Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

A walk along the promenade at Les Lecques, around the little port and out to sea along the jetty has always been a family favourite, but I’ve always struggled to find a vegetarian lunch after our walk.  It’s a typical French seaside resort with all the menu choices the locals obviously enjoy. Paninis/pizza slices have long been the only alternative.

So I was delighted to come across the Olala Café on a recent visit. (more…)

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The PACA region scored high in the Michelin 2022 rating of French restaurants, revealed during a star-studded ceremony held in Cognac on March 23rd

Now 3-stars: Villa Madie

writes journalist Stephanie Curtis.

Four restaurants of France’s southeast stepped up to one-star status, two others attained two stars, and, in one of the evening’s big surprises, the ultimate three-star rating was awarded to Dimitri Droisneau, chef of the Villa Madie overlooking the blue waves of the Mediterranean from Cassis. The only other chef to receive the coveted third star this year was Arnaud Donckele for Plénitude at Paris’s Cheval Blanc hotel.

The four restaurants which obtained one star are:

Villa La Coste

-Hélène Darroze à Villa La Coste (Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade) 

-La Bastide de Cajpelongue (Bonnieux)

-Ceto (Roquebrune-Cap-Martin)

-Une Table au Sud (Marseille) 

The new 2 stars:

-Le Blue Bay ( Monaco)

-Duende (Nimes)  (with a duo of chefs guided by Pierre Gagnaire (3 stars Paris)

This annual event, a sort of academy awards of restaurants, was held outside of Paris for the first time in the Michelin red guide’s long history, in an effort perhaps to “decentralize” its focus.

The city of Cognac, birthplace of Francois 1er and home of what is arguably the planet’s most prestigious and refined spirit, hosted some 200 chefs, 100 journalists, and innumerable other guests during three days of vineyard and cellar visits, tastings, and gastronomy offered by the great houses of Cognac, including Hennessy, Remy Martin, and Martell.

Anticipation and angst among an ocean of white-jacketed chefs positioned in the front rows of Cognac’s L’Avant Scène theater on Tuesday evening floated in the air just before the kick-off of the ceremony, but they quickly gave way to the emotion and joy of the chefs called up on the stage to receive their stars.

In Provence, there are now some 90 restaurants boasting at least one star in Michelin, which revered or detested, is the granddaddy of restaurant guides. For the full list of winners, go to:


After nearly two years of Covid 19, severely impacting restaurant activity, this year’s Michelin ceremony was a harbinger of a return to normal and proof of the resiliency of the French fine-dining sector.

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Warming Dish with Camembert

We had a Camembert to eat up and I suddenly remembered a French recipe which I hadn’t made for a long time and which was perfect for a winter’s feast: Baked Leek and Potato Gratin.  It’s really simple and quite delicious.  Here’s the recipe: (more…)

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Here’s an idea for a splendid day out in Provence right now – the tourists have in the main gone home and there are still sunny days to enjoy.

Boating on the lower gorges du Verdon isn’t as well known as Lac St Croix but all the better for that in terms of easy parking and access to boats.  And it’s very beautiful.


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Bowling along on a bike by the Med sounds like heaven to me, especially when there’s no traffic!

That’s the offer tomorrow, 10h -18h, when 4 kilomètres of the Corniche, from Malmousque to David, plus l’Estaque Plage, will be open to walkers, skaters, and cyclists.  Lots of free sporting activities – things to try – and of course, food.

Food-trucks and ‘terrasses éphémères’

The trucks will be dishing up icecream, Breton and Mexican specialities, now there’s a choice, as well as burgers and bagels.

The pop-up terraces have been provided by ‘la Ville de Marseille’ as a free service to local restaurateurs and cafetiers.  What a good idea, especially right now.

Renting a bike

Click here for details; 1000 nouveaux vélos électriques en libre-service

Sorry for late notification but only just stumbled across this nice event.




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Provencal markets are renowned for their fresh, seasonable produce as well as their instagrammable beauty.


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‘1001 Herbes‘ is a new branch of the chain of stores specialising in products based on CBD (cannabinoide), the non-hallucinegenic part of the cannabis plant.  They offer a full range of different oils targeting various stress or anxiety-related issues as well as holistic healthcare…plus you can book in for a massage from one of their specialists.  At 31 rue des Cordeliers. https://www.1001herbes.com. (more…)

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Here’s a one-pot supper, full of eastern spices, guaranteed to warm 4 people up on a chilly evening.

Serve with brown rice.


500g squash/pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into bitesize pieces*
3 tbsp oil
2 onions, diced
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into bitesize pieces
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-4cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
½ red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp medium curry powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
400g can black beans * drained and rinsed
400ml can coconut milk
50g baby spinach

Toasted flaked almonds, to serve
2 tbsp coconut yogurt (or Greek)

Two comments:I used a bag of frozen butternut squash and simply tipped it in at stage 4 below.  Hadn’t got black beans in the cupboard so used kidney beans, not a good decision as they rather disintegrated.  In future I will use chick peas as they are more substantial.  Otherwise all went well…


1. If using squash or pumpkin, preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Put the pumpkin into a baking tray and toss with 1 tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 20 minutes until cooked through and soft.

2. Meanwhile heat a large non-stick frying pan until hot. Add the remaining oil, then the onions, pepper, garlic, ginger, chilli and cumin seeds. Fry, stirring regularly for about 4 minutes or until the onions start to brown.

3. Add the turmeric, curry powder, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper, and cook for a further 1 minute. Next add the black beans to the pan along with the coconut milk.

4. Add the squash/ pumpkin to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and add the baby spinach. Cook for about 20 minutes. Taste and season with more salt, black pepper, if needed, and some chilli flakes if liked. Serve sprinkled with flaked almonds and with dollops of yoghurt.





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Aix: New Vegetarian Restaurant

What a time to be opening a new restaurant, but a young chef called Lise is doing just that.  ‘Sanctuary Coffee and Kitchen’ will be opening shortly in rue des Bernadines and I thank Caroline for the heads-up.
She told Aixcentric: “Lise let me try a few of her homemade delights (carrot cake, mantecao shortbread cookies, a vegan-orangy-choco scrumptious cake).  They are having a Free Tasting on Saturday 12th December, in the afternoon, offering tastes of their sweet samples – brownies, gingerbreads served with (maybe)  traditional massala Chaï.  It is due to fully and ‘officially’ OPEN DECEMBER 15, after 4 months of endless patience and 10 months of complete refurbishing work.”
The press release describes it as ‘une adresse green et feel-good’, just what we all need right now!
11 rue des Bernadines, Aix
Tues-Sat, 11-18.

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  • Le Tour du Pain
    A day in the life of the Chef Boulanger at Au Pavé du Roy
    Susan Gish writes: Sam and I went on a magical tour of Au Pavé du Roy: Artisan Patissier Chocolatier Boulanger Glacier Traiteur.
    Our rendez-vous was with Mme Laurence Campanella, who is the 3rd generation owner of the shop. She invited us to come on a morning in
    October, and we were very happy to accept her kind invitation.
    Entering the atelier, my first impression was how clean the bakery was.

    Everyone was wearing masks and working very cleanly.

    There are three Chefs: One for the Viennoisserie, one for the Patisserie
    and one for the Boulangerie. There are also bakers and apprentices.
    Le Tour du Pain in 3 stages:
    Stage 1: Viennoisserie
    Stage 2: Patisserie
    Stage 3: Boulangerie
    Stage 1: Viennoisserie: Our timing was perfect! There was a peloton
    of bakers in a row making pain au chocolat. One was cutting the puff
    pastry, another was filling with Valrhona chocolate strips, and another
    was folding the pastry.
    Three bakers all working together, riding the flat and then the hills
    together as a team, one pulling off to get to the oven.
    Theyd just finished forming the croissants and putting them into the
    oven as well. A tray of warm croissants came out and were drafting
    by us to deliver to the bakery and oh the smell was amazing!
    All are made with pure butter, pur beurre.
    Madame Campanella explained that Au Pavé du Roy is one of only two places in
    Aix-en-Provence that makes their own croissants.
    The Viennoisserie is also where the pain au raisin (escargot) and other
    breakfast pastries, are made. My favorite is their croissant made with
    pistachio creme and topped with slivered almonds. Or maybe the
    Nutella croissant! American style chocolate chip cookies, some with
    pecans, some with almonds!
    Stage 2: Patisserie: The next station was the patisserie. Here is
    where the magnificent cakes are made, the mille-feuille (pronounce
    that, beginner french students!), eclairs, fruit tartsAu Pavé du Roy
    makes their own ice cream and sorbet, and has decadent ice cream
    cakes! Cant wait to try one. In the freezer case was an ice cream
    cake with hazelnuts and a chocolate Hérissonne / Hérisson on top,
    guess what that is! (Answer: Hedgehog). They are an amazing
    chocolatier also. Chocolate cats, chocolate people, chocolate
    sculpture for every holidayOh, my gosh, navettes Marseillaises!
    We got one to try that day, yum!
    One of the bakers was making a pastry cream créme patisserie.
    But this area is busier later in the day. The morning is meant for
    breakfast pastries, breads and lunches.
    Stage 3: Boulangerie: The bread ovens and bread stations are in
    the far back of the Atelier. Which leads us to:
    A day in the life of the Chef Boulanger at Au Pavé du Roy.
    Chef Jean-Marc Cicala.
    3:00 am:
    Chef Cicala wakes up to go to work.
    3:30-4:00 am:
    He arrives at the atelier and lights the oven first.
    4:00-5:00 am:
    His team arrives. There is one baker and two apprentices.
    The baker and adult apprentice arrive at 4 am.
    The underage apprentice comes at 5 am.
    6:00 am:
    Everyone in the bakery has a coffee and one of their own
    croissants or pain au chocolat. (except lately with the lock down,
    it isnt possible to get the coffee from the Café next door)
    4:00 am – Noon:
    Following is the order and explanation of what the bakers do.
    Different breads require different amounts of kneading and rising.
    Pétrissage: Kneading the dough
    Pointage: Waiting for the dough to rise
    Façonnage: Shaping of the dough
    Stockage en chambre de pousse pour le lendemain:
    Cold Storage of the dough to retard the rise
    Cuisson: Cooking the bread
    Petrissage The first part of the process. The kneading machine
    is started. This is not your typical dough hook in a KitchenAid
    or a bread machine. Its quite a large machine and duplicates the
    motion of kneading by hand.
    Premiere PetrieThe kneading of the wheat flour baguette.
    PointageThe dough is put into the Chambre de Pousse
    (proofing oven) overnight for 10/12 hours. There it ferments;
    rises slowly, and after they are ready for the:
    Faconnage-The shaping or forming of the bread.
    There is a Deuxième Petrie
    A second kneading for their specialty sourdough baguette called,
    La Parisse. Its made from very high-quality flour whose recipe
    was developed by Gaëtan, Paris Meilleur Ouvrier de France 1997.
    Other Petries/kneading are for:
    Whole wheat bread
    Ciabatta (olive oil and wheat)
    Organic bread
    Einkorn petit épeautre – anciennes grains
    Seigle Rye
    Cereal breads multi-grain
    Sandwich bread
    Buns & Bagels
    Rustic breads
    While the kneading is taking place, the bakers cook the breads
    and alternate the work.
    They go back and forth between the above processes, depending
    on the type of bread that they are making.
    The apprentices bring the breads into the shop bakery all
    throughout the day, as they are made.
    On a typical day they make:
    150200 baguettes
    100120 banettes
    80-100 la parisse
    40-60 different specialty breads
    The same breads are made each day.
    Ingredients: Bread is only flour, water, salt & yeast.
    Nuts, honey, olive oil, dry fruits or vegetables, seeds are
    sometimes added.
    They use 1015 different local flours.
    (The bakery as a whole, uses as many local ingredients as
    possible. The flour, eggs, and fruit (when seasonal) are local.
    JeanMarcs work day ends. He goes home to eat his lunch with
    his family.
    I asked Chef Cicala a few questions about himself:
    Where have you worked?
    I have been at Pavé du Roy for 14 years, since 2006.
    I also worked in two different bakeries in Aix that are closed now,
    and 3 years in French Polynesia.
    When do you see your family?
    I see them in the afternoon, evening and every other weekend.
    Was anyone in your family a baker or a cook?
    If you have children, do they have interest in baking/cooking?
    No-one in my family was a baker or cook. I have one boy who is
    not really interested in baking.
    Do you enjoy being a Chef?
    I chose my job; I love making good bread!
    Finally, are you a sports fan?
    Im not fan of foot, my hobby is Judo; Im Judoka, a black belt.
    Thank you for reading, Le Tour de Pain. I hope it was pain-less.
    It was the yeast I could do to tell this story.
    Perhaps we can break bread together sometime soon!
    Au Pavé du Roy
    Artisan Patissier Chocolatier Boulanger Glacier Traiteur.
    04 42 26 22 81 9 Cours dOrbitelle just next to Hotel Roi René
    Open Tues-Sun 7:00am-8:00pm – aupaveduroy on Instagram.
    Photos by Sam Gish.


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