24 Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm – meowcatscafe on Facebook & Instagram 
 
Have a great summer!
Susan & Chef Sam

 

 

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As we all come out blinking in the sunshine, there is a new programme to welcome us all to café terraces, enlarged and some offering tastings of local rosés to celebrate.

It is being held all across la Region Sud: https://www.maregionsud.fr/la-fete-des-terrasses

In Aix, where the size and opening hours of cafés are usually very carefully controlled, the mayor has authorised these unusual measures:

  • Cafés can extend their terraces sideways when adjoining businesses are closed (evenings, Sundays for instance)
  • They can extend outwards if there is space, after 11am or 14:30 on market days
  • They can stay open until 2am, instead of closing at 1am.

I read that these measures are authorised until the end of the year and will hopefully accelerate business for cafés and restaurants which have been so badly hit by weeks of closure.

Read more here:  (https://madeinmarseille.net/68934-a-aix-en-provence-les-terrasses-sagrandissent-et-les-horaires-sallongent-au-1er-juillet)

As the poster says, ‘Fetons le Retour a la Vie!’

 

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On Sunday 5th July, the historical vineyard, le Château Saint Estève de Néri, situated just outside the Luberon village of Ansouis, will be ‘en fête !’

You are invited to go along and taste their Bio wines and enjoy a buffet provençal….crudités, fromage de chèvre and so on to complement the range of wines.  Discounts on purchases on the day.

Alexandra Wilson and her French team will welcome guests from 10:30-16:00hrs, with they say, ‘immense plaisir’.

A trip out to the vineyard and a walk round the village afterwards is a perfect antidote to lockdown!

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Chef Sam’s Pizza at Home

Everybody loves pizza, writes Sam Gish, because as Karl Marx famously said – ‘La Pizza est L’Opium du Peuple’. Well, maybe he didn’t actually say it, but he got the sentiment right. The trouble is that there’s Pizza! and then there’s pizza. Going out for pizza is a bit like playing roulette or rolling dice. Sometimes you get lucky and find the ideal crust, with the right proportion of sauce and cheese, perfectly cooked. And sometimes you find a cardboard crust with plastic cheese and something that almost but not quite resembles tomato sauce – a slice of pizza that has less flavour and texture than the paper napkin you use to wipe the ‘sauce’ off of your chin. 

(more…)

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This week, Susan Gish visited the historic village of Cucuron in the Luberon and had her first restaurant meal in three months.  She writes:
Finally the start of “A Good Year” with A Good Meal at MatCha in Cucuron!
We’re having a genuine spring! The mornings are cool and the afternoons warm but not too hot. Now there are less airplanes and road traffic and you can actually smell springtime: lavender, broom/gorse/genisteae, magnolia, honeysuckle, rosemary, thyme, and pine. The perfume of the flowers, the garrigue, are stronger than we’ve smelled in years. The poppies are still here and the lavender fields are just about in their prime. Gorgeous splashes of colour in the countryside. The grapevines are in full leaf, while olive and almond trees are showing the beginnings of fruit. Mirabelles! Cerises! Driving around we’re always reminded of how France still has deep agricultural roots. We visited a friend’s garden a week ago in Puy St. Reparade. There’s a gorgeous 300 year old mulberry tree that was planted when the silk merchant from Lyon built the house. Just amazing. 
So we took a lovely drive and ventured out for our first restaurant meal in 3 months in Cucuron.
Cucuron’s l’etang (or pond) is beautiful and has been featured in two movies: “A Good Year” and “The Horseman on the Roof”. The basin is surrounded by plane trees and its water was originally sourced from the Luberon massif, which helped to operate a flour mill. The present village dates from before the 11th century. The basin now is only ornamental.
The commune of Cucuron suffered a serious plague epidemic in 1720, exactly 300 years ago! 
We have dined at the restaurant MatCha quite a few times previously, and thought that a Monday lunch would be perfect as there wouldn’t be very many people wandering about. It was just what we needed as we missed dining out – to relax and have lunch for a few hours. We reserved to sit outside, not close to others. Everything was very, very clean, I felt totally comfortable. (Their toilet was really clean as well, which was a concern of mine). Matthieu, the pleasant front of the house owner and waiter, was wearing a mask. 
The little details and the creativity of the food at MatCha impress us every time. Owned by a young couple, Charlotte D’Angelis is the amazingly talented chef and Matthieu Charrier runs the front of the house. They use seasonal ingredients sourced locally. 
It’s probably the most creative and delicious restaurant we’ve been to in a few years in Provence. No kidding. Even better than a few 1stars we’ve eaten at. Beats anyplace in Aix. 
MatCha is listed in Michelin and Gaut Millau but the restaurant is not fussy at all. In fact it is very casual.
They have a 3 course weekday lunch menu for 22 euros which I had.
Sam ordered off the regular menu which was 39euros for 3 courses.
We had a delicious white Burgundy from Macon-Azé for 33 euros.
Sam started off with petit moules, fresh petit pois with a light curry bouillon poured over at service. It was served just lukewarm, perfect. I had rillettes of maquereux. Normally mackerel is too strong and greasy for me. This was melt in your mouth delicious. Crispy cucumber, radishes, spicy sprouts and scallion added to the party my mouth was having.
For our main courses, I had cabillaud with an aioli foam, accompanied by vegetable beignets, carrots, potatoes, beets, and grilled zucchini slices. Sam’s plat was loup with a lightly fried zucchini blossom, courgette mousse with pumpkin seeds and verveine oil.
Our desserts were a chocolate mixture of all sorts of textures and chocolate pieces with Sarrasin ice cream! Wow! Also a Praline Dacquoise with chocolate, citron and topped with tarragon. Very unique, and the flavors all worked together.
Funny that we both chose fish for our first meal out. They do have vegetarian options as well as meat on the menu.
Chef Sam and Susan
P.S. There’s even a gentle ‘house’ english setter dog named Litchee!
MatCha – the details
Montée du château vieux – Cucuron. It is located just off l’etang up a little street at the other end from the parking lot, but there is a little view of the plane trees if you sit outside.
Tel: 04 86 78 55 96;  you do need a reservation as they get booked up
@matcharestaurant – also on Facebook
Open Thursday thru Monday, lunch and dinner. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

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Anxiety and Observation …both states were experienced by Susan Gish who describes Tuesday 19th May, the first day of the market in Aix after lockdown ended.

She writes: My anxiety apartment had been narrowed down to an anxiety closet the past few years since we’ve lived in Provence. It took many years from a stressful career, but I finally started to just ‘be’ and enjoy the moments. Unfortunately, with the lockdown and what has been happening in the world, my anxiety closet changed once again. This time into a full blown chateau. Although we live close enough to walk, I stayed away from the center of Aix the past two months. I took my walks away from town into the hills where I didn’t see any people, and got our food delivered. The very few times I walked into town I almost had a panic attack.

So yesterday morning going to the market I was a bit apprehensive. I put on my mask and carried hand sanitizer. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Hooray! I was really happy to see some of the market vendors that I totally missed. (more…)

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To market, to market to buy a plum cake! The markets will be opening in Aix again from Monday next week! writes Susan Gish.

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Just after we got our Aix apartment, I remember going to the local market one very warm May day, flinging off my cardi and remembering NOT to say ‘Je suis chaude’.  The lady at our veg stall told me in no uncertain terms not to take any good weather for granted until the feasts of the saints de glace had passed.  These turned out to be Saints Mamert (11th May), Pancrace (12th) and Servais (13th).  Apparently there is some meteorological backing for this phenomenon of a cold-snap mid-May …so hopefully we are now set for sunny days.

And I need to thank the same veg lady for her advice on cooking the new garlic which also arrives on the stalls at this time of year.  I had never seen it before.

She told me to put the whole bulb into the microwave for a minute (more if it is very large) and then extract all the milky white cloves which by now are steaming hot.  You mash them with a fork and mix them into creme fraiche and chopped parsley – eh voila!  A wonderful sauce for meat or grilled vegetables.

Now a firm family favourite.

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News from the Mairie of ‘la Market Place Aixoise’, a digital map of shops open, when, where and what they can provide.

It’s to help us all quickly source supplies – and to provide a platform for shops to advertise their products, offer deliveries and contact-free payments and launch promotions.

New addresses will be added as they re-open for business. A local company has developed the platform which is free for the next few months.

A useful service for both businesses and inhabitants of Aix.

Here are details: http://www.aixenprovence.fr/La-market-place-aixoise-de-proximite

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, local food-banks have seen demand increase by 400% and, as a result, stocks are low.

Several charities have joined together to organise an Aix-wide collection, with the town authorities helping logistically to get the food through to the isolated elderly, the homeless, one-parent or struggling families and students. They are counting on local generosity for donations, all day 2nd May, at the following supermarkets:

Carrefour Les Milles, Géant Casino (Jas de Bouffan), Petit Casino (rue de Lattre de Tassigny), 2 Monoprix (Mirabeau et Allées Provençales), Super U (Place Romée de Villeneuve), Intermarché Club Hippique.

More here: http://www.aixenprovence.fr/Campagne-de-collecte-alimentaire

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